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the black butterfly



The Black Butterfly is a brand inspired by and created for Anthony Turner. Through the lure of pop culture, it invites people to educate themselves on the issues surrounding reentry from prison. By creating a platform through a socially conscious brand, The Black Butterfly rewrites the narrative of prejudice and empowers Anthony in his mission of aiding formerly incarcerated individuals, like himself, in starting a new and better life.

Most of Us Could
Never Imagine

....the childhood pressures living on the battlegrounds of Pasadena's Bloods and Crips. Where gangbanging is normal and how you gain respect. Where you’re dating the most beautiful girl on the block and all her family are Bloods. And where your own stepbrother, who you've never seen eye-to-eye with, is a Crip. In this environment, Anthony constantly struggled between who he truly was and who he was expected to be.


It wasn’t until prison that his true self started to emerge. He began speaking out on issues of race. He started helping fellow inmates with their appeals. He even gave a TED talk in prison, alongside Sir Branson from Virgin America, Common the rapper and social activist, and Scott Budnik director of the Hangover and founder of Anti-Recidivism Coalition.


During this phase of growth, something his grandpa told him when he was just 8 years old served as his North Star: the butterfly story.

Who among us has never needed a second chance? 

In America, it’s easier to go back to prison than to start a new life. And when you are legally restricted from access to basic necessities like employment, housing, education, and public benefits, what choice do you have?

Origin of the
Black Butterfly

1 in 5 California residents has a criminal record. They live next door to you and me. We all have an interest, both morally and economically, in ensuring that they have a legitimate chance to start over and contribute.

Our Next Door Neighbors

50,000 legally erected barriers known as "collateral consequences" are invisible punishments that prohibit access to necessities: employment opportunities, housing, low-income public assistance, and education

Invisible Punishments

1 in 4 Americans are locked out of the labor market, leading to approximately $60 billion in lost human capital. Not to mention the $80 billion taxpayers pay each year to keep roughly 2.3 million people behind bars.

Negative Economic Impacts

The United States of America is the world’s leader in... incarceration

The U.S. incarcerates 7 people for every 1,000 residents, more than any other country. In fact, our rate of incarceration is more than FIVE TIMES higher than most of the countries in the entire world.

Now free, Anthony is giving back to his community.

Anthony is currently working as a social activist, speaking out and collaborating with politicians to bring positive change to his community of currently and formerly incarcerated individuals. He works as a case manager for these individuals at reentry clinics throughout Los Angeles and has founded several anti-recidivism organizations.


His dream?


To own and operate a social enterprise in Los Angeles that addresses the challenges formerly incarcerated people face when coming back to society: housing, employment, childcare, finances, life skills, social etiquette. Inspired by the Black Butterfly, Anthony is currently looking to turn his dream into reality by launching a cannabis startup leveraging the Black Butterfly brand. 

I want the world to see Anthony. And by sharing his inspirational story of transformation, I believe we can build a platform to speak to the world.

Brand culture is a powerful phenomenon that acts as a perceptual frame through which customers understand, experience, and value a product or service. It works as a heuristic to simplify our decision making process in a world of sensory overload. The younger generations today are expecting their brands to embody their beliefs. This is brand citizenship.

The Black Butterfly brand leverages sneaker culture and the cultural fabric of fashion as a unique and captivating way to raise awareness around mass incarceration and the challenges our fellow citizens face when integrating back into society.

Photography in collaboration with Aleja Araujo and Chelsea Ceasor

From a Place of Darkness, Comes Light.
A Comeback Story of Hope and Positivity.

Passionate. Transparent. Inspirational. Selfless.

Anthony Turner, The Black Butterfly.

The Process

A Sneaker with a Story

Together, the composition of design elements on this custom Air Jordan I sneaker tell the life story of Anthony Turner's transformation: Past, Present and Future.


Making transparent collateral consequences of incarceration.

Anthony is passionate about making transparent the 50,000 legally erected "collateral consequences" that make it impossible for formerly incarcerated people to assimilate back into society and start a new life.

Look beyond the surface to find what's important. The iconic Nike swoosh is hidden by a transparent "icy" layer. The inner swoosh is transparent, as is the front shoe lace flap, making way for Anthony's passionate voice: two different quotes from his time of reflection and growth in prison.


Take time to unwind the laces.

When placed together, they reveal the work that Anthony is doing today to give back to his community. An excerpt from his letter of intent for the mentorship program he started just months after being released from prison. A mentorship program run by formerly incarcerated individuals hoping to redirect the life paths of those in juvenile detention.


Driven by his purpose.

Hardened with resolve.

The outer-sole reveals the words, "Los Angeles," challenging Anthony to continue to move forward towards his dream of starting a social enterprise in his hometown of Los Angeles. A social enterprise focused on holistic rehabilitation of his formerly incarcerated brothers and sisters.


His inner lining is a storied garment.

Orange and baby blue. The colors of his past garments. Orange for county jail and baby blue for federal prison. Bars knitted on the twill of the tongue subtly reference his past life from a jail cell.

Make Them Stop.

Make Them Look.

Make Them Think.

Make Them Feel.

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