Who We Are: Dreams That Glitter: Using My Dual Identity To Inspire Others

Terrance wears his handmade rainbow brush stroke caftan dress
Handmade By Me: Rainbow Brush Stroke Caftan Dress

Hello! My name is Terrance Williams. I am a self taught sewer, designer and small business owner. I believe in surrounding yourself with lots of happiness, positivity and sequins!  I look at my life now with the business that I have built, and the person that I have become and I am so proud! But getting here has been a process and a journey and I wanted to share a little bit about the intersectionality of being Black and gay in society and the importance of living in your truth and getting out of your comfort zone!  

It wasn’t until late in life that I discovered the term intersectionality, which describes the idea that people are greatly disadvantaged by multiple sources of oppression that stem from their race, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion or other identifiers. I was blessed with being Black and gay!  Being Black and gay is a beautiful, intricate and unique life experience. It’s double the pride, double the glory, but also double the adversities. When I step out into the world I have to not only deal with racism due to the color of my skin, but I also have to deal with homophobia because of my sexual orientation. Having to deal with them both simultaneously is exhausting and sometimes defeating. I have been called both racial and homophobic slurs, assaulted, spit on, threatened and had my property destroyed.  

Having to carry the glory of both being Black and being gay but also having to carry the burden of people in society treating me horribly for both takes a lot of courage.  There are definitely times that I want to give up, but I don’t. I keep going and I push through because I have a responsibility to do so. My hope is that there is someone out there following my social media or seeing me in person with my caftan dresses and my makeup and thinking to themselves “if he can do it, be out and be proud and be happy and confident, then so can I!”

Terrance faces away from the camera showing off his embroidered floral tulle duster
Handmade By Me: Embroidered Floral Tulle Duster

I use my platform, my voice and my sewing designs to inspire people. I want people to feel comfortable to live in their truth and to take chances. It doesn’t even have to be about race or sexuality, I want to inspire people to be the best version of themselves and take themselves out of their comfort zone! I’ve had people tell me that they tried a different color nail polish than what they usually do because they saw my nails and were inspired, or they bought a different printed dress than they normally would because they saw my post on Instagram, or they tried a new make up look that they wouldn’t necessarily do because they’ve seen my eye-shadow looks.  That, to me, is what sewing and crafting is about: creating things to inspire people and getting people out of their comfort zone. 

Terrance is wearing an everyday glam makeup look and stares thoughtfully into the camera
Everyday Glam Makeup Look

I started my business six years ago on Etsy with a Singer sewing machine, a gift card to Joann Fabrics, a few dollars in my pocket and dreams that glittered. I now have my own website and have expanded from bags and wallets into caftans, dusters and headbands. I knew I wanted to create a line that focused on individuality and inclusivity but also sustainability. The fabrics I use are ethically sourced and sustainably produced.  I sell genderless and cruelty-free accessories and clothing because that is how I view clothing and fashion. I wanted to create an inclusive safe space, someplace where everyone could feel comfortable. There have been so many situations in my life, both in society and the sewing community, where I have not felt comfortable and I have not had the resources or the support system to feel welcome or safe. I want people to feel safe.

A sequined garment is folded and tied with ribbon ready to be shipped to a customer.
An order getting ready to be packaged and shipped!

It’s important, especially in times like these, to be aware that you are allowed to change your mind and way of thinking when presented with new information and view points.  Me wearing a handmade rainbow caftan dress and makeup is not going to negatively impact your way of life. Supporting and advocating for the Black Lives Matter movement does not diminish the fact that other lives matter. We may not agree on things but it’s important to have respect.  We create and sew our clothes and fashion to be a reflection of us.

The interesting and exciting thing about me is that I have dual reflections of being both Black and gay. It’s exciting to design things with rainbows and bright colors to show my pride in being gay and it’s also really exciting to work with African prints and styles to show off my Black identity. The best part is that people see my designs and things that I sew and it resonates with them. They feel heard, seen and respected. YOUR designs can do that for people!  My hope is that the things that you create, whether for yourself or other people, are a reflection of the love, light and positivity that you want to put out into the world. 

Terrance wears a rainbow sequin caftan dress and is smiling at the camera. The picture has a border reading 'Love is Love'
Handmade by me: Rainbow Sequin Caftan Dress

Personal Instagram: www.instagram.com/terrancewilliams_

Business Instagram: www.instagram.com/clutch89etsy

Website: www.terrancewilliamsdesigns.com

Etsy: www.etsy.com/shop/clutch89