Meet the Team:
Kathy Heinzel: Founder and CEO
About ten years ago, an unfortunate accident caused me to spend some time in prison, an experience that transformed my life. While serving time, I was amazed at the talent and creativity women showed through the clothes they designed. Using sheets, various state issued clothing, and a straight razor, which they obtained by breaking open a shaving razor in the hinge of a doorway, their creations transformed drab pieces of cloth into fun fashion. No needles, scissors or thread! I was also moved by the many young women fighting to keep custody of their children due to their lengthy prison sentences. Having raised children myself, it broke my heart and I wanted to help. How could we create an opportunity that could help empower and employ women so they could provide for their children, and stop the generational cycle of incarceration while at the same time provide a unique new brand of clothing. A new entrepreneurial program called Defy had just been introduced to the prison and I signed on. Then, walking the yard one day, I met Cecilia and began to tell her about my State Issue clothing idea. Ceil had been in that business for 35 years before her incarceration and offered to help.
I paroled late February of 2020 and began the journey to start State Issue Apparel. Despite the challenges of the Covid shut down, I never gave up. I continue to build the dream along with the continued support of Defy Ventures, and Cecilia who is still on the inside.
Cecilia Fraher: Co-founder and Designer
Cecilia is in her 22 year of a life sentence. Before her incarceration, she was an accomplished designer from New Jersey, who had been accepted to major fashion design schools in New York and LA. She graduated valedictorian from Brooks College in Long Beach in 1979. After spending years designing everything from children's clothes to women's lounge wear, she partnered with a manufacturing company to design, colorize, and sell Hawaiian prints to the LA and New York garment district. At the age of 32 she suffered a stroke which rendered her permanently blind in one eye. To de-stress, she went to work in sales for a chain in western wear stores (she loved cowboy boots and had a collection). Before long, she was designing again! Unfortunately, shortly thereafter in 2000, Ceil had an accident that landed her in prison. And then she says: "in 2016, I met the creator of State Issue who, oddly enough needed a designer....and the rest is history!"