Look Local First and Ken Supply Co. Celebrate Black History Month With a Merch Collaboration
In February the Look Local First team partnered with Ken Supply Co., a Des Moines based clothing company to celebrate Black History Month with a limited edition merch collab. From start to finish we agreed that we wanted the design to tell a story about Iowa's rich, Black History.
The design represents what was once a thriving community of Black Owned businesses in Des Moines that belonged to an area known as Center Street! Center Street boomed from 1945-1972 with incredible businesses like a jazz club named the Sepia Club that would host some of America's greatest blues and jazz musicians. There were amazing diners, cafes, barbers, and bike shops. Unfortunately those businesses were forced to close their doors and residents in the area were displaced due to redlining efforts that eventually led to a highway being built.
Each building in the design was drawn to represent what the community would have looked like in the 60s and several of the original Center Street businesses were represented. Malique also wanted to honor his parents who serve as a source of inspiration for him. "Brandi's Cafe", represents his mother, Brandi and his brand name, Ken Supply Co., is named after his father. "I've seen how hard my parents have worked and how hard they continue to work to make the world a more beautiful place so I felt it was important to add them somewhere in the design." said Miller.
"When working through this design with my team and researching Center Street, I felt very empowered because it reiterated that black people have and can build great things-beautiful things. I wanted the design to be intentional about the messaging we're sending. Often times our neighborhoods are represented by dilapidated buildings and sneakers on the power line, and I didn't want to do that because that's not all that we are. Our history is so much more vibrant and richer than that and I wanted the design to be something people could feel dignified by. We can create really beautiful and successful things. I think this design represents that." said, Miller.
"We wanted this project to pay homage to those businesses, their impact, and the amazing Black Owned small businesses that would come after them. This is our love letter to those who paved the way for other small business owners to thrive-the ones who truly did their work with love and for the culture." says Akilah Anders, Sr. Brand Specialist at Vizypay.
Wanting to make an even bigger impact, Malique graciously donated 20% of the proceeds from the collaboration to amazing local organizations such as The Supply Hive, Black Women 4 Healthy Living, Urban Dreams, and ArtForce Iowa.
We are beyond grateful to Malique Miller and his team, for helping us create something that not only represents the Black small business community, but also helps change the narrative. To shop more of his designs, please visit https://kensupplyco.com/
Malique graciously donated 20% of the proceeds from the collaboration to amazing local organizations such as The Supply Hive, Black Women 4 Healthy Living, Urban Dreams, and ArtForce Iowa.
About Ken Supply Co.