After building a career that spanned affordable housing to corporate social responsibility, Corneil Montgomery decided 2020 was the right time to set out on his own.
At first, his idea was to launch a line of sustainable candles. But Corneil quickly realized his ambitions were bigger.
“It became clear that it was more than just candles in my head. It was actually fashion, which is so heavily aligned with my passion,” he says. “I’ve always been the best dressed in every environment. But if I was going to do this fashion thing, it had to be sustainable.”
And so Sovereignty Co., Corneil’s sustainable fashion brand, was born.
He describes the company as the intersection of fashion, multiculturalism, and climate change. It focuses on sustainable fashion that raises awareness about the environment while elevating Black designers. Sovereignty Co.’s clothing incorporates repurposed overstock from other brands, upcycled items, and sustainable materials. Corneil also intends to provide ways for customers to recycle or resell garments.
Already available online, Sovereignty Co. is planning a full launch in a shared work and retail space in Los Angeles for May 2021. Among its other aspirations:
- Donating four percent of profits to environmental nonprofits
- Saving 700 gallons of water per garment by upcycling its T-shirts
- Partnering with Historically Black Colleges and Universities and fashion institutes to invite teams of students to compete in Sovereignty Co.’s Next Gen Sustainable Fashion Challenges for prizes and internships
The former head of community impact and philanthropy for Bank of the West, Corneil already had relationships at the bank when he decided to take his business there. But there was more to it than that—he wanted to do business with a bank that understands his values around sustainability and diversity.
“We share some common values,” he says. “We were talking the same language, so it just made sense.”
Learn more about Bank of the West’s actions on sustainability and diversity here.