HBCU Clothing Brand Strikes A $300K Deal With Mark Cuban On ‘Shark Tank’

HBCU Clothing Brand Strikes A $300K Deal With Mark Cuban On ‘Shark Tank’

Tones of Melanin Founder Ashley Jones has brought her HBCU athleisure brand to Shark Tank and walked away with Mark Cuban’s co-sign and $300,000.

In exchange for 5% equity, Jones now has the means to start making an income from her brand, which has already raked in $3.3 million in revenue since its launch in 2017, according to AfroTech. The Norfolk State University alum told the Sharks that the money generated from the brand goes to the cost of production, marketing, and other business expenses. For Jones, the aim has been to push for diverse representation in the fashion industry and establish a viable HBCU presence in a collegiate fashion market involving bigger and well-known educational institutions such as Duke, Harvard, Yale, and others, according to Sportskeeda.

Though HBCU students have often found ways to promote their institutions through apparel, national attention, like the kind an appearance on Shark Tank provides, helps to inspire other students and alum looking to bring HBCUs more visibility.

“I think that everyone who attended an HBCU will benefit from my appearance on national television, which will show that we can thrive anywhere,” Jones said. “Never give up on yourself or your dreams, regardless of what anyone else says. Understanding what your purpose is along with your vision and that no one can ever discredit you because of where your degree may come from. HBCU graduates are thriving everywhere!” Tones of Melanin already holds 40 HBCU licenses, and the apparel can be found in major retailers like Dick’s Sporting Goods and Belk Stores, according to AfroTech.

Jones has big plans for the brand’s future and hopes that the investment from Cuban will be the first step. “In the future, I want to expand my company without using a third party by working more directly with HBCUs,” she said to AfroTech. “In addition, I want to expand our empowerment line so that we can engage with more members of our community. As we start to lean more toward philanthropic efforts, we are working on partnerships and collaborating with companies and individuals who are interested in supporting HBCU students.”

Her episode of Shark Tank can be viewed below: