A lot of people make tie dye T-shirts, but labeling Jasmine Plantin’s Ampwata brand as a tie-dye T-shirt company would be doing a huge disservice to what she creates and the reasons why she creates it. 

Plantin, who grew up going to the beach most weekends in Baldwin, Long Island, is the daughter of a Hatian father and a Creole mother who has roots in Louisiana. “It's funny because in a way, my mom and dad are almost from the same place and just got dropped off in different spots. Both areas are obviously developed by this mix of enslaved Africans that were colonized by the French,” says Plantin over the phone. They gave her the middle name Amandla, which means power in Zulu, and she combined that with her last name and wata, the caribbean pronunciation for water, to form Ampwata.

The brand emerged when Plantin, a Parsons graduate, was working as a designer for Outlier, a  technical men’s brand. She was making clothes that were void of color and going to textile tradeshows where she didn’t see many people who looked like her. But growing up she was surrounded by vibrant hues and beautifully detailed textiles from different countries. Her mother, who also worked in fashion, collected traditional textiles from all over the world like embroidered fabrics from Guatemala and Mexico, or hand dyed cloth from Sierra Leone and Japan.

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