Creative Empowerment: A London Lions & TOMME Studio Workshop
Sports have inspired and empowered women across many different industries such as art, fashion, technology, and music. Kelly Gunner, the founder of the London-based and internationally acclaimed fashion brand TOMME Studio, is one of those people.
TOMME Studio creates accessories from globally-sourced basketballs as one-off pieces of art and for consumers. Kelly’s work has been on display worldwide, most recently during the 2023 Paris Fashion Week.
Kelly, a former youth-level hooper, began working with the London Lions to develop ideas for encouraging young female hoopers to see beyond the lines of the hard court. This month, the London Lions and TOMME Studios joined forces with the idea to create an innovative workshop where young girls who love and play basketball can express their creative flair on a canvas they know all too well.
London Lions and TOMME Studio recently invited girls from the Kingston Lions basketball team, coached by London Lions star captain Shanice Beckford-Norton, to design their own handbag accessory on a blank canvas of London Lions basketballs. The designs and final creations were unique to each individual, inspired by factors, including their cultural background, graffiti, nature, the elements and empowering colorways.
“They all had designs that were entirely different. They all had fascinating ideas.”
- Kelly Gunner, TOMME Studio founder.
Many of the beautiful creations brought Kelly Gunner back to when she was first inspired to create her basketball handbags:
“I used to play basketball at the youth level and was re-working stuff around my house, like sowing bags out of cushions. One day I decided to cut up a basketball to see if I could use it in some way. When I cut it and released it would stay in shape, I thought, ‘what can I do with this?’”
When creating her bags for fashion shows and her online store, Kelly rarely gets to see or experience how much people enjoy and are enlightened by her work. As a result, the workshop presented the talented designer with an opportunity to view her pieces through the eyes of young hoopers.
“Seeing the kids be super creative and excited about the bag. It’s nice to see people who haven’t seen the bag and get really excited about it, and that makes me feel really happy. They have all been super creative. It's nice to see them do that.”
The designer went on to lament the importance of being creative and how it can be a positive driving force in different aspects of one’s life:
“I think being creative helps people in every aspect of life. For me it helped my brain stay motivated and [helped me] take some creativity into what I’m doing day-to-day. It definitely helps to have some creative outlet. It helps one’s brain to stay sharp and be more focused.”