Rockford Midtown District ventures to connect, inspire


Jessica Fletsch, 20, of Rockford, watches a hanging set created by local artists during a preview party at Inscape Collective, Thursday, December 2, 2021, at 201 7th Street in Midtown Rockford, Illinois (Susan Moran / Rockford Register Star via PA)


A group of local artists, artisans, musicians and activists have launched an effort to bring items ethically produced by local entrepreneurs and products from developing countries to the former Just Goods Fair Trade store in the Midtown area of ​​Rockford.

Members of the organization – known as the Inscape Collective – also envision the space as a focal point for music, art and educational programs connecting people from diverse backgrounds, reports the Rockford Register Star.

“We decided to try and start a social business with a mission to create a secular space where people from diverse groups – especially women – looking for connection and inspiration can engage, thrive and make an impact. social, ”said Shiraz, co-founder of Inscape Collective. Auntie.

Inscape Collective is started by Initial Thought Inc., a women-owned, black personalization company based in Rockford, and Jhoole Inc., a not-for-profit women’s empowerment cooperative company in Maheshwar, India, which produces a line of sports and leisure clothing.

“Jhoole is a fair trade, non-profit social enterprise,” said Hannah Warren, founder of the company and a native of Rockford. “The goal is to give the women there a living wage so that they can invest in education and break the cycle of chronic poverty. They do a lot of outsourcing to India with a number of different brands and then they have their own line of sportswear that incorporates traditional hand dyeing and block printing techniques, which use carved blocks. wood to achieve these ornate patterns. “

Initial Thought Inc. was co-founded by Rachel Rainey, of Loves Park, and Melissa Simmons, of Pingree Grove.

“We specialize in customizing pretty much everything from pillows and cups to t-shirts,” Rainey said, “we made golf bags and Christmas decorations. We’re just trying to bring people’s ideas to life.

Inscape Collective members said the Midtown location is strategic for the organization’s mission, which is to provide economic, creative and self-fulfillment opportunities to people from all walks of life in the Rockford area.

Just Goods Fair Trade Store closed in 2019 after 14 years of activity.

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