When The Ad Club hosted its 2022 Equity Project Awards, highlighting the work of six equity champions, they wanted to present honorees with a special object, commemorating the moment. So they commissioned customized works of art from Jemuel Stephenson, an artist working in Dorchester. Jem is a designer, digital creator, instructor and inventor. He is CEO and founder of Fabwright Origins and creator of the brand AVNCI Premium Goods. AVNCI, which stands for A Very Nice Creation Indeed, specializes in luxury storage solutions, premium packaging, lifestyle products and decor, using digital fabrication as a primary method of manufacture. He also provides training in product design and manufacturing for creatives and Boston Public Schools students, supporting the next generation of creatives.

The Ad Club’s virtual event in January 2022 included an array of interactive segments, workshops and sessions, providing a space for people to share ideas and stories of creating an inclusive environment. From recruiting diverse talent and retention in the workplace and in our schools, to creating an equitable workplace and even sharing more diverse perspectives in how we tell Boston’s story, the Equity Project provided an opportunity to hear from folks from a range of experiences.

The 2022 Equity Awards honored five individuals and one company working to make a more equitable world. Learn more about the winners.

  • “The Ad Club’s Equity Project is backed by a wide and broad array of culture setters and community builders. Being granted the Social Mobility Award from this esteemed group was a wonderful way to mark my life’s work. I have always been unapologetically aspirational about how I can apply my skill set to build, access to education, and uncover and create new options for opportunity.”   — Dr. Aisha Francis, Recipient of the Champion of Social Mobility Award
  • “I was honored to receive the award, especially as I wrap up my time with Haley House. I was impressed with the depth of the program, and the preparation that went into it. I love the award itself — it is bright, functional, and beautiful. It brightens up my home!”   — Bing Broderick, Recipient of the Quiet Hero Award
  • “I was so incredibly thrilled when I received this physical award. It is beautiful, cheerful and unique. I immediately looked up the maker to find out more. And the fact that this box is hand created by BIPOC friends who are talented artisans is so special. I proudly display this award in my office.”   — Yvonne Leung Cain, Recipient of Mentoring Champion Award

Instead of generic trophies or awards, Stephenson’s handmade boxes hold a greater significance for honorees. Each piece was made with precision, bright colors and fun patterns. The decision to commission a Black artist to design and create the awards was intentional—an opportunity to give a small business like Stephenson’s exposure. An opportunity like this encourages people within the Ad Club network and the Greater Boston region to discover more artists like Stephenson. This is the power of procurement. This is the power of investing in Black-owned businesses. It puts us one step closer to closing gaps and creating an economy that is equitable, inclusive and accessible. Artists like Stephenson remind us of the importance of investing in small business, art business and Black-owned businesses.