As a part of Breast Cancer Awareness month, we spoke with two women who are doing their best to change the world one t-shirt at a time—the NopeSisters.
These two socially conscious sisters, Brittany and Johanna Cosgrove, design simple, comfortable clothing which allow people to wear something on their body which says what they really want to say, without needing to speak.
The pair began their line with the launch of the mastectotee after their mum was diagnosed with cancer. Since then, they’ve branched into tees representing other social issues. Here they share their powerful story.
You first started NopeSisters when your mum was diagnosed with breast cancer, can you tell us a bit about your mum?
We started it five years after she was diagnosed to help fundraise for her survivor dragon boat team. Mum used dragonboating as a recovery exercise, as many breast cancer survivors do. Sales of mastectotees for a year helped her team go to Italy this year. They competed amongst 129 other breast cancer survivor teams and came second in the world. Mum is super strong and outspoken, and helps us with NopeSisters’ admin too which is handy!
Cancer is also about the family, how did your mum’s breast cancer affect you both?
We were teenagers at the time, and it is really tough seeing someone so strong get broken down by cancer treatment and become so vulnerable. Luckily, Mum is doing great now, she is a thriving survivor!
How did the first tee—Mastectotee—come about?
Brit embroidered a design for herself as a cool tribute t-shirt to Mum. She made another one for Johanna and once it was posted online, so many friends wanted one too, so we came up with the name of NopeSisters as a brand to create fashion which could share profits with a good cause. Our social enterprise was born overnight and grew organically to respond to what customers wanted.
And you have a special pink edition available this month?
Yes! Our new charity partner is the Breast Cancer Foundation of NZ, and we thought it would be cool to make a limited edition PINK tee for the PINK WALKs they run as fundraisers every year for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
You then branched out into other topics, can you tell us about that?
Breast cancer wasn’t the only cause we wanted to support, or the message we wanted to highlight, so that’s when we came up with concepts for new important social messages, and teamed them up with other great charities we wanted to support. These include the NOPE tee for Sexual Abuse, HELP, period. tee speaking out about period poverty subsidises menstrual cups for students through Wa Collective, the NOPE for HOPE a youth suicide t-shirt for Youthline, and the ANY SIZE t-shirt focusing on body image which gives to Eating Disorder Association NZ.
You talk about how you think it is your responsibility to have a positive impact on your community and share profits. Do you see other brands doing this too?
Yes we have collaborated with many other Social Enterprises in our area who want to do the same thing, make good products for good, ethically made and give back to the community. It is a fantastic trend that we hope shapes more business models in the future.
Where do you see NopeSisters five years from now?
We will continue to grow, with a larger business that can employ others and spread even more important messages. We're not too sure what it will look like, but we'd like to change and grow to respond to causes that are close to our hearts.
What is the most important message you want to get across this Breast Cancer Awareness Month?
Check your boobs! It's an annual reminder but it should be year-round. You only get free mammograms from 45 years on, and we have heard from so many young women who haven’t had changes checked before they get to that age, and then it can be too late.
You can shop the NopeSisters range here.
Image Credit: Supplied