How This Black-Owned Brand Is Using Sustainable Design as a Form of Activism

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Good design isn't just about the aesthetics of our homes, it's something that touches every aspect of our lives and has the power to impact our confidence, our communities, and the planet.

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That's a statement Kimberly McGlonn, PhD, founder and CEO of Grant BLVD, a sustainable clothing brand in Philadelphia, PA, lives by. "I think people should care about sustainable design in everything — in all the things — including in what they wear," says McGlonn. "What we wear tells a story about our values."

The story McGlonn's clothing tells is an intersectional one, showing that she values style, sustainability, and creating meaningful opportunities for people, especially those affected by mass incarceration.

To see a tangible fabrication of how those passions fit together, you need only pay a visit (virtually or in-person) to Grant BLVD. McGlonn founded the apparel brand in 2017 after watching Ava Duvernay's documentary, ​13th​, which furthered her understanding of the "kind of systems that keep people — particularly those who are poor, particularly those who are people of color — in cycles of not just criminality, but poverty and a sense of being left out and being permanently marginalized."

Her response to these systemic problems? Action. Through Grant BLVD, she seeks to end these cycles by supporting local nonprofits, using social media to educate on "why mass incarceration is so problematic (to put it mildly)," and creating jobs for formerly incarcerated women at Grant BLVD.

McGlonn is also committed to repurposing sustainably sourced fabrics, which means she seeks out well-made, durable materials to reuse. Her sourcing journey typically begins in consignment shops and thrift stores.

"It's us going row by row and aisle by aisle, touching garments, checking for quality, looking for feel, and then figuring out how we can reimagine fabrics that already exist — including fabrics that were once used in home design," she says. "What we wear out in the world is no different from what we bring into our homes."

That reimagining could be anything from a 100 percent organic cotton tote bag to a matching mask and jacket, but to see the beautiful results — like an intricately designed coat made from reused sheer curtains—you'll have to watch the video.

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All claims made within this video and article are the opinion of the talent featured. Hunker and Target are not responsible for these claims.

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