Columbus; Ohio — In the United States, February nationwide is where Americans recognize others who saw themselves in the game that wasn’t intended for them. Pioneers like Madam C.J. Walker, Jackie Robinson, Colin Kaepernick and Tarana Burke paved the way for Blackness in the U.S. for all spaces beyond those 28 days.
Now, Ayo Adedeji has done the same to complete the perfect game night — drinks, sliders, your “day one” friends, a common understanding of the games, and the playing cards he crafted with Black characters on them.
Adedeji is the founder and CEO of The Plain Shop, a minimalist lifestyle brand company based in London, United Kingdom. His entrepreneurial journey began during the COVID-19 pandemic. He wanted to create something simple to coincide with the idea that “It Is What It Is” which was the general consensus of everyone because of the effects of the pandemic. This was expressed in their flagship design - The Plain White Tee, a simple and inclusive piece that anyone could understand and wear.
Since then he has expanded from clothes to bags to coloring books that are all made with the company's mission of simplicity, quality and inclusivity in mind. His creation of the playing cards with Black characters on them are no different.
“They project a positive representation of Black people which I feel like is severely needed in our society,” said Adedeji.
After three months working with an American freelance artist, he came up with numerous Black characters to put on the cards. Each card was inspired by historical figures, members of Adedeji’s family and some pop culture icons. For example, the King of Spades is inspired by Mansa Musa, the queen of diamonds is inspired by Jhene Aiko, and the Queen of Spades is inspired by his mother.
“To see Black people as royalty on playing cards adds another element to the cards,” said Adedeji.
Since its debut in Hackney, a borough in London, the cards have been a success with over 2,000 packs of cards sold in the first 18 months. He’s been able to do so via The Plain tour where he travels to different boroughs throughout London promoting and selling products from The Plain Shop collection.The tour gives him a chance to connect with customers face-to-face and receive feedback. While The Plain Shop hasn’t partnered with any US companies yet the cards can still be shipped internationally. The cards cost £11.99 which is $14.54 in the U.S.
“It’s only by someone thinking or creating it people realize that such a staple part of western culture is always white when it's so easy to make them a different color”
It’s important to create space for historically minoritized communities in a world where that’s not always the case. The Plain Shop have done just that by making room for Black men and women to be shown in their royal status. Individuals in any generation were able to see themselves in the game that is an essential part of togetherness and fun within the Black community.
“You should see yourself in any game and by game I mean any field or any industry that you might actually be interested in”
Truly seeing yourself in the game of life gives identity to a people that have been othered by society.