By Dawn Montgomery and Itoro Umontuen
The 2022 Winter Olympics are currently being held in Beijing, China from February 4 through February 20. The opening ceremony is an important moment in which each participating nation can show off their country’s flag, culture, and pride before the games begin.
Team Nigeria expressed concerns about participating in the Winter Olympics because they are competing in cross-country skiing. Samuel Uduigowme Ikpefan will represent Team Nigeria in that event.
Actively Black sponsored Team Nigeria, and the soul of its design embraced Nigerian culture. Dr. Seun Adigun, Nigeria’s first African Summer and Winter Olympian, was the flag bearer for Team Nigeria during the opening ceremony. She’s attending the games as an International Olympic Committee Athletes Commission candidate. Also, Dr. Adigun serves as Team Nigeria’s doctor, and she’s team leader for the winter Olympic sports in Nigeria.
Dr. Adigun and Actively Black Founder Lanny Smith are former University of Houston classmates, and she reached out to Smith to outfit Team Nigeria.
“We started immediately, as far as coming up with concepts and trying to figure out what we wanted to incorporate into design,” Smith said. “I hired a Black-owned design firm — it’s actually a husband and wife design team to come in and did an incredible job on the design on the project. The research that was done to make sure that we incorporated both traditional elements of Nigeria, as well as the modern elements of Actively Back and the type of apparel that we’re producing.”
If fashion was a sport at the Winter Olympics, Team Nigeria would definitely stand on the podium. Team Nigeria’s outfit wowed viewers across the world and made a statement heard from China to America. People Magazine ranked their outfits 4th, behind Jamaica’s outfit (designed by Puma), Team USA (designed by Ralph Lauren) and Team Canada (designed by LuluLemon).
One interesting fact about Actively Black’s sponsorship of Team Nigeria is that the International Olympic Committee has strict regulations around brands that don’t have an official Olympic partnership. For brands that don’t have official partnership, those companies must have sold their merchandise in the 90 days leading up to the Olympic Games.
“Prior to the Olympics even starting, that’s why we had that announcement and started selling the merch October 1, we’re able to use the proceeds from that to donate to the team, provide a travel budget and financially support them,” Black said.
There would have been an official reveal, but due to global supply chain issues, Actively Black was unable to pull that off.
Meanwhile, Smith has been astonished with the level of positive feedback Actively Black has received worldwide. He says it’s a seminal moment for Black-owned companies.
“You know, we knew it would be a big opportunity, just from the beginning, just being able to have the opportunity for Black Home Brands to help African countries on a stage like the Olympics,” Smith said. “These are billion dollar brands that have been around for decades. We just made a year on Black Friday, and to just be able to have that opportunity at that stage and to be well-received on the global stage is overwhelming.”
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