Meet Five HBCU Grads Behind Creative Black-Owned Brands

Black History Month Spotlight: Meet Five Former HBCU Grads Behind Creative Black-Owned Brands (TSR Shop)

Historically Black Colleges and University (HBCU) institutions have been instrumental in cultivating Black excellence for over a century and unsurprisingly, many small and large businesses are led by HBCU graduates. With the rise of Black entrepreneurship, more and more Black-owned brands are gaining recognition and support across various industries.

Black History Month is the perfect time to acknowledge the outstanding contributions of Black-owned businesses to our economy and society! Check out a few of these standout brands from The Shade Room’s TSR Shop:

1. Dungeon Forward (FAMU)

David Castro is the founder and CEO of Complex Apparel, an apparel conglomerate focused on translating authentic street culture into elevated products.

His Dungeon Forward brand is a head-wear brand striving to create crowns for the culture while investing in the community via targeted scholarships, including the David Koto Castro Design Charette and Scholarship hosted annually at David’s alma mater, Florida A&M University School of Architecture and Engineering Technology.

2. Heard It All Before (FAMU)

Kristen Daniel founded the music game experience Heard It All Before. She got her degree from the FAMU School of Business and Industry (SBI). Daniel says the vision for Heard It All Before is to drive new paths toward music discovery through gameplay centered around music sampling.

3. Greentop Gifts (Clark Atlanta University)

Launched in 2016 by Jackie Rodgers, Greentop Gifts has become a go-to brand for celebratory inclusion and representation. The brand was started as a personal hunt for holiday gift wrap featuring a Black Santa eventually turned into the creation of Clarence Claus.

As a graduate of Clark Atlanta University, the HBCU alum is on a mission to bring diversity to all celebrations by making them culturally inclusive in an era where representation matters.

4. Abeille Creations (FAMU)

Melissa A. Mitchell, a proud graduate of Florida A&M University, holding a bachelor’s degree in public relations and a minor in graphic design, is the CEO of Abeille Creations. She also earned a master’s degree in public management from FAMU.


5. Terminal B (Howard)

Chris & Fay Breedlove, a husband-and-wife team, stepped out of their comfort zone and career path to create TERMINAL B. A bit of a departure from their beginnings as classmates at Howard University School of Law, TERMINAL B is built on the couple’s passion for travel and sharing an international love story through scent.



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