“Our mission is to challenge the stigma of how society views people with criminal history, as well as how people with criminal history view themselves,” said Vincent Bragg, a cofounder of the firm.
“If we’re able to show them they’re not just a bank robber, or not just a drug dealer, that they have creative potential, then we can show them an opportunity to take a new career path,” Bragg continued.
Bragg served five years in federal prison for a drug conviction and during that time he read more than 400 books.
He was released in 2016 and enrolled in the entrepreneurial program at Defy Ventures, an organization that helps formerly incarcerated people create legal business ventures and develop careers.
Bragg started ConCreates while in prison, after meeting Joe Nickson, now a contributor to ConCreates. Nickson was working at the time as a consultant on an ad campaign for Jonathan Shokrian of MeUndies.
“We were able to give (Shokrian) some ideas that took his company from doing $50,000 in sales a month to $934,000 with only two campaigns. That was the birth of ConCreates,” said Bragg.
“We built a creative network based on certain individual skill sets. Where most might see a bank robber, we see a strategist,” said Bragg.
ConCreates’ co-founder Janeya Griffin said, “We want to help rehumanize them. When you go into prison, you’re dehumanized. Rehumanizing comes from them using their skills in a positive way.”
Assistance in setting up the new agency came from Tim Jones, executive director of 72andSunny, a New York agency that works with brands Samsung, Facebook and Smirnoff.
“The new agency is looking to work directly with clients and other partners including creative agencies, PR and research firms, and production companies,” fastcompany.com reported.
Jones said the real light bulb for him was, “That criminality is often just creativity without opportunity. We don’t think one mistake should define a human lifetime. We think there is this raw creative force that resides in prison today.”
Contributing individuals are paid for every idea they contribute, with increases as the idea progresses. Ten percent of the company is owned by the network, Bragg said. “We have profit-sharing, so there is a sense of pride in ownership.”