Celebrating Inclusive Innovation Week in Style

Knotzland x #kinselcollection team up to design custom bowtie collection

Nisha Blackwell holding up custom bowties she made for Inclusive Innovation Week. Photo was taken by Pulsus Digital, a MWDBE certified business.

The City of Pittsburgh is making its own fashion statement during Inclusive Innovation Week. We partnered with Nisha Blackwell, Founder and CEO of Knotzland, and D.S. Kinsel, visual artist and Co-founder of BOOM Concepts, to create a bowtie collection inspired by Inclusive Innovation.

Nisha Blackwell is a local, and soon-to-be national, celebrity entrepreneur in Pittsburgh. She started her business in August 2014 after noticing the millions of tons of discarded textile waste that ends up in landfills every year. This waste, a product of fast fashion trends, is often not biodegradable and has a significant impact on our environment. Nisha collects the best quality textile waste through organizations such as The Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse, T’s Upholstery, and the Pittsburgh Opera and creates fashionable and sustainable designer bowties. Nisha grew up in Homewood and is now growing her company in Homewood and teaching other women in her community about sewing and entrepreneurship. This year, she was featured by Grow with Google as a small-business to watch and was the only Pittsburgh-based entrepreneur selected to Facebook’s Small Business Council. Check out her video below.

Grow with Google Video. Nisha Blackwell: Self-taught CEO.

Fashion isn’t just about the clothes but what it represents. Knotzland’s bowties represent female entrepreneurship, minority ideas, and sustainability, all things we hope to highlight during Inclusive Innovation Week. And when we reached out to D.S. Kinsel and Nisha, they had their own ideas about what Inclusive Innovation meant to them. The words in the collection represent the work we do at the City and the goals of Inclusive Innovation Week. Peace. Intersectionality. Collaboration. Innovation. Equity. Justice. Inclusion. Freedom for all. For D.S. Kinsel, Inclusive Innovation means “everyone in a neighborhood, city, or country has the opportunity to create, shape, and decide what they want the future to become.”

The Making of Knotzland’s bowties for Inclusive Innovation Week with D.S. Kinsel and Nisha Blackwell.

The collection speaks for itself. D.S. Kinsel screen-printed the lettering and helped with the design and together, they created the fashion accessories for the week. If you look closely you’ll even see the silhouettes of black lettering all over the fabric with the white lettering interspersed in between. Mayor Peduto and the Inclusive Innovation Week ambassadors (look out for our next blog!) will be wearing these bowties throughout the week to foster a community of inclusivity and inspiration while also supporting local entrepreneurs and artists. Through fashion, we hope to set an example of creative growth and collaboration as we start Inclusive Innovation Week!


Inclusive Innovation Week is an event week and platform spearheaded by the City of Pittsburgh and URA to amplify opportunity for all and encourage cross-sector collaboration. Inclusive Innovation Week 2018 will be April 2nd to April 8th with events held all over the city! Keep up to date with our calendar for more information.