Everyone knows clothes are more than just things you wear to combat the weather (or public indecency charges) - they can be fun and even fundamentally political. Case in point? Rabble and Rouse, a new local business whose T’s are emblazoned with inspirational, apathy-killing phrases, including Give All The Damns and Do Better, among others. ATLiens will recognize our city’s resident badass (and fashionista), Vanessa Toro, as one half of party planners Revel Forces. We sat down with her to get the dish on her fiercest, most fashionable endeavor yet.

Local Scout: When you created the first one as a gift, did you sense it would take off and become its own business?

We originally wanted it for us to be able to wear, but we did want for other folks to be able to join in. We wanted to say something, without it being a loud, tacky unflattering tee (why are so many tees boxy?!)  We definitely knew we wanted to put it out there, in the larger culture, but we didn't know how far it would spread, and we still don't.

How do you decide what mottos to use on your wares?

It's actually been surprisingly difficult. You want to take the limited real estate on your shirt and have it say something about you, something meaningful, something that resonates with people, something that could change perspectives, that might be funny, or topical, or necessary . . . and it also needs to be three words. That quickly leads to corny clichés.  So far, our litmus test is: a. Would I wear this out in public?  b. Could it lead to interesting conversations with strangers? c. Would it look good on a mug shot?

You also work in advertising as well as event planning. Is it tough to wear so many different hats? Do they each inform your different business ventures?

It can be a little tough, time management wise, but they're all about what moves people to act, and I love playing in that space.

People who know you know you’re heavily involved in the Atlanta community and larger social movements.  Why T’s? Do you think T’s can make a difference?

We think everything makes a difference. We reference this in the About Us of our site, but there’s fascinating science about neuroplasticity and how all of the things we encounter in our day to day alter our thoughts and literally change our brains, creating grooves and paths that affect our future thoughts.

So, we’re for every and any movement that seeks to introduce positive images into everyday life and create more discussion. We are well aware that these are merely shirts, but we want to chip away at the public and personal narratives from every angle. Personally, I made a resolution to smile a whole lot more, particularly with strangers, and that small, seemingly meaningless gesture has reaped tons more smiles and conversations and friendships. It really does add up. If our shirt can be the equivalent of smiling at a stranger, we’re killing it.

What can we expect from Rabble and Rouse?

We just launched kids shirts! So expect to see the littles asking you to Do Better.

And aside from coming up with a few more ideas and phrases for clothing, we’re looking for other small scale avenues to overthrow gloom and doom – be it public art, green graffiti, small discussion salons, Election 2016 support groups. . .



Appalachian born and bred, Brook Bolen is a freelance writer whose interests include pitbulls and toddlers (especially her own). She is routinely shocked to discover more people don't count cornbread and beans as their favorite meal and can't understand why a mashup of Yo Gabba Gabba and Run the Jewels doesn't exist. Brook tweets infrequently at @BrookBolen.