I Love You, By Mara
I’m very excited to share By Mara with you. I met Mara about four years ago when I first starting learning American Sign Language (ASL) from her now husband, Jeremy Lee Stone. Jeremy has a school in Dumbo Brooklyn, ASL NYC, where he teaches, mostly hearing people, ASL. His school also doubles as a shop for By Mara. Both Mara and Jeremy are Deaf and huge advocates for the deaf community. One thing I was very impressed by Mara early on, is that she is very passionate about how sign language is represented in the world. She very strongly feels that signs, like the “I love you”, should be used by people who are Deaf/know sign language. If ASL is being used as a representation, then it should be giving back to the Deaf community. Mara pulls from ASL for her clothing using ASL signs to show her love for the language and her community. To learn more about By Mara, please read our exclusive interview below.
Foreword by Kira Bucca, Editor in Chief of Jejune Magazine.
When was By Mara started and where are you based?
By Mara was first established in 2008 in Los Angeles, California. We also have a shop in Dumbo, Brooklyn.
What inspired you to start By Mara?
I have always wanted to be a fashion designer, stylist, or producer for a big brand company. In 2008, the year of the financial crisis, which was a very challenging year for me, I decided to create two t-shirts with the By Mara logo from my college project, which enriched the logo that everyone loves and started By Mara.
We love your logo, the I Love You sign, in ASL. Can you tell us a little about why you decided on this for your logo?
I took a fashion business class in college, and my professor wanted me to do business/ logo mockup. It was a fun project and quite challenging because I have three identities, I am Deaf, a Woman, and Filipino. My logo defines my deafness in sign language.
Do you feel your line is mostly for the Deaf community?
Every Deaf and hard of hearing person has an experience, including me - that hearing and oralism activists degrade ASL and interfere with the Deaf person's ability to develop speech and listening skills.
The logo is about spreading positive love vibes, and it is more than I LOVE YOU. It is representative of ASL, Deaf awareness, Deaf History, Deaf Culture, Art and much more. It is essential, because it allows individuals to be who they are.
That being said, it isn’t just for the deaf community. It's for everyone!
Is it important to you that the hearing community also wears By Mara?
It will be nice if everyone wears it because it shows the support for the Deaf and signing communities. Also, it is spreading American Sign Language through fashion.
Again, By Mara products are for everyone, because it enables you to express yourself visually, and opens up many opportunities for more profound meaning and emotional expression in your statements.
Please explain why it is so important that ASL signs are used by Deaf artists rather than being marketed by the hearing community?
There are a lot of cultural deprivations in our community. We protect our community by being an authentic deaf-owned business. We encourage everyone to promote ecosystem in our community.
Why is it so important to support Deaf business owners?
I believe Deaf people can pursue their goals through business without any limitation. It's our time to be recognized in every community, by supporting the deaf business.
One of your shirts says KISSFIST. For our hearing readers, can you please explain what that means?
A popular phrase often used within the ASL community is "KISSFIST," it is used to express really loving something. For example, "I KISSFIST COFFEE!" as in "I really love coffee".
Where can we find By Mara?
Check out our website www.bymara.com and we have a shop in Brooklyn.
To learn more about By Mara, please follow them here: