The bustling streets of a modern city often see a blend of styles, personalities, and stories. Among these multifaceted expressions, Tahlayah Morrow launched Carry a Mood as a distinct voice seeking to unite the world of street fashion with a powerful message about mental health.
Tahlayah started Carry A Mood, coupled her desire to support and uplift those grappling with mental health issues with her passion for fashion to create a brand that goes beyond the fabrics and stitches.
In our discussion, she shares how fashion became her outlet and an unexpected medium for discussing mental health. Streetwear, known for its customizable style and defiance against norms, became the perfect metaphor for the unique and individual battles each of us faces with our mental health. Just as one might change a pair of dress shoes to tennis shoes to redefine an outfit, our mental state is fluid and can be expressed in myriad ways.
“Streetwear has no definition, so anyone can make their own definition of what it looks like.”
This lack of confinement, this absence of strict boundaries, mirrors the vast spectrum of mental health. Everyone’s journey is different. Everyone’s struggle is unique. And for Tahlayah, it’s about acknowledging that difference and creating a platform where individual voices are heard and validated.
One could argue that in today’s digital age, the lines of real self-expression are blurred. With platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter dominating social lives, there’s an overwhelming pressure to conform, to fit into a mould crafted by popular opinion and viral trends. Tahlayah’s Carry A Mood defies this pressure. It encourages its followers to take back their power, to define themselves not by what society dictates but by who they truly are.
“It’s about letting people have a place where they can go to and always be themselves, no matter what,” she says.
But it’s not just about clothes. Tahlayah’s mission is transformative. Through her workshops, she is creating safe spaces for conversations around mental health. These aren’t just discussions, though. They are immersive experiences where attendees engage in creative activities, learn new skills, and discover outlets that might help them navigate their own mental health challenges.
Tahlayah shares the essence of one such workshop, where she introduced an interactive icebreaker. Participants were encouraged to meet strangers, converse, and eventually compliment them. The intent? To foster an environment where people could be vulnerable, where first impressions became affirmations, and where positivity flowed freely.
It’s this very ethos that Tahlayah hopes to amplify in the coming year. “More workshops”, she enthusiastically proclaims, sharing her vision of hosting these sessions for businesses, schools, and other institutions. By doing so, she hopes to make the dialogue surrounding mental health mainstream, to eradicate the stigmas and create a world where people can openly discuss their mental well-being.
It’s about taking the undefined, the raw emotions and feelings, and expressing them, without the fear of judgment. It’s about giving a voice to the often indescribable whirlwind of emotions that define mental health.
As the conversation winds down, one thing becomes clear. Carry A Mood isn’t just a brand. It’s a movement. It’s a testament to the fact that when fashion meets purpose, the impact is profound.
As Tahlayah’s journey unfolds, she leaves behind an indelible message – while mental health might not have a defined look, it is as diverse and multifaceted as streetwear, and it deserves to be celebrated and understood in all its forms.
To find out more, visit her:
[00:00:11] Adam: Welcome to People Helping People, the podcast for our social entrepreneurs who want to build a social impact business. I'm your host Adam Morris, and I'm honored to introduce Tahlayah Morrow, founder of Carry a Mood, an organization tackling mental health. I've really enjoyed her journey, watching her grow through GiveBackHack and Sea Change, and I'm excited to explore this arc of everything that's happened and all the good that you're doing. So Tahlayah, welcome on the podcast.
[00:00:37] Tahlayah: Thank you.
[00:00:38] Adam: Can we start off, can you tell us just a little bit about what Carry a Mood does?
[00:00:42] Tahlayah: Yeah so like before he Adam said, my name is Tahlayah. I'm the founder and CEO of Carry Mood. Carry Mood is a street wear clothing brand that emphasizes mental health, self-expression, and self-reflection. It's been like my ideation baby for two years, but it actually like fully got its legs.
Just a little under a year now.
[00:01:04] Adam: That's really exciting. You said you've been working on this for two years, like was the inspiration for this?
[00:01:11] Tahlayah: So back in 2020 when the pandemic hit school had got pushed to online and so I was online schooling and things like that. I had been having some like jaw pain and I thought like I had a tooth problem or like I needed a tooth pull or something like that. And then one day the pain was really bad, so I went to the ER.
Actually not none of those things is what was wrong, actually had a tumor. And I ended up finding that out at 12 o'clock at night in the middle of a pandemic. It was like the worst experience ever because the doctor that delivered the news didn't have an answer to any of my questions. So I'm like freaking out in the middle of the ER.
To not have any answers to what was going on or if it was cancerous. Just literally nothing had, couldn't tell me anything. Could only show me pictures, and that didn't help me already freaking out. So in the summer, I ended up having to get my left jaw removed. I went through this very extensive process of going through that, getting the surgery, the healing process and things like that.
And at that time also because it was the pandemic and then now I was healing. I had a lot of time to sit with myself and that's when I wanted to make the switch with my majors at school. And so I switched over to Psychology in Fashion and I was thinking, I kind of wanna start a fashion then, but I don't know what I want it to be.
And I had been thinking about like how much I've loved fashion my whole life, and thinking about all the games I used to play growing up and things like that. And then, I was thinking about psychology and how much it meant to me and how it has shaped my life and who I am and like those are the things I care about.
And so after about a year or so, I had came to the understanding that I wanted a fashion brand and I wanted to somehow tie into psychology and then by late January, 2022 had came up with the name, my friend helped me with a tier list of names and that's when I slowly started to figure out, okay, I wanted to be a street brand because I want the possibilities for people to be able to create outfits and experiences to be limitless.
So that's why I went with street wear, because I felt like, It was a way for people to have creativity and self-expression without limitations, and they can make anything street wear because everyone's what do I want to say? Everyone's understanding or thought process on what street wear is very different.
So I wanted to go that route and I was like, okay, so how do I tie in more of the mental health? And I was like a lot of people use clothes and things in like a sociology aspect and. Think about like the things that we wear as a society or in certain areas like a job or a school uniform or using them to make statements politically and things like that.
And I was like, no one ever really talks about the psychology part of it. And so that's when I started to develop. Clothing, self-expression. You can be affected with what you wear by how you feel. And I went down like a rabbit hole of how many ways I can intertwine psychology into fashion.
And then even through that, I had my own discovery of I even got a new outlook because I got to see how. Closely woven together. The two topics are, and a lot of people think they're so different, but art and psychology on a general view overlap more than they're separate because they both impact each other.
And so that's when I started to take that route. And then I didn't know where I wanted to start, but I knew I had this idea. I was like, okay, I've never started a business before. I don't know the first thing I need to start with, but I'm gonna, I'm gonna get there somehow. I met Shelby from the U and she overheard me telling a friend that I wanted to start this, and this was like a month later.
So it was like late February and she said, you should come to this open house. So I went to the open house, I got into the U accelerator. I'm very grateful for that because all of the things I learned I never would've thought about in a million years because I didn't know anything about business is if you would've told me a business and social entrepreneurship with my future when I was younger.
I would've laughed at you because that wasn't originally how I looked at going about my career path. And going through different things and just going on that journey, I was able to learn different things about myself and ways I can achieve what I want without it being the traditional route. And so I went through the U program.
That was an amazing experience.
[00:05:44] Adam: For people that aren't aware, the U is the Urban Development Center. They work with minority owned businesses. And help them get off the ground with business planning and helping build connections. But they are a fantastic team over there,
[00:05:58] Tahlayah: Yes, they're great.
[00:06:00] Adam: I'm glad you gotta go through that. How did that program change what you're doing? What kind of growth did you see through that?
[00:06:06] Tahlayah: All of the things that I never would've known about business, I got to learn through that I got to experience different sides of businesses. What makes a successful business? What parts you need to help your business grow, what those first couple years of business look like, how to imagine your business years from now, even though if that's not what's currently happening.
And it helped me think about a lot of different things. It also helped me learn the parts of business that I love, and then it helped me learn the parts I don't love so much. And even still having that understanding. If I need new team members or I need to add people to my team, I know what I'm looking for and I have an understanding of what that role should look like.
Even if I'm not the one to do it, I know what those expectations are so that I know whoever I'm adding also has my business best at heart. So while it may have been times where I'm like, I really don't wanna learn of this, or This is too confusing for me. I now have that knowledge. So even, like I said, if I'm not the one doing it my business is in good hands if I need them to do something for me, or I'm outsourcing for something, I know that it's being done well and in a good manner so that my business can keep growing.
[00:07:26] Adam: All right. That's really cool. I love that. And then you recently went through the sea change program as well.
[00:07:31] Tahlayah: Yes. That was the third accelerator I went through because I did GiveBackHack in the fall. So with the U like once we were done and we pitched and things like that they bought our LLCs for us. And that's why June 14th is the date, cuz that's the date they enlisted them through the state.
After that I was okay, what's next? where do I go from here?
I had sketches for products and then we developed samples and this whole samples were in productions. So while the manufacturer working on those. I was like, okay, what do I do in the in between time?
And then I went to the sea change event. I met Alex. I met Emily, I met Mallory. They were all there. And that's when I started to learn what social entrepreneurship actually means. And. That was when I decided to make the switch to say that my business was a social enterprise.
Emily was like, I think you should go to GiveBackHack. And And so she gave me the rundown of things. She was like, I think you'd be really great. So I came everyone did their pitches. I did my elevator pitch. I won't lie, I was a little bit intimidated and so when I pitched, I was like, okay. I stumbled over my words. I don't think I got completely across what the business is. I don't know if people are gonna like that. And so when they announced like the top names, I was like, okay. Wow. And then when they voted, I didn't think that I would make it to the final six.
I would end up pitching for the weekend, but going through that process, it was very hectic. We hit the ground running with the team members that I had, and within six hours on Saturday, we had 150 survey responses.
We ran a beta test workshops with about 10 to 12 participants. So the, that was able to help us with having real numbers and real people to actually prove what we were trying to do with saying why the workshops were important with the brand and things like that to help with the pitch.
[00:09:27] Adam: And for people who are listening to this you don't realize this is the very fast paced weekend, right? So you came in Friday night and within 12 hours you were actually running a workshop.
[00:09:36] Tahlayah: Yes.
[00:09:37] Adam: And you had, a number of participants there, which is really cool. That's a very short timeframe to pull something like that.
Often. It was just something mind blowing about actually seeing that happen was really cool.
[00:09:47] Tahlayah: yes, that was a very quick 72 hours. I'm always busy when it comes to like school and stuff like that, but I've, I don't think I've ever done anything that quickly and have that much be done in such a short amount of time. It was a very different experience. I will say I've never done anything like that before.
I got really well connected with Emily and Mallory back from the summer when I went to that first initial workshop. And that's how Emily introduced me to GiveBackHack. And then Mallory was like , I think you'd be really good for the sea change accelerator.
And I said, okay. So when they released it I filled out the application. I was like, okay, we'll see what's gonna happen. And Christian Rupert Davis, who's one of the. People who works directly with the KBK center who helped with the program. She was talking to Mallory and she said, Mallory, I just read this application.
Like this application is like so good. And Mallory's is it Tahlayah's? And was like, why did you know, how did you know it was Tahlayah's? And she was like, I just assumed it would be because I've heard her talk about. Her business and what she believes in it and where she wanted to go. So the way you brought up the application, it sound like it would be hers.
And so I ended up getting in the KBK program as well
[00:11:08] Adam: how would you compare it to the U?
[00:11:10] Tahlayah: Some of the modules in the curriculum were things that I was repeating. And then there were parts that I didn't know because the U you know specifically about minority, small businesses where I SEA change, that was specifically for social entrepreneurship.
So there were things about social entrepreneurship that I was learning that I didn't get at the U because that wasn't a part of the curriculum. I would say there was a lot of overlap, but there were also new things that I got to learn and things I got to offer to everyone around me.
[00:11:46] Adam: You're like one of the very few people that has seen like all the programs. The three founding members of the Social Impact Alliance are the U , GiveBackHack and SEA change. So you are like the rating expert of
[00:11:57] Tahlayah: yeah.
[00:11:58] Adam: in each of these programs, which is really cool.
[00:12:00] Tahlayah: Less than a year, I went through all three programs and have that knowledge now. Going through the KBK, I was able to offer those things. Or when we would be talking, I would bring up examples from the U or GiveBackHack that I went through myself or I saw just from learning that I was able to offer during the social entrepreneurship accelerator because it may have applied to the topic or what we were talking about. When we started practicing pitching, at that point I had pitched at least five or six times, and so pitch competitions didn't give me the ANGs that they used to, and sometimes Mallory will have me go first so that people can try to shake off the nerves, but also see a example of someone who has done pitching that's in the program with them and not one of the facilitators of the program.
I was able to secure some funding for my social enterprise. I'm. Each program I went through. So the U, GiveBackHack? I've secured funding through each of those and poured them back into my business. KBK wrapped in April. And so from there I've just been developing my workshops more. And building out a collection to release later this year. Working with ambassadors and different organizations to collab on projects and to keep the community going even when big events aren't occurring.
[00:13:32] Adam: So earlier you mentioned how sometimes when you talk to people that they don't know how mental health connects with fashion. Can you just dive into that a little bit more and share what you tell people and how those relate.
[00:13:48] Tahlayah: I get the same question every time. Why fashion and psychology, like those two have nothing to do with each other, or those are two very different fields. And I always say that's not true. That's what people think. They're actually very similar and relate to each other a lot more than they're different.
I use different forms of art to give the explanation. So I say you listen to certain music, it makes you feel certain emotions or I bring up when people use clothes from a sociology standpoint to make a point or a statement or to use it for a purpose.
So for example, with Marching for Black Lives Matter, where there was a moment where they were dressing up in orange jumpsuits to show the representation for the number of incarcerated individuals. Had they not dressed in those jumpsuits, you wouldn't understand the severity of that number. But being able to physically see it, it now has a different connotation that has a different meaning to the point that they're trying to get across. And so I always ask them, when you're sick, how do you dress? And they usually say I throw on some sweats, or I wear pajamas or have on a hoodie, my hair is a mess, and things like that. And I'm like, okay.
And how do you feel when you're sick? And then they tell me how they feel. Sometimes I ask, Where you're going out to an event or there's a presentation, how do you dress? And they talk about like wearing a suit or a fancy dress or something that makes them feel good. And then they always say, because when I look good, I feel good.
And I'm like, okay. So when you look good, you feel good. Would you say your clothes have an impact on how you feel, or do your feelings impact the way that you dress? And they're like, yeah, I would say so. And I was like, then there's your
[00:15:42] Adam: fantastic.
[00:15:44] Tahlayah: And so I try to rope them in the conversation to answer in the question themselves.
And then they're always like, I see it now. I understand. And they're like, that's so different. I've never seen anyone do that before. That's amazing, you have the evidence for it. So I try to get them to answer the question themselves rather than me just say why?
[00:16:05] Adam: You mentioned with street wear too, that in itself has been a form of expression through clothing in particular.
[00:16:13] Tahlayah: Yeah, so I use streetwear because I think it's the most customizable style out of all styles that I've seen. But also I feel like you can make anything street wear, like if you have on a suit, if you put on. Like tennis shoes instead of dress shoes. It's no longer a regular office outfit. It's no longer a dressy fit because you changed something.
So I feel like I. You can make anything street wear, but also not everything is street wear. Like it has to be turned into street wear to make it street wear. Like it doesn't just exist as street wear. And, but also a lot of people's outlook and interpretation of what street wear is very different.
With street wear. There is no correct definition. There is no, this is street wear versus something like formal wear that you usually think of suits and ties and dress shoes and heels and skirts or dresses. With streetwear, no one's ever able to actually pinpoint what it looks like. I think that's the most important thing because there is no definition, so anyone can make their own definition of what it looks like.
And so I try to use that as it's something physical. But also self-expression and everyone is different. Just like mental health. Everyone deals with something differently. And so I want people to take back that humility and being themselves and showing up for themselves and being who they wanna be and viewing themselves from their own perspective and not other people's perspectives, because that's how a lot of people get lost in a sense.
Or tend to struggle in areas because they perceive themselves how other people perceive them or what they think is correct. Especially with like social media being a thing. There's a lot of influence from that, from peers on how you should act, how you should look, you should dress this way. And trying to encourage people to take that power back and define it for themselves rather than what society tells them.
And so that's how I do it. And like even down to the workshops we talk about mental health in different things like that, but there's also a creative component. There's something physical to be worked on so that the people who come to the workshops, not only are they. They have a secondary outlet when it comes to mental health and navigating that space, but also understanding that there are other people who are also going through that same journey.
But also it allows people to learn something new, creative, because a lot of people don't think they're creative. I think everyone is creative. It's just a matter on what kind of creative you are. You just have to find your voice. And so I offer the creative components to one, break up the conversation because mental health is a heavy topic to talk about, but two, it also allows people to find a new creative voice that they didn't think they had, or it also allows people to find healthier coping mechanisms to deal with the certain things they're dealing with mental health.
So it works in two ways. One, it helps. Lightened the load on the conversation, but it also allows people, different outlets they may have not explored because they didn't think they
[00:19:40] Adam: And this whole idea that, if you take something which is not defined and you're able to play around with it. It doesn't need to be perfect, but it can be an expression of who you are. And I think a lot of mental health is, not being able to communicate or really share, Hey here's what's going on inside of me because it's not comfortable, or it's not pretty, or it's not, it's not the formal wear of what you expect to project to the world, right?
It's personal. And so what you're doing is giving a voice to that and say, being able to explore that, which is so cool.
[00:20:08] Tahlayah: Yeah, I really try to do that with, the dialogues I have around them 12 or fashion, whatever it is. But even down to the clothing, I can give two people the same shirt, but they're not gonna put it together the same way because their definition of how it's supposed to look or how they're comfortable, self expressing themselves isn't gonna look the same.
And so they can wear the same shirt, but the way it looks is gonna look completely different on both parties because they're two different individuals. And so with that expression and being yourself, I think that goes right along with street wear because if you're living by your own definition of who you are and what your story looks like, streetwear has no definition.
So that you have endless possibilities to come up with something to convey that story. But also some people convey how they feel or what they're going through. Through other means of art because they can't get the words out. Some people do poetry, some people do art. Some people turn to fashion.
They have to find another way to get it out without verbally saying it, because it may be hard for them.
[00:21:15] Adam: What's the experience like for somebody coming into one of these workshops?
[00:21:19] Tahlayah: So I start the workshops off pretty regular. I've had people, I've had kids in my workshops before, so I've had all ages. Mental health has no age range. It can affect anybody, so that's how I look at my brand. It's for. Everyone. When I have to do pitches, I have to pick a specific market.
But when I'm generally speaking, I say it's for everyone because mental health doesn't have an age. It doesn't have a form in which it looks like. So I try to make sure that space is open for anyone. And so people come to the workshops And I started off by introducing myself and what my brand is if they're not familiar,
and then I try to have some sort of interactive Icebreaker instead of the traditional, what's your name, how old are you? What's your favorite color? What's a random fact? So I try to create something new. So one workshop I did, meet someone in the room that you didn't know, and by the end of your conversation you have to give 'em a compliment. And I transitioned them through different partners and then by the end, they're supposed to remember. Who they talked to and then one of their favorite compliments or compliment they gave to someone else. And the purpose of it is to One, open the space, cuz the tension can be a lot, especially when they know that it's a mental health workshop.
And so people can feel a little nervous. They're in their shell. So it's supposed to open the space so people can start to get comfortable and there's probably gonna be moments where some people get vulnerable, so I want them to feel comfortable with doing so. But also it allows people to hear from a complete stranger.
And what that first impression of them is, and. I do it because I believe in giving people their flowers. I don't think you should wait till something bad or in a major happy event happens to tell something, to tell someone something nice about themselves or. Something that you like or something that they did like always giving, pouring positivity into people.
No matter when it is, it can be a random time. You could tell someone you're walking down the street, you tell somebody you like their shoes or their outfit that could have made their day, they could have been having a bad day. But they were proud that they came up with that outfit. You told them that you love their outfit and that completely changed their attitude.
And that's why I do it. I do a different one each time. I don't keep them the same. One cuz there may be a returner in my workshop, but also because I try to incorporate different ways to open up conversation to get people involved.
[00:23:59] Adam: That's awesome. So what's your vision for the next year?
[00:24:02] Tahlayah: More workshops. I'm trying to incorporate a way to have monthly workshops. I wanna get that ball rolling because I've seen the impact it has done in the little amount of time I've been doing workshops and how much people appreciate them, or the feedback that I get from people who come to workshops.
It's very affirming and even though I thought it was a good idea, I didn't really understand like how important it may actually be to someone. And so doing the workshops that I've been able to get a better understanding on how important it is for people to have something such as that.
I wanna be able to do more workshops for businesses or corporations or schools or whatever entity that looks like, to get that awareness out there and spread it a little bit more. I would love to travel and do these workshops in different areas, just to open the community more and have that outreach.
The involvement with like social media, things like that, and being able to create more clothes, have different releases throughout the next year. Ways for the community to get involved in things like that. Because I like to say that street wear is more than a graphic tee. Get cargo pants and mental health is more than a good day or a bad day.
And so my brand is more than just about the clothes. It's about those experiences. It's about having that community. It's about letting people have a place that they can go to and turn to and always be themselves no matter what.
[00:25:46] Adam: How do people find out about Carry a Mood and how do they get involved?
[00:25:52] Tahlayah: So on all social media platforms, so like Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, it's all Carry a mood no spaces. So C A R R Y A M O O D, all one word or all social media platforms getting involved. On our Instagram we have a link tree and you can find the other social medias. You can find our website. And then the discord link is also in the link tree for people to join.
I'm working on implementing online workshops too, in a way where like I can make little care packages of the materials we're gonna use in the workshop and then sending them out to the participants who can't physically be at the workshop. So they're still included in it. And it doesn't feel like I'm talking at you because we went through a pandemic.
I don't want someone to be sitting on the like Zoom call and they're like, this is boring and I don't wanna do this. So I'm trying to make it feel like they're actually there in the workshop. And so those are ways they can get involved and get connected.
On our website, a little banner pops up for people to sign for our email list. We do have biweekly emails. They have mental health resources, they have upcoming announcements for their brand. There's a creative component to get you to do something new. Then there's also self-care tips or like ways to take care of your mental health and things like that.
[00:27:16] Adam: So if you're listening, definitely go check carryamood.com and look for carryamood on the social media platforms. I love this. We shared your journey of like how you got started, what the experience was like going through the U, and then GiveBackHack and then SEA change and what it's been like starting a street fashion brand that, links together mental health. So that's so awesome. Just hearing how you've gotten off the ground and where you're going.
[00:27:43] Tahlayah: Yes. It's very interesting because I'm like, okay, how do I get people to know about the brand, get involved with the brand because I'm not a beginner anymore. I'm not trying to get off the ground, but I'm also haven't been doing this for five years.
So it's like a weird space for me too. Navigating like this in between space.
[00:28:03] Adam: You're talented, I can tell you're going in great directions, which is really awesome. I love it.
And if you're listening, thanks again for tuning in and listening. And go check out CarryAMood. I love the work that's happening here. It's really awesome. So thank you so much.
[00:28:15] Tahlayah: Thank you so much for having me.