Jazz Moodie, creator of MUDE, chats to FGRLS club about freeing the female form and grabbing feminism by the balls (or boobs)…
How did Mude come about?
I was studying in France last year and had loads of free time so naturally, I was doing lots of insta-fuelled procrastination when I came across an amazing embroiderer/artist who was selling sweatshirts and tees, but for way over my student budget. I loved what she was doing and when I did a bit of research I found that I could buy a Kantan needle for half the price of a sweatshirt. But when the needle arrived I had zero idea what I wanted to embroider – all I had was some old life drawing sketches, basically of naked girls. I made the decision to bring them to life, translating them into beautiful, bold, threaded versions of themselves! I added a naked gal to my fav black sweater, nipples and all, and wore it into my pretty conservative private French business school. I felt so powerful and strong, and decided all my pals needed a piece of this feeling too. I started embroidering for my friends’ birthdays and slowly but surely orders came in, first from people I knew, then from around the world.
Why is it so important for you to showcase the naked female form?
I guess I’ve always struggled with how the female form is often sexualised without our consent. From an early age, I’ve been over-sexualised because of my unusually large E-cup breasts on a size 8 figure. I realised I had the power to push out of the suffocating box that the male gaze and even the media had put me in. I realised that when I wore a sweater with unapologetic boobs and nipples on, I had taken control of my own body. I felt like nobody could sexualise my body parts, because I was now wearing them with pride as opposed to shame! I just think the naked female form is shamed, censored, and sexualised to oppress the positivity we can gain from pride and confidence in it. I want to create a movement of women, and men, who proudly wear butts, nipples, and nakedness, in general, to make people stop and think ‘what’s so shameful about the female body?’ The shameful thing is society’s brainwashing of us all.
What does the ultimate Mude gal look like?
There’s no look! A Mude gal is someone confident enough to walk into a stuffy room and create a conversation based on her bold choice of tee, proudly featuring some nipples, for example. I think wearing nakedness says so much about what you stand for, your personality and your confidence to break down barriers.
Who would you most like to see wearing your design?
It would have to be one of my best friends Meghan Brady (who received a Mude cushion cover before they were even a thing!) She already has 4 Mude pieces and she rocks them all. She’s my absolute icon in terms of all things feminism, all things equality and all things general GOOD MORAL COMPASS. To know that she stands by me, and even pre-orders designs before she’s seen them, means I’m bang on track with what I’m doing.
What is feminism to you?
Obviously, I could go textbook and say ‘equality for men and women’, but everyone’s heard that already and some people still think the F-word is dirty. So, for me, feminism is taking control of the weaknesses that society has convinced us we have as women. Whether that’s proving our intellect is just as capable, or that our bodies are not here to be sexualised. Feminism is active rather than passive, I just think we can all grab feminism by the balls (?) and reverse society’s perception of women in practical ways!
How have you found setting up a business and going it alone?
Weirdly, it still doesn’t feel like a business to me. I focus more on my message and making sure each embroidered naked gal is right for each customer, than on any accounts or excel sheets. That’s definitely one of the challenges – being able to be tough on myself when all I want to do is embroider but there’s a growing pile of rookie accounting I need to sit down and do. I guess it’s the price I pay when I love what I’m doing and it happens to bring some pennies in. Also, my girlfriend, Elle, has recently joined the Mude movement and is so much more on it with the backstage stuff than I am- every startup needs an Elle behind the scenes!
In your opinion, which ladies are killing it at the moment?
Right now there are two amazing female-led start-ups that I’ve had the pleasure of being part of. First off, Soror Studios who are a stunningly curated female collective of creators and makers, based in London. I’ve stocked them with naked girlies from the start of their adventure, and they’ve supported me through the ins-and-outs of wholesaling! They’re a sister duo which I think is just the most powerful driver – and they’re so dedicated to discovering up-and-coming female creators and offering them a beautiful platform to be seen on. They’re just the most supportive and friendliest gals I’ve come across, and they’re proving that you don’t need to emulate masculinity to make it in a man’s world of business!
The second brand is Ararose who’s aim is to “Empower women to be their natural, greatest self through the slow fashion movement.” They’re actually also a sister-duo start-up…there’s a theme here oops! I met one of the founders, Hannah Rashad, on a volunteering trip to Morocco. Five years on we crossed paths in Malaysia, where she asked me and my sister to do a little shoot for her new ethically produced clothing line. They’re absolutely killing it with unapologetic tees, with slogans like ‘Society has a distorted perception of beauty’. How good is that?!
I’ve also got to mention Frances Cannon, one of my favourite artists. She’s all about openness and cutting through the shit – celebrating women, of every size, shape, and form. She’s also so friggin’ open about mental health, which I admire so much.
And finally, what does the future hold for Mude threads?
I’m heading back to Leeds Uni for my final year at the end of September but I love the brand, the message and all the women who have supported me through purchases, photography, mentions and general love for Mude. I couldn’t bear to see it all disappear when there’s so much more to be done! I’ve got a stall at Leeds Uni Union on Sep 27th, so hopefully that will be the start of bringing Mude into my Uni life, as my passion on the side!