Buffalo State juniors Terron Grant and Nubia Hill are not only entrepreneurs who have created a new line of licensed Buffalo State apparel; they’re also visionaries. They see promoting school spirit as the key to increasing retention.
“It’s very simple. We need to increase school pride,” Hill said. “And we feel like we can help by giving students something they feel proud portraying.”
The two students met on the first day of their freshman year and immediately connected. Last year, they combined their talents to create the first item in the Black Fire Clothing line—a vivid sweatshirt with a blue-eyed bengal gracing the front. Retailing for $44.99, the sweatshirt is available in black, gray, and maroon from the Barnes & Noble at Buffalo State Bookstore and from the Black Fire website.
After working with the campus’s Small Business Development Center to create a business plan, the two presented the product to Kathryn Hanaka, assistant manager for the bookstore. She submitted the company information to the home office for approval, and it went through the college’s licensing process before being approved for sale beginning in August.
Black Fire represents the first of two student designs sold at the campus bookstore, the other being the official Buffalo State plaid created by Kaitlyn Emminger, a December 2014 apparel design graduate. She won the spring 2015 campus plaid contest and T-shirts, sweatshirts, and other items sporting her plaid design are available for purchase.
“Terron and Nubia have demonstrated really impressive professionalism and quiet determination in pursuing their goals for their business,” said Jill Powell, senior assistant to the vice president for finance and management and representative for college licensing.
A fashion and textile technology major from Syracuse, New York, Hill is a whirlwind of ideas. Designing and sewing clothes since age 10, she was inspired to create a piece of Buffalo State merchandise after cringing at the cost of college clothing.
“I initially wanted to create something for myself,” she said.
Grant, a business administration major who grew up in Queens, New York, jumped into student government soon after arriving at Buffalo State. He won the 2014 USG Senator of the Year award and also made the dean’s list three semesters in a row.
He funneled his business acumen and hard-working nature into creating Black Fire’s business and marketing plan while Hill worked on the design end. With the help of a Buffalo graphic designer who developed the bengal image, Black Fire was born.
“I’m very impressed by these two,” Hanaka said. “They are professional, respectful, and so excited about their product.”
Apparently, many students are, too. They have purchased more than 350 sweatshirts; the bookstore just received its third order last week.
The dynamic duo is working on T-shirts with the same design for spring and doing outreach. This fall they began collaborating with the Iota Phi Theta fraternity on a social media campaign and participated in two campus fashion shows with the African American Student Organization (AASO).
“Black Fire is more than clothing,” Hill said. “It’s also about helping students and the campus.”
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