For Everyone Collective: Blending Fashion with Social Change in Grand Rapids

November 28th, 2023 Culture & Lifestyle Ryan Spegal
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For Everyone Collective, a Grand Rapids-based custom screen printing company with a unique social mission, recently inaugurated its first physical retail store on the city's far south side. Located at 2215 29th St. SE, this new storefront, which opened in late October, is situated alongside the company's production facilities.

Distinguished by its commitment to employing formerly incarcerated individuals and their families, For Everyone Collective specializes in custom screen printing and design. The company also has its own line of original clothing, which until now, was available only online. The new 700 square-foot retail space not only offers customers the chance to purchase these designs in person but also provides a welcoming lounge area for both customers and supporters.

Sky Rich, the founder of For Everyone Collective, established the organization in 2018 under the name Forgive Everyone. His aim was to leverage clothing as a medium to spotlight the discrimination faced by people who have been incarcerated. Rich's journey began with an eye-opening realization of the systemic barriers faced by these individuals in areas like employment, housing, and societal acceptance. The initial objective of this screen printing venture was to support prison reentry organizations by donating a portion of each sale.

The evolution of For Everyone from a side project into a full-fledged worker-owned collective is a testament to Rich's dedication and the company's growth. Currently, For Everyone operates out of a 5,000-square-foot space on 29th Street, which encompasses production, design, shipping facilities, and now the new storefront. Despite its relatively small team and modest beginnings, For Everyone has impressively fulfilled 10,000 orders for its custom designs in 2023 alone, averaging about 2,000 screen-printed shirts weekly.

For Everyone's ethos extends beyond just creating meaningful designs. It emphasizes ethical business practices, including paying employees above-living wages, offering comprehensive benefits like free dental, health care, and life insurance, providing unlimited time off, and using ethically-sourced materials.

A notable highlight for For Everyone has been its collaboration with the Last Prisoner Project, a national cannabis reform nonprofit, and the renowned comedy duo Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong. This partnership, which focused on a cannabis-themed design, saw Cheech and Chong sporting the shirts in promotional images. A portion of the proceeds from this collaboration was donated to support Last Prisoner Project's constituent support services.

Last Prisoner Project’s Sarah Gersten commended the partnership, emphasizing the shared mission of advocating justice for those adversely affected by the War on Drugs. This collaboration aligns with For Everyone's values and their commitment to raising awareness and supporting those impacted by incarceration.

The significance of For Everyone's mission is underscored by statistics from the Prison Policy Initiative, which reported a stark unemployment rate of 27.3% for formerly incarcerated individuals in 2018, in contrast to the general public’s 5.8% at that time. In Michigan, these challenges disproportionately impact people of color, with over half of the state's prison population being Black, as reported by The Sentencing Project.

This venture by For Everyone Collective not only marks a significant expansion in its business operations but also reinforces its commitment to social justice and community engagement.

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