In figure skating or gymnastics, athletes strive to put together the perfect outfit to complement a hoped-for perfect routine. That can be harder for athletes of color, as the attire hasn’t always matched their skin tones.
Jasmine Snead ’18, MBA ’21, who started skating at age 5, knows this firsthand. She dyed her tights in a bathtub before competitions.
“In performance sports, you aren’t just judged on how you perform, but how you look doing it,” she says. “So you can imagine the drop in confidence and sense of otherness created for women of color when they do not have the options. We want to be part of the solution.”
Now she and fellow ice skater Imani Rickerby ’17 and dancer Sydney Parker ’18 are doing that as founders of Aurora Tights, a Hyattsville, Md., startup that offers tights in a rainbow of skin tones.
The trio received a $15,000 boost in March by winning the Pitch Dingman Competition, UMD’s annual “Shark Tank”-style event hosted by the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the Robert H. Smith School of Business.
The company works with a manufacturer to dye the products and sells them for $16–$22 at auroratights.com. They plan to spend the prize money to increase their inventory, and hope to eventually expand the line to other sports like gymnastics “to send the message that you do belong in performance sports,” Snead says.
Written by: Annie Dankelson for Terp Magazine