Staff photo by Allison Potter
The brother and sister team behind Half United, Christian and Carmin Black, prepares an order of necklaces that will be sold at 58 Nordstrom stores across the country.
Half United, a local clothing line founded by brother and sister team Carmin Black and Christian Black, has been picked up by Seattle based mega-retailer Nordstrom.
Half United, founded in 2009, combines fashion and philanthropy, working on the one for one business model made famous by TOMS Shoes. For every article of clothing or piece of jewelry the company sells, it works through a network of small, close-knit charitable organizations to feed a child in need.
“We’re humbled by this opportunity,” Carmin Black said. “There are so many designers that are much more talented than us, that design for decades and hope to get their name into a big box retailer. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it never happens, even if the talent is there.”
Nordstrom will be carrying Half United’s Cambodian bracelets, bullet earrings and fighting hunger necklaces in 58 stores around the country and on Nordstrom’s website.
Fighting hunger necklaces are made from bullets donated to the company by local gun shop and shooting range, Shooter’s Choice.
Black said she has been incredibly busy preparing for the order, as Half United still makes everything by hand. The company consists of Black, her brother and four other part-time employees.
“This could either be a one-time really awesome opportunity that we learn a lot and grow a lot from, or it could be a game changer,” Black said. “I don’t really know which way this is going to land us, but the opportunity to take our business to the next level is certainly there.”
As Half United grows, Black said the company plans to step up philanthropy efforts in the U.S. Right now many of the company’s efforts take place overseas in countries like Cambodia and Ghana. Black is currently working to develop programs that will focus on education and business training. She said she wants to make sure the company is not just giving a man a fish, it’s teaching him how to fish.
“We’re really passionate about reminding people that we started this company with $200,” Black said. “We hope that people can hear or read our story and feel inspired to not be limited by their limitations.”
Carmin and Christian Black’s mother was a fashion designer and their father was a minister. Black credits her and her brother’s parents’ vocations with teaching them the fashion industry and about philanthropy.
“We’ve had no money, no great connections this whole time and the doors just keep opening,” Black said. “We feel like it’s because we’re just following where we feel like God’s leading us.”