Tampa Bay, FL, entrepreneurs Dainelle Riley and Stephanie Walters’ celebration of HBCU culture has led to a major Target deal.
“HBCUs, they are a part of Black history yesterday and today,” Riley told the outlet.
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The connection to Target was made while the founders were attending an HBCU-driven event in Birmingham, AL.
“We’re out there and a Target buyer is there, and they loved our merchandise,” Riley recalled, per WFLA. “They said they wanted to pitch us ‘to some of our other buyers. It’s not my department but I feel like you need to be there, and I want an HBCU line in Target.’”
Securing a retail deal with Target is significant and largely addresses an issue that led to the company being founded in 2017. Per the company website, Riley realized there were not many options while shopping for clothing representing her alma mater Florida A&M University. As a result, she crafted her own collection, which sold out twice. It was from that moment on that Riley recognized there was a need for HBCU apparel in the market.
“I remember when we would do pitch events and I would be pitching the culture shop and people would say that’s niche or it’s not viable, and I would say you don’t understand the depth of support HBCUs have,” Riley shared.
However, staying the course has paid off greatly for the founders who have attracted the attention of celebrities such as Jidenna and Diddy and secured seven grants in the wake of COVID-19 from companies including Beygood, Paypal and American Express. Not to mention, the clothing brand has partnered with the Atlanta Hawks and the U.S. Open.
The brand’s recent victory at Target is a tribute to its promise.
“Target is a true partner for us and they really allowed us to be super involved every step of the way,” Riley expressed. “…I’m enjoying the impact of what it is we are actually doing. What I really hope is people are able to resonate with HBCUs or even feel inspired to look more into HBCUs. This is really for the culture. This is really a labor of love.”
You can support HBCU Culture Shop at over 20 Target stores at the time of this writing, as well as online.