BRISTOL – An emerging Bristol clothing brand is focusing on giving back to the community through activism, fundraising and wears the message that individuals are worthy of love and respect, regardless of their background.
Engaged duo Kelly Houston, 44, and Derek Jones,42, are the founders of DK Movement and Bristol residents. The pair started their venture first with a YouTube channel in late 2020.
“The purpose of our company was to share our stories to help motivate and inspire others,” said Houston. “We talked about different issues and our upbringings to inspire others to know that no matter where you come from, you can get out of that situation and persevere.”
Both said they have overcome challenges with alcoholism and tough personal lives. They've joined the Bristol Diversity Council and are working to fundraise for the Agape House, a nonprofit, Christian homeless outreach ministry, as a means of giving back among their many other endeavors.
Houston is originally from New York City and said she had a professional background in fashion and entertainment. The pair centered on fashion as a product.
“The whole point of the clothing brand was to share our messages on our clothes,” said Houston. “If you see our clothes, it says ‘Worthy,’ ‘Self Love’ and ‘We stand United.’”
The company focused on street wear and relaxed clothing initially in part due to the pandemic at the same time as starting a TikTok account, which currently has over nine million views.
“Our YouTube was more serious and about education and uplifting (messages). TikTok was about having fun and showing our personality,” said Houston. The pair noted some of their humor can focus on mature audiences.
Jones said he felt it was important to create a strong digital presence because of rising trends in cryptocurrency and other forms of internet-related commerce. He has a background in the finance industry.
The pair have trademarked their brand designs as well as certified themselves as a small business with the state as well as being a black-owned certified business with the Greater New England Minority Supplier Development Council. They noted they can deliver products and also have a website. Many of their products are 80% cotton and 20% polyester as a means of making the product sustainable and more eco-friendly, they said.
Jones said he’s lived in a shelter before during more difficult times in his life and that’s partly why he is passionate about the company’s outreach activities.
“It brings unity and less division,” said Jones. “We’re all about helping every individual no matter what background or status. I’ve been on both ends. Extremely poor, had nothing and now I’m successful. People judge people and don’t realize where you come from.”
Currently, DK Movement is assisting the Bristol Diversity Council with its plans to create a cultural festival.
They are also slated this Saturday to hold a pop-up shop outside Bridge Community Church, which houses the Agape House, after the Easter breakfast from noon to 6 p.m. A portion of their proceeds will go to funding the outreach.
On May 21, Jones will serve as a guest speaker at the Unknown Voices Luncheon at the Agape House housed at the Bridge Community Church. The luncheon starts at 11:30 a.m. The event seeks to provide a voice for those who have struggled with homeless experiences. A multicultural lunch will be provided as well as bags with essential supplies for patrons. A videographer from Mazz Media will be on hand to document interviews with those who wish to share their story about struggles with homelessness which will be published with DK Movement’s digital presence.