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Mission-Driven Brand Actively Black Partners With Olympian-Activist John Carlos Deck: Watch The Video Of Carlos Discussing His Legacy As An Activist And His Decision To Partner With Actively Black

By News Creatives Authors , in Leadership , at August 12, 2021

On Friday, For(bes) the Culture sat down with former American trac

k and field athlete and professional football player John Carlos for a live discussion about racial equity within the Olympics and the impact of Carlos’s message at the 1968 Olympics. As part of Carlos’s mission to promote intergenerational wealth, he is partnering with Actively Black – a Black-owned athleisure and sports apparel company. All the proceeds gained from his collection will be given to Carlos and his foundation.

“I can reach my target audience through social media, introduce the brand, what it’s about, and hear their responses,” says Actively Black founder Lanny Smith. “When you think of how influential black culture is on the entire world, if we get our own to support our own by promoting and pushing black-owned brands, that’s where the power is.” 

The former NBA athlete says he believes a successful e-commerce brand should tailor an audience with services and products built to champion their culture and community. His plan for success starts with Actively Black’s quality, which is comparable to major brands. In addition, the company plans to focus on presenting Black audiences with community-focused products and partnerships. Smith, who considers himself to be a community builder as much as he is an entrepreneur, says his mission is to reinvest in the Black community. 

Another one of Actively Black’s missions is to give back to the community through partnerships with groups like Alkame – a Black-owned mental health platform – and donations. Their charitable efforts include a $3,000 to the Compton Girls Club and a $5,000 donation to the Liberation Fund for pro bono legal support. In July, Smith came together with Carlos to create and launch Actively Black’s John Carlos Collection.

“When I did my thing I wasn’t in the moment doing it. I was in the movement doing it,” U.S. Track and Field Hall of Fame athlete and Olympian, John Carlos said. “I chose to go with Actively Black because they want to show young black individuals how to be progressive and keep their identity. I waited for 53-years for an opportunity like this.”

 While part of Smith’s strategy focuses on partnerships with thought leaders and influencers, digital marketing is Actively Black’s strongest advertising approach. But soon after the Carlos collection launched, Facebook and Instagram flagged the collection as political, effectively preventing Actively Black from promoting content—a lasting reproof of Carlos’s gesture and actively hinders Actively Black’s reach. Digital marketing is one of the most powerful tools that small businesses can use to advertise, and unlike Nike, Under Armour, or Adidas, Actively Black can’t run commercials and advertise during large sports events like the Olympics.

New e-commerce brands already face adversity by having to compete on a shifting commercial landscape exacerbated by the pandemic. Smith believes that racially biased coding in digital marketing compounds the obstacles that Black-owned businesses must overcome to find success. 

In spite of the digital marketing hurdles, Actively Black is seeing early signs of success. The company launched on Black Friday 2020, pulling in $250,000 in sales in its first 30 days. It also acquired one million dollars in revenue by its first six months. The startup has seen almost 1.3 million sales since its inception, and Smith forecasts continued growth after its supply chain catches up to its scale and reflects through increased community investment.

“I want Actively Black to be able to utilize a billion-dollar cash flow to really reinvest back into the black community,” Smith says. “I want to capture that feeling that black people had to leave the theaters after watching Black Panther, and I want that to be the feeling that people have when they interact with Actively Black.”


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