WMCAT Teen Artists Anala Millbrooks and Minni Peters and WMCAT Teaching Artist Jalexia Stoutmyre joined forces to create original Black History Month designs for apparel exclusive to Meijer.
Grand Rapids Innovation Central High School sophomore Minni and Grand Rapids City High School freshman Anala, students in WMCAT’s Teen Arts + Tech Program, were asked by WMCAT and Meijer to create two designs in honor of Black History Month alongside Jalexia Stoutmyre, a professional artist and WMCAT instructor. With original ideas from Stoutmyre and the design brought to life by Minni and Anala, more than 6,000 T-shirts and sweatshirts were available across all Meijer supercenters and market format stores in February 2022.
After three design sessions, Peters, Millbrook and Stoutmyre finalized the designs they submitted to Meijer. Each artist generated their own ideas, shared them with the group and then worked together to integrate and refine the designs.
“I hope those wearing the shirts feel appreciated for everything they are, from their strong side to their soft side,” shared Stoutmyre. “Far too often being Black is synonymous with fearless, or strong, which it very well is, but it’s deeper than that. So this was a design to show appreciation during Black History Month, appreciation for traits that sometimes go unnoticed.”
The second design is on a sweatshirt, featuring a timeline of Black history achievements down the sleeve.
Jalexia states that the conversation-starter sweatshirt was meant to “educate people on accomplishments that they might have not been taught in school. I hope those wearing the timeline hoodies feel like they learned something new about Black History.”
Minni said, “It’s great for me as a Black artist to get a chance to be a part of it. It feels really good to have our artwork in such a big area and retail chain. Having this experience will definitely help my art career in the future and working with other people.”
All of the originally designed apparel was printed through Ambrose at WMCAT, our custom design and screen printing social enterprise business, and helps support the mission of WMCAT to provide equitable access to opportunity in West Michigan.
“We are thrilled to be partnering again with Meijer to give young people a platform to amplify their voices and creativity,” said WMCAT President + CEO Jamon Alexander. “By working with students in WMCAT’s Teen Arts + Tech Program to design original Black History Month apparel, Meijer is helping to build creative confidence and create a culture of opportunity in West Michigan.”
The WMCAT-designed apparel was available for purchase at all Meijer supercenters within the retailer’s six-state footprint during February 2022, and at its market format stores as part of the retailer’s Black History Month apparel collection.
The Teen Arts + Tech Program at WMCAT gives young people space to creatively amplify their voices – especially on issues that matter to them. With a focus on connecting teens within the West Michigan community, students gain valuable experience by being immersed in community-based projects with mentorship from professionals focused on visual media arts and technology engagement.