From prison to entrepreneur, Miracle McGlown is an inspiration for Flint

FLINT, MI – His day usually starts at 6:30 in the morning working at Flint City Street Maintenance, cleaning streets and sidewalks.

His day usually ends around 11pm, with luggage, purses, shoulder straps, wallets and more in hand.

His name is Miracle McGlown — a Flint native who received a “miracle” clemency from former President Barack Obama that allowed him to follow his dreams.

McGlown, who is 41, has lived two different lives.

Before 2008, he was on the streets, around the bad guys, which ultimately led to a 20-year prison sentence for drug conspiracy.

After his release in 2008, McGlown got his life together, started working and most recently launched his own website, 1:Eleven, where he said the quality cannot be found anywhere else.

“I’m bringing a new look to fashion,” he said.

The term “1:11” has a meaning as a sign of angelic guidance that means one chapter of your life is ending, and you are ready for something brand new. McGlown formed a close relationship with God while in prison and credits him for his turnaround.

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His birthday also falls on January 11th.

McGlown’s journey to entrepreneurship began in prison. He was offered to take a hobby craft class around 2011, teaching the basics of belt making.

Everything from sewing leather and holes was taught, without sewing machines.

“It’s just one of those things where you took a negative and turned it into a positive,” he said. “It was hard to get into class, but if they saw you were taking things seriously, you were more likely to get in.”

McGlown discovered his talent when he started making purses, put his own style on it, and caught the attention of his teacher.

“My teacher started laughing and said I got it,” he said.

In prison, McGlown made a bookbag for his daughter and carved her name “Leilani” in the middle of it.

“Everyone from the prisoners to the guards asked ‘How did you do that?'” he said.

After becoming a free man, McGlown started making bags for his family only, and then expanded to selling bags to various people.

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This month, he held his website’s grand opening inside Flint’s Comma Bookstore & Social Hub, where he displayed his bags.

Making a bag can take up to three weeks, but a double-patch bag takes McGlown about three months to make.

“I’m designing bags that no one has seen before,” he said.

Flint is known for a high crime rate and poor economic development. McGlown roamed the streets of Flint for many years, without direction, and had no path to success.

In many ways, serving time at the FCI Elkton prison in Ohio saved his life by getting him off the street.

“I’ve never had a job in my life,” he said.

When Obama granted clemency to McGlown on January 17, 2017, he held the record for the largest single-day use of clemency power, granting 330 commutations, during his last full day in the post

He wrote a letter to Obama about 50 times and was rejected twice.

McGlown saw the news on CNN, and the warden asked if he wanted to accept clemency.

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“The fourth quarter, the last second on the clock, I put my faith in God as always,” he said.

As a father of three to Nevaeh, Leilani and Miracle Jr., McGlown supports his wife Dominique Strong through her non-profit Umo Strong Marshall Outreach in any way he can.

When he finally puts his head down after 11 pm, that’s when the creative genius actually kicks in.

With over 100 bags made in his lifetime, the best is yet to come.

“My best ideas happen when I’m laying in bed,” McGlown said.

Follow McGlown’s company online at 1elevenleather.com.

Read more on The Flint Journal:

A local charity offers free clothing to give back to the Flint community

Two Flint Sisters meet privately with Pope Francis

A local charity offers free clothing to give back to the Flint community

A parade, fireworks will be held in Linden’s holiday celebration

Volunteers sought to lay wreaths at the Great Lakes National Cemetery

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