The Homeless Alliance has recently launched a brand new business that is a perfect fit for its mission.
Curbside Apparel, a screen-printing business, is the latest addition to the Homeless Alliance’s growing list social enterprises that help those experiencing homelessness in Oklahoma City.
The new company provides program participants with job skills to help them transition from homelessness. Curbside Chronicle magazine, Curbside Flowers and Sasquatch Shaved Ice all have the same purpose as the Homeless Alliance.
Dan Straughan has been the executive director of Homeless Alliance for many years. The nonprofit uses business practices in order to accomplish social good.
He explained: “We have a magazine that is one model. A snow cone stand would be a food-service model. And the floral design, while beautiful, is not for everyone. For some, it’s more suitable to work in a production setting. “That’s why this one was developed, and I would be delighted if it could be even half as popular as the magazine or flower shop.”
Curbside Apparel has already been in contact with community members to help them meet their printing requirements. This includes custom T-shirts, poster and other items made at the shop located at 1101 Northwest 6. Since its soft launch on May 1, the new screen printing outlet has printed for several companies and groups. These include the Oklahoma City Museum of Art (OCMA), Downtown OKC (Downtown OKC), Allegiance Credit Union Juneteenth On The East, and a local Catholic Grade School.
Julie Dewalt is the marketing chair of the Oklahoma City Museum of Art Moderns Board. She said that Curbside Apparel screen printed totebags featuring the museum logo. She said that Curbside Flowers had worked with her group in the past and achieved positive results.
She said, “We will support any local entity that is doing something good for the community or supports the arts.”
Danielle Dodson is a spokesperson for Downtown OKC. She said that Curbside Apparel’s recent staff T-shirts were a hit with the organization. She said Downtown OKC employees wore the T shirts to a Downtown Employee Appreciation day in June.
“We have had a long relationship with supporting and collaborating with Curbside and are excited to grow our relationship in a new way with their apparel operation,” Dodson said.
Could Curbside Apparel be expanded to Enid or El Reno as well?
Guests of Curbside Apparel were given the opportunity to screen print their own T-shirt at its grand-opening. Jacob Danley, Curbside Apparel’s assistant manager, guided a group of guests in screen printing shirts. Mike Joseph was a former Homeless Alliance member. Frank Turner is also presently on the Board.
Whitley O’Connor is a social enterprise strategist at the Homeless Alliance. He said that the apparel company was a pilot project and grant funding enabled the Homeless Alliance buy the necessary equipment. The Homeless Alliance, he said, worked with Metro Tech on a screen-printing course for Curbside participants to take in order to work at Curbside Apparel. The participants will receive a screen printing certification and work for Curbside Apparel between eight to twelve months. They can then work at another screen-printing company using the skills that they have learned.
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O’Connor stated that a long-term objective is to create a social enterprise hub to share the Curbside model with other communities in the state.
“We’d love the opportunity to continue to expand Curbside. We’ve created a model that is very effective, and would love to bring this kind of show to Enid and El Reno,” said he. “They’re all trying to find ways to hire people in their own communities.”
Curbside Apparel: What you need to know
For more information about Curbside Apparel, go to https://curbsideapparel.com/.