Torrie O’Neal is no stranger to doing important work as we have highlighted in the past in our previous interviews with her in regards to her efforts with The Mighty Dames. However, O’Neal has recently began to branch outside of her body positivity quest to start a new Jiu-Jitsu apparel line, Affirm & Amplify.
“What we wear in Jiu-Jitsu is more than fashion. It’s a conversation starter,” O’Neal says. And it’s those conversations that mattered, not just to O’Neal, but to numerous others who don’t have as much of a voice or platform to express themselves within the larger Jiu-Jitsu community.
O’Neal states that she has always wanted The Mighty Dames to be a platform for people who weren’t receiving as much attention within the Jiu-Jitsu world as opposed to using it as her own personal brand centered on herself. That’s why she created the Affirm & Amplify offshoot; to bring attention to causes that need to be seen. In order to better do this, O’Neal partners with small non-profits, those that don’t typically get much media coverage, to design and sell rashguards to raise money for their causes. Currently, she is working with Kola Shippentower with whom she printed the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Relatives (MMIWR) rashguard, which is available for pre-order here. From the sales, 25% of all profits made will be given to Rising Hearts, an organization dedicated to elevating indigenous voices.
“I don’t pick the causes or the non-profits. The people I collaborate with do, just as long as it’s not hateful and is line with our mission,” O’Neal states. “I like it to be confrontational and in your face because it’s not everyone’s daily life [in the BJJ community] and if people never see these (rashguards), then the conversations never happen.”
Not only do these conversations get started with every rashguard purchased, but 25% of profits will go towards the organization chosen by O’Neal’s collaborator for each project, with a minimum of $150 guaranteed regardless of sales. “We’ll never be a major brand. But we can make a bunch of small impacts,” she states. “I put my name on this. I’m proud of what we’ve done… and I get pushback. People who I’ve known since white belt don’t talk to me anymore. But the pushback I get is nothing compared to the positive.”
Despite pushback, O’Neal continues to press forward in her work. She believes that Jiu-Jitsu can be a vehicle to reach a large number of causes and to spread the message of inclusivity. And O’Neal doesn’t just talk the part, she lives it. “Even when I’m running on coffee and energy drinks… I remember why I did this. I want to be with the people I say I’m going to be with. I can handle a few sleepless nights to do that… if we have a group of people who we can help, let’s do it! Let’s support causes that need support.”