Community Spotlight: Mimi’s Fresh Tees

Founded in 2018 by Kamelah Adams upon an ethos of women’s empowerment and social justice, Mimi’s Fresh Tees has steadily built its reputation selling slogan-forward t-shirts that are designed to break silence, encourage meaningful conversation and empower customers to “wear their truth.”

We stopped by the Mimi’s Fresh Tees storefront in downtown Portland to learn more from the owner, Kamelah Adams, about how community and activism play an integral part in Adams’s business.

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you started Mimi’s Fresh Tees.

My name is Kamelah Adams, and I’m the owner. We are a social conscious, women empowerment apparel company. All of our garments have catchy slogans like “Make Racism Wrong Again” and “Roe, Roe, Roe Your Vote,” which is a popular design right now, going into 2024. But it started when I was a PTA executive at a local school. I was the only black woman in a lot of these settings, and I was just exhausted of speaking my truth. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if I could wear my truth?” And that’s where Mimi’s Fresh Tees started.

Why did you choose to open your storefront in downtown Portland?

Previously, I was in Old Town, but I wanted more visibility, an influx of foot traffic. We get a lot of international people here, people from Canada, Australia, all over. And locals, too—locals are starting to come back downtown. I’ve been noticing that for the past two weeks.

The free parking that PBOT is offering on Saturdays and Sundays from November 24th to December 30th I think is really helpful. It’s encouraging folks to come downtown. And I’m seeing a lot more Downtown Clean and Safe and police officers down here. I really do see an improvement. Last weekend there was a whole bunch of kids down here, and I heard one of them say, “Okay, we did it. We came downtown and it looks so much different now.” It’s reassuring.

Is there a sense of community among the businesses in the downtown area?

Yes! We just did a little postcard that we’re giving away with all the other businesses. Together, we also drafted up a letter to city officials. We wanted to share our concerns about downtown and also implement some improvements that we think that will help revitalize and make things more vibrant. And I can say that it got a lot of positive feedback. As a former community organizer, I know it’s important that we come together to combat all the issues.

In the brick-and-mortar shop, you feature products from other Black- and women-owned businesses. Can you tell us about them and how you partnered with them?

When I started off in 2018, my very first market was My People’s Market. I haven’t missed one of those since. That’s where I met a lot of the other small businesses who are in this shop. I wanted to support other local entrepreneurs who are women, and who might not have a storefront.

What is it about Portland that inspired you to open a business here?

This is my home. I’m the third-generation Portlander in my family. My grandparents came here from Kansas City, Birmingham, Alabama, and Mississippi. These are my roots and this is my home, and I feel like that’s why it’s so important for me to be downtown, have a retail shop, because you do not see many black women that have a retail shop in Portland, Oregon, especially downtown. So me being down here, I’m changing the narrative every single day.

What kind of support would be the most helpful to you?

What’s most helpful is people just sharing the downtown experience, spreading the word about the retail shops that are downtown, sharing about Mimi’s Fresh Tees. Word-of-mouth is the best marketing. You don’t have to put any dollars behind that.

What advice do you have for someone looking to start a business downtown?

Do what you love. Don’t get discouraged. And connect with community and other community business owners in downtown because that’s what’s important.

Portland A&O powered by Prosper Portland supports the success of Oregon’s 800+ Athletic and Outdoor firms through community, peer-to-peer learning, events, and programming.

Portland A&O Community features are our way to highlight different jobs, roles, and programs impacting and supporting Oregon’s impressive A&O industry. By sharing stories, advice and experiences, we can continue to support the industry and the people who make it thrive.

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Prosper Portland creates economic growth and opportunity for Portland. Our vision is to make Portland one of the most globally competitive, healthy, and equitable cities in the world by investing in job creation, encouraging broad economic prosperity, and fostering great places throughout the city. We aspire to be a workplace of choice with passionate staff excelling in an open and empowering environment and sharing a commitment to our collective success.


Portland A&O powered by Prosper Portland aims to support the success of Oregon’s 800+ Athletic and Outdoor firms through community, peer-to-peer learning, events, and programming.

Prosper Portland/Portland A&O strives to support emerging A&O/Consumer Products brands by providing opportunities such as assistance with attending wholesale trade shows, education and peer support, and networking events.