Hailing all the way from Phoenix, Arizona we spent time with an influential black entrepreneur Raven Nichole. At twenty-three, she owns her own clothing brand, LEGENDARY ROOTZ. A brand which which wittingly emits the bright felicity of blackness! You may have seen celebrities like R&B duo Chloe & Halle wear her revolutionary shirts! LEGENDARY ROOTZ creator, Raven Nichole started her business while in college; she attended Arizona State University with her BS in biochemistry. A proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, she started her business while attending a predominately white institution, she explained “I really didn’t see people who look like me, talk like me, and wanted to create a brand that exemplified what I felt out loud”. I had the chance to briefly get into starring on Jackie Aina’s Noir Tank, the importance of representation, breaking the stereotypes of black business, Nipsey Hussle’s impact, and how important it is to stand in our blackness.
Can you briefly get into how you came up with LR?
In high school, I was a part of some student organizations; I would make a lot of our shirts and the designs. I’d create the design and we would use like an outside facility to actually make our stuff. In college, I just randomly made a few designs like “I Am Black History”, “No, You Cannot Touch My Hair”. I posted two samples for my family and friends on Facebook, I really didn’t think that far ahead, I just knew that I wanted to say something. After posting them on Facebook, everyone was like, “yes, how can I get one?”, “how, do I get one”, “where do I get one?”, and it was kind of just snowballed from there. Definitely social media had a big impact on the success of Legendary Rootz.
You went to Arizona State University, a predominately white institute—I graduated from a PWI as well! Which means you definitely get what it’s like to be in a white space. What word of advice might you share to the black students who attend PWI’s nationwide?
My first home for a safe place was an organization called Zaria.
“Zaria [link] is a safe place where womxn of color are supported and challenged to grow and better themselves mentally, academically, and emotionally”
Every other week, we’d come together and vent about school, homework, depression, and hair. You could walk in to a room of like fifty girls, not know anybody and walk out feeling like you have fifty more sisters. I feel like everyone should have that space, I feel like if you don’t have that at your university… I feel like that is the first thing you should work on forming.
Also, I think it is importance this and strong your blackness, You should be able to feel comfortable being black! Like listening to Solange’s “A Seat at the Table”, the interlude where her mom talks about being pro-black, that reminded me to learn how to stand all into my blackness. I am strong, I am confident, and I am a proud black woman! Be okay with being black.
I’m not going to front, I didn’t know there were any black people in Phoenix!
We’re sprinkled out! It’s not a big lump, but we’re definitely HERE!
Okay! Y’all are holding it down in the west!? I hear that! I think I’m just so used to hearing Western black folks be from California. So this is cool and new for me!
Yeah a lot of folks definitely reside in California, and still attend ASU [Arizona state university].
You were on Noire Tank, can you tell us a little on what that is? It’s basically a back version of Shark Tank right?
Yes, it’s a black version of Shark Tank, hosted by Jackie Aina and Dennis. It was just such an amazing experience, that’s all I can say!
What was it like being in the same room Jackie Aina, Karen Civil, and so many inspiring women of color?
I loved every second of it, not only did I just meet Jackie Aina, I met Karen Civil! It’s dope because being in Arizona, I don’t really get to have a group of people who look like me— even just being black in these communities. Just being in that room was a great opportunity! Being able to have a space to ask questions—it was just great! I loved it!
Oh my gosh, #goals! Literally!
What is the most rewarding thing to having your own business?
The most rewarding thing…well two things, one would be just being able to experience some things I was able to experience if not for my company and the love from my supporters. Just having my business, I have been able to go to Italy for the summer, and study abroad.
I actually had a podcast interview and I was telling her how a lot of people purchase from me, from around the ages 18-24, they’ll DM me about how much they love the reactions they get from the shirts. They’ll tell me how reflected they feel from having a shirt that represents them.
Yeah I know, it touches my heart too! Just having little black girls know! My parents definitely instilled in me the importance of being black and that I was beautiful, but it was just being able to walk out and see that message multiple times, multiple ways— that’s really what really the passion behind it is.
As a black woman entrepreneur, do you ever feel like you deal with crazy obstacles?
I feel like people try to put black-owned business in a box in our own community…
Can you explain more about the box?
There are stereotypes on black-owned business have no good customer service, they charge an arm and a leg for their services, and all those kind of negative things that kind of puts a shadow over us. For me, I know there are companies that started on twitter and Instagram just like me. When they started their own companies, they actually didn’t put a face to the company. With that, they found more success because as soon as someone sees a black person a company, they already have all these stereotypes attached to them.
Also, I feel like a lot of times right now, in marketing “black is in” and not for the right reasons. I remember I was featured on The Fader, and you know it was just featured during Black History Month. It kind of just seemed so zoned in—
Like it was like a “fad” type of thing?
Yes! Like it was just something to do… that’s why I love being a part of interviews with other black women. Companies where their bosses look like me, the employees look like me, their audience looks like me. I want to see myself in those kinds of spaces; where the audience may look like me and understand!
I hear you sis! How do you stay grounded through your obstacles?
Growing up I experienced a lot of change; I went to like maybe five or six different elementary schools, I was always moving. My parents instilled in me that, “you’re going to go through things, but it’s about what you do after you go through it”.
I’m expecting expansion soon; I’m planning for things to really launch and instead of being unprepared I’ve been writing out action plans for things that I may encounter. I know that there is greatness in my future, so instead of freaking out I’m going to pause, think about my actions, and react with a calm sense of mind. That’s really what I do with my obstacles— I practice devotionals and it’s taught me not to be afraid of the fear. Not being afraid of what’s to come— nobody’s rushing you. All the things you want to do, you can do if you just: pause, think, and react.
How do you feel about huge corporations who use black culture to profit?
See, I’ve been thinking about this… but it’s like when we talk about it, we give them more energy— we give them more of an audience. 9 times out of 10 when something goes viral on black twitter everyone else sees it. Instead of focusing on these problematic brands that uses our blackness to monetize us, let us focus on the black businesses that are doing it. Like for example, you know the crayon case?
Yes! Supa! That’s my girl! She doesn’t know it, but she is!
Yeah that’s my girl! Did you see the MOSCHINO x Sephora collection?
Can you tell those who don’t know?
They came up with a collection that’s kind of in the same realm of what Supa does with her makeup line The Crayon Case: The crayons, brushes, pencils and it’s kind of in the same theme. It was blasted on Instagram and a lot of people referred it back to: Supa. I feel like that’s more important than trying to blast a company.
I truly feel like these companies are ran by highly educated people and I think that they know what they’re doing. There are these brands that are owned by women — they don’t have huge corporations— but they have teams of people who they hire and I just feel like it’s so unfair when these larger corporations come in and kind of dismantle their [black women entrepreneurs] whole system.
So shine a light on those who are actually doing something for us and by us instead putting your energy into their notifications, views, and clicks on the outrage.
I truly think they are tracking these influencer ads; because nobody’s is going to sit here and create an entire concept and not do their research on a brand. I’m not saying there is no room for competition in the market; like Sephora, if you see this concept is “popping”, why wouldn’t you want to collaborate and reach a whole different market? That’s what confuses me, because she [Supa] has her own market, why not work with her? Or like do some kind of collection to bring y’all money up together? That’s really what I don’t understand.
It’s frustrating to me that these companies are able to do this. Even with fashionova! Like the fact that they’re able to steal black designers’ concepts and [with] people saying “you should’ve trademarked it” [so loosely], it’s just so unfair because I know how much time it is to create something.
Like being a creator and having someone just rip from you?
Especially, if it’s something that really pops! I think that something people should watch for.
On your website, one of the reasons you started LR was “due to a need from a safe place”. Can you describe more on what a safe space for POC would mean and be?
Being able to have conversations; such as being a black woman at a predominately white institution— being a black person in corporate America. We need those safe places to have those conversations, so people feel heard. I know what it feels like to be unheard; I know what it feels like to not have your voice be understood. I feel like you should be able to express how you feel, with people who get you.
Unfortunately, it’s been almost a moth since we lost an insightful artist and entrepreneur Nipsey Hussle. He had me thinking about my worth, legacy and what I could do for my own. When I leave this earth, what are my future children going to have and remember me by? He definitely had me thinking about my legacy— what I could do for my own. Could you relate to this feeling?
It’s something that I’ve thought about, but I don’t think I’m “there” yet. The money is nice, the opportunities are nice, meeting the celebrities is nice, having them where my clothes and having over fourteen thousand supporters is nice, but it’s nice to be able to give back. I want to eventually give back more; I want to be able to reach the financial stability to be able to give out scholarships for college.
One of my main goals is to basically create safe-hubs within black communities where people can come through and work in a computer lab, do their music in a studio, paint in the art room— normally when it comes to helping out the community, they don’t have a lot of funding. I want to create those spaces for kids to feel safe. If I have it, why not help others.
I know there’s people that need my help, so I if sit in my “mess” or if I just don’t up and see what I need to get done– then I don’t have the opportunity to help people.
You should buy Legendary Rootz because…
Are designs are fun, they are fun, and they speak for you.
Without Legendary Rootz you are…
Missing out on the ultimate black experience.
Your current female rapper is…
Tierra Whack and Megan Thee Stallion
My favorite song is…
Energy by Ronny Cash, that’s my best friend!
One thing you didn’t know about Arizona is…
It’s lit! Metaphorically and literally!
Click HERE to get yourself a piece of LEGENDARY ROOTZ!