Lakisha Patterson Talks TRIB With LEO

Jun 6, 2023 at 11:33 pm
LaKisha Patterson talks with LEO about her TRIB TALK Tees and more.
LaKisha Patterson talks with LEO about her TRIB TALK Tees and more. Photos submitted by Patterson

All talk of corporations, Target, and “rainbow capitalism” aside, my basic problem with big corporations flooding the market with Pride merchandise is more immediate: To make their rainbows, they have to steal someone else’s shine. And they sometimes take it from small queer-owned businesses  and clothing lines like the one created by designer and entrepreneur LaKisha Patterson. Her brand, TRIB TALK Tees, is still being born, and I thought it would be cool to see what that process is like, and to signal-boost a queer business that’s still finding its place in a crowded market.

After meeting through a mutual friend, Patterson and I met for an interview at the Old Louisville Coffee Co-op, so I could learn more. When she walks in, she’s wearing a shirt emblazoned with the motto “Netflix and Trib.” It’s a tee-shirt she made as a part of the first trial run of offerings from TRIB TALK Tees. For those who don’t know, “trib” is short for tribadism. A technical term for a specific sex act, often more commonly referred to by the colloquial term, “scissoring.” Patterson started her TRIB TALK Tees to address what she sees as a problem, an absence, in much of the Pride wear she sees: “I want to have a line that caters specifically to the lesbian community, both masculine and feminine-presenting. This is my lifestyle. I want this line to reflect that.” Patterson’s outspoken attitude towards her lesbian identity started in her late teens, just after she escaped an abusive relationship with the father of her daughter. “I was like, ‘I’m going to be the gayest person people have ever seen,’ because I had hid that part of me for so long.”

Looking at TRIB’s inaugural line of tees, it seems “Netflix and Trib,” is indicative of the humor, and the attitude that Patterson is bringing. Other shirts in the first line include slogans like “Top, Bottom, Tribadism.” Another shirt has the definition of tribadism, and a third repurposes lyrics from Da Dip; “I put my hand up on yo’ hip, When I TRIB, You TRIB, We TRIB.” There are other shirts even more risque. Patterson laughed when I pointed out the shirt with the Freak Nasty lyrics and said, “What I love about that shirt is that that’s basically instructions for tribbing.” Patterson isn’t confused about how some people will respond to her shirts; “I wanted my shirts to be loud, and I wanted to be fun. If you take offense to that, that’s something that you need to deal with within yourself.”

This trial run of tees was made using equipment loaned to her by a friend. She’s given them to a few friends, to get the shirts circulating, creating early word of mouth buzz for her Kickstarter. Despite the fact that many awesome businesses and products have started on Kickstarter, Patterson shied away from the idea at first, but then realized if she wanted to turn TRIB into a reality she needed to go all in. “A lot of people’s dreams just end up dying because of the financial side of it all, and it takes a lot for a person that grew up like me to ask for anything because either you’re used to just doing it all by yourself, or you’re afraid of being like, judged for asking.” Patterson’s belief in the importance of her work is what finally led her to speak up and ask for help. “We’re so overlooked, and so downplayed. Or we’re over-sexualized without our consent.” 

Patterson hopes that with a successful Kickstarter, and a strong launch for the line, she can expand into other kinds of clothing. “I wanna have workout gear, I know I want some gear that says ‘I only work out so I can trib longer.” From there, she wants to get into intimate apparel.  “Because at the end of the day, tribbing is a sexual act, and I want to have the cute bralette and the boxer shorts, you know?

I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on her work, (and yes, donating to her Kickstarter), as well as enjoying her wit and defiant attitude as she brings TRIB TALK Tees to life. Keep up with TRIB TALK on insta @tribtalktees, and on the web at