By Max Johnson
At the end of last year as we were planning our 2021 product roadmap, we had a frank discussion about the future of our Goddess Collection. That October we had launched our Women of Worship Collection; tablet necklaces representing five deities from different continents, cultures, and religions, which was the result of our deliberate effort to make our assortment more representative of the tens of thousands of women who wear a Goddess every day. Looking ahead, we knew our work to provide every woman with a wearable (s)hero that spoke to their personal journey was far from over.
As a proud queer founder, I felt a responsibility to use Goddess as a vehicle to uplift and celebrate trans and nonbinary femmes, especially after the past year where we saw record anti-trans violence and outspoken transphobia coming out of the White House, Congress, authors that-will-not-be-named, etc. We decided pretty immediately that our next IRL Goddess had to be Marsha “Pay it no mind” Johnson, the iconic community leader and activist who in 1969 played a pivotal role in the Stonewall Uprising and has become for many in the queer community a symbol of strength, hope, and resilience.
On set – gown by Zimmermann
We reached out to the Marsha P. Johnson Institute – the organization dedicated to the defense and protection of black trans lives in Marsha’s name – with a partnership proposal and a promise that 100% of proceeds from our Marsha Goddess Necklace would benefit the institute and their life-saving work. We were elated to hear from their team that not only would MPJI be thrilled to partner with Awe, but that MPJI founder and renowned activist Elle Moxley would appear in the campaign.
With the partnership secured, we had exactly one person in mind to be the star of our campaign; none other than Pose star and activist Indya Moore. When Indya enthusiastically signed on as our first-ever formal celebrity talent, it was one of the proudest moments of my life.
Indya at her Awe fitting - in a 2021 SS Oscar de la Renta gown
Our original plan was to film Indya and Elle together on a rooftop in New York City, where Marsha built her legacy. However, a few weeks before our shoot Indya told us they would have to be in LA to finish filming the final season of Pose. Elle was unable to fly to LA, so we quickly formulated a plan for a bi-costal shoot. It all turned out for the better; we auspiciously secured the iconic Stonewall Inn for our NYC set and found an incredible rooftop in Downtown LA for Indya’s shoot.
On set with Indya and director Claire Cali
This campaign was, without a doubt, the most meaningful and beautiful project I have ever been a part of. Seeing Indya and Elle don Marsha’s iconic flower crown was spine-tinglingly magical. In the days prior to our LA shoot, we rewrote Indya’s voiceover script a thousand times trying unsuccessfully to capture the enormous significance of them stepping into Marsha’s shoes. On set, Indya was so moved by the experience that they stayed hours after wrap to write their own script, which rang with authenticity and immense power.
Indya at her fitting, bare-faced and stunning
On the day of our LA shoot, Whit McClure, the florist who hand made Indya’s spectacular flower crowns, said, “I hope I made Marsha proud.” I hope we all did.
Indya the moment she put on her flower crown - pure joy
I promise that we will continue to use Awe Inspired as a vehicle for representation and giving back aggressively to organizations like The Marsha P. Johnson Institute that are fighting to make our society a more inclusive and equitable place for all.