Mission with Muscle

Shannon Beeman
March 14, 2022

Growing a mission-driven business to success takes strength, stamina, determination, grit, and drive. Seeing your final product on Olympians and the stars of binge-worthy shows reflects not only the success of the venture, but the tenacity and commitment of the founders.

Aurora Tights University of Michigan Ross Zell Lurie Institute It is clear that Imani Rickerby (MHSA, ’21), Jasmine Snead, and Sydney Parker took what they learned from years of competitive sports and applied that same determination to their startup. The team is dedicated to the growth of Aurora Tights, an athletic brand with the mission to supply high-performance apparel for all shades and sizes. The idea for the venture was born as each of the co-founders struggled to find tights that would match their skin tone while holding up to rigorous competition. 

Launching an entrepreneurial venture as students has given this dream team the flexibility to stay true to their goals. By receiving funds through university competitions, grants, and accelerator programs, these entrepreneurs were free to build the initial brand and messaging without the pressures of outside investors.

Imani Rickerby Zell Lurie Institute Michigan Ross“You’re in school, you have this idea, but it is not always second nature to see what resources your school offers. The University of Maryland gave us our start and the University Michigan provided guidance and funding through the Zell Lurie Institute. It is amazing everything that you’re able to do, once you reach out and ask,” said Imani Rickerby, U-M alumna and co-founder of Aurora Tights.  

“You think of people bootstrapping and putting in their own funds, but we were really fortunate to have these different opportunities,” added Jasmine Snead, co-founder of Aurora Tights. 

With this clear mission, Aurora Tights has found an impressive group of supporters and brand ambassadors. The inclusive brand has resonated with Team USA pairs skater Ashley Cain-Gribble, Team Canada pairs skater Vanessa James and two-time Olympian Maé-Bérénice Méité, U.S. skater Starr Andrews, and Alexis Floyd who stars on the hit Netflix series “Inventing Anna”. These celebrities are a welcome addition to hundreds of dancers, cheerleaders, gymnasts, and skaters who believe in the power of representation. 

Aurora Tights University of Michigan Business Challenge Zell Lurie Institute“We’re launching a new shade at the end of March for 2018 Olympic team bronze medallist, Bradie Tennell. The reason we’re so excited for her shade is that it will be our fairest shade yet. This is something that is not currently on the market and answers many of our customers’ requests,” said Rickerby. 

“We also recently partnered with Howard University to help take their team from wearing the wrong shade of tights to wearing the right one. We are the first,” noted Sydney Parker, co-founder of Aurora Tights. 

Given their recent success, the Aurora team is working to build upon their mission through encouraging fellow student entrepreneurs. 

“A lot of times people don’t pursue entrepreneurship because they think they don’t have the skills, but you learn along the way. That’s one of the things I like to emphasize, particularly for young women entrepreneurs,” said Snead. 

“If anyone wants to reach out within the Michigan community for support, we would love to be that kind of connection – especially for Black female founders,” added Rickerby.

To learn more about this inspirational startup, visit: https://www.auroratights.com/