Ali & Jenni: Working for Awareness
Ali Schindler and Jenni Chapman, known on Instagram as Ali & Jenni, are determined to use their powers for good. The San Francisco Bay-area couple works as advocates for LBGTQIA+ and Autism rights and representation. Currently, that work includes running a custom t-shirt fundraiser on the Custom Ink Fundraising platform. The shirt features a quote “No pride for some of us without liberation for all of us” from the Black trans rights activist Marsha P. Johnson, and the funds go to benefit the foundation named in her honor, the Marsha P. Johnson Institute that works to defend and protect the lives of Black trans people.
We caught up with Jenni to learn more about her work and life with Ali and about their efforts behind their custom t-shirt fundraiser.
CI: What is your story?
JC: We are a femme same-sex couple sharing our story in the hopes of creating more diverse LGBTQ+ representation. Jenni is additionally representing the female/queer Autistic community. We met on a dating app while we were both in college in Boston, MA – three months before I graduated and moved back to sunny California. Thankfully it was essentially love at first sight, and after a year and a half of long distance Ali picked up her life and moved out to CA to be with me! We’ve now been together for 3 1/2 years (as of 9/12/20). We love sharing our life with our friends and family, and it turned into something bigger once we realized how much our authenticity was helping others who hadn’t seen themselves reflected in mainstream media.
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Sometimes self care is face masks and chocolate and bubble baths. 🍫🛁 Sometimes it’s serious work. Especially in the US, almost no one cares for themselves adequately. We live in a country where burnout is an achievement, going into work sick is expected, and barely surviving in a job that completely drains you is okay because it pays well. We challenge you to take a hard look at the root(s) of why you’re sometimes not caring for yourself enough. Are there specific areas of self care you struggle with? (Drinking enough water, talking to yourself kindly, etc.) Try journaling about it or talking about it with a therapist or trusted friend. We also challenge you to create a self portrait in any medium (photography, drawing, etc.) that makes you feel beautiful and/or reflects where you are in your self care journey! 🎨📷 Swipe for the full assignment instructions. Don’t forget to use #selfcarecamp and #aliandjenni so we can see and share your posts. ❤️ Comment below with an aspect of self care you either struggle with or rock at! 👇🏻
CI: How did you get started working in social media and running a successful account?
JC: I (J) started our Instagram (@ali_and_jenni) in December of 2018, as well as our blog aliandjenni.com in an effort to share what we were up to with our widely dispersed friends and family. But very quickly, we made a bunch of fantastic LGBTQ+ friends and followers which was amazing! We’re on track to hit 20k followers by the end of 2020.
CI: How did you first learn about Custom Ink? How has Custom Ink helped you?
JC: I actually first heard about Custom Ink when I was 14, I made custom shirts for a group of actors I was performing in a play with, featuring our favorite quote from the show. I love the way that it brings people together and forms this super fun, tangible community. When they reached out to Ali and me about doing this campaign, I was immediately in because I know their work and how much they’ve helped good people make a difference in the world.
CI: How was your design created?
JC: I made a very basic version in the Custom Ink design studio to give the artists an idea of what we were looking for. We knew we wanted to use the Marsha P. Johnson quote, and wanted some flourishes and carefully chosen fonts to make the celebration (and the seriousness of the topic) come to life. Then the incredible artists at Custom Ink took our idea and ran with it! They came back to us with two possible designs. This one in particular spoke to us, and then it was off to the presses. It was so cool to see the design on our products when they arrived – it’s like meeting a celebrity in person that you’ve only ever seen on screen.
CI: Do you have anything else you’d like to share?
JC: We are huge advocates for Pride all year long and visibility/representation, so this is a cause near and dear to our hearts. What Marsha P. Johnson said is true: the LGBTQ+ folx who are deemed “beautiful” or “acceptable” in the world must not stop and rest on their laurels because they are able to access fully the sense of pride in who they are. The LGBTQ+ community (and the rest of the world!) can’t rest until those who are historically oppressed (in this case, Black Trans women) don’t only matter, but are TREASURED and IN POWER and SAFE.
The campaign runs through October 7, 2020. You can see and support it on their fundraising page.