Chad Williams founded dooProcess, described as "streetwear with a soul," and entered the New York State Business Plan Competition last year, competing against student-entrepreneurs from elite institutions across the state.
In May 2020, he took first place in the consumer products and services category. Now, he's partnering with a woman who has devoted her advocacy to clearing cannabis convictions with the Last Prisoner Project.
"What I want out of all of the partnership is amplification is that 40,000 people are incarcerated because no one knows that they're there," Evelyn LaChapelle said.
The 36-year-old spent five years in prison for a cannabis arrest, and her mission caught Williams' attention.
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"He reached out and shared with me his interaction with law enforcement and how he wanted to get involved and give back," she said.
That desire was born from Williams' own experiences.
"My junior year of college, I went out and I was falsely arrested," he said. "And then I had to spend over a year trying to clear my name."
These are the types of police interaction that have led to louder calls for social justice reform, namely after the death of George Floyd. Williams is expressing his voice through dooProcess, which donates 15% of proceeds to non-profits fighting for social justice reform -- like the Last Prisoner Project.
"The meaning behind the brand is a spinoff of the unfair treatment of the judicial system," Williams said.
It's a story that resonated with LaChapelle.
"I myself received 87 months in prison for depositing cannabis profits in my account," she said. "Sitting in prison watching the cannabis industry traded on the global stock exchange in a billion dollar industry...it was definitely systematic racism."
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Systemic racism the 22-year-old Williams is fighting.
"(I'm) moved and encouraged and inspired to see that someone so young, to take the experience he had and flip it," LaChapelle said.
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