CANTA issue #10, 2017

Back in October of last year, sisters Johanna and Brittany somewhat unknowingly launched into the start of a social enterprise called NOPESISTERS. The Wellington sisters designed a t-shirt emblazoned with mastectomy scars hand stitched onto a t-shirt. This was for Breast Cancer Awareness month and was based from their mum’s journey through breast cancer surgery. Fast forward to present day and NOPESISTERS has featured in international media, and they have expanded their tee-shirts to include consent, and menstrual issues. CANTA sat down to talk to the NOPESISTERS about their story.

CANTA: I feel like NOPESISTERS just rocketed out of nowhere. You’ve had international coverage over something that started basically in your lounge. How does it feel for you both?!

NopeSisters: It was hugely surprising and felt surreal when people from overseas, outside our friends and family, wanted the tees, and began to ask for them. We are literally still working out of a bedroom office and social media has been an incredible tool for us in order to connect with people worldwide.

C: For the uninitiated, can you sum up what NOPESISTERS is about?

NS: It’s about creating something cool and wearable, which has a strong purpose behind it – to raise money and awareness for charities which we personally care about. That’s why our by-line is ‘making dope stuff for a good cause’.

C: Okay, so how do you manage to keep up with life and a running a legit charity like this?

NS: We support charities, but we are not a charity ourselves – we call ourselves a ‘social enterprise.’Balancing NOPESISTERS with our other jobs (barista and actor) has been a big learning experience and often involves a great deal of juggling. The day-to-day of our work involves logistically organising the t-shirt orders, replying to customer enquiries, social media and planning new ways to promote the t-shirts as well as regularly keeping in touch with our partner charities. It has been amazing for us that NOPESISTERS has grown organically and because of the success of the Mastectotees, we figured out that the model could work for new tee designs and ideas. We then had to search for perfect charity partners – which have real personal connection for us. That’s  how our NOPE tee paired up with the amazing services of Sexual Abuse HELP Foundation. To be honest, we still do make it up as we go along – its early days – only half a year in. We also literally can’t get by without our Mum who has taken on heaps of admin work. It’s a real family business, so we all juggle our other work and fit this in with the demands of the NOPESISTERS work.

C: You’ve expanded your range past the ‘Mastecto Tee’ to your ‘NOPE’ tee – What’s next for NOPESISTERS?

NS: We have just released our next tee, which will give money to a group supporting young women tackle the increasing unaffordability cost of menstrual products, which are still ridiculously taxed as ‘luxury items’. We are teaming up with a couple of awesome Massey University students Olie Body and Marie Larking of MAUSA who have a start-up not-for-profit called Wā Collective. A survey they conducted on campus, found that 1 in 3 women had missed university days because they could not afford menstrual products. The Wā Collective was formed because these two women no longer wanted access to affordable menstrual products, to be a barrier to students attending classes. They began with a trial sale of sponsored subsidised menstrual cups at the Massey and Victoria University’s campuses. They sold out of 100 cups – which are also recyclable and affordable – almost immediately. Huge demand, and obviously a big success. Wā Collective’s mission is to give tertiary students access to affordable menstrual products on university campuses. We will give them profits from our new design‘The Period.’ tee to subsidise more menstrual cups for more tertiary students. Eventually we hope this will expand into secondary school students as well.

C: Any inspiring words for UC students who might want to follow suit and start their own brand?

NS: NOPESISTERS just started with a t-shirt design and social media accounts. If you are incredibly passionate about your idea, chances are other people will be too. Honestly, the biggest piece of advice we can offer would just be to give it a go, and never be afraid to make mistakes. Even if your idea doesn’t work out, the learning gained will be invaluable. Also, human interpersonal contact is so important, and you should never lose sight of the high value of all the personal experiences and connections you already have. We wouldn’t be where we are without the incredible support of our family and friends.




Wā Collective:

Issue Two: The Greasy Wok 4