Originally published to Facebook on July 8, 2020
Sydney is a co-founder and the CMO of Aurora Tights, and we are beyond excited to hear her speak in our Discussion Panel: Inclusivity in the Arts at 4PM on August 8th. Here's a little more about Sydney!
IG: @auroratights & @auroratightskids
Discussion Panel registration: https://forms.gle/ufWiJL2kwWPNDSYF7
Sydney says: "I grew up as a competitive dancer, with the added pressure of being a dark-skinned woman in a predominately white sport. The hair products, makeup, and especially the apparel never fit my appearance. My feelings of isolation rose so high that I avoided even looking in the mirror. It was only after finding my community on my on my collegiate team of predominantly black women that I started to have confidence in not only my skills but also my appearance. I understood then what it meant to have a support channel to turn to in times of need. Together, with my other two co-founders, we decided to be the catalysts to increase the accessibility and retention for black and brown talent in performance sports."
Q: What three words best describe your company's mission & vision?
A: 'Perform In Color' - This is the phrase that best describes the mission of our company and our vision for performance sports. Both ice skating and dance are diversifying rapidly. To best support this inclusive environment, we need to change the definition of beauty in performance sports. To do this, the first step is ensuring that all performers have apparel in their unique skin tone. Currently, there is a whole population of performers who do not have tights that match their skin color or do not like the shades that are available to them. We strive to make sure adults and children, just like us, feel comfortable in their skin and excel at their athletic passions.
Q: What message would you like to share with young women who are early in their careers?
A: So many times as women, we feel unqualified to go after our vision. We are so hard on ourselves and feel as if we must first become experts at something before execution. Yet many men do not put those same pressures on themselves and instead exude a confidence that is needed for the entrepreneurship world. I encourage young women to work every day on building that same level of confidence in themselves and to not be afraid to just do it. There is so much magic in our ideas and the world would be made better for it!
Q: What was the most important financial management lesson you learned while running your own business?
A: The biggest financial lesson that was taught at my university's entrepreneurship center is to get creative with funding. You don't have to just rely on loans or traditional investors. Within our first year, we raised close to $30,000 from our participation in startup labs, incubators, and pitch competitions. That was all while keeping 100% ownership of our business and learning good financial management along the way!
Q: What's the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome while being a woman of color in your industry’s space?
A: As a black woman, I often suffer from imposter syndrome and had to learn how to work through this in the first few years of being an entrepreneur. It is easy to feel passed over by investors, but I continue to remember the words of Arlan Hamilton, "what if the next Mark Zuckerberg is a little Black girl from the South." I remember that my personal mission and the mission of my business is much bigger than me and that helps me push through every challenge the entrepreneurship space offers.
If you'd like to hear more from Sydney, watch the discussion panel on August 8th at 4PM!