Meet Raven Gibson, the creator and owner of Legendary Rootz. Raven started Legendary Rootz to give Black Women a platform to be authentically themselves through powerful, statement-driven apparel and afrocentric home decor.
In addition to founding Legendary Rootz, Raven has also worked with business owners from industries such as beauty, entertainment, and retail to understand the inner workings of curating socially conscious brands.
Learn more in our interview with Raven below!
Our Interview with Raven Gibson, Creator and Owner of Legendary Rootz
Tell us about your professional journey. What led you to found Legendary Rootz?
Legendary Rootz was created due to a need. A need for a safe space. A need for a fun outlet where I could express myself without limitations. After chopping all of my hair off right before college, I felt alive and ready to take the world by storm for the first time in my life. After my first semester at Arizona State University studying biochemistry, I decided I wanted to change my major to graphic design. However, I wasn’t able to switch majors. Even though at that moment, when things didn’t go the way I wanted them to go, I kept designing because I was passionate about creating that space for Black Women worldwide.
Since the inception of the brand, Legendary Rootz has been blessed to be supported by tons of amazing people who have helped the brand grow beyond my wildest dreams. Having such strong support and passion behind the creation of this brand helps keep me going whenever things feel tough.
What should people know about Legendary Rootz?
People should know that Legendary Rootz is more than a clothing brand. It’s a lifestyle. I want Black Women worldwide to know that they are Legendary, and so are their Rootz.
I’m passionate about Legendary Rootz because when I was growing up, this is something I needed. Knowing that I can inspire black women and black girls worldwide to believe in themselves pushes me to continue.
Tell us about your product development – how do you decide what products to make and what is the design process that those products go through?
For most of my designs, I’m inspired by a story or a current event. For example, when I decided to create the ‘No. You Cannot Touch My Hair’ design, I was in a new environment and was facing constant unwanted attention because of my hair. Instead of explaining to people the importance of my hair and why it wasn’t okay to touch it, I created a design to speak for me. That’s probably what I love most about creating.
Once I get an idea for a design, I grab paper or my iPad if I’m feeling fancy. I sketch and sketch and sketch some more until I get an idea of how I would like the design to be laid out. From there, I create a rough draft after rough draft until I like the way the words flow. Once I complete the design, I place it on mockups to see it in “real life”. I can have an idea for something, but until I see it on the product, it doesn’t get the final stamp of approval. After approval, samples are created to ensure fit, color, and style.
How has the COVID-19 climate affected Legendary Rootz?
The COVID-19 climate has definitely affected Legendary Rootz. When the entire country locked down, I truly felt a little hopeless about where things were going to go. Our suppliers were unable to produce our items, and I was conflicted about just closing down until things picked back up again. However, in these times of feeling hopeless, I love that I have my family and friends to lean on and to consult. I broke things down with my sister and was able to keep things up and running. We have hit snags along the way, but I always tell myself to ‘take it one day at a time.’
What does your day-to-day look like – and what you love most about what you do?
My day-to-day mostly consists of ensuring operations are up to date, customers are being communicated with, and that our presence is seen on social media.
I love curating our social feed because that’s when I feel the most connected with the #rootzcrëw (that’s what our supporters are called). I love the designs that I’ve created for the brand, but something is amazing about seeing our tees and accessories styled by our supporters. It’s like they take it, flip it, and reverse it.
What does success mean to you?
Success, to me, is to be able to bring things full circle. It’s such a blessing to be a blessing, and I have definitely been able to experience this recently. With all of the support over these past few months, we have been able to donate to organizations nationwide. I have plans to create a national non-profit catered towards Black Women’s mental health, and all of the support we’ve had has allowed for this to be possible.
How do you practice self-care?
Self-care looks different, depending on what I’m currently trying to balance. Daily, I practice self-care by having a morning routine. I make a cup of tea in our ‘You Can’t Pour From An Empty Cup’ mug, whip up a bowl of maple brown sugar oatmeal and read my morning devotional. Having this routine helps me to prepare for whatever I have for the day and clears any stress from the past day. I can start the day with a renewed mind.
When I have a really stressful day, I like to turn on my favorite playlist of the moment, which is usually something with r&b and just vibe out. I put work away, turn my phone on silent, and read a book. Sometimes we forget to take a break from the world. So many things are happening so frequently that sometimes we need to just pause, reflect, and refresh.
From your own experience, what are some challenges Black women entrepreneurs specifically face, and how can they overcome them?
I feel like there’s a lot of pressure on Black Women, especially in the professional area. We walk into a room, and we’re instantly judged, by our appearance, our hair, the color of our skin. We speak too strongly, and we’re labeled as aggressive. While in school, I had someone blatantly tell me that he was surprised I was a biochemistry major because he heard “we don’t like to work hard.” Comments like that make it hard to feel comfortable in spaces because we’re always working again wildly racist and upsetting stereotypes.
I wouldn’t say I’ve overcome these obstacles that I face daily because I can’t give anyone authority to make me feel less about myself. In every aspect of my life, I have to ask “Is this serving me?” If it’s not, I let it go and carry on. It’s hard sometimes to have that type of clarity, but I know that if I carry that negatively, I will be the only one truly affected. Daily, I remind myself how smart I am, how grateful I am for the opportunity to have this platform, and that God has equipped me to handle anything that comes my way.
How can white women specifically be better allies to Black women and the Black community as a whole?
Since the protests have started, we’ve gotten this question about 20 times a day. I think allyship is showing up. Showing up without any conditions. Showing up and standing firm on what you believe in.
During a program I participated in last year, I met an amazing woman from Phoenix, who owns Social Spin Laundromat. Through her organization, she is able to provide a safe, clean laundromat for the community and help those in need. Since forming a relationship with her, she has taken time out of her day to speak with me, encourage me, and connect me with like-minded individuals. That is what allyship is to me — recognizing how you can give back and doing the work — not looking for applause or accolades.
If you could go back and give yourself three pieces of advice when you first started Legendary Rootz– what would you tell yourself?
Trust the process. Don’t rush the process. Everything that you need will come to you.
It’s okay to mess up, they are just lessons that will help you in the future.
Everything will work out. Enjoy the journey.
What’s next for you and Legendary Rootz?
Expansion is definitely the word I would use to describe what’s next for Legendary Rootz and me. I have so many dope ideas and concepts that I have wanted to explore for years. Now I have the time, space, and means to put these plans in motion, and I could not be more excited.