Forty-year-old Kimberly McGlonn has become a clothing store owner who wants to help other women save the world. She also wants to help those women look fabulous while doing so. Her fashion store doesn’t just make nice clothes. It models clothes to demand a positive change in our society. That’s why Grammy Award singer Beyonce has awarded McGlonn’s store with a business grant worth $ 10,000.
Since being recognized by Beyonce’s charitable organization, Bey Good, Grant Boulevard, a Black-owned clothing boutique, located on the 3600 block of Lancaster Avenue, has been drawing more customers to its fashion outlet.
Shockingly, Grant Boulevard was the only local business in the Philadelphia area to receive the prestigious BeyGood grant out of thousands of applicants. Beyonce partnered with the NAACP to help support small Black businesses during the pandemic.
As a BeyGood grant recipient, Grant Boulevard is featured on Beyonce’s website with the owner’s bio and picture displayed on a beautiful, colorful screen. Kimberly McGlonn, who’s the Founder and owner of Grant Boulevard, was so happy to learn about her store being recognized by Beyonce. Early last year, McGlonn applied for a grant after seeing the application on the website of the NAACP. Channel 6 Action News featured Grant Boulevard in a story three weeks ago. Because of her story, McGlonn feels like a real celebrity.
“I was so shocked when I saw our picture on Beyonce’s website,” said McGlonn. “Beyonce is such a powerful woman. She’s an impressive singer. She’s always clear what she cares about. And she’s has been very thoughtful about everything she touches. The idea that she found value in our work shows she appreciates our work and cares about what we are doing.”
Before Kimberly McGlonn opened Grant Boulevard last year, she had no background in fashion. She spent a year learning about fashion in the prison system. She became a volunteer at Books Through Bars, a West Philadelphia nonprofit, that shipped books to women who are incarcerated in the state of Pennsylvania and beyond. In the past, McGlonn made visits to many correctional facilities to help incarcerated women make plans for their future. Helping them with their education and making sure they were prepared to return to the working world.
McGlonn has created partnerships through the city and has started a fellowship program to help incarcerated women who are interested in sewing and making clothes for people. She has used fashion to create jobs for them. She’s currently working with the Department of Parole to keep a tight hold on the women.
Before owning a clothing store, McGlonn was an English teacher for 18 years in the Lower Moreland School District. She earned her Ph.D in Philosophy at Louisiana State University. Currently, McGlonn also serves as a member of the Borough Council in Jenkintown.
She turned a vacant garage into a popular clothing store. She used her savings from her teaching salary to create the store. Her store is setup like a living room with plenty of chairs and a sofa where people can sit and drink coffee. Inside her store, many people gather from all ages and color. For many female customers, being in the store provides a sense of togetherness and unity that often leads to larger conversations. Often times, her customers talk about different fashions that are displayed inside the popular boutique. The store is only opened during the weekends. Despite the limit hours, the store is often crowded.
Before living in Philadelphia, McGlonn grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She went to school on the city’s Northside where Blacks faced many challenges. That’s where she learned the importance of fighting for the rights of Blacks. Much of what she learned in Milwaukee is what she has been able to share at her clothing store.
Grant Boulevard is a store that creates edgy, bold and idiosyncratic garments. From sweatshirts and tees to runway styles, Grant Boulevard stands a cut above the rest. Kimberly McGlonn believes what women choose to put on their bodies should make a fashion statement and should communicate their greater values as long it’s done in good taste. Her store reclaims fabrics and manufactures clothes to fit women’s bodies. Much of her clothing is crafted from second hand wear. Many of her clothes are made from scrap from big retailers. Grant Boulevard doesn’t throw away anything or waste good material. The designers use men’s wear and reclaim it into all different fashions of clothing for women. It could be a cuff or stitching or an extra pocket. A large men’s shirt can be made into a fashionable dress for a woman. Another attractive piece is a long architectural skirt made from denim scraps with a matching denim jacket that shows a picture of the Earth on the back.
All fashion is handmade by McGloon’s team of seven women. McGlonn has a team of all-female designers who take vintage or used clothing as well as virgin fabrics and they create stylish tops, bottoms, dresses, skirts, outerwear and accessories to fit all types of women. Because of the pandemic, Grant Boulevard has been able to ship clothes around the city and the world.
Together, Kimberly McGlonn and Nevada Gray, the Director of Design, handpick the garments and select scrap that are in good condition. Along one wall in the studio are piles of men’s wear ready to be cut up and manufactured into women clothes. As the Director of Design, every garment goes through the hands of Nevada Gray before it leaves the studio. Gray oversees all the sewing and works closely with all the employees. Gray has been designing and making clothes for 20 years.
“We bring a lot of color to our clothes,” said Gray. “Everything tells a story. Everything is unique in that way. We play with a lot of colors. We just create. We name some things and then it becomes its own personality and persona.”
Soon, McGlonn and Gray plan to expand their business to children wear. Gray said she will use her 3-year-old daughter to do fashion. From that point, the two women will make clothes for little children to wear. Grant Boulevard will make plans for the children of the future. It’s a plan they know will bring great results. They believe Beyonce and her daughter, Blue Ivy, would agree.
Grant Boulevard is located at 3605 Lancaster Avenue and is open on Fridays from 4 PM to 7 PM and also on Saturdays and Sundays from 12:30 PM to 5:30 PM. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org