This luxury streetwear label from Bristol is more than just fashion. It is a movement. – Hartford Courant

Bristol – BRISTOL – From motivational speeches to motivational messages displayed on their luxury streetwear, a Bristol couple are using their pandemic idea to create change in their community.

DK Movement, a luxury streetwear brand made from sustainable and recycled materials, was born out of two things that had become important to Derek Jones and Kelly Houston: fashion and fitness.

After watching his mother struggle with drug addiction and his father alcoholism, grow up in foster care and eventually fight his own battle with alcohol, Jones, originally from Bristol, decided to turn his life around. He quit drinking, started exercising and started dating Houston, now his fiancée, whom he met online.

Houston is originally from New York. After traveling back and forth to see each other, Houston moved to Connecticut five years ago.

“I’ve been in fashion and I’ve been in the fashion industry for over 15 years as a model, red carpet hostess, an array of things,” Houston said. “That’s where the clothing line comes in, so we decided to do the clothing line.”

The couple created a YouTube channel to share their stories. In 2020, during the pandemic, the branded clothing line started with an online store at dkmovementbrand.com.

However, Houston says selling primarily online during the pandemic was difficult. Customers wanted to feel and see the products they were buying.

That’s when a friend walked into Avril’s store and thought DK Movement would be a great addition to the Bristol clothing store. After their friend showed Avril’s Boutique owner Brenda Jules some of their work, Jules wanted to meet the couple. Jules was rebranding his casualwear line to luxury sneakers and thought DK Movement would be a great addition to the store.

Houston thought working with Jules would be a different, but positive, experience.

“I never remember [a time] where I could walk into a store and buy luxury streetwear and buy a pair of Balenciagas, a Louis Vuitton bag and get a whole outfit in one store. Houston said.

Now the collaboration is working to bring fashion to the Bristol community – and beyond.

“[Brenda is] great to help, as we are. She gave us a chance in her store — she hosted us in her store,” Houston said. “The collaboration is going to be great because we have so many things we want to do together within the community.”

While Houston loves giving back to the community, Jones wants to point out one important aspect the two brands have in common.

“The [are] not too many collaborations with African American business owners,” Jones said. “We thought it would also be another spotlight just to help show the community that we also work together.”

Recognized by the Greater New England Minority Supplier Development Council, the Connecticut Chamber of Commerce and ShopBlackCT, DK Movement often donates a portion of its profits and time to Agapé House, a Christian church in Bristol dedicated to the help for the homeless.

After taking part in careers day at the Boys and Girls Club of Bristol, the couple wanted to share the stories of their difficult upbringing to inspire the younger generation.

“Part of our speech [was] letting every child know that they can do whatever they want in their life,” Jones said. “Once you change your mindset, you can do anything with positive thinking, goal setting, and a big vision.”

Houston believes that young children should have people who are in their community as role models. Modeling during Fashion Week taught her that all that glitters isn’t gold, a message she shares with her two daughters.

“Don’t live up to what you see on social media,” Houston said. “Look at the people you see within your community.”

DK Movement shares that they don’t give advice just for show. The couple is a business partner, a lover, and the biggest motivator for each other. Houston says meeting Jones was one of the best things that ever happened to her. Before meeting Jones, Houston was also an alcoholic.

“I haven’t had a drink in five years since I met Derek. He was already changing, he helped me change my life,” Houston said.

Together, the couple plans to do more outreach with members of the community and plan to continue sharing the brand’s tagline “become yourself.”

DK Movement will have a booth at the House of Fire Ministries Small Business Expo located at 136 Riverside Ave in Bristol on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. They will also be at the Bridgeport Community Festival in McLevy Green Park on July 23 from noon to 8 and the Rockwell Summer Festival at 238 Jacobs Street in Bristol on August 20 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Avril’s store is located at 912 Terryville Avenue in Bristol and is open Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. The official store opening will take place on August 19 from 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Ahjane Forbes can be contacted at aforbes@courant.com

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