At Open Works in Station North, Allison Brown uses recycled denim to make new products and looks to provide others in the surrounding neighborhoods with work and training in manufacturing.
The Baltimore resident is the founder of Jeanextreme, which she relaunched this year. She also started driving with Lyft.
On Wednesday night, November 14, the two pursuits will converge onstage at D.C.’s Blind Whino when she steps to the mic at Lyft Pitch. The event brings together eight drivers and entrepreneurs from D.C., Maryland and Virginia for a pitch competition. They’ll be competing for $30,000 to help scale their business, as our sister site Technical.ly DC reported.
Ridesharing drivers are often referred to as being entrepreneurial, and the event is meant to showcase those who have businesses of their own. According to Lyft’s internal data, 18 percent of its 1.5 million drivers worldwide are giving rides to support their own ventures.
For her part, Brown relaunched Jeanextreme this year after working in entertainment and branding. Using recycled denim, she makes clothing and home decor. She gets access to the industrial sewing machines at Open Works that help to make the products. She also has a mission to engage Baltimore’s talent, so she is reaching working with youth, single mothers and senior citizens from the surrounding area to work in manufacturing as subcontractors.
“We want to reach out to the community and discover that hidden talent in all aspects of the business,” she said.
Brown saw a message about the competition in Lyft’s app, and submitted a video about her business in September that was picked for the first edition of the event. Along with a chance to pitch onstage, she participated in a business bootcamp run by social entrepreneurship organization SEED Spot. Through that process, she said, the mission behind the business for others rose as a key point to put forward. In creating new styles, she also wants to create opportunities for residents and shine a light on the city’s talents in areas like fashion design and garment construction. After all, the city has a long history in the garment industry.
“I think what I’ve really focused on and been able to take away from this experience is pinpointing my real agenda,” she said.
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