By Elle McLogan

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Maya Gorgoni found inspiration in the bold, patterned textiles she came across on travels through Africa. When she brought the prints home to Harlem and decided to make her own clothes, friends and strangers alike fell in love with her designs.

“They were freaking out,” she said.

That’s when she teamed up with her mother Teta to turn the homemade looks into a fashion line. They called it Royal Jelly Harlem, with a nod to the community they call home.

“Harlem, as a whole, has always been the mecca of all things,” Maya said.

“The support of the community, the enthusiasm — ‘Go, girl! You go!’  —  that kind of go-for-it attitude, that kind of seeps in through the pores and it just inspires us to keep going,” Teta said.

“I think what sets us apart is our fabric choice, our silhouettes, and the fact that we’re made in New York City, 100 percent,” Maya said.

What does a Royal Jelly outfit say about its wearer?

“That they’re willing to live outside the box,” Teta said. “They can buck convention and still be fashionable. I think the message is: ‘I’m bold.’ And boldness, for us, is a virtue.”

“People are really affected in a positive way,” Maya said. “They put on a dress or an item, and they’re like, ‘Oh! This is what I was looking for!'”

“They’re transformed,” Teta said. “They find themselves in the clothes. They really do.”

Royal Jelly Harlem is available online at https://royaljellyharlem.com/ and at the following locations:

Royal Jelly Showroom (by appointment)
155 Wooster Street, Suite 5E
New York, 10012
(212) 473-6756

The Maiyet Collective
16 Crosby Street
New York, NY 10013
(212) 343-9999

Schomburg Center Gift Shop
515 Malcolm X Boulevard
New York, NY 10037
(212) 491-2206

What’s something few people know about but everybody should? Whatever it is, Elle McLogan is tracking it down on The Dig. Join her hunt for treasures hidden across our area. Follow Elle on Twitter and Instagram.

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