Dear 2b.Family, Community, and Allies,

I cannot begin to write about this year without first saying - thank you. We are still here, all of our employees are still here, we are still serving the community, and that is all thanks to you. This year has put so many small businesses in jeopardy and has truly tested us. I witnessed the beginning of COVID-19 in the US shortly after my wedding and after signing for a new, larger, office for gc2b while continuing to pay rent on our old office. The fear I felt as I watched the news, absorbing one story after another, was truly abysmal. I did not know if gc2b would survive.

I will share something with you that I rarely speak about, something personal, but something that has molded me as a person. My parents had a junior’s fashion brand in the early 2000’s called “Gear Company” (surprise! This is where “gc2b” comes from, it is an homage to my parents and part of my personal story, hence why I do not share the origins often). They did well, were in magazines, shows, stores inspired by Hip-Hop fashion - Aaliyah even sported some of their pieces in a music video. After a few years their business and everything they had worked for crumbled in the economic collapse of 2008. They lost nearly everything and I spent most of my life watching and witnessing them hustle to try to support me and my siblings as best as they could. Now, with my own business, an unavoidable collapse due to external circumstances was one of my biggest fears after witnessing and living through that trauma. That is why it is so important for me to express gratitude to you, our supporters, our community. Not only did your support keep gc2b alive as a business, but you gave us the means to continue to support our staff, comprised of mostly queer and poc folks, and their families, along with giving us the ability to hire a few folks. We did not and will not take this support for granted. We have been and will continue to be a community first brand.

This year, despite the obstacles, we were able to continue our philanthropic initiatives. We quickly pivoted our resources and manufacturing to produce reusable masks that I designed out of re-worked XXS binders. We donated all of these masks locally, totaling in 1,455 masks distributed. Through our binder donation program, though slowed down due to restrictions, we were able to still donate 2,153 binders to orgs in the US and expanded over seas to donate 691 binders to new international partners. During all of this we were finally able to develop and launch 2b.care, our official gc2b philanthropic entity. Our first initiate after launching 2b.care in November, was putting together and distributing hygiene and warmth kits to those experiencing homelessness in our local community. I am extremely proud of my team and excited for future projects with 2b.care, so do stay tuned.

In May we were shaken as a country and as community. We witnessed the injustices and violence against Black people, something many of us are familiar with as individuals within gc2b, be brought back into the focus of a nation poisoned with the very real influence of white supremacy. We mourned, but we continued to work. We immediately raised and donated $5,118 to Black Visions Collective MN and Reclaim the Block, two orgs doing work on the ground in Minneapolis during the protests. We used our platform to call in our peers and followers, asking them to leverage their resources and platforms to speak up against the injustices our Black community has been experiencing. We then married two of our capsules, “Rebel Roots” and “Safe Travels”, into the “Black Trans Liberation” capsule to raise funds for organizations doing work for the Black Trans community. Thanks to your support, we were able to raise and donate $45K, as of Dec 15th, to No Justice No Pride, The Marsha P Johnson Institute, The Trans Emergency Relief Fund, and The Black Trans Travel Fund. In September we continued to raise money for grassroots orgs by dedicating a percentage of sales from our “More Color, More Pride” binders to MPJI, BTTF, The Trans Latina Coalition, and the Queer Detainee Empowerment Project. We have and will continue to raise money for, uplift, and center our QTBIPOC (Queer, Trans, Black, Indigenous People of Color) communities, regardless of the focus from the national media.

Before I close, I want to recognize the people behind gc2b. My team, though many of them you do not see, is full of resilient, hard working, and radiant individuals. Throughout this year, most of which has been a global pandemic, they have worked with me, and worked together, to keep things going. They care about you, our customers, and for our brand and what it stands for. Without this team and their willingness to pivot, problem solve, and to simply continue, this year and this letter would have been a lot different. So, thank you 100 times over to my 2b.Team.

I do not want to end this without acknowledging the extreme trials, pain, and loss that 2020 has brought many of us. I see you, and you are not alone. We do not know what this year will bring. We know there is still work to be done, there will be more pain, but what we do have is hope. We, including you, are tenacious, brilliant, and significant - please remember this. My hope for us all is that the wounds brought by 2020 will heal, our scars will prove that there is an undeniable strength within us all, and that we will not take our gifts for granted. 

With Love, Health, and Solidarity,

Marli W.