Victoria's Secret Pink Adds HBCU Flair - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

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victoria's secret



When Victoria’s Secret Pink rolled out its nationwide collegiate collection in June, featuring the names and logos of some 33 universities on sweats, hoodies, football tees, and totes, the promotion didn’t include any historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). This fall, the brand plans to include five HBCUs in the second phase of its collegiate collection.

But, for Amelia Reid, a sophomore at Howard University and a Pink fan, the initial omission was hard to take.

“Going to Howard, where the students are very into academics and also into fashion, I thought ‘Wow, this is crazy,’” says Reid, who is studying political science and fashion merchandising. “Here is another company that doesn’t acknowledge black colleges. A lot of girls from Howard wear Victoria’s Secret and work there also. It shouldn’t have been just those typical schools that come to mind when you think of college.”

Reid e-mailed Victoria’s Secret to express her dismay and was upset when she received a response that she describes as “sugar-coated” and dismissive. Her disappointment materialized into a crusade to bring Pink onto the campuses of HBCUs. Early in July, she started a Facebook group “HBCU Ladies Wear Victoria’s Secret Pink Too” in an effort to encourage people to write to the company and complain about the HBCU oversight. By late July, the group had more than 400 Facebook members.

A few days after Reid’s initial e-mail, Richard A. Dent III, chief operating officer for Pink, contacted Reid through her Facebook group after someone forwarded him her complaint. “I reached out to her because she was a fan of the brand. I wanted her to know that we were not being insensitive, and we did have a plan,” says Dent, a graduate of Florida A&M University’s business school and a member of the school’s board of trustees.

According to Dent, the first HBCU schools that will roll off the Pink line will be Howard University, Florida A&M University, Hampton University, North Carolina A&T University, and Southern University. “We have agreements with the licensees who handle collegiate apparel for those schools, and this has been in the works for some time,” he says. Dent adds that the company plans to include students from the schools in internships at Victoria’s Secret, and feature promotions at their homecoming events.

Pink, a collection of loungewear geared toward young, college-aged women, first appeared in Victoria’s Secret stores in 2004. Since then, the brand has solidified its success within the parent company, Limited Brands, a retailing behemoth that includes Bath & Body Works and Henri Bendel.
Dent says he didn’t view Reid’s Facebook group negatively. “We encourage people to be vocal [about our product],” he says. “Victoria’s Secret and Pink’s mission is to have relationships with our customers.”

Pink used the size of the university’s undergraduate and alumni population, geographical reach, and revenue from royalty sales to determine which schools would be included in the initial roll out, but Dent

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.