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Nafessa Williams Combines Mental Wellness And Fashion For Athleisure Line, Y-FEAR
Today, athleisure apparel brand Y-FEAR has released its first F/W capsule titled “EQUALITY.” Founded by Black Lightning and Black and Blue actress Nafessa Williams, Y-FEAR’s latest installment was created to inspire those who strive to live a fearless life without the burden of concern for being judged, negatively viewed, or treated differently from their peers. Each shade of nude was custom-dyed to represent the various shades of melanin throughout the community, and the hoodies are able to be mixed and matched to the customer’s satisfaction.
“I’ve always loved fashion,” Nafessa Williams told ESSENCE. Founded on February 8, 2021, the Philadelphia native launched Y-FEAR (which stands for ‘Your Fears And Egos Aren’t Real!) as a means to marry her two loves for fashion and self-care while giving back to her community in a way that demonstrates a brighter future. “I get that question, ‘if you weren’t acting, what would you be doing?’, and in today’s time we can do both, or we can do it all as long as proper planning and strategizing is involved.”
Ahead of the brand’s most recent capsule collection, ESSENCE caught up with Williams herself to discuss the inspiration behind the unisex lifestyle apparel brand, what equality means to her, and her journey through body confidence and body positivity as a public figure and actress.
ESSENCE: Tell me about the inspiration behind Y-FEAR and the significance of the name.
Nafessa Williams: I was inspired to create Y-FEAR first for my love of fashion especially us, my people. We love fashion, so I just wanted to connect my love for fashion and my personal wellness growth. I was like, “How do I do that?,” and Y-FEAR is the word that I came up with for myself to get me through unrealistic things like fear and my ego – those things aren’t real. I created Y-FEAR for myself. This is how I bridge fashion with mental wellness. In February of 2021, just earlier this year, I introduced it to the world and it’s been amazing. So many people are connecting to what Y-FEAR means and it stands for your fears and your ego aren’t real.
It’s a daily reminder. When people wear Y-FEAR, I want them to be reminded that whatever fears, whatever your ego is telling you that day, whatever it is you are afraid to do, it’s not real. I want us to look fly, but I also thought bridging Y-Fear with mental wellness is thinking fly as well. Incorporating the two together is how I came up with the idea. I wanted to challenge the status quo and bring awareness to the false narrative of fear. I come from Philly, which obviously is an inner-city and we’ve experienced a lot of trauma. This is my offering to those of us who have experienced trauma in inner cities.
ESSENCE: When it comes to athleisure, sweats, and loungewear, how does it play an essential part in your personal wardrobe?
Williams: Oh my God, it’s everything. For the most part when I’m going to and from set, when I am running errands, when I’m just chilling around in the house, sweat athleisure is my go-to attire, right. I was like, “Well, I keep buying everybody else’s sweats, I might as well make my own.” That was the inspiration. Getting up and going to set at 5:00 AM, I don’t want anything tight on. I’ve made Y-FEAR with comfort and quality in mind and it’s because that’s what I reach for the most is athleisure and comfortability.