Entrepreneurs, they get things done. The world needs innovative forward-thinkers like entrepreneurs who turn their visions into reality. Not only do they inspire others to reach their goals and bet on themselves but they supply a need, create new markets, and can employ a community. It’s not easy running a business, especially while you’re still in school, but HBCUs students across the nation are following their passion and supplying a need on campus and in the world.
Today is National Entrepreneurs’ Day and we’re highlighting a few HBCU student entrepreneurs who are making waves on their campus and beyond. We asked you to tag an on-campus student entrepreneur on our Instagram post and we picked a few bosses operating in different fields to shout out. Here are 7 HBCU student entrepreneurs to look out for!
1. Devin Faulkner
Devin Faulkner is a student entrepreneur at Prairie View A&M University with a booming clothing line called Black History University. Faulkner has been featured on FOX, CBS, and Canvas Rebel for his clothing brand. He told Canvas Rebel that he has always used graphic design as an outlet for expression and in 2020 he picked up his computer to design graphics about how he felt about Black History Month, ultimately ending up designing sweatshirts that had a powerful message behind them. “I came up with the idea of Black History University because we will never stop learning Black History,” Faulkner told FOX News. “So I put that on a sweatshirt, and people are loving it.” His clothing features images of prominent black figures like Ruth J. Simmons, Maya Angelou, Malcolm X, and Carter G. Woodson. Falkner says his mission is to spread awareness of Black History & HBCUs and in doing so, create a community of like-minded individuals. According to his website, all proceeds go towards supporting his higher education, as well as the Black History University Scholarship Fund.
2. Rhani Kahn
Rhani Kahn is a senior majoring in Engineering Management Technology at Southern University A&M College and the CEO of Trap Kustomz, a customized corset and shoe business. Khan founded her business in April 2021, finding inspiration from never being able to find the pieces she pictured in her head in stores. “I have always had a passion for fashion and being different with anything I create,” Khan said. Trap Kustomz makes fully customized corsets for women and customized shoes as well to accommodate all genders. Khan describes Trap Kustomz line as “a one-stop shop for customization.” She incorporates bling, patches, glitter, multiple fabrics, and more into her designs. She plans to incorporate digital art into her designs and hopes to collab with other black-owned designers or celebrities in the future.
3. Lanaya Thorne
Lanaya Thorne is a junior elementary education major at Winston-Salem University and is the CEO of the baking business, NayasPastries. Thorne started her business during her freshman year at WSSU after seeing a gap in the market on campus for a sweets business. She has been baking since she was a little girl and really began expanding her business during her winter break in 2020. She credits her family, friends, and former teachers for being her support system, giving her constructive criticism on prices and the presentation of her work. Her menu includes cupcakes, dessert cups, cakesicles, cake hearts, and honey bun cakes. She has gone from selling sweets in her freshman dorm to having people who live an hour away come shop, hosting her own pop-up shop for black-owned businesses, and assembling a group of brand ambassadors to help bring awareness to her business. She hopes to expand NayasPastries and eventually open her own bakery one day.
4. Nick Jonas
Nicholas Jonas is a 4th-year business administration student at Florida A&M University and the owner of StretchLifeVisuals, LLC. Jonas specializes in photography and videography and has been in this industry for seven years now. He is a visual storyteller capturing moments from graduations to engagements, headshots, and more creative work. “Growing up I have always been a storyteller and an outlandish thinker. I would always create outrageous tales and visualize crazy pictures to tell to my family members and peers. That’s what I believe photography and video should be about, telling stories. Video and photo is nothing but bringing the visualization of the craft to life, giving one a better sense of understanding,” Jonas says on his website. Jonas shares his knowledge on his Instagram, giving out helpful photography and videography tips to his followers. He is also currently a videographer for FAMU’s athletic department and has shot and recorded for NIKE, Tim Tebow, DC YoungFly, Chico Bean, and many more celebrity brands and influencers. The sky is the limit for Jonas.
5. Asia Angelica Jackson
Asia Angelica Jackson is a sophomore majoring in Chemical Engineering at Prairie View A&M University and is the founder of Anjelic Hair Care, an all-natural handmade hair & skincare brand. Jackson founded Anjelic Hair Care in 2019 as a response to the countless skin and hair products marketed to women of color that contain harmful and toxic ingredients. Anjelic Hair Care focuses on incorporating organic and natural ingredients to ensure that the products are safe for the hair and skin and are shelf-stable. Their products include Jamaican Black Castor oil in its purest form, Multipurpose Flaxseed Butter, a daily moisturizer for the hair and skin, and African Black Soap. Jackson plans on taking the next step of partnering with investors and moving from e-commerce to retail stores.
6. Deshay Cunningham
Deshay Cunningham is a junior computer engineering major at North Carolina A&T State University, and the founder of Girl Tech Geek, a brand that provides education, resources, and a community for females in technology. “The goal is to simplify complex computer science concepts to help women become successful in their journey,” Cunningham says. She was inspired to create the brand after tutoring for a third-party company and realized there was a high demand for computer science tutors but the quality of good tutors and teachers was hard to find. “After a few students, I decided I didn’t want any limitations of any company on how I can help students, so I cut the middle man,” Cunningham said. “I realized they needed more than a tutor.” Cunningham now does tech coaching through her business while maintaining the priority of graduating with a full-time offer as a Software Engineer. She wants to use her business to change the narrative for people of color in tech and encourage women to pursue degrees in Computer Science and related fields. “Girl Tech Geek will be the vehicle to provide those women with the tools that I wish I had my freshman year in college at an HBCU,” Cunningham said.
7. Tamaya Nicole Harris
Tamaya Nicole Harris is a freshman majoring in business with a minor in marketing, at Alabama A&M University with two businesses under her belt already. She is the owner of the beauty line Janai Nicole Beauty and has a poster printing business called Frames By Classy. “I have always been into beauty products and making others look beautiful by enhancing their natural features. I feel it is important to always look and feel your best and a big part of that is the beauty products you use,” she said. Harris’s assortment of lip glosses is the signature item of Janai Nicole Beauty, which includes glosses in all colors and varieties. She also sells lip scrubs, body butters, and body scrubs. Her poster printing business, Frames By Classy offers personalized poster collages comprised of an assortment of photos for her customers. “This allows me to tap into my creative side while creating memorable gifts for others to present to their loved ones,” Harris said. She has hosted her own vendor events showcasing not only her business but also spotlighting other young entrepreneurs in her area. She hopes to continue to expand both of her businesses and to establish multiple locations throughout the country where her products can be purchased.