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Streetwear Brand OUR20S Tells 20 Somethings to ‘Protect Your Mental’ and ‘It’s Okay to Feel’: A Chat With Founder Shalika Shoulders

Alexa, play “20 Somethings” by SZA. Ah, the 20s. Your 20s is such an important time in your life. You’re figuring out what you’re going to do and finding out who you truly are. People always say enjoy your 20s while you have them. On one hand, we are so engulfed in adulting and societal pressures that we feel like we can’t even express our true emotions at times. On another hand, we’re trying to living our best lives. Some of us are in college, some are graduating. We can go to all those 21+ places we’ve been wanting to go to. More importantly, we’re creating moments in our lives that’ll last forever (sorry to sound like a Netflix coming-of-age movie, but these things are true).

Shalika Shoulders knows a thing or two about the 20s as she is still going through its motions and emotions and expressing them through her streetwear brand, OUR20S. Born in Brockton, Massachusetts, Shalika Shoulders is a 28 year-old Black lesbian woman who describes herself as someone who “enjoys sunsets and talking about feelings” and adds that she is “married to a beautiful woman with a lot of plants”. Shalika attended Pace University where she studied business management and interned with streetwear brand Mishka which she expressed as one of the best times of her life. Shalika always shared a deep love for streetwear and its game changers, detailing how she appreciates it raw and rule-breaking nature.

Shalika’s passion for streetwear matched with her experiences from her 20s birthed the OUR20S brand. Terms like “figuring it out” and “protect your mental” grace the bio of the brand’s Instagram page, hinting at important components that make up that time of your life. OUR20S shows people who are in their 20s that it’s okay to not have it all figured out right now and that it is okay to not be okay sometimes. It also shows that it is also okay to put yourself first and do what makes you happy especially when it comes to your mental health hence “protect your mental”. These ideals along with other topics like social injustice are captured through the brand’s streetwear apparel and accessories which feature wavy graphics and innovative design concepts.

Read our exclusive chat with Shalika on OUR20s, her inspirations, her thoughts on the state of streetwear and the world, and much more:

Her biggest inspirations:

My biggest inspirations are really just life and my experiences. Living through all the trauma I’ve endured throughout my life and trying to figure it out. I get my inspiration for pieces through what’s going on in the world around me. Whether it be things happening to my family, things happening to my friends, or shit that affects me directly. As far as other inspirations go I’m inspired by some dope brands like Brainchild, byMAN, and Brick + Wood just to name a few. I also love Pharrell Williams he’s a genius. 

On making the “the 20s” the essence of her brand:

To me, the 20s are such a crazy and pivotal time in our lives. You literally jump from having very minimal responsibilities to then having to be a whole adult in the matter of a couple years (I’m talking 18-20). You are becoming who you’re going to be for the rest of your life in my opinion. It’s an important moment in time. I’ve learned so much through my 20s it’s amazing, but it was hard and terrifying at the same time. There will never be a time like this again in my life. Even though I’m at the end of my 20s, it’s a chapter I’ll never forget. 

What she hopes people take away from OUR20S when they purchase from the brand or even just come across the page:

I just hope they feel something. I hope whatever they purchase or observe through my brand sparks something inside, some sort of emotions. That’s what it’s all about for me. 

Her personal favorite piece that she’s dropped:

My favorite piece would have to be the “It’s Okay to Feel” tees I did in 2018. They are tees with the words “it’s okay to feel” on them and a velcro piece space where you can add your own emotions with letters I provided.

Why that piece:

Those are my favorite because they give people the opportunity to truly embrace their emotions, and not be ashamed to feel. The point is to make feeling cool. I do hope to bring that piece back in a different capacity through clothing and through some other things I am working on. 

Her thoughts on the current state of streetwear:

I think this is an exciting time to be in the world of streetwear. Everyone is pushing limits and changing the way the world looks at this specific style of fashion. It’s really fire that you can do whatever the f*ck you want and get away with it. Social media has made it possible for everyone to start whatever they want. There are so many dope streetwear brands on IG that are being discovered everyday and I love it.

Who she would love to work with in the future:

I’d love to work with Pharrell Williams and Kerby Jean-Raymond. As far as brands go, I would love to collab with Kith and Girls Don’t Cry. 

How recent events like the COVID-19 pandemic and protests against social injustices and police brutality against the Black community has affected her creativity:

It’s made me even more aware. At first, it was hard to create because I couldn’t process everything that was going on. Now I’m getting a handle on my emotions, so I just put it in the clothes. This is a very important time we are living in 2020 will be written into history books for multiple reasons, and we’re living through this sh*t right now. Crazy! Very traumatic times but I’ve learned a lot this year. This year has been beneficial to me by allowing me to slow down and process my feelings that I’ve been withholding. This year, I’ve shown more personal growth than my past years in adulthood. Great lessons.

What the future at OUR20S is looking like: 

Well in the future I would like to expand to a physical location, not just online. An actual storefront is the goal. I really just want the brand to act as a staple for anyone in their 20s trying to figure it all out. I want them to look at OUR20S and see their struggle understanding that they aren’t alone at all. We are all just trying to figure it out. 

Advice and words of encouragement she would like to give to people who may be struggling to maintain their mental health with the times we’re in:

Great question! I’m no expert, but I’ll say it again you’re not alone. We are all working to the best of our ability to combat our childhood trauma. The best thing to do is to find your happy. Whatever it may look like to you. Find time every day to do something that makes you feel free. Whether it’s taking a walk, listening to music, baking cookies…whatever just as long as it’s something that puts a smile on your face. Those moments matter. Try to live in the moment as much as possible be present and trust that there’s light even when it’s dark. I’ve been in the dark and at that time everything can feel so heavy it’s important to think about the things that make you feel light and bright, you know? It’s all mental. Protect your mind and feed it good things. This is all easier said than done. Trust I’m still learning to master these skills, trying  goes a long way and we are in this together. But Kendrick said we gon be alright. 

Explore more from Shalika and OUR20S by following @our20s on Instagram!

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