This year, Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States, is officially recognized as a federal holiday. While it’s important to support BIPOC designers and creators year round, to show Black-owned brands some extra support this weekend is crucial. To start, you can check out CISE’s Juneteenth capsule collection. The Black-owned, Los Angeles-based apparel company was founded in 2020 with the goal of creating items that give a voice to those in society who are typically ignored.
“The store component of CISE started June 14 of last year, and a huge component of our success has come from the community,” Blake Van Putten, founder & CEO of CISE, tells TZR. “It’s only right that we not only come out with a capsule collection for the anniversary of CISE and Juneteenth with new products that are unexpected. [This holiday] is a huge deal, and we wanted to make sure that we made something special for this time.” CISE’s Juneteenth product lineup is comprised of two products: a coffee-colored vegan suede bag with the phrase “Protect Black Women” lettered on the front ($160) and a hand tufted plush rug in the shape of one of the label’s handbag’s that reads “Protect Black People.”
“I could never take credit for inventing the ‘Protect Black Women’ [messaging]; it’s extremely important that I mention this because it goes beyond being a phrase,” Van Putten explains. “As a brand, if we are going to produce pieces with such a strong statement, we have to make sure that we are moving forward in a direction that positively impacts the world. CISE focuses on our mission of operating as a springboard to help build up and strengthen the Black community.”
The brand has come out with several capsule collections before (Protect Black People, SLASH, and Protect Black Women) and though the label originally started with shirts, Van Putten decided to also make bags. They, unsurprisingly, quickly garnered positive feedback from customers, including singer Lizzo.
Earlier this year, she gave Van Putten’s small business a major shoutout. Lizzo, who is one of the most outspoken celebs in support of racial justice in America, had toted the brand’s baby blue “Protect Black People” mini bag for a dinner outing in Los Angeles and shared a closeup of the itty-bitty, top-handle via her Instagram account. “It was absolutely insane to see Lizzo carry her ‘Protect Black People’ mini bag,” Van Putten recalls. “My PR team worked with Mark Monroe, Lizzo’s stylist, who knew she would love the brand.”
In addition to releasing a Juneteenth capsule collection, Van Putten shares that the brand is currently focusing on ownership, brand alignment, and transparency. “We have opened up our first office space where our all Black female team can come in and create at their own leisure. This space also allows us to internally focus and align our production with our brand’s mission and we are proud to say that we’ve seen positive and better results from this level of structure,” he says. In addition, the team is working to provide product donations to organizations that are aligned with CISE’s mission and community.
Shop CISE’s Juneteenth capsule collection, below, then check out a few additional product offerings from the label with powerful messaging. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to support other Black-owned businesses, big and small, this holiday weekend.
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