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Check out Jena La-Clarkson and Josephine Wai Lin’s Artwork

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jena La-Clarkson and Josephine Wai Lin.

Jena and Josephine, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
Jena and I grew up with humble beginnings. We are two best friends who met on the wrong side of the tracks in Anaheim (or “Anacrime” as we affectionately call it) in the 7th grade. We lived across the street from each other and shared everything — a love for fashion, a crush on Michael V., and even just had one pair of eyeglasses that we would pass to each other in the hall. Our parents had immigrated from Asia and there were a lot of unknowns, a lot to fear. Life was about being obedient, following the rules, and if you studied really hard and were lucky – maybe you’d get to be a nurse or a computer engineer. But we dreamt about one day opening a “Petitque”– a boutique for petite women (we are both just barely 5 ft tall.)

Fast forward twenty years (wow, we are old), and life looks a lot different. We don’t live in a ratchet neighborhood, we have husbands and families, we have careers (Jo as an advertising creative and Jena as a fashion buyer), and the worst part — we live hundreds of miles apart. One day we were scheming on how we could spend more time together. We dreamt about traveling the world with each other and our families, about having our own office and working on our own terms. We remembered the Petitque we had always joked about and decided to go for it. But with a different concept, one that paid homage to our childhood and the way we wanted to raise our own children.

We wanted our kids to grow up fearless. We want them to grow up surrounded by strong, positive messages. If words beget worlds, we want the world our kids to grow up in to be empowering. And so the idea of YOUTHS was born.

We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
“GRLPWR” is trending, especially in fashion, but feminism isn’t a commodity you can just sell on a shirt. While we’re fans of graphic tees with phrases like “The Future is Female,” we wanted to take it a step further. We set out to create a business model that had GRLPWR at its core: a brand built around a community of empowered females empowering each other — both emotionally and economically.

Here’s how we do it:
1. Every tee has an empowering message that supports kids to grow up in a feminist, inclusive world.

2. Sales for every tee is shared with the artist who designed the shirt, a cause they care about, and a working mom. We enlist working moms to be mompreneur as our sales reps/brand ambassadors. So we all grow together. (Unlike multi-level marketing models, in which those at the top profit most).

3. We work with a diverse group of female artists with a progressive perspective: Alex Bowman in Oakland, Marylou Faure in London, tattoo artist Jess Koala in San Francisco, Rinee Shah in Brooklyn, Dakota Light-Smith in LA, Axelle Rose Zwartjes in Amsterdam, Sarah Day in Nashville, Kristina Micotti in San Jose, and Alli Koch in Dallas.

4. Tees come with an empowering note from the artist to the youth. They are produced with environmentally-friendly and ethically-conscious processes in Downtown Los Angeles.

5. The causes artists have chosen to give back to support mainly feminism, equality, justice, ex: Akasa. Women’s Aid. ACLU. Everytown. Raices.

Given everything that is going on in the world today, do you think the role of artists has changed? How do local, national or international events and issues affect your art?
Artists have a powerful platform today with social media. On Instagram alone, artists can create a post that perfectly captures the way we are all feeling about an important issue, and it can go viral, galvanize a movement. One of the artists we work with, Sarah Day, is particularly incredible at this. Whether it’s “Feminism is not for sale” or “it’s ok to bloom in your own way,” her activism is expressed through art in a way that moves all of us.

We are honored to work with a talented group of conscious artists and illustrators who have a strong voice and use it for good. YOUTHS began with the idea that strong, badass female illustrators could inspire a new generation of kids. We wanted the brand to be a platform to amplify talent and positivity, so to further our mission, a portion of the proceeds goes to a nonprofit the artist cares about.

In a world that can feel divided and scary, we want to collaborate with artists to create light, hope, and belief in a better future.

Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
youth-s.com, @y_o_u_t_h_s. We’re also in SEED store in Costa Mesa, Sister LB in Long Beach, West of Camden in Huntington Beach, and Tutu Schools in Corona Del Mar & Laguna Niguel.

Contact Info:

  • Website: youth-s.com
  • Email: bb@youth-s.com
  • Instagram: @y_o_u_t_h_s

Image Credit:
Kid in hat: @hello.scout, Three kids: @stacielang

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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