School is back in session and any parent, grandparent, uncle or aunt knows that backpacks are just as important as fresh first day of school outfits. That’s where Blended Designs comes into play. For this Black-owned, Florida based company, bookbags aren’t just for carrying homework, they serve as daily reminders of self-worth and Black excellence. The collection of bookbags, pencil cases, lunch bags, and other school accessories are adorned with images of happy Black faces and the words “I can do anything.” From pre-school to HBCUs, Blended Designs empowered fashion is everywhere.
TheGrio spoke with Blended Designs co-founder Casey Kelley about how the company came to be, her entrepreneurial journey and why it’s important so surround Black children with positive images of themselves.
What’s In A Name
Blended Designs was born in 2014. Casey Kelley and her husband Harvey are a Black Brady Bunch of sorts. When they got married, they also joined together Harvey’s five daughters and Casey’s two sons. To save money, they created their own wedding decorations and they ended up selling their creations on Etsy. The name Blended Designs comes from their blended family.
The bookbag production began when Casey’s then eight-year old son Carter came to her with a request. “He wanted a book bag that looked like him, he was very specific, he wanted his face. It’s really because he saw a kid at his school that had red hair and blue eyes and the kid was wearing a backpack that’s a cartoon character with red hair and blue eyes playing with a truck and it looked just like the child,” said Kelley. “And so, I tried to find one. My background is insights and analytics. My job was looking at data and understanding consumers buying behaviors and what decisions they make, but also what’s available. So I used my access to data and found 670 backpacks, and of those, only 14 of them included children of color.” Read the full article here.