The next generation of fashion designers debuted their Social Justice Collection, designed by youth in the first Industry Club of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan (BGCSM).
“The program provides the youth access and resources to dive into different industries and the first industry that we started is the fashion merchandising industry. This is to ensure that all of our kids are career start up and homeowner ready,” Antonice Strickland, senior director of marketing and public relations for the Industry Club, told The Final Call.
“We launched the Industry Club last summer in partnership with Bedrock Detroit and Detroit is New Black as well as a number of other partners and sponsors. We want to make sure they have the economic, cultural and social capital needed to become college and career as well as business start up and homeowner ready down the line,” she said.
Industry Club’s design release took place during a live streamed event, “Reimagining Black Wall Street,” Feb. 1, to kick off Black History Month. This club is new to The Boys and Girls Clubs of America. They annually serve 4.6 million young people, through membership and community outreach, at 4,738 clubs throughout the country and Boys and Girls Club-affiliated youth centers on U.S. military installations worldwide.
The Boys and Girls Club of America have:
- 1,946 school-based clubs
- 497 affiliated youth centers on U.S. military installations around the world
- 1,104 clubs in rural areas
- 284 clubs in public housing
- 205 clubs on Native lands
Their first Industry Club focuses on the designs of several amazing youth that combined art and politics.
“My brother told me about the Industry Club. I thought it would be a great way for me to expand my business and to learn different things about the industry. I learned that being able to put it all together as a group was hard. We had to push through to tell people what we thought about social justice and our society,” said Erica, an Industry Club member and designer.
“It was an exciting experience to watch our designs develop from being on a sheet of paper, to a painted board, to a real T-shirt,” she told The Final Call.
Social justice issues impacted this community and youth with the Industry Club of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan were encouraged to express their feelings through art and fashion. Each participant-designed t-shirt and hoodie has a special story to go with it.
“When I heard about the program, I really wanted to do it. Just going through the process of seeing the design being made into the hoodie was an amazing experience,” Jayla, another Industry Club participant and designer, told The Final Call. “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!”
All of the Industry Club youth t-shirt and hoodie designs were licensed by Industry Club of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan to ensure that the youth designers will be compensated. The program taught Industry Club youth the importance of owning and monetizing their work which creatives often struggle to do.
The Michigan Boys and Girls Club will have a number of different Industry Clubs in the future but the first one is specific to fashion and merchandising. A new focus of this Boys and Girls Club is ensuring their youth get real world experience learning about business as well as being homeowner ready.
“We’re the Boys and Girls Club of Southeastern Michigan, but we are the first club to reimagine how we’re serving the youth in our clubs and this is one of those big things and we have big goals,” said Ms. Strickland.
“That’s an area we will be diving into to provide those resources and exposure to understanding homeownership for our kids. Their parents may not own a home, or they may want to get into real estate. Maybe they want to make sure their family has a home, a home that they want to own.”
BGCSM Industry Club worked with Roslyn Karamoko, owner of Détroit is the New Black, and Kelsey & Cassidy Tucker, owners of Deviate, to design their collection; and with Tommey Walker, founder of Detroit Vs. Everybody, to physically bring the youth’s collection to life.
“The Industry Club allowed our students to open up and break out of their shells like Erica did,” Alexis Johnson, Industry Club Program Coordinator, told The Final Call. “She was quiet, didn’t really talk much and now she’s opened up and doing different. She’s learning different skills and teaching different skills to the youth here as well.”
“This program has made a big impact on their life. Jayla was also very quiet. She just played basketball, but now she is opening up and sewing. She is actually selling her products. This is great for both of them.”
The Fashion and Merchandising Industry Club members gained experience learning every aspect of the retail business development cycle, including stocking merchandise, ordering wholesale and fulfilling online orders, all while earning a wage.
“BGCSM is committed to ensuring youth are career, start up and homeowner ready when they leave our clubs,” said Shawn H. Wilson, the organization’s 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 Reimagine Black Wall Street Collection will be available in-store at Détroit is the New Black at 1430 Woodward Ave, Detroit, Michigan 48226 and online at detroitisthenewblack.com.