by MIKE CHAIKEN
Apparel brand DK Movement offers consumers a way to demonstrate their sense of style. But the style is a means to an end for the brand’s founders.
For Kelly Houston and Derek Jones, the true purpose of the Bristol, Conn.-based company, is not about creating fashion. It’s about making a difference in the lives of others and helping the community.
Both Houston and Jones know what it’s like to struggle.
“I was born and raised in Bristol,” said Jones. He grew up in a section of town where ESPN on Middle Street now stands.
“I was in gangs. My mother was on crack cocaine. I didn’t meet my father until I was 11,” said Jones.
Jones also had siblings who ended up in foster homes. He had a sister who was raped. A sister is a drug addict. He lived in shelters. He’s lived in hotels. He’s moved about 27 times in his life. He also was an alcoholic.
Houston also was an alcoholic.
However, Jones quit drinking eight years ago. Houston stopped drinking five years ago.
Jones also started to get healthy, started to run, and in the process he lost 100 pounds.
DK Movement, Houston said, is the vehicle by which she and Jones “tell our true stories.”
DK Movement took shape as Houston and Jones were locked down at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. They launched a YouTube channel. “We were just filming us talking about different situations of our life… and how we motivated ourselves out of it.”
“When we started the company it was more to just share with others our background, how we both grew up and how we’re successful now to inspire other people,” said Houston. What the company sells is secondary. “It was just to help finance the things that we want to do.”
One of DK Movement’s initiatives is helping the homeless.
To that end, Houston said, DK Movement teamed up with the Agape House in Bristol, which is a Christian nonprofit that helps the homeless in the Bristol area. Some of the proceeds from selling DM Movement clothes goes to help the organization.
DK Movement also helps the Bristol Boys and Girls Club “to motivate the kids and stuff like that (so they can) see people like us… to see that even though we came from (difficult) situations we are successful,” said Houston.
“My background is in fashion. I modeled for 15 plus years—videos, magazines, runway. I also was a red carpet hostess and radio host,” said Houston. “(As a model), kids look up to you on social media… they will see my pictures and say that’s what they want to be,” said Houston. “But there’s a dark side to that and that’s kind of what I want to explain to the youth. Look up to the people in your community that are doing stuff not these people that you see in in in pictures”
DK Movement started creating fashion to help people because of Houston’s background as model. And they focused on athletic wear because of Jones’s experience as a runner.
“There’s more things that we want to do when it comes to the clothing,” said Houston when asked about the focus on athletic wear. She said DK may move into casual wear. It also may pursue some high fashion clothing to reflect Houston’s background as a model.
But, no matter what direction the clothing takes, the direction of the brand will remain the same, said Houston.
“As the clothing brand grows, it gives us the financial means to continue the community outreach and the charity,” said Houston.
DK Movement clothing is sold online only at DKMovementBrand.com. Jones and Houston said they are in the process of finding some brick and mortar stores to carry the brand as well.
PHOTOS by MIKE CHAIKEN
DK Movement founders Kelly Houston and Derek Jones pose in the athletic wear from the Bristol, Conn.-based brand.