The theme for this year’s Black History Month is “Black Women in American: Culture and History”, as a homage to the thousands of black women who have accomplished so much and worked hard for respect and equality in America. Many of these women will become leaders in our community, and one sophomore from Howard University has already emerged as a motivated businesswoman.
Her name is Kendra Jones, a sophomore Mechanical Engineering major from East St. Louis, Illinois. Kendra launched ThatMentality in December 2011, and her unique clothing designs have gained a lot of attention on the campus of Howard University.
ThatMentality was created with the intention to promote self-confidence among college students while still being affordable. “I wanted to create a clothing line that was directly associated with having a positive attitude,” Kendra said. “When you look at the clothes, you not only feel better but the person that sees you wearing it feels better.”
“People share so many negative things, that I think it’s time we spread more positivity.”
When asked about the name of the company, Kendra says it comes from realizing one’s self worth and not being deterred by pessimists. “You always hear people telling you what you can’t do, but you really need to ask yourself ‘why can’t I?’ What’s stopping you from doing it?”
One of the property characteristics of ThatMentality is confidence, and Kendra never let the fear of failure hold her back. “Sometimes we are afraid of success, afraid of our own capabilities. We use the excuse that we can’t do certain things, but the truth is we haven’t tried or not willing to try.”
“I think that a lot of my mentality and my positive attitude that I have now is because I came from an area that didn’t have much,” Kendra says as she described her hometown of East St. Louis, Illinois. “Where I’m from, there are not a lot of people who are motivated for the right reasons. Everybody wanted to either be a rapper or a ball player.” Kendra went on to describe the urgency in her work and how hard she wants to make it. “I need to hurry up and be successful so I can get my family out of here,” Kendra says.
Kendra is from East St. Louis, and she has already set up her family for success. Her other clothing company, Your Own Vintage is being put in the hands of her younger sister and cousins. Kendra explains that she is training them to manage the company themselves, so “that they can have entrepreneurial experience before leaving high school.”
Kendra is sure not to forget where she came from, or the family that is still in East St. Louis. “I am mindful to pull others from where I came up with me. I don’t want to be so high that I can’t reach back. I’m trying to help them along as I come along.”
“I was blessed with the intellect and the motivation that I do have, it would be disrespectful of me to hide that just to fit in,” as Kendra described another property characteristic of ThatMentality—courage. Kendra went on to convey how courageous and confident she is: “I honestly feel like if I try anything, I’ll be good at it.”
Check out ThatMentality’s website and follow them on Twitter (@ThatMentality). Be sure to be on the lookout for more from Kendra Jones.