LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Two formerly incarcerated Lansing men are beating the odds. Years after they were released, they opened a clothing store in the middle of the pandemic. Now they’re also mentoring and giving back to the youth in Lansing.
“This is where I took away from, this is why I did my dirt, this is where I got my name in the street. So like I kind of owe this community ,” said Michael X, manager and part-owner of The Underplay Store.
At just 18 years old, X was sent to jail where he spent 15 years.
“Definitely a lot of ups and downs…I made it the best for me because I was able to transform my way of thinking and therefore be able to transform the trajectory of my life afterward,” said X.
His business partner Malik Allen, also a Lansing rapper that goes by NoSleep Milli was also behind bars for 2 years.
” It wasn’t as bad as I thought because I built like structure in there. I gained structure came home a better person,” said Allen.
In the middle of the pandemic, in December 2020 Allen and X came together with a silent partner and opened up The UnderPlay Store.
“I knew it was gonna be a thing but I never knew where we might land until we actually got it going. But now I can see it just getting better and better. Like the customers are showing me like we really got something going on in Lansing. Little ole Lansing,” said Allen.
From famous brands like Supreme, Air Jordan, and Yeezy’s to Lansing clothing designers like The All or Nothing Brand, All-Pros Brand, and Unxccepted.
“We try to make it as cool as possible. As well as have like all the cool brands, and the local brands so you can like support the city,” said X.
Both business partners say they also give back to the Lansing community through mentoring, backpack giveaways, toy giveaways, and more.
“Nobody told me bro don’t do that, this is a different way to do it. I didn’t have businessmen that were from my hood, who could show me how this works step by step. So I just want to be that,” said X.
Allen says they want to set an example for everyone, if you stay focused you will succeed.
“You can do it. We all started out in the streets. We all went to prison. We did our time we came home look at us now,” said Allen.