Toronto·Video

HERstory in Black: Jalisa Luces-Mendes

In honour of Black History month, CBC brings you stories from HERstory in Black, a Toronto-based digital photo series profiling 150 black women from the GTA and other parts of Ontario by How She Hustles, a network of 5,000 diverse women.

Luces-Mendes founded Toni Marlow, a company that designs boxer briefs for women and transgender men

Jalisa Luces-Mendes is the founder of Toni Marlow, a clothing company that designs boxer briefs for women and transgender men. (Leilah Dhore)

In honour of Black History month, CBC brings you stories from HERstory in Black, a Toronto-based digital photo series profiling 150 black women from the GTA and other parts of Ontario by How She Hustles, a network of 5,000 diverse women.

INTERACTIVE: Meet 150 black women who have made a place in Canadian history

HERstory in Black: Camille Mitchell

HERstory in Black: Jasmyn Fyffe

​HERstory in Black: d'bi young anitafrika

​HERstory in Black: Krissy Doyle-Thomas​

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Who: Jalisa Luces-Mendes

What she does: Founder of Toni Marlow, a Toronto-based clothing brand that specializes in boxer brief underwear for women and transgender men.

Jalisa Luces-Mendes is the owner and co-founder of Toni Marlow Clothing, a company that designs underwear for women and transgender men. 1:51

What inspired you to start Toni Marlow?

Jalisa Luces-Mendes: You know, women's underwear options just didn't suit me and men's boxer briefs is what I preferred, but they don't fit my body as I have hips and different parts than men.

So, I decided that I would do something about that. I mean if your underwear is uncomfortable, how's the rest of your outfit going to be good? It's an underserved market. Rates of women who wear men's clothing is our primary market followed by just women and transgender men in general. When you're not seen in fashion, you're not seen period.

'If your underwear is uncomfortable how's the rest of your outfit going to be good?' Jalisa Luces-Mendes asks. (CBC)
 
Jalisa Luces-Mendes with her team at Toni Marlow. (CBC)

What do you hope people take away from the 150 photos of women featured in HERstory in Black?

Jalisa Luces-Mendes: It's evidence that I'm here, I've done something and I matter and I exist. And, also, that they matter and they're here and they can do whatever they want to do. And that we are documenting ourselves and keep doing what you're doing and finding those opportunities to do that.

I hope it will just be an inspiration for them to just keep doing the thing that they want to do, that they love.

Jalisa Luces-Mendes, centre, is among 150 black women from the GTA featured in a digital photo series called HERstory in Black. (Ebti Nabag)