Kimberly McGlonn, Ph.D. Founder & Creative Director of Grant Blvd
We first discovered Grant Blvd when researching for our iFundWomen campaign. Grant Blvd was a leading example of positivity and success- both in their campaign and their ethos. Its no shock they were fully funded and FAST! When reaching out to congratulate them, we came across founder Kimberly McGlonn. This is a woman who's every move is well thought out and determined to make a difference. From defending human and civil rights, to creating ethical and sustainable fashion, all the way to hiring returning citizens, Kimberly's mission is to create a balanced, equal life for all. Can she BE anymore influential (Chandler voice)? Yes, yes she can. Read on to see how.
What started your civil & human rights journey?
My commitment to working on behalf of the ongoing fight for civil & human rights is deeply rooted in the example of my parents. When I was a little girl they were both pretty active in social reforms- my dad was a food activist. He was interested in making sure Milwaukee’s African-American community had access to healthy food options and my mom dedicated her time to counseling both incarcerated and abused women. They made sure through the very nature of their own lives, that my sisters and I would grow into socially conscious women.
Why fashion, especially since its one of the top industries in terms of wastefulness and environmental harm?
I was and continue to be, alarmed by how wasteful & harmful the fashion industry is. At the same- I love the way in which my clothes have the power to reveal my mood. However, as a citizen of not just America but the world, I decided I couldn’t be a passive, silent witness to the harm being done to our planet. That said, as I came to recognize the nature of the re-imagination that the fashion industry needs, I knew that as a person better aware of its impacts- I felt a strong tug to take action.
I think ultimately two familiar questions prompted me to plan and then to act: If not now, when? If not me, who? Two years later, I’m more committed than ever to conceptualizing a needed set of timely, achievable solutions through my vision for design.
How do marginalized people and saving the planet tie together?
I think that the best hope for the future of our planet is actually tied to how successfully nation states, companies, and consumers alike recalibrate our systems. For me that includes all of our systems, and as Americans, that specifically means our system of justice.
Here’s why: the population of the United States comprises 5% of the world’s total population, and yet of all the people on the planet, we incarcerate 25% of these people. That’s alarming.
Beyond that, 95% of those American citizens are going to return to their/our communities at some point where they are certain to face employment & housing discrimination. I’m concerned about what becomes of them- of us. And I have great faith that we can create innovative, more sustainable lanes in all industries by employing them- which is what I aim to do. The stakes are very high. Our survival is dependent on our ability to make significant changes.
If you could make one wish for peace in this politically crazed world, what would it be?
My one wish would be that more of the those who have historically (currently) been given privilege in everything from the choice of where they live, the schools they are able to attend, the discrimination they are free from- to acknowledge the ways in which inequity and injustice have benefited them. Going just a little further, my wish is that this recognition will fuel the growth of compassion, yes, but also inspire as I mentioned earlier, a significant recalibration. If those who are still benefiting from cruelty and discrimination can come to understand that peace and prosperity are possible in a stronger shared access model, then our democracy may someday be able to meet its potential and to arrive at a place of more peace.
After launch, what’s next for you?
Well, after launch we’re going to focus our energies on creating a matrix for identifying our first class of trainees, as well as piloting responses to the kinds of supports they may benefit from. Beyond that, we’ll be hard at work making the case for why our super cute garments represent precisely what stylish women should be demanding from the companies they support. I’m also really excited to leverage my experience as a teacher to get out and spend time with people, talking with them about sustainability and criminal justice reform- issues I think they’re excited to get to work on addressing. I’m looking forward to listening to them and keeping them at the heart of the energy we cultivate. More importantly, perhaps most importantly, I’m also very excited to continue with the development of our training program for the returning citizens we plan to bring onto our team.
Interviewed by Emily