The Passport Project: Kenji Summers. Last week we took a trip to our hat factory to walk Kenji through the process of how our hats are made and have him touch the experienced hands that carefully tend to every step of the hat making process. We later sat down with him to discuss his Passport Project and where his travels will take him & his growing collection of BKc caps.
The Passport Project is a coalition whose purpose is to inspire young people (starting with Americans), to get passports, travel, and participate positively in global culture. Kenji began the work of the coalition by forming an annual fellowship that covers the passport application fees and first international trip for young, creative individuals who do not have the resources to go abroad.
What inspired you to launch the Passport Project?
Passport Project came about because I was in my first job out of college and ran across a song on a blog, the remix of Paris, Tokyo by Lupe Fiasco, and I was inspired to get my first passport. Pharrell rapped, “Fly to Paris and end up in Tokyo/Let’s start a coalition so even the broke could go…” months later I celebrated my birthday in Barcelona, Spain. My trip to Barcelona transformed me and motivated me to find out more about how to provide this experience to more young people.
What countries are you guys planning to visit?
South Africa, Germany, France, and England.
Any alarming statistics on young Americans and traveling or passports?
The statistic I consistently bring up is that 36% of Americans ages 18-29 own a passport. But to go deeper, only 21% of Black Americans ages 18-29 own a passport. Lastly, there is a considerable correlation between passports and median income (.81) and passports and higher education (.80) Basically, people with more money and higher education are more likely to have a passport and travel internationally. The youth are our best chance of bringing America into the globalized future and we need to invest in them today.
What is your relationship with The Brooklyn Circus?
The Brooklyn Circus is family. I look up to Ouigi and Gabe like older brothers. Several months ago I took a look at my wardrobe and realized that I had very few items that I felt I could pass down to the next generation, so I took a step back and decided to give away a lot of my clothes and focus on rebuilding with BKc as my anchor – my close friends asked why and I explained to them I believe in the values of the brand as much as I enjoy the timeless style of the clothing. Moving forward, as I travel the world, I will be experiencing different cultures and bringing back native fabrics for The Brooklyn Circus to use in new BKc caps and hats.
How has the 100 Year plan inspired you?
I keep the 100 Year Plan on the wall of my home office as a reminder of the long term vision that I am working towards. I integrate the seven points of the 100 Year Plan into my work on Passport Project – using it as a filter for individuals, non-profit and for profit companies that ask to be part of the Passport Project coalition.
Three principles you live by
Lead with love. There is no failure, only feedback. Leave a legacy.
Top 5 travel must haves Passport, water bottle, moleskin journal, iPhone, and headphones.