Photo via twitter.com/wearegrantblvd)
The United States has the highest rate of incarceration as well as the highest number of citizens in prison in the world.
That’s too many Americans who could be out supporting their communities — some sources put the number as high as 6.5 million.
Milwaukee native Kimberly McGlonn came to this realization when volunteering at Books Through Bars, the West Philly nonprofit that ships books to those incarcerated in Pennsylvania and beyond.
And so, she founded Grant Blvd, a sustainable clothing company with plans to support those entrenched in the criminal justice system. Its first line of womenswear will be repurposed from recycled men’s shirts, with future collections made from sustainable fabrics such as hemp and linen.
For every item sold, Grant Blvd will donate one book to Books Through Bars. And once the business is up and running, staffers will also train a handful of returning citizens to make clothes themselves, then hire them to do so.
The business model reminds of Triple Bottom Brewing Company, the social enterprise set to open in Callowhill in the near future which also plans to use sustainable practices and hire vulnerable populations. And the one-for-one approach of donating books reminds of United By Blue, the clothing company that pledges to remove one pound of trash from rivers, streams and oceans for every product sold.
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Per McGlonn, the online shop will launch in late September and the job training courses are estimated to begin in February 2019. In the meantime, Grant Blvd is looking to raise $18,000 through Aug. 1 via iFundWomen, the crowdfunding site for women-owned companies that launched in Philly this winter.
Funding will go toward:
- Leasing a manufacturing space
- Purchasing manufacturing equipment
- Training five returning citizens in industrial sewing
- Purchasing tech
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