DC: What’s your name(s), major(s), minor, and graduation year(s)?
Parker: Sydney Parker, Communication and Public Relations major, Women’s Studies Certificate, Spring 2018; Imani Rickerby, Public Health Science major, Spring 2017; Jasmine Snead, Government and Politics, African American Studies Certificate, Spring 2018, MBA/MPP 2021.
DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup?
Parker: Aurora Tights designs inclusive athletic apparel and hosiery for dancers and ice skaters of ALL skin tones and ALL sizes. We are fully black women owned and seek to increase the diversity of all performance sports through our products and philanthropic initiatives throughout the year.
DC: At what point did you know you wanted to create your own startup?
Parker: Growing up as a dancer I was rarely able or advised to wear tights and other apparel that matched my skin tone color. In 2018, my cofounders and former skating coaches noticed a similar phenomenon happening with their young skaters and we vowed to end this cycle of disempowerment. Therefore we created Aurora Tights to make sure ALL athletes could perform in color.
DC: What or who is your biggest influence for your startup?
Parker: The biggest influencers for our startup are the black and brown dancers and ice skaters who have paved the way for athletes like ourselves to fall in love with the sports we have dedicated most of our lives to. Athletes such as Misty Copeland, Surya Bonaly and many more were the inspiration for so many of our tight shades and we later named each of our shades after our former teammates and students who continue to inspire us to this day.
DC: In the new virtual world, how has your focus or ideas changed?
Parker: We are dedicated to meeting our customers where they are at, which is mostly at home now, and keeping them motivated to still go after their athletic passions. At the end of last summer we partnered with five dance and ice skating non-profits who work to increase diversity and inclusion policies within these sports areas to raise money for their year-round initiatives. With the help and support of our community we were able to raise $13,000 for black and brown skaters and dancers to help them stay in the sports that they love!
DC: What updates or significant accomplishments can you share with us about your company from the last six months?
Parker: Over the last six months, we were able to raise $13,000 for black and brown dancers and ice skaters through the Perform In Color virtual showcase, move our items to a fulfillment center for faster shipping times, and get our story featured in Pop Sugar and Dance magazine!
DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Parker: Just start and activate on whatever idea is in your soul to build. Also, lean into the resources that are right at your fingertips! Within our two years we were able to raise $25,000 in startup funding with the help of the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship and continue to lean into the mentorship community they have there as well. It all started with a Dingman Friday!
For more information about Sydney Parker’s company, Aurora Tights, please visit the website here.