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Brahmin x Coco Michele collaboration

Source: Courtesy of Brahmin x Coco Michele / Brahmin x Coco Michele

In a groundbreaking move this Black History Month, luxury handbag brand Brahmin birthed a philanthropic collaboration with Coco Michele Illustrations, promising to donate a portion of its collection proceeds to the National Council of Negro Women. Brahmin boldly says, “Our mission at Brahmin is to represent diversity and equity in everything we do.”

Brahmin was inspired to connect with Andrea Ballo because they were drawn to the beautiful illustrations and recognized that the Brahmin customer would also appreciate her talent. Susan Thacker, CEO of Brahmin, said, “She is a creative force with a strong point of view and a powerful story to tell. We’re excited to show the world what we have created together.”

Moreover, the brand shared that internally, the Brahmin Employee Resource Group (B.E.R.G.) is a Brahmin associate-led workgroup that creates and fosters inclusion initiatives that enhance Brahmin’s culture at all levels. “We’ve been fortunate to meet and learn from a diverse group of industry leaders, from Dress for Success to American Heart Association, and share our learnings companywide. This connects closely to our brand ethos: We act with integrity, lead with passion, we’re committed to craftsmanship, we celebrate our community and embrace diversity.”

Brahmin x Coco Michele collaboration

Source: Courtesy of Brahmin x Coco Michele / Brahmin x Coco Michele

Externally, they are always looking for new partners to celebrate and elevate. They proudly strive to create long-term partnerships that truly make an impact and a statement. “We look forward to future plans with brands, like Coco Michele, to continue to represent the amazing diversity of our customers. We hope this will be the first of many collaborations to come that will support inclusivity in the retail industry and beyond.” 

HelloBeautiful caught up with Andrea Ballo, the creative force behind Coco Michele, to discuss the inspiration behind this meaningful partnership and the Brahmin’s commitment to empowering Black women.

“For me, it was important to incorporate the inspiration of Black women because that’s what I’m really grounded in as an illustrator,” says Andrea Ballo. “I really wanted to lean into the idea of florals. That’s a really important motif in my design work. I love the idea of growing and blossoming and blooming into yourself. I wanted to play with the ultimate femininity and really bring in the ultra-soft but still vibrant, colorful representation into a bag. I wanted it to be something that would get you stopped on the street, and I wanted it to be a piece of wearable art.”

Brahmin x Coco Michele collaboration

Source: Courtesy of Brahmin x Coco Michele

The dynamic duo created two designs, Ivory Flourishing and Blush Renewal, to cover the Caroline handbag. The collection also featured 100% silk scarves adorned with the exclusive Coco Michele illustrations. 

In a deeper exploration, Ballo reflects on the representation of joy, self-care, and transformation, challenging the prevailing narrative of struggle associated with Black women. “I think the narrative around black women, there’s this attachment to struggle that I really like to reject,” she explains. “I want to celebrate women, and I want to put us in a place where we’re being the center, the protagonist of our stories. And by using things like vibrant colors and flowers and soft details, and just really stepping into the empowerment of just softness of Black women and the nuanced beauty of Black women.”

The success of the capsule collection, the Caroline handbag selling out within 24 hours, is a testament to the collaboration’s significance. “The night before, my palms were sweaty, and I was nervous,” admits Ballo. “It was a big ask to come and say, ‘Hey, do you have a spare $400 that you could support my collab?’ I did have a few butterflies the night before and to see the way that not only the Coco Michele audience, whom I call my ‘Coconuts’ lovingly, and the Brahmin community joined forces, but they just came together and showed up so quickly and without any hesitation and supported and sold out. I was beside myself. It was a really important collaboration, more important than I realized.

Brahmin x Coco Michele collaboration

Source: Courtesy of Brahmin x Coco Michele

Brahmin’s commitment to donate a portion of the collection’s proceeds to the National Council of Negro Women holds personal significance for Ballo, who has been supporting the organization since 2020. “I came across their nonprofit and believed in it,” she explains. “I was just blown away by their commitment, similar to Coco Michele, to uplifting Black women and giving them the support to pursue careers, better their own situations, educate, and connect. So it was a no-brainer when Brahmin said they wanted to add a donation component. I knew that I wanted to go straight to them. I’m excited to be able to give back to them and to be able to continue to support the community that supports me.”

In a reflection on Black History Month, Ballo emphasizes the need to focus on everyday heroes and stories within the Black community. “But I also wanna make sure that I’m spending time understanding the everyday moms, dads, uncles, aunts, the people who showed up every day and did what they had to do to provide for their family, to put them in a different place,” she says. “So just connecting with people in my family, in my circle, understanding my ability to be where I am today and what sacrifices came with that.”

Looking towards the future, Ballo discusses Coco Michele’s rapid growth and the brand’s commitment to making representation accessible to everyone. “We’re in a place where representation is something we want to make accessible to everyone,” she shares. “So as we go and look at opportunities for us to grow, we are looking at how we can be more accessible in more places and show up where they’re expecting us.”

Brahmin x Coco Michele collaboration

Source: Courtesy of Brahmin x Coco Michele

In contemplating the impact of her creations, Ballo hopes that the women carrying Coco Michele’s products feel a sense of confidence, empowerment, and uniqueness. “I want them to feel like they are the baddest, that they’re walking around with the hottest, the newest, just from a fashion standpoint, but also from an empowerment and representation aspect,” she emphasizes. “I love that it’s a capsule collection, so you’re not gonna walk around and see a whole bunch of people with your bag. It’s really gonna allow you to stand out. It’s a statement. I want people to use it as a tool to be seen. Black women are often in spaces that make us feel invisible. And you can’t ignore this bag, so let the bag do the talking. You’re just gonna walk in, and your head is held high, your shoulders are back. I want you to feel that from the inside.”

Ballo’s meticulous selection of brands for collaboration, such as Brahmin, is rooted in a rejection of performative behaviors. “When Brahmin approached me, I researched their business, and I looked at their everyday marketing, their social media, how they interact, their fan base, and who’s following them,” she states. “I saw such a natural synergy between how they operate their business and how I operate my business, and diversity and inclusion as just a part of who they are.”

See the collection here.

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Brahmin X Coco Michele Collaborate For Black History Month, Celebrating Art And Blossoming Black Femininity  was originally published on hellobeautiful.com