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ConCreates is giving ex-cons a second chance at creative careers

“We founded ConCreates on the belief system that creativity without opportunity leads to criminality” – Vincent Bragg, founder of ConCreates.

Perspective is everything. And sometimes you really need a different outlook to complete a dope project. One of the best places to find that unique perspective is in companies that hire unique individuals with unique backgrounds. ConCreates is one of those companies.

ConCreates is a creative agency that specifically employs current and formerly incarcerated individuals. The company recently partnered with 72andSunny, a full-service international advertising company to work on upcoming creative projects.

ConCreates’ Founders

Vincent Bragg is the founder and CEO of ConCreates and was formerly incarcerated. Bragg learned quickly during his time inside that some of the most creative out-of-the-box thinkers are inside the big box.

Behind bars, Bragg himself became a leader amongst his peers and organized think tanks, book clubs, a cancer walk and even created an animated series.

“The world needs to see the brilliance behind bars.”- Vincent Bragg, founder of ConCreates

Janeya Griffin, co-founder, and Chief Innovation Strategist uses her many skills as a creative, marketing and branding consultant to give felons a second chance. This passion for destigmatizing those incarcerated is bred out of her personal life. At 16, Griffin’s parents were incarcerated.

Griffin saw how society discriminated against her mother after her release.

“We really made it our mission to change the stigma and the narrative associated with how society views people with criminal histories. And also more specifically how those with criminal histories see themselves.” – Janeya Griffin, co-founder of ConCreates

The Vision

In a conversation with a former stock exchange agent, Bragg learned he was an albatross. Meaning that he had the ability to buy a product in bulk at a low cost and sell it at a higher cost. This is a skill that stock exchange agents also use. The agent told Bragg, “You already do the business of it, it’s just your product was illegal.”

Vincent Bragg seeks to change how society views criminality in a similar way. He’ll see a bank robber as a strategist or a drug dealer as a logistics expert. Bragg has seen tattoo and graffiti artists become designers.

But ConCreates does not only associate the skill with the supposed crime. Bragg lists gang leaders as overall good leaders who are able to inspire loyalty and admiration as well as command projects.

“We don’t wanna change who you are, we just want to take your skillset and be able to transition that into something that is more legal.” – Janeya Griffin

Vincent Bragg explained to us the onboarding process to become a ConCreator. ConCreates likes to start with the crime, and exploring how the skills involved can be transferable to the creatively legal realm.

ConCreates also makes sure that applicants are equipped to go after the legal counterparts of their skillset. For example, making sure that graffiti artists can learn and use graphic design tech.

“Ultimately with people with criminal history, we’re trying to give everybody a shot.” – Bragg

Partnership with 72andSunny

72andSunny in New York felt the same way. The companies met through a mutual friend who works in prison reform with Defy Ventures and used to work in advertising. Defy Ventures is a post-prison release and in prison program that teaches entrepreneurship to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated men and women.

Vincent Bragg joined the program and through it met Katie Sanford who introduced him to Tim Jones. Tim Jones, Executive Strategy Director of 72andSunny in New York, explained that 72andSunny has its own social mission of expanding and diversifying the creative class.

Jones emphasized that one of the initiatives that the company has to accomplish with this goal is to partner with businesses that share their vision of a positive impact on the world. ConCreates is one of those businesses, and Tim Jones shared why it’s so important in the creative agency realm.

“There is the skillset which obviously of vital importance, but there’s also the life experience and the insight and the unique perspectives that these people can bring into bear on marketing challenges.” – Tim Jones, Exec. Strategy Director, 72andSunny

The Mutual Mission

72andSunny shared the belief that current and formerly incarcerated people were not only skilled but also provided unique perspectives not often utilized by the agency world. Jones also emphasized that the prison population is more representative of the general population than most advertising agencies.

“These groups have deep knowledge around certain passion points that can be really helpful to marketeers […] They have a unique and diverse perspective that we feel is very lacking in the industry.” – Tim Jones

72andSunny was adamant about the importance of ConCreates succeeding and working towards their mission. Both companies chose collaboration over competition to achieve those goals, because of their similar missions.

Reliant on collaboration, ConCreates sees complementary differences that make working with 72andSunny well rounded. 72andSunny echoed the sentiment of learning from one another. 72andSunny also expressed the hope that ConCreates will go on to partner with other agencies, companies, and businesses.

“Our role is to help set Concreates up as an independent and sustainable business so that they can continue to live that mission well beyond 72 and Sunny” – Jones

And that sustainability is key to continue positively impacting the lives of those affected by the criminal justice system.

In that light, the collaboration between ConCreates and 72andSunny is a perfect fit. Both partners dedicate their work to similar missions and only good, quality projects come from it. When it comes to using your 10K80 minutes, ConCreates and 72andSunny are doing it right.