A Change of Clothes

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Gladys Henriquez makes statements of social justice through her shirt designs


  • Photo: Andrew Morales

  • Photo: Gladys Henriquez

Gladys Henriquez is taking on the injustices she sees in the world one T-shirt at a time. Early this year, she launched the Anti-Bullying Clothing Co. with her mother, Daly Perez. Although she herself has never been bullied, she recognizes the issue as a serious one. “I’m just a very compassionate person ... and just the fact that kids die and kill themselves.... People get traumatized forever. You hear adults telling their stories about when they were bullied and it’s heartbreaking,” she said. Part of the proceeds from sales will go to organizations like Planned Parenthood, the ACLU and Rise and Resist.

Two months ago, she added another line to her burgeoning business, the Know My Rights Clothing Co. Her inspiration for that, she explained, was a direct result of Trump administration’s travel ban, widely thought to target Muslims. Even though that company is still in its infancy, she said her Nasty Woman design is the current bestseller.

A native of the Dominican Republic, Henriquez came to New York at 14. She went on graduate magna cum laude from Seton Hall University. A college internship in the marketing department at Western Union led her to pursue that career path and she now works on companies’ marketing campaigns.

You’re from the Dominican Republic. What was it like for you when you first moved to New York?

It was a very tough experience. I was a teenager and left all my friends over there and most of my family. I didn’t know any English. Then when I came to school, it wasn’t a bilingual one, which I actually am thankful for now, but I remember asking people around me, “What did the teacher just say?” That affected my GPA, because I used to be a super honor roll student. And I no longer could get all A’s, so that was upsetting. It was interesting, but it was a good experience.

Explain your marketing business.

Lately, I’ve been working with smaller companies and entrepreneurs. I do branding and help them execute their marketing campaigns. And that’s fun, because I like to constantly be challenged. I like the fact that I get to work on different projects all the time and get to choose them.

You started the Antibully Clothing Co. with your mom. What was that process like?

I started that with my mom because we originally worked on an invention of hers. I helped her with the marketing. It’s called ComfyBebe. It’s something for toddlers that you put on their car seats, so when they fall asleep, their head doesn’t bend forward all the way, which can be very uncomfortable for them. Because sometimes, even those little pillows don’t completely help. We just kind of branched out to the anti-bullying. And to be honest, I don’t remember how ... it was just something that we were passionate about. T-shirts hadn’t been done, so I wanted to spread the positive message through them.

What made you want to create the Know My Rights Clothing Co.?

I’m going to be honest, it was mainly triggered by the Muslim ban. I thought it was just unfair. Then I thought, “There’s so much I can do with this, because it’s not only political rights.” For example, I just recently launched a rights’ line. One of the designs is what is the definition of probable cause. I also want to create awareness about people’s rights. But not only people’s rights in terms of legal terms…Eventually I would like to do other lines like “Girlfriends,” like you’re being cheated on.

What are your future plans?

To come up with more collections. To work with organizations and not only donate money, but also really integrate their mission into what we do. And to be able to connect with some, possibly celebrities, because there are a lot of celebrities who have a platform that can promote our message.

Do you have any specific celebrities in mind you’d like to work with?

I don’t know if you saw Sarah Silverman and Hasan Minhaj’s Netflix specials. They both have really good quotes. One of the quotes from Hasan Minhaj is, “I was born here. I have the audacity of equality.” Also, I just recently saw Madonna’s acceptance speech at the Billboard Women in Music Awards last year and it was great. Not only did she thank God for everything that she has, but also she’s a very confident woman and stands up for what she believes in.




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