Be the Difference Clothing: One Woman’s Fashion Movement in Jersey City

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There are brands in the fashion industry that use their platforms to speak up about issues in society and then there are brands that were created specifically to inspire and create a dialogue around issues in society. Be the Difference Clothing, founded in 2014 in Jersey City, is one of those inspirational brands with an admirable mission and purpose. This company is known for conversation-sparking t-shirts with both light-hearted and powerful themes. It’s more than fashion, it’s a movement. Joy, the mastermind behind the brand, uses clothing to send messages of encouragement and believing in love above all else. Read on to learn about how Joy is using her e-commerce brand to be the difference she hopes to see in her community.

About Joy 

Joy goes by her author name, Joy W. She was born in Hoboken, raised in Jersey City, and has “no intentions of leaving,” as she put it. 

It is important to her to continue the discussion around important topics. While her t-shirt designs are great conversation starters, Joy also wanted to be a part of the conversations that can make a difference. She has spoken as a guest at several community events, including at Beloved Community Charter school about the importance of education. Joy also spoke during a Women’s Empowerment and Vision Board Workshop about the importance of speaking things into existence, empowering other women, and the importance of never giving up. “I was also able to speak during the Black History Month celebration in 2019, and 2020. I even received my first Certificate of Appreciation this year by the NU Lambda Lambda JC chapter. That was the dopest feeling,” Joy tells Hoboken Girl.

The Journey to Making a Difference

Joy was inspired to make her first shirt “Work Hard Snack Harder”, after realizing that she would end her workout with chocolate and ice cream. It wasn’t until she encountered a man on her way home that she decided to take her t-shirt making more seriously. “After seeing someone under the influence of a substance bent over backwards swaying slowly in 20 degree weather, I knew I couldn’t get out of my car to help, but that I could make a t-shirt. ‘Addiction Kills The Family’ was my second t-shirt.”

After the first two t-shirts, Joy made the decision to create a brand that sends messages of positivity. “Most if not all designs or sayings are created to inspire and encourage the wearer, and those who see the designs. Some designs are inspired by personal experiences and others from situations I see or hear,” she shared. “The more we talk about our problems, the more we can become whole and really live out our life’s purposes.”

“I also donate 10% of all clothing sales to Hayden’s Heart {raises awareness for CHD}. I love babies, and this charity financially helps families who have children in hospitals, as well as hosts retreats for surviving parents.”

Read more: A List of Hoboken + Jersey City Boutiques to Shop Online

The Clothing 

Upon visiting the Be the Difference Clothing website, the first thing that pops up is a live chat asking if there’s anything you need assistance with {a very helpful tool should you have a question about something}.

Some of her unisex t-shirts and hoodies read “I’m a survivor of ___, I will not be defeated”, “over oppression,” “honesty = freedom,” “follow your dreams,” “addiction kills,” “the grass is greener right here,” “hard work pays off,” “say no to workforce bullying,” and “rebuilding trust.” Other t-shirts read “a paycheck is not a passion,” and “all I need is love.” Women also have the option of tank tops. 

Children and infant clothing is also available. Some of the onesies read “I love my dad,” “I will be a leader,” “my future is bright,” “power,” and “forever love.” Sizes for onesies range from 3 to 12 months and 2T to 4T.

Joy even has socks with unique designs and quotes for $15 a pair. One pair has a leaf design in bright pink, orange, and yellow with a quote reading “falling in love with the process.” Another pair is sky blue with pink tulips and a heart in the middle with a quote reading “love and peace” across the middle. 

“I only make a limited amount of socks because we are all individuals and need to be reminded that it’s okay to be set apart, and it keeps me creative,”  Joy shared. 

Life as an Author

Joy has self-published two books of her original quotes. Quotes That Make You Say OH From Instagram to your Hand Part 1 and Quotes that make you say OH! From Instagram to your Hand Part 3.  

Joy explains, “One day, I was minding my business getting my hair done while watching Queen Sugar. One of the women there said more of us African American women should write more so that younger girls can see how versatile we as a culture can be. In my head, I was like ‘I ain’t writing no novel and I’m not an author, but I do like challenges.’ By the time I got home, I realized how I’d been posting quotes on Instagram three times a day for the past year, so maybe that could be my contribution.”

Her first book was self published in October 2018. “I was in shock for a good six months,” Joy explains. Later, she published her second book, which is actually part 3. “Part 2 will never be published since I felt it didn’t “hit” (meaning it didn’t have enough mind bending quotes) hard enough,” she tells us. Joy went on to publish part 3 in June of 2019. She intends to publish Part 4 by the end of July 2020. “The quotes are 100% original. I didn’t want to be like anyone else, and it’s more fun, and challenging to think outside of the box,” she says.

See more: Local Spots in Hoboken + Jersey City Delivering Everything Under the Sun

The Be the Difference Youtube Channel

Joy took her passion for public speaking and created a YouTube channel to begin a dialogue with viewers about both serious and light-hearted topics. In her series titled Hello World Talk Show, Joy has hosted inspirational segments, motivational lessons, cooking tutorials, advice on maintaining healthy relationships, workout videos, goal setting, how to cope with grief, and so much more.

I wanted to document everyday people sharing different life experiences so that anyone who may come across the episodes can know they are not alone nor do they need to struggle alone,” she shared. “It’s an amazing idea knowing that someone can be going through a similar situation. I believe in humanity, when we grow together the world will flow together, and life will be better.”

Joy is a versatile and creative person who finds genuine enjoyment from speaking to others about all aspects of life. She quickly pivoted her t-shirt brand into a movement, a fun way to bring awareness to serious issues, and also celebrate the happy things in life. From t-shirts, to books, and inspirational videos, Joy does it all. Through Be the Difference Clothing, Joy is doing her part to be the difference in the world.

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Victoria is a fourth-generation Hoboken native, BNR in the Mile Square and part-time in Jersey City. Through playing softball for fourteen years, playing the trumpet for the Hoboken High School Redwings Band, and graduating from New Jersey City University, these two cities have a special place in her heart. When she isn’t Style Assisting or volunteering at Symposia Bookstore, Hoboken Fire Museum/Hoboken Historical Museum, she’s exploring everything the Concrete Jungle has to offer. You can catch her at art exhibitions, local festivities, traveling, diving into a new book, thrifting or indulging in some form of arts and crafts.