Faith-Based Entrepreneurs Aim To Transform Fashion And Commerce

Faith-Based Entrepreneurs Aim To Transform Fashion And Commerce

Floryn C.Ajuzie is a Baltimore pharmacist who works nights and weekends to create her faith-inspired fashion brand, PBF. Perfected By Faith.

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She’s not alone. Many fashion entrepreneurs like Ajuzie are creating new clothing brands, products, strategies, and products based on their faith and beliefs. Their success raises questions regarding branding strategy and the ethics of retail.   

“Perfected By Faith is a purpose-driven brand,” Ajuzie told media. “Our sole mission is to inspire young men and women to reach greater heights by stirring up their faith in Christ through fashion.”  

Ajuzie, 31 years old, is the daughter of Nigerian immigrants who immigrated to the United States. She moved first to Alabama, then to Maryland. She explained that she is the daughter of immigrants from Nigeria who moved to the United States in search of entrepreneurship, hard work, and hustle. Now she’s CEO of her own company and trying to get her sales off the ground. 

Ajuzie employs designers to create the clothing for PBF. She sources and produces the clothes from overseas. Her products include T-shirts and hooded sweatshirts as well as pants, shorts, and shorts. She markets these clothes products almost entirely on social media — mainly Instagram, where she has an initial 692 followers — and she sold about 110 items by May 2022, yielding around $5,000 in revenue. 

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She’s not alone as a faith-based fashion entrepreneur in the Instagram era. People are now able to create brands, show or sell products entirely through social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram. This allows entrepreneurs to bypass traditional retail fashion production channels and distribution channels such as brick-and mortar retail stores. These entrepreneurs received a boost from the coronavirus pandemic, which dramatically increased online shopping in America. 

Augustine Daniel owns the brand Kanvves Apparel,Which “reminds Christians of the masterpiece God created them and is creating them to be.” The Illinois-based company’s streetwear T-shirt hoodie designs feature a lion in one case and a skull with flower designs in another, with the slogans “Grave 2 Garden” and “Life in Death,” providing an allusion to the story of Christ’s resurrection. “Our vision is to inspire Christians to live their true identity, not one defined by others, life’s experiences or culture,” Daniel said.

Other entertainment outlets have reported on an explosion in faith-based fashion brands such as a report in Refinery29About a brand called Equris Clothing,Deante Howard founded the company in Kansas City. Howard’s goal is to make streetwear that is authentic and colorful, not just religious-based brands. The company’s name is “pronounced like the boy from Greek myth (Ick-ar-is)” extrapolates Christian theologyReferring to the Greek story. 

“Icarus is a myth about a boy who flew close to the sun. He knew full well the consequences his actions could have, but out of hubris or ambition he did it anyway,” Howard told media in an email interview. “Parallel to that, here at Equris we choose to press closer to the Son, knowing full well the consequences of our actions and we do so out of humility, gratitude, love and faith.”

Houstonia magazine reportedTianna Jenkins, who has created a label called Cosigned by God,She describes it as “simplistic streetwear for the Kingdom of God.” Jenkins said she’s trying to present a faith-based version of brands like Supreme or Bape. She promoted her brand with T-shirts and Irish fisherman caps. She was even commended by the mayor of Houston. 

A site called Glossy reportedJosh Gander, an e-commerce retailer based in Wisconsin, self-financed a brand called Elevated Faith,This site has 351,000 Instagram fans. The site, which has been around for five years, focuses heavily on digital marketing through social media channels. Gander told Glossy that he saw a big sales bump in 2020 for Elevated Faith’s graphic T-shirts with messages such as “Woman of God” “Faith can move mountains.” 

Future shifts in fashion retail 

McKinsey & Co. is a global consultancy firm. released a report in 2020Retailers should be aware that digital retail and authentic fashion brands are a growing trend that could lead to a disruption in their business. “Some apparel, fashion and luxury companies won’t survive the current crisis; others will emerge better positioned for the future,”The report stated. “Much will depend on their digital and analytics capabilities.”Common Thread Collective is a retail consulting company predicts the global marketThe apparel, accessories, footwear market could grow by more than 7 percent each year to more then $1 trillion by 2025, compared to $759.5 billion in 2020. 

A site called Fibre 2 Fashion reports that, “in America, this Christian clothing industry has total sales of more than $4.5 billion every year. As per a survey conducted by DATOmana, Christian T-shirts are the number one choice of teenagers and youth below 23 years of age — going beyond the popularity of T-shirts from Abercrombie or even the NBA. According to that same survey, 64 percent of youths in America say that they would love to wear a religious T-shirt if the designs are funky and trendy.”

Under Armour has created a shoe specifically for celebrities like Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors basketball player. famously features Philippians 4:13. Some athletes have even more ownership over the products. The NFL’s most recent Super Bowl most valuable player, L.A. Rams receiver Cooper Kupp, has his own Cooper Kupp fashion brand and logo. He sells hats as well as shirts. on his websiteIt features a crown and slogans, such as a quote taken from 1 Corinthians 9-24-27: “They do it to get a crown that will not last. We do it to get a crown that will last forever.” Kupp and his wife, Anna, donate proceeds from the sales to charity. 

Questions about branding strategy 

Many of these faith-based fashion entrepreneurs struggle to decide how much or little they should evangelize and profess with their clothing products. Do you need to be subdued like an snare drum or louder? Or should it be blasé like a bass drum 

Floryn Ajuzie (Courtesy Photo)

Ajuzie said she aims for more subtlety. She said she wants to stir up young adults’ faith by sharing her faith. Although her clothing doesn’t specifically mention faith, it sparks conversation and invites others to ask what PBF is. “Perfected by faith will transcend across cultures and generations in order to break down barriers in the beauty and fashion industry,”In her vision statement, she wrote. Many other clothing entrepreneurs, like her, choose to speak authentically of their personal faith but not to wear it too explicit. 

Perfected by Faith is a trio of faith-based fashion brands. They include Doulos Collective and ALLTHINGS. They use their websites to communicate what their clothing means, rather than using them as billboards like most faith-based fashion brands. 

Doulos Collective included this word “Doulos”Its clothing is not explained on its website. Doulos means “servant”Or “slave”In Greek “Friends, we are SET FREE TO SERVE our God with a joyful heart, free from the chains that hold us captive,” the site says.Starkville, Mississippi-based Lana Khults is the leader of Doulos or @lanakhults Instagram. 

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ALLTHINGS offers an athletic wear line with its “ALLTHINGS”Each item of clothing should have a label. What does ALLTHINGS stand for? The company’s website says it is a “daily reminder based off our favorite scripture: Philippians 4:13, ‘I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.’” reached out to contacts at Doulos and ALLTHINGS via direct messages and social media but didn’t receive responses to questions. 

Augustine Daniel, Kanvves, said that he prefers the subtle approach to fashion design and wants his designs to be “not overly churchy.”This approach is in line with his own faith, which he does not intend to be. “loud or in your face.” 

“We want you to know that you are first loved, then you can show that love to others,”In an email interview, he stated this to media. “This is why Kanvves focuses on identity — to show you who you truly are in Christ and inspire you to radiate that identity. We believe you worship God by being who you have been created to be and not discounting the work of the cross. This is why we call out the gold in you and remind you of how God sees and calls you. Also reminding you that you are who God says you are, not what others, life’s experiences or culture defines.”

He pointed out that some Christians may prefer more explicit statements about their faith. He knows he might be missing the opportunity to sell to this market. He stated that he would like to make a more inclusive product that shows Jesus came for everyone. “Given our approach of focusing on identity (in Christ), being subtle seems to be the better approach,”He said. “For example, if we’re saying You are Enough or Loved or Worthy, we believe not only Christians need that message. Everyone needs to know that they are enough, worthy, priceless, loved.”

Daniel stated that he understands the importance of Christian clothing. “supersaturated”With so many competitors, it seems like there are more every day. He believes his brand has crossover appeal for non-Christians. “It may take a longer time to hit the goals the business has set because of this approach but I believe down the line, it would pay off being a Christian brand that decided to be less Churchy and more inclusive and welcoming to non-Christians,”He said. 

Equris Clothing’s Deante H. Howard stated that he sees the faith based fashion community growing rapidly and intertwining in discussions of race, identity, and culture in America. He grew up in an urban environment as a Black man wearing slacks and ties to church.

“Personally I didn’t like it,”Howard said. “Especially in the summer, a suit and tie was HOTTTT. The shoes, no matter the time of year were uncomfortable to me — maybe it’s the grade of shoe. We had to get ours from Payless; they were hard and tight around the toes. … Just overall the whole thing was uncomfortable; I could not wait until church was over to change out of those clothes.” Howard sees the modern church as more welcoming, following the words of Jesus that told people to come as they are and was not concerned if someone’s attire was “too street, too shabby, too high class or too anything.” 

He believes his generation and his peers want to go to church ready to listen and comfortable. He believes they want to wear the right clothes. “their faith on their sleeves, literally.”This is the fashion you want “inspires conversation that otherwise may not happen. It allows you to be unconsciously intentional with sharing your faith.”Howard stated that he is looking to be louder and more intentional in his designs. Howard believes that clothes can and should serve as witnessing tools.

 “My brand from the name to the brand colors is about being unashamed and unafraid to walk in the light of Christ,”He said. “All I want is to plant a seed for one to want to develop a relationship with God and understand love through Christ. It is not my job to make that seed grow. … Just like in nature, only God can make a seed to grow; there is nothing we can do to force it to happen.”

Ethical dilemmas in retail 

Although it is possible for this to change, Augustine Daniel currently sources his products from the United States. He designs the products and manufactures them in Los Angeles, California. The quality of the products is better when you work with American companies. 

Daniel stated that he is also concerned about sourcing products from countries that use child labor or could endanger children. “Because we’re still a small company it’ll be difficult to do due diligence on factories and manufacturers,”He said. “I think it is important to visit factories to get a good understanding of their operations. But at the stage we are, we can’t do that yet. So working with U.S. companies is our best bet even if it means higher production costs.”

Another ethical issue Daniel’s concerned about is the fast-fashion trend, driven by retailers such as H&M and Zara, which leads to a large amount of clothes “that end up in landfills.” Daniel said his brand doesn’t “want to be part of the madness.” So he aims to create higher quality products that don’t end up in landfills after only a few washes. 

To avoid the pitfalls of fast fashion, he recommends using a made-to order approach that limits large inventories. He stated that companies with large inventories end up discounting or tossing clothes which ends up in landfills. “This is why we try to keep our designs timeless,”He said. “Fast fashion has so many ripple effects. Trendy clothes mean people move away from them quickly, which in turn means they end up in landfills quicker. Cheaper clothes typically means cheaper labor, which in turn means people are not paid fair wages or child labor is being used. Cheaper clothes also mean that clothes get worn out quickly, and they end up in landfills quickly too.”

Equris Clothing’s Deante Howard quoted K.B. “I only got one Lord and it ain’t yo’ name.” Howard said he doesn’t apologize for running a for-profit business: “I get to do something I love to do and be paid for it. To me, that’s a huge opportunity.” He pointed to Colossians, which tells him to work as he’s working for the Lord. “This is an opportunity for me to use my skills and talents to lead people to God, to share his love, grace and mercy, to express my joy and peace, to stand on my faith, to be a beacon of hope … even with the madness going on in the world right now.”

Howard sources his products from overseas, sends his designs and has the manufacturer ship the product directly. “I don’t have any ethical concerns,”He said. “I did a lot of research before I got started. I had places send me videos of their factories and how things are made.”

Howard also stated that he views child labor differently than other clothing entrepreneurs. “I believe that children should be able to work; they shouldn’t be forced to, but if my 9-year-old son wants to go out and do a job, for a company or an entrepreneur, I will let him. I think the idea of stopping children from working is that of a highly privileged society and the forcing of children to work is the act of a really desperate society, and I think that instead of laws or sanctions being placed against those places, causing further hardships, they should be assisted and (shown) grace.”

He stated that he believes the factories he uses to work are safe based on what he has seen and read. They also shut down during holidays and for two weeks during COVID-19 to protect people. “This is a company that ships all over the world, so during those times, if they were greedy and unethical, they would still run and force people to work, as opposed to stopping,”Howard said. “They are audited at least once a year to remain Sedex SMETA compliant for labor, health, safety and business ethics. Also ecologically, this manufacturer is pretty bomb. They operate from a zero-inventory stance using ethically sourced material; this helps reduce environmental risk and waste that you could get from mass production and having excess stock. The packaging is made from 100% recycled material, and as far as quality, each piece is printed, cut and handmade.”

Vanity, greed, and lust 

Daniel and others also wrestle with ethical issues such as vanity, greed and materialism that sometimes accompany fashion and retail. One Instagram channel called PreachersNSneakersMore than 300,000 followers follow her on Instagram. They enjoy photos of megachurch pastors wearing limited-edition sneakers and expensive shoes. Numerous news outlets, including The Guardian and The New York Times The Washington PostHave reported on this channel. 

What happens when someone has too many clothes? Do they feel that they are spending too much or value clothes too highly? In a world of colorful and flashy designs, what role do the historic Christian values of modesty and humility have? “I believe fashion is a medium of self-expression and this self-expression is connected to our personality,” Daniel said. “As a Christian who believes all we have was given to us by God and we should be good stewards of our possessions, I believe moderation is essential.”

He agreed that Christian consumers should strive to live within their means and avoid spending too much on trendy fashion pieces. He noted that some people may be tempted by the temptation to spend more money on clothes, while others might choose to spend more time on fine dining or travel. “As long as you steward your finances well and (do) not place your identity in the latest fashion (or anything else really), that is a good place to start,”He said. “If you place your worth in material things, you feel more valued when they increase, but it also means you will feel your value diminish if they go away, which should not be the case.”

Daniel said he’s pondered the retail models of companies, such as Tom’s Shoes, that donate some proceeds to charity or to social good. His company partnered once with a charity donation app and installed its plug-in to his website. Customers could donate a portion of their purchase towards charity. He found that customers weren’t using the tool. He found that few customers used the app. He decided to remove that restriction and now is looking for a charity to partner with. He will give a percentage of the sales directly to the charity, and share updates with customers via social media and email. He’s pondering local charities that connect to either faith-based mental health or homelessness. 

Howard at Equris Clothing said that he sponsors a couple children through Compassion International personally as well as other charities and organizations. “Unfortunately I don’t make enough to report those things as a tax write-off, so while I keep some track of it, it is not presently the most organized,”He said. “Sometimes on social media, when I partner with an organization (such as a youth ministry in Arizona called Sozo or an organization called Really Reps 4 Lyfe), we share it, so I can highlight the organization and maybe draw in donations outside of purchase through me and so they can highlight my brand and help drive awareness of what we are doing.” 

Howard, Daniel, and Ajuzie feel empowered and motivated to launch brands at a low cost while still pursuing their passion for fashion and religion. They plan to continue to navigate market dynamics, ethical issues, and supply chain dilemmas in order to succeed. 

“If I’m going to call myself an entrepreneur, it has to be something that I’m truly passionate about,” Ajuzie said. “I’m truly passionate about fashion.” 

This story was first published in Religion Unplugged.

Alicia Lenea is a major in journalism, culture and society at The King’s College in NYC and served as a spring 2022 editorial intern at

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