MaryAnn Morris and I first met when she was a teenager working as a shampoo girl in a barbershop / hair salon. I would go shop to shop, selling my cakes and fried chicken, and she patronized me. This was the 90s. She and I stayed in touch. She saw my evolution. And I saw hers.
I’m so proud of her. MaryAnn is an up-and-coming, on the rise. Her company, The DreamSleeve, has vision. She designs, sews and personalizes sleeves for your coffee or tea. Everybody walks around carrying some type of coffee. Every coffee cup needs a sleeve — and she’s doing it handmade and with passion.
MaryAnn grew up in West Philly on 55th between Arch and Race streets. After she and I met, she worked at Dr. Denim on South Street, then Oliver Peoples in the King of Prussia Mall. Now she’s at Louis Vuitton there.
She tells me, “I always loved fashion; I have a good eye. Typically, when I see something, if I really like it, it will be the next big thing. Even if it’s just what color’s going to sell.” One of her first big DreamSleeve sales was to Fabolous, the rapper and a friend.
“One morning I was getting up, listening to music. The song So Tuff had just dropped. As I was looking at my DreamSleeve, I’m thinking, What would I want to put on it today? So Tuff. I made one and took a few pictures before I went to work at the mall,” she says, “When I took a lunch break, I saw a like from Fabolous. I thought I was tripping. The next thing you know, he had sent me a message and was like, ‘Do you make these?’”
A couple days later, Fab ordered one that said “Family,” one that said his son’s name …
MaryAnn loves tea, and started the company during the pandemic. She wants her DreamSleeves to make their owners feel good. “When you look at your cup, your unconscious mind is taking that in, that’s a good way to give yourself good motivation throughout the day,” she says.
I took her picture at the Dixon Meadow Preserve, which belongs to the Whitemarsh Foundation. The man behind this place also brought the LOVE sculpture to Philadelphia. [Editor’s note: the late Harvard professor and local philanthropist Fitz Eugene Dixon Jr.] This place is where MaryAnn used to come when she started making her sleeves.
West Philly born and raised with a slosh of Brooklyn New York in between, Big Rube partnered with Mitchell & Ness in 2000 to help make it a global brand marketing and selling high-end vintage jerseys. He has been photographing Philly since 2009, including in a Daily News Column from 2011 to 2017. He’s also a chef, operating Chef Big Rube’s Kitchen seven days a week at Pitcher’s Pub in Manayunk, selling the best handmade food in a Main Street dive bar.
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