Our June 20 Best Practice Forum will present a chance for business owners to hear from a group of business owners and professionals who will speak about their vision and practices for supporting re-entry, hiring returning citizens, and building an inclusive economy. We are proud to announce our panelists, including Grant Blvd’s Kimberly McGlonn.
As the CEO & Founder of Grant Blvd (a sustainable & ethical apparel brand), Kimberly McGlonn, Ph.D is committed to producing stylish womenswear in the United States through training & employing women returning from incarceration. As Councilwoman in Jenkintown, she is determined to protect the best interests of her community.
Kimberly, what gets you out of bed in the morning?
The thing that gets me out of bed in the morning (that is after I’ve hit snooze approximately twice) is my sense of trusting that my actions matter, that my choices matter, that what I decide to do or not do somehow counts. Each morning, before my feet touch the floor, I take a minute to get intentional about using the potential of that personal power to act throughout the day with compassion.
How did the Grant Blvd mission evolve from idea to reality?
I think the first step of this journey, one that I think of as a marathon, was deciding to go public with my vision. Directing our first crowdfunding video and then publishing it required a good deal more courage than I even knew I had. I had to tell people, everyone I knew and people I had never met, that I had not only some really strong social & environmental views but that I had conceived of a plan that I thought had merit. Then, once I did that, I began pulling together a team of phenomenal supports, of backers, of people willing to lend what they could to the growth of my concept. From there I went about the work of researching best practices in a wide set of directions, listening to people who had insights I don’t, and allowing my talented team room to play with purpose. And it’s so much fun, so rewarding! The women on Team Grant Blvd (yup, all women) have wonderfully diverse personal stories, and yet really closely shared values when it comes to how & why we make decisions. And I think this has led to some really impressive creative thought and some great strategic planning. And it’s led to some beautiful enthusiasm from other people get about supporting our mission to create sustainable employment for returning citizens in a sustainable fashion.
What nuggets of wisdom can you share with other companies who want to build the mission of supporting job creation for returning citizens into their company’s DNA from day one?
Folks don’t often study issues on the macro level. There is so much to understand about historic racism, about institutional racism, about poverty and trauma, that those of us who have known privilege have been shielded from, that we don’t have a sense of because I think the “knowing” can create feelings of angst. But if you don’t want to replicate systems of exploitation, then you should dedicate some time to understanding the obstacles that black & brown people have had to endure- that they (we) are still enduring. And then, once you have some developed understanding of American social systems and you decide that you want to be of real help, commit yourself to sit in service with the community you want to show up for. Listen to their stories about what has happened and is happening with respectful deference. Let them tell you what they want and what they need. That’s how you’ll find your angle, your footpath for aligning with returning citizens or any other marginalized group in a meaningful way. That’s how you’ll create a sustainable community with them (us). It’s been incredibly exciting to see how people are responding to Grant Blvd and to not only our fashion or our mission, but to our purposeful design. And that’s the key – to begin at the beginning with values led, research-informed, purposeful design. That’s how we can come together to create career opportunities for returning citizens.
Register for our June 20 Best Practice Forum at Kismet Cowork Spring Arts (8:00-10: 30 am).