Distant Relatives

Post by Kay

“If not us, then who?
If not now, then when?”

John E. Lewis

As you probably know by now, ThandieKay is all about representation, so I was thrilled to stumble upon these Distant Relatives t-shirts designed by Mandy Mli.

Here is an interview we did with her.


distant relatives t-shirt thandie kayWhat is the importance of representation to you?

I think it’s important in that it allows us all to be more knowledgeable and understanding generally. Creating a more balanced and mindful society/world. Representation to me is about clear well rounded communication. It should involve recognising diversity and studying various human experiences. I think it is important to recognise the richness in the experiences of those particularly left out of “popular culture” . I think it’s also about opening up that room for truthful dialogue and thus better understanding

It’s motivates me to celebrate and create on behalf of the underrepresented (and often misrepresented). It motivates me to paint and promote a different picture to the one handed to me from birth and hopefully inspire others to do the same. To paint their own picture of their world and experience. And with that I always like to support those who are doing the same. Representation to me should be about being able to tell your own story and inspiring others to do the same, all chapters included.

What inspired you to launch the t-shirt collection?

Distant Relatives itself was actually inspired by a few things, including my own cultural observations and further by an interview I heard, David Banner discussing his new direction/perspective now being more overtly culturally conscience in his music and using his platform to share knowledge and push towards building and educating his community.

What were you doing before making thoughtful t-shirts?

Working in education, teaching in early years education and designing as a hobby (and considering going back to university to study a postgraduate degree in Social Entrepreneurship.)

What and who inspired you as a child?

It would be hard to pinpoint one thing that inspired me but music,was a huge influence as far as opening my mind to different experiences, perspectives and the art of story telling. at one point I was learning how to DJ. I loved all things 90s, music videos and all. I still do.

How would you like your collections to evolve?

I would like to collaborate more with different artists and individuals. I see Distant Relatives as a collaborative brand. I also hope to expand the product line to include a variety of other accessories and products. Also working towards balancing a more design focused aesthetic whilst still being able to convey an important message.

Making and selling personalised and affirmative accessories. And constantly looking for ways to support social enterprise. And pretty much everything I am currently involved in is about mixing creativity, conversations and promoting positive energy. Directing energy to the things that I think are the important.

Shop Distant Relatives here

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Photo: Ol Parker



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