A life-altering event prompted Lanny Smith to disrupt a $170 billion industry.
Back in 2009, the former basketball player faced a knee injury that stopped him from moving forward as a player for the Sacramento Kings. However, he brainstormed about how he could still be involved in sports while making an impact.
Smith decided to create a competitor to Nike — Actively Black, launched in 2020. CNBC reported that the global sportswear brand raked in $5.6 million and was reportedly valued at $30 million in 2021.
As big-name companies such as Nike benefit from Black culture, the founder and CEO’s goal was to lead a company that was not only Black-owned but also invested back into the community.
“A lot of these sports apparel brands have profited off of Black talent,” Smith told CNBC. ”[The companies] have profited off of the consumerism from the Black community. And I felt like they hadn’t adequately reinvested back into the Black community.”
According to CNBC, Actively Black reinvests 10 percent of its sales into organizations that help U.S. Black communities across social justice, mental health, and physical health. What’s more, Smith told the outlet that in 2022, over $500,000 was donated to the likes of the Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation, The Liberation Fund, Black Kids Code, Our Own and Families United.
“My thought process is, if we’re donating at this type of percentage, what happens when we are the multibillion-dollar brand and we’re donating that type of money back into our communities?” Smith said. “We can have a real impact.”
Along with spearheading collaborations with the “Black Panther” franchise and the 2022 Winter Olympics, Actively Black also aims to support Black athletes and Black creators.
As previously shared by AfroTech, Deja Kelly became the company’s first-ever NIL signee under a one-year partnership.