Many children of immigrants lose their parents’ cultural identity, and with it, the language, customs and traditions brought over from the old world. In fact, many immigrants themselves often turn away from where they came from to fit into their new country.
The trick is, whether you’re an immigrant, or the child of one, to embrace your new country while also preserving your roots. It’s a trick that sisters Anna and Patricia Lakomy of Connecticut have mastered.
Daughters of Polish political refugees, the Lakomy sisters were born in Brooklyn, New York before moving to the Constitution State. “Being Polish is a huge part of our identity” says Patricia, who is currently in college. Her older sister, Anna, works as a market researcher.
The sisters attribute their strong Polish pride to the way they grew up. “We were always closely connected to Poland,” explains Patricia. “Our mom is from Elbląg and our dad is from Sanok, and we would visit those places very often as children.”
Stateside, the girls attended Polish school, spoke the language at home, ate the food and prayed in Polish churches. “I think that whether you embrace your Polish heritage comes down to the environment you’re raised in,” says Patricia, admitting that all too often the people who forget their traditions are the ones who weren’t truly exposed to them to begin with.
Sharing Polish pride through clothing
The Lakomy’s Polish pride is so huge, they’re wearing it on their sleeves—literally. The sisters founded Apolonia, a Polish apparel company focused on instilling their love of Poland in others through clothing.
“Apolonia provides a means for Polish Americans to share their Polish pride through what they wear,” says Anna, who created the first t-shirt for her husband. “After I designed a shirt depicting a half-Polish, half-American eagle, I realized this could become something bigger.”
One of the company’s signature shirts depicts red and white lips—the Polish flag’s colors. “We try and go for a subtle, youthful look for our t-shirts,” says Patricia. The sisters also offer iPhone cases with similar Polish designs.
Although motivated by their Polish roots, the sisters recognize that every country can instill the same level of national pride in its people. “We are considering creating t-shirts for other nationalities as well,” explains Patricia. “We see Apolonia becoming a means by which people of all cultures and traditions can express their national pride.”
In a sense, the sisters are making it cool to act Polish, or whatever nationality you are. “Being Polish is our passion, and, ultimately, we want everyone to feel that same passion for their heritage, no matter what it is,” says Patricia.
To browse the sisters’ online store, visit https://www.facebook.com/Apolonia.Community/