Philly Pride: Mobile boutique goes virtual during pandemic

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- As we celebrate pride month, we are shining a light on a mobile boutique in Philadelphia that's gone virtual during the pandemic.

Metamorphosis Mobile Boutique is run by volunteers who believe in helping LGBTQ youth, families, and allies feel welcome, and confident in their appearance.

Metamorphosis is not a charity, but a mutual aid project, where participants care for one another.

They give away clothing, but also raise money for individuals in need of hormones, housing, and other necessities.

Kayla Wilson started Metamorphosis when she was 21 and homeless.

"I wanted to see a resource like this for myself," she said.

It's a clothing swap that focuses on marginalized youth.

"We serve LGBT youth, families and allies," she said.

The project has grown into a collective movement.

"When I started out I got donations from like 12 different brands," Kayla said.

Closes and hygiene products are the primary offerings.

"You could compare it to, like QVC, but for free," she said.

And free is very important to her.

"Every step of the way. I have been told to sell these clothes and I refuse," she said.

Before COVID-19, it was a mobile boutique popping up at local events, but the pandemic has forced them to go virtual.

Creating a safe space to empower.

"Making sure that trans and LGBT people feel really comfortable receiving clothing and in an environment that's going to be affirming for them," Kayla said.

Kayla and her team are all under 30.

"I had lived experience with homelessness, and I had a lot of lived experience with rejection due to my identity. And so that really was a catalyst for me to want to create something that was for youth by youth," she said.

There are branches in Orlando, Philadelphia and the Philly suburbs, where Kayla is mentoring 16-year-old Maya Jennings.

She's the founder of the chapter Every body, Everybody within Metamorphosis. She started the project before she was a freshman in high school.

"I wanted to open this project as a literal closet at my school, seeing as my friends at school didn't have the affirming clothes that they needed," she said.

When she saw Kayla doing similar work, they joined forces.

Maya says clothes are essential.

"They're absolutely essential, especially to queer individuals," Maya said.

"You kind of hold yourself differently when you do have clothing that fits and affirms your gender," Kayla said.

The hope is to spread that affirmation while also adding resources to what Metamorphosis can do as a collective.

"I'm starting a care package initiative for black indigenous people of color on the frontlines. So that will involve also self-care products, hygiene products, shoes," Maya said.

"It is an organization that is focused on helping people get their basic needs met," Kayla said.

Along with all of the necessities they already provide, they are hoping to add counseling services to the collective as they grow.
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