There are a lot of great reasons to spend your money with small businesses: making a positive impact on your local economy, building support for real people in your community, finding innovative and creative products and services, and even a smaller carbon footprint.
But one of the most exciting things about small businesses is their capacity to create meaningful jobs.
For Everyone Collective, a social justice-focused apparel company, makes that meaningful job creation even more consequential: It hires formerly incarcerated people and their families.
Started by Skyler Rich, who is the only “non-impacted” employee of the company, For Everyone Collective was originally called “Forgive Everyone” in 2018 and has become the product of a dream to provide healing, community, and resources to people impacted by incarceration.
In America, nearly 2 million people are incarcerated in 2023, according to the Prison Policy Initiative, and when folks are released from prison, they face continuous harm and struggle to access essentials like employment, health care, nutritious food, and housing.
For Everyone Collective doesn’t only employ these folks; it creates products that speak to their experiences.
Best sellers include a hoodie with an Angela Davis quote: “Prisons do not disappear social problems. They disappear human beings,” and a T-shirt that reads “Safety, Healing, Accountability, Housing, Healthcare, Education, Food, Water, Abolition… For Everyone.”
“It’s not just a clothing brand, it’s actually helping people who are impacted by the things the clothing is talking about,” Rich told Crain’s, a local Grand Rapids-based business news outlet.
The business just opened its first brick and mortar store in Grand Rapids, Michigan in November 2023, offering its signature designs, as well as custom screen-printing, and a gathering space for customers and supporters.
According to Crain’s, the brand screenprints an average of 2,000 shirts per week.
The store is staffed by a team of 11 — who also co-own the brand through a worker-owned model.
On the brand’s website, a list of values and actions explains “how we live for everyone.” It includes:
- Employing local people who have been impacted by incarceration
- Holding regular circles to maintain peace and address conflict as it comes up
- Paying above living wages and share profits equitably
- Providing free health, dental, and life insurance to all staff
- Using materials that work with cycles of the earth
- Offering unlimited paid time off to rest and spend time with family
- Featuring art from incarcerated and impacted artists in our designs
- Rejecting systems of policing and incarceration
- Hosting monthly political education teach-ins for the community
- Holding communal space for healing and transformation
Richie Reseda is the company’s creative and political director, though it took him a little while to get there. When Rich reached out to him to collaborate soon after the genesis of the brand, Reseda was just out of prison and wasn’t ready.
But in 2021, after he had launched his own creative abolition endeavor, Question Culture, a music production and creative agency focused on the voices of those impacted by incarceration, he was ready to join forces.
Reseda has led meaningful marketing campaigns; a recent one includes photos of formerly incarcerated models holding framed photos of loved ones they held close during their time in prison.
He is also thoughtful in considerations against fast fashion — which Reseda said is intrinsically connected to the exploitation of marginalized people.
“Fashion is a slave sector,” he told i-D magazine in April of 2023. “We’re exploring how to practice fashion respectfully.”
At the end of the day, Reseda — along with the rest of the For Everyone Collective team — is happy to be a part of an experiment in healing over punishment.
“[This has] become a beautiful testing ground to show the ways that abolition, transformative justice, and community integrity can be practiced within a framework where people haven’t known each other,” Reseda continued in his interview with i-D. “We’re helping expand imaginations.”
Header images courtesy of For Everyone Collective