Photo Credit: Travaly
Rep Your Heritage With Black-Owned Flag-Inspired And Cultural Apparel From Travaly
Meet Yasmina Travaly, the 24-year-old owner and creator of Travaly. Her brand offers apparel with designs inspired by national and cultural flags, primarily for people of African, Caribbean, and Latin-American descent. Born in Belgium to a Rwandan mother and a Senegalese/Guinean father, it was Yasmina’s own cultural narrative that sparked the idea to create her company.
“I grew up in different places, always speaking different languages,” said Yasmina. “Growing up away from my country of origin always had me insisting very strongly on the expression of my roots. I always felt like I had to ‘let people know’ or compensate for the fact that I was in a place where people would confuse my origins. From my observation, I could see that it was a common feeling amongst the diaspora that I was a part of. That’s the state of mind I was in when I started my company.”
At first, Yasmina simply desired items she could wear to creatively represent her culture. However, her ethnically diverse circle of friends made her realize she had a huge opportunity to include everyone who could relate to her narrative. Once she began sharing her designs and content, people from many origins started to reach out to her with requests.
Passionate about creating items that allow people to represent and show pride in their heritage and culture, it is something that is very near and dear to Yasmina’s heart for several reasons. For one, part of the Travaly brand offering is about tapping into the virtues of having a rich and/or blended cultural heritage.
“Growing up as a part of the African diaspora, many people are unintentionally set up to feel insecure or ‘left out’ at some point in life. People around you will vet whether you get to ‘claim’ your culture based on superficial factors such as how well you speak your language, how often you go back to your country, what music you listen to, or what ethnic company you keep.”
However, Yasmina recognizes the importance of not allowing anyone to box you in or out of a certain culture when they don’t know your story. Members of the Travaly community are fueled by the fact that they are all different and uniquely-blended. Individuals can proudly wear and boast of their heritage, whether they grew up in the country of their heritage or moved around the world.
Through Travaly, Yasmina is also able to help educate people about different nations and cultures, as well as learn about them herself. Many times, a conversation will spark from a comment left on a design on her Instagram page. Someone might inquire about what flag a design is inspired from. From there, it leads to a deeper discussion about the country, which oftentimes is a place the person didn’t know existed.
Likewise, Yasmina has learned a great deal about new countries through her followers. She may get a design request from a country she didn’t know much about, prompting her to delve into research to learn more about the nation and its people and culture. Yasmina says many of the comments she’s received have inspired her to travel to different places around the world.
“I recently spent a whole month creating content in Belize for my upcoming Belize collection, just because I received a lot of messages from Belizeans on Instagram. Mind you, I did not know anything about their culture before that. Some of the messages they sent me just made me want to go there, so I could learn and have my upcoming campaign reflect the beauty of what their heritage has to offer. That month made me a lot richer in knowledge and experiences.”
Today, Travaly’s catalog of products includes swimwear, windbreakers, and backpacks for both
men and women. Over the last few months, the most popular items have been products from the Ivory Coast men’s collection, the Dominican Republic women’s collection, and the Rwanda windbreaker collection.
Travaly is currently in the process of expanding their catalog and revamping their store to add on their most-requested flag designs and new collections. You can shop their products at www.travalyshop.com and follow the brand at @_travaly.