The Boys and Girls Club of Southeastern Michigan hosted a virtual reveal of their Industry Club’s Social Justice Collection. The virtual event, Reimagining Black Wall Street, kicks off Black History Month and puts young Black entrepreneurship in the forefront while celebrating Black excellence. The industry collection was curated by the youth interested in fashion in the BGCSM and features their individual design concepts highlighting social justice. The t-shirts and hoodie collection is the first of its kind.
Getting help from a number of high-profile fashion entrepreneurs and big companies in the city, the Industry Club designers received creative notes and worked alongside owners of Detroit Is The New Black, Roslyn Karamoko, and owners of Deviate, Kelsey, and Cassidy Tucker to bring their visions to life. Tommey Walker, owner, and founder of Detroit Vs. Everybody brought their visions to life.
“Getting in on the ground floor with youth and really being a part of helping young people understand entrepreneurship, understand the retail industry, the frontend, the back of the house and all those components has been really phenomenal, and we’ve been privileged to be a part of that,” says Leona Medley, Director of Strategic Community Partnerships for Bedrock.
The virtual presentation, filled with industry leaders and prominent Black figures across metro Detroit, also featured expert advice from Ruthie Davis, a shoe designer whose been feature on top A-list celebrities. Taking knowledge from her background working at brands Ugg Australia, Reebok, and Disney, the visionary launching her self-titled brand in 2006.
“It’s not an easy road but the key is you’ve got to figure out what excites you, what’s your passion, what’s something you believe in,” Davis says during the presentation.
The Mayor of Eastpointe, Monique Owens, was also in attendance offering words of wisdom to the youth at the Boys and Girls Club. Serving as the first Black female mayor of that city, the trailblazer announced she is looking to make her city apart of the Boys and Girls Club family.
“I’m also trying to get a Boys and Girls Club in the city of Eastpointe like this one,” Mayor Owens says. “I went to a Boys and Girls Club center when I was your age and as you can see, I became the mayor so that means you can do it too.”
The young designers of the collection were also on hand to present the concept behind their designs. Jayla Harris, McKenzie Wilson, Christian Warren, and Erica Trussell, the Industry Club members, all shared their takeaways from the program and being a young entrepreneur.
“Just going through the process of seeing the design being made into the hoodie was an amazing experience,” Harris says. “We got the chance to really see how everything works. This opportunity to sell the hoodies and t-shirts is exciting and we can’t wait to see the response from our friends, family, and the world!”
Further aiding in the success and economic education of these young people, organizers and supporters rallied behind the program while the designers were paid for their hard work. In addition, the youth also received some fundamental bricks on their road to success.
“BGCSM is committed to ensuring youth are career, start-up, and homeowner ready when they leave our clubs,” says Shawn H. Wilson, BGCSM president & CEO. “Not only will the selected designs be sold online and in-stores, but the youth designers were paid as part of the program and received a paid licensing deal from BGCSM, which furthers our mission around providing economic mobility opportunities for youth and families.”
The Industry Club program has also led to a partnership with the Boys and Girls Club and Ruthie Davis’ line.
“I’m going to be working with you all on a super cool project in 2021, yet to be unveiled. It’s going to be like a capsule collection, a mini shoe slash sweatsuit that were going to work together to do the whole marketing plan: the look, the feel, how to sell it, how to target it, TikTok plan, Instagram plan. From A to Z, we’re going to walk through it bit by bit and we’re going to take it from a light bulb to an outfit on a customer,” Davis shares.
The Reimaging Black Wall Street Collection is now available both online and in-store at Detroit Is The New Black, in downtown Detroit.