In addition to unprecedented job loss and economic turmoil, COVID-19 has also heavily impacted the bottom line of all HBCUs. Programs such as athletics are being cut, and the HBCU experience as a whole is at risk. We spoke to Justin Phillips, co-founder of Support Black Colleges, and learned how SBC reminds us at a time like this to not just to experience HBCUs, but to always give back.
Before the pandemic, you might have seen people rocking stylish Support Black Colleges shirts and hoodies on campus. Two Howard students founded SBC in 2012 because their college experience changed their lives for the better, and they felt the need to spread the word.
Fast forward 8 years, and now SBC has given thousands in scholarships and donations, as well as employing a team of over 70 college ambassadors. Celebrities like Missy Elliot, Chris Paul, Teyana Taylor, and Eva Marcille have helped propel the clothing brand and continue to ensure the message gets out.
We value telling the stories of people whose path to success wasn’t all roses. It inspires us all to know we can accomplish our dreams, no matter where we’re at in life. For example, Justin Phillips always had an entrepreneurial spirit, but sometimes got in his own way.
In middle school, he found a way to buy things he couldn’t afford before by selling candy to classmates. By the time he got to college, he was throwing parties using his background in digital marketing. With the tens of thousands of dollars he made doing that, he felt it was a great step to accept a digital marketing job after college. He was wrong.
“I built my side income up enough to pay my rent and quit my job,” he said. After quitting, I got into a lot of trouble doing activities I shouldn’t have been doing. I ended up making a change in my life when I moved to ATL with my current business partner Corey.”
As all entrepreneurs can tell you, it’s a shaky road in the beginning. We had to ask Justin what was the most difficult part about getting started.
“The hardest moment for me was making the move from Houston to Atlanta to start my journey in a new place. It was very difficult because I had to disconnect from my closest friends and enter a place of the unknown. I came from living in a single bedroom with all my best friends to having my own place with no solidified job or source of income to cover my rent.”
When you truly believe in something you give it your all. And often, the main difference between good and great is sacrifice. Justin truly inspired us by what it meant to him to go all-in on Support Black Colleges.
“I ended up getting involved with SBC a month or so after I moved to Atlanta. I had $10,000 left to my name and invested it all into the business,” Justin said. Giving that money up must have been difficult. At first, the two friends made only about $2,000 a month, with factors such as the cost of production to be taken into account. But adding faith and hard work to the brand, the two friends are now making over six figures a month.
Phillips’ Proudest Moment
When we asked Justin what has made him the most proud about his journey with SBC, he didn’t hesitate to answer.
“My proudest moment to date has honestly just been the ability to be free every day to contribute to the HBCU community. I take pride in being able to work on the business daily and service my staff.”
We encourage you to take a look at the Support Black Colleges website and check out their styles. What’s not to like about a black-owned clothing line with a singular mission to uplift, inspire and encourage others to support HBCUs?