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Honoring Black History Month with Blake Van Putten Featured Image

Honoring Black History Month with Blake Van Putten

The CEO and founder of CISE shares his mission, vision, and dreams for his iconic fashion brand, CISE.

Feb 13, 2024

For Blake Van Putten leading with intent is at the heart of everything he does. It’s why the former Tones of Melanin x E&J Brandy Hot Shot honoree felt called to launch CISE, which, within a few years, evolved from a small creative agency into a larger-than-life fashion house that continues to give back to Black-owned businesses and communities.

“It’s a culmination of my experiences and the experiences that others around me have lived as well,” Van Putten said. “[Originally], I really imagined CISE to be a fun project on the side where we were helping these businesses, but I also felt as if my responsibility had to exceed that. That’s how the business started to get into something larger than myself.”

Van Putten points to the impactful and tumultuous events of 2020, both in Minneapolis and around the world, as the key factors leading to CISE's transformation. From there, fusing fashion and social justice initiatives, Van Putten made it his full-time mission to partner with and invest in organizations that support those who are often underrepresented and overlooked.

“[When CISE was an agency], we were helping, for example, a grooming company create pieces of clothing, but they’re not a clothing line at the end of the day,” Van Putten said. “Now, we’re creating and using our own statement pieces to support programming and strategic partnerships that spotlight, uplift, and funnel proceeds to nonprofit organizations to ultimately drive the mission of the brand.”

These statement pieces include the viral Protect Black People handbags and apparel that celebrities like Lizzo have been spotted wearing, and, as of this month, a limited edition Black History Month tote bag, which features leaders like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr.

EJ17813 2 BHM BlogHeader Bag

“The team helped design [the Black History Month tote bag], and our overall following helped pick the colors on it,” Van Putten said. “It’s just overall collaborative, and when you’re thinking about Black History Month, it’s all about the community around us…we also wanted [the tote bag] to have a balance between one historical male figure and one historical woman figure that led such monumental moments and who’ve had a deeper impact on the world that’s around us.”

To Van Putten, Black History Month embodies unapologetic joy, and he hopes that CISE can help spread love and bring the community together through purposeful creativity and design.

“I really want to open up the conversation of how we can elevate and support the Black community,” he said. “I think that when people think of different businesses, they think of them as competitors, and I really challenge people to start seeing ‘competitors’ as partners…Black people have built different pockets of communities to fight toward a better future and protect and serve those around us, so when you see and highlight those [that do that], you get to see them thrive.”


Let’s keep the love going all month long. Share what Black History Month means to you in the comments below to be entered for the chance to win the limited edition Black History Month CISE tote bag and a $150 e-gift card to the online store. 

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. PURCHASE WILL NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. Open to legal residents of the United States (excluding UT, VA) and the District of Columbia who are 21 or older. Void where prohibited. Starts at 12:00:00 AM PT on 2/13/24 and ends at 11:59:59 PM PT on 2/29/24. To enter, visit, follow the instructions to submit your entry on the “E. & J. Living Room” blog post. Subject to Official Rules. To receive a copy of the Official Rules, send an email with the name of this Sweepstakes “E. & J. Brandy BHM Spotlight Sweepstakes”, in the subject line and “Official Rules Request” to Sponsor: E. & J. Gallo Winery.

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Fam Comments

  • Peach Brandy Avatar


    31 days ago


  • VSOP Brandy Avatar


    44 days ago

    keep going strong

  • Vanilla Brandy Avatar


    54 days ago

    A celebration of history.

  • VSOP Brandy Avatar


    56 days ago

    It means teaching our children because the schools and the media have failed the significance of our history.

  • XO Brandy Avatar


    2 months ago

    It means an opportunity to learn.

  • Member Avatar


    2 months ago

    I love it!

  • VSOP Brandy Avatar


    2 months ago

    1933 and 1935 black history mlk always

  • VS Brandy Avatar


    2 months ago

    Really enjoyed reading this

  • VSOP Brandy Avatar


    2 months ago

    I am so happy to teach my niece about Black History I think it is important to be open minded even at 6 years old

  • VSOP Brandy Avatar


    2 months ago

    Black History is learning about the incredible perseverance and achievements of Black individuals and communities throughout history can offer inspiration and motivate me to overcome challenges in my own life.

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