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together in joy: a shoot with the sweet-thang team + editor's letter

On a grey Sunday in December, members of the sweet-thang team danced, cackled and vibed in an editorial shoot at Brick Studios, Shoreditch. It was the perfect end to our Manifesto for Enjoyment project - I wanted to show the faces behind sweet-thang's steady flow of content this year, to let loose and have fun in an IRL setting (safely of course!)

Besides already knowing two people in the room - the photographer, Cleo Thompson (who also happens to be my twin), and Shanay, a long-time school friend - we were all meeting for the first time. But we didn't even need to "break the ice." Everyone made it to the studio and before I could process the excitement of it all, a Spotify queue had been loaded up and we were doing the waddle as we tested out the lighting and camera angles (lmao).

This shoot is all about being "together in joy" - showing up fully, pulling looks, and having fun. The team also shares what their own manifesto for enjoyment is, and what joy fundamentally means to them.

The Manifesto for Enjoyment Project:

The MFEP is all about calling in joy for the new year and establishing ‘personal manifestos’ of healing and liberation. It’s a celebration of Black joy - which is necessary, soft, loud and freeing.

We know that experiencing joy is not constant or linear, and manifesting is not always easy. We don’t want to romanticise joy but embrace it, whenever it shows up. The enjoyment manifesto is personal as much as it is collective: what is your manifesto? What do you want to call in? How can we collectively reimagine how we live through lenses of joy? Let’s imagine new worlds together 💜

Our manifesto:

- Live slowly and rest often - Resist capitalism and white supremacy - you are not a commodity! - 100% committed to self-love - Letting go of shame - No longer entertaining fear - Make zines! - Embrace softness

We are selling copies of this beautiful A4 print of our manifesto, hand made by Funmi Lijadu. 50% of the profits go to Funmi, and the other 50% to sweet-thang in our mission to pay our writers and artists, fund future print issues, and continue curating projects like this! Head to our shop to get yours or click the link below:

I thought this would be the perfect blog post to share some end of year reflections. Ah, 2021. This is the first year where sweet-thang hasn't produced a print zine. But, looking back, we have done SO much! We grew a lil' team of staff writers, an editor and a graphic designer (Maya, Naomi and Home - you were missed <3). We hosted a giveaway with Viking Books and the British Film Institute. We hosted two zine workshops. We interviewed Leila Hassan Howe. We published over 20 written pieces on our blog. We released two podcast episodes with exciting guests. We made some banging Spotify playlists. It's been such a fun and experimental year, and much needed. Slowing down has been necessary. It has been difficult at times, with a particular battle against the Instagram algorithm, constantly comparing sweet-thang to other publications, and trying (and failing) to get external monetary support. *exhale* But we made it work!

Couldn't be prouder of the space that sweet-thang currently is. However, change is needed. That's why we're taking a social break in February a month to rebuild, repurpose and realign. We've never taken an official hiatus before, so I look forward to seeing what we find in the intentional silence. Thank you to everyone who has supported our content this year and liked, commented and shared our posts. It truly has meant a lot!!

2022 will be amazing.

We hope you enjoy this editorial! Feel free to share these images far and wide using the following credits:

Credits/Insta handles:

Studio: Brick Studios @brickstudioslondon

Apparel: Dickies, Hollister

Photography: Cleo Thompson @cleo.jahina

Collage graphics: Naomi Gennery @nn.aa.ii

Models: Shanay @blkdorothy, Fatima @silkylurv, Maureen @yakuzumalifestyle, Holly & Fez @shy.collective

t o g e t h e r i n j o y

(swipe to see)

See you in 2022!

Zoe xo


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