Issue 12  •  Spring 2013

Married to the Mob: When the Girls Take Over for the Boys

Written by Emily Westerweller
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I don’t know about you, but I am very inspired by girls who kick ass. Lately, all we hear about are industries that are going under, dying, struggling to hold onto their last breath; and one of those industries is definitely the fashion industry. But what about those who are still in it? Let’s focus on that for a minute; on those girls who, despite these economic hard times, are totally kicking ass and still being creative. An example of this: Leah McSweeney and Tabatha McGurr, both of the New York City based clothing line, Married to the Mob.
Photos by Jason Rodgers
Prop styling by Ethan G. Whitney
 
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I don’t know about you, but I am very inspired by girls who kick ass. Lately, all we hear about are industries that are going under, dying, struggling to hold onto their last breath; and one of those industries is definitely the fashion industry. But what about those who are still in it? Let’s focus on that for a minute; on those girls who, despite these economic hard times, are totally kicking ass and still being creative. An example of this: Leah McSweeney and Tabatha McGurr, both of the New York City based clothing line, Married to the Mob. 

To fully appreciate the brand, you must get to know the ladies behind it. McSweeney and McGurr have achieved a lot for women under thirty: McSweeney is in her late twenties and has a young daughter with her boyfriend Rob Cristofaro (who owns the men’s street wear brand, Alife); and McGurr is barely out of high school. Both were born and raised in New York.

In 2002, McSweeney had a run-in with a NYC police sergeant who, while her hands were handcuffed behind her back, slammed her face into the subway grates, knocking out her front teeth. The incident resulted in McSweeney winning a lawsuit a few years later, and she used the money from the settlement to start Married to the Mob. The company was started in 2004 on a New York City stoop, after McSweeney noticed that there was a lack of street wear for women designed by women.

Married to the Mob (MOB stands for “Most Official Bitch”) is McSweeney’s tribute to the girls in her life who have been there for her during life’s twists and turns and have always had her back. New York City street culture (both chic and streetwise) is the muse for MTTM, and the brand reaches out to fashion confident women. Their clothes are everywhere—including the pages of Elle, Paper Magazine, and French Vogueand are praised by celebrities like Kanye West. They have collaborated with Nike (and this collaboration quickly sold out), Reebok, and the renowned Paris boutique Colette.

Don’t let her age fool you; Tabatha McGurr is wise beyond her years. She is the daughter of famed graffiti artist Futura (or Futura 2000) and French-born fashionista CC McGurr, which is probably why she says that being creative is something she was born into. She is a writer, who runs the MTTM blog and is responsible for the PR. McGurr inspires us to ignore the critics, keep doing what we are doing, and truly enables the spirit of being a young, artistic, and powerful female.

Emily: How did you and Leah meet? How was MTTM born?

Tabatha: Leah (McSweeney) and my Dad hung in the same crew. At one point, before "street wear" was all hyped-up and when New York was still fun and the "scene" was just a big group of creative-rebel friends, the Spring Street block parties were infamous. That's where we met, when I was 13 or so, just when my Dad was allowing me to tag along with him and chill with the cool kids. I was so used to being around dudes all the time and hadn't really ever seen a chick like Leah. She had tattoos and a hole above her lip from a Monroe piercing she'd taken out. She was basically like all of the guys who I looked up to like brothers...in the form of a hot badass bitch.

MTTM was born a bit before our formal introduction. Leah took off her sunglasses, looked around at all her laid-back-life homies making money off of selling tees and whatnot, dreams to fools!, and was just like, why don't I do this shit but for girls? That's the birth, in a nutshell, obviously. It happened rather naturally—a good idea, right time, right place. It looks like and is fun, but getting MTTM to where it is now honestly took a shitload of sweat, blood, and tears. Being beautiful, original, and knowing how to hustle helps too.

Emily: On your Web site it says the company was started because there was no street wear for women/designed by women. Was that the concept/inspiration behind MTTM? What kind of girl are you hoping to reach and what does being a "most official bitch" entail?

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Tabatha: Well I don't want to speak for Leah, but I grew up with the brand, and I'd say that was definitely a main source of inspiration. Ultimately though, I think the brand was meant to be a reflection of the lifestyle—Married to the Mob. What are mob wives like? Nuts, untouchable, not to be fucked with, used to seeing crazy shit. Our boys that had lines became a collective of sorts and went by "the retail mafia.” Leah basically became the savior of all the broads who had a similar style/attitude. No need to cut up your boyfriend's T-shirts anymore!

A lot of growing happens in five years, so I'd like to think that our clientele grew along with us. In the beginning, the shirts had a lot of shock value. If a girl walked by you in a Married to the Mob tee, you'd definitely turn around and see what else she had going on. Now we have a complete line. We still do tees and hoodies of course, but [MTTM is] way more versatile and can appeal to a wider range of clients. I mean, we still stand for/represent the same shit, just on a larger, subtler, and more wearable scale.

As for the the classic “What makes a most official bitch?” question, the name kind of says it all. Being called a bitch is disrespectful to most girls, but the way I see it, it's kinda like self-empowerment. You think I'm a bitch? Damn right, I'm the MOST official bitch! Originally that was just the name of the crew; now we have MOBs worldwide. As far as what makes one? You just gotta ask whoever is wearing one of our pieces. You either are or you're not, like the Geto Boys said, "Real gangsta-ass niggas don't flex nuts Cuz real gangsta-ass niggas know they got em," feel me?

Emily: What was it like growing up in such a creative/inspired family?

Tabatha: You guys are gonna have to wait for my novel to come out for that response, haha. We definitely were not the Huxtables. I've seen a lot of shit, been through many once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and was very young when I discovered that parents are people with lives of their own. That being said, I definitely grew up kind of fast. I always wanted to be on my own, "living my life.” I don't want my family being the only reason why people give a shit about what I have to say. I moved out of my mother’s house a few months ago, but she lives a few blocks away; my Dad lives around the corner, and my brother (Timothy McGurr aka 13th Witness is a well known photographer/videographer) is my roommate. We're a pretty tight crew.

Emily: How did Leah's experience with the cops affect/influence MTTM?

Tabatha: Well, that's how she was able to start the company. Winning the lawsuit against the cop that beat her allowed her to totally invest in creating the line in a serious way; she wasn't trying to do some on the side shit. Plus she's a woman who won a lawsuit against the state! Nuff' said!

Emily: We are inspired by young, female entrepreneurs; can you talk about what that is like/how you got into it? And what advice do you have for other girls who might just be starting out?

Tabatha: Honestly, I was born into this. That sounds pretentious and annoying, but it's really the truth. This is the kind of industry where you have to know people, so if it weren't for my parents I probably wouldn't be here. In my defense, I could have turned out...[to be] a complete douche, but they raised me well, and I'd like to think that I'm not doing too bad for myself. Personally, I don't think I could handle the stress that comes with creating a brand from scratch, but just try and do what Leah did: sue the state, hustle, and look damn good while doing it. Seriously, if you're real and ill, it shouldn't be a struggle. If you're just trying to do what someone else already did, forget it.

Emily: What plans do you have for your future role at MTTM and what else do you see yourself eventually getting into?

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Tabatha: I've been the "writer" (www.mobliving.com) for quite some time, but now that we've moved into an actual office with rules and hours and shit, my official title would be ”Writer/PR bitch.” I do a little of everything though. Out of all of our staff Leah and I have known one another the longest, so I have a pretty good idea of what she likes and doesn't like. That helps when she's not around or already has too much on her plate. Leah is like my sister, and this company is sort of like her baby that I saw be born and grow into a beautiful, dope young woman. What kind of aunt would I be if I didn't see that growth through?! The future is what it is; I can only handle what's in front of me right now, but I'll never work somewhere where I can't be myself and do me. I also refuse to die without writing books.

Emily: What else do you do besides MTTM? Like for fun?

Tabatha: Our office is really fun! I used to party a lot, but I'm a real homebody now. After work, I go home, get stoned, and the fun shit happens after that. I like watching movies, playing with my dog... Once in a while I'll go out and wake up with some kind of injury, so I've been trying to do that less. I love dinner parties, sour diesel, making collages, stickers, cable, my friends, my boyfriend, my dog...simple shit really. As far as side-hustles go, they're side-hustles for a reason. Let's just say that I represent a few artists...

Emily: Describe your average day.

Tabatha: Wake up at 7:15, shower, moisturize, get dressed, hop on the subway, get to work, write some blog posts, answer some e-mails, try and do some kind of damage control when necessary, peel my split ends, meet with stylists, shit talk a whole lot, then I go home, talk to my dog like a retard, get faded with my boyfriend…[make] fun of the people who walk past my window (they never respond!) and then sleep? Sounds about right.

Emily: What things inspire you to write?

Tabatha: Everything/anything interesting. The reason I think people like the blog is because when I write, I write how I talk. I'm not trying to pitch some cheeseball shit, and I don't front. I say what's on my mind. Some people love that about me; some people hate it. I wouldn't write it if I wouldn't read it.

Emily: Was the '80s movie starring Michelle Pfeiffer, Married to the Mob, where you got the name? Are you and Leah a fan of the movie?

Tabatha: I've actually never even seen it. Leah said it's good but that the name definitely was not inspired by the movie. Goodfellas and Casino are way better anyway. None of the crew was actually married to the mob [ever], some of us may have dated some pretty gangster dudes, but it's just the attitude. Remember the makeup party in Goodfellas? "The guy's hands are all over me. So I say, 'Keep your fucking hands off me or I'll cut them off’” Just because you're not rich and don't got a boyfriend who kills people for a living, doesn't mean you can't be a boss bitch.

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