• Abigail Hall

Local women create OKC-based feminist clothing company GRL GNG to empower female community

Originally published at OU Daily April 22, 2018

An Oklahoma City-based feminist apparel company aims to promote female empowerment and encourage the local female community through pop-up shops in local festivals.

GRL GNG is an online store created by Kenzi Lockwood, a University of Central Oklahoma graduate student, with her two close friends, Peyton Gose and Mikayla Glover, in summer 2017.

Gose and Glover grew up together in Bethel, Oklahoma, and they brought Lockwood into their friend group when they met at an Oklahoma City-based camp where they were counselors in 2016.

As the trio became close, their friendship became a small community for mutual female empowerment.

The group of friends were all interested in fashion, with Glover studying fashion merchandise at Rose State College. When the trio went shopping or saw clothing items they were drawn to, they began thinking about altering them with feminist logos, Lockwood said.

According to Lockwood, after entertaining ideas of simply wanting to design clothes for themselves, the three developed an idea to start their own feminist apparel line, hoping to encourage local women to build their female communities.

“There are a lot of women who don’t have other women that they feel like they can talk to about their hopes and dreams and goals,” Lockwood said. “(We) wanted to take what we had and share it with other people to help people really foster those relationships with other women in the community.”

For Lockwood, female community and feminism became deeply important when she dealt with the aftermath of her divorce.

“I didn’t have very many female friends when I was going through that,” Lockwood said. "I really just have stolen women to become my friends since then, just kind of acquired them. I just didn’t realize how important it was to have other women in my life until things started falling apart."

Through friendship with Gose and Glover, as well as the foundation of GRL GNG, Lockwood found a deep sense of community and now hopes to spread that community and female positivity to other women through the company.

The women began reaching out to friends they knew who had experience with screen printing, found a wholesale shirt company and built a website to display their designs of T-shirts, hats, stickers and pins.

In August 2017, GRL GNG appeared at its first event, AMP Fest, a female empowerment art and music festival in downtown Oklahoma City.

AMP Fest created buzz around GRL GNG and earned the company positive feedback from patrons.

OU women’s and gender studies professors JoAnna Wall and Lisa Funnell were some of these patrons.

Wall had never been to AMP Fest, but she saw the event on Facebook and said it sounded like fun. She said she loved seeing the GRL GNG display and bought one of their T-shirts with the GRL GNG logo.

“It’s nice to see someone so young doing that — the entrepreneurial spirit, but also embracing feminism,” Wall said. “It’s really important to support any local entrepreneur, especially young women trying to make a difference for their gender in a time where we’re still experiencing a lot of gender inequality. It’s great to have that camaraderie.”

Although Gose and Glover left the GRL GNG corporation earlier this year for personal reasons, Lockwood is still maintaining the company with help from her own local girl gang.

A few women individually reached out to Lockwood about wanting to help her with photography, retail and other business needs, forming a GRL GNG 2.0.

“It’s really just grown into just a much bigger thing than I thought it would, which is really great and cool,” Lockwood said.

Lockwood’s childhood friend, Emily Madden, is one of the women who joined Lockwood in helping to run the company. Madden joined Lockwood in December 2017 by attending GRL GNG events with Lockwood and helping run pop-up booths.

“I think it’s very important to support each other as humans,” Madden said. “What Kenzi is doing is connecting people to each other, but then connecting people to something so much bigger than ourselves.”

GRL GNG will next appear at Steamroller Print Fest in the Deep Deuce District of Oklahoma City on April 28. Lockwood said more child-sized apparel will be available.

GRL GNG will also have a pop-up at "Wanderlust Pop Up Shops," an outdoor market exhibiting local artists and businesses, on June 10 in southwest Oklahoma City. Lockwood said new merchandise designs would be available at this pop-up.

“I want GRL GNG to become this giant community of women who are constantly trying to empower each other,” Lockwood said. “And reaching out to women who don’t feel like they have that kind of community, just like ours now.”

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