She’s putting on for HBCUs!
Ashley Jones is the founder of Tones of Melanin, an athleisure brand aimed at shining a light on historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Black Enterprise reports. They offer apparel, accessories, Divine 9 paraphernalia and an empowerment line, Jones holding more than 40 HBCU licenses and getting her apparel in major retailers including Dick’s Sporting Goods and Belk Stores. Recently, Jones appeared on an episode of “Shark Tank,” landing an impressive investment deal from billionaire Mark Cuban.
The Norfolk State University alum pitched her company to the sharks, explaining the business breakdown, the aim of diverse representation in the collegiate fashion market, and her pay structure, most of the money made from sales going back into business costs like production and marketing. Cuban was sold, negotiating a deal that granted him 5% equity in Tones of Melanin in exchange for $300,000 in funding.
Since the company’s launch in 2017, Jones has already made $3.3 million in revenue. With the new investment, she’s hoping to expand the brand’s imprint, focusing more on their philanthropy arm and finally being able to bring in an income from her company.
“I want to expand my company without using a third party by working more directly with HBCUs. In addition, I want to expand our empowerment line so that we can engage with more members of our community. As we start to learn more toward philanthropic efforts, we are working on partnerships and collaborating with companies and individuals who are interested in supporting HBCU students,” explained Jones.
She’s also hoping that her appearance on the hit show amplifies the work of HBCUs and inspires other students or graduates of HBCUs to do their part to promote the institutions and the amazing work they do in education for Black students.
The founder took to social media to promote the Shark Tank episode, writing, “My biggest flex is that I get to put on for all 100+ HBCUs on national television for over 3,000,000 viewers!! I pray that this brings the next wave of Black boys and girls to attend an HBCU and to follow their dreams. If this little Black girl from the 757 can do it, you can too!”
To grab your Tones of Melanin gear, click here. Congratulations Ashley!
Cover photo: HBCU athleisure brand lands $300k investment deal on “Shark Tank”/Photo Courtesy of @TonesOfMelanin/Instagram