COLUMBIA, S.C. (courtesy benedict.edu) — When a Black woman-owned luxury athleisure footwear startup bursts onto the scene in the middle of a pandemic, and quickly breaks the sales record of the company that would go on to be the global industry leader, heads turn. At TRONUS, which means throne in Greek, they know all about what it’s like to be a seemingly unconventional underdog. Including having announced a partnership with Eastbay.com in 2021, they’ve established monumental success despite all the barriers and are intentionally sharing that success – and knowledge – with the next generation of rule and record breakers.
Benedict College is a hidden gem among HBCUs. The rich history of the College is not a secret, however, to TRONUS CEO Santia Deck, and her mom and COO Cynthia Cureton-Robles. When determining which HBCU to launch an initial partnership with, there was no question of where to begin; Benedict College was at the top of the list. Cureton-Robles’ family have been supporters of the institution in Columbia, South Carolina for decades. The school’s legacy is woven into theirs. Cynthia’s uncle, Santia’s great-uncle, the Reverend Dr. Stewart Cleveland (S.C.) Cureton, earned a Bachelor of Arts and a Doctor of Divinity degree from Benedict College. He also served as a member of the Benedict College Board of Trustees. Rev. Cureton also served as the president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. and as a civil rights activist. He was instrumental in bringing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to Greenville, South Carolina and later advocated for the establishment of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday in Greenville County.
“We want to honor my great-uncle and the impact he made as a renowned pastor and civil rights activist by partnering with his alma mater,” said Santia.
Benedict College Assistant Professor of Communications and Arts Joey Hilton contacted TRONUS to inquire about internship opportunities for his students. Several students started internships with the TRONUS team in January 2022, with more students being placed continuously on an ongoing basis. The company will also grow their new program to include students from other HBCUs in the future.
“A few years ago, I came across Santia Decks’ social media profile. In a male-dominated society, I was happy to see an African American female gain notoriety and success in her industry. I am 100% sure that TRONUS will soon be competing with Nike, Adidas, and Reebok. I wanted my students to participate in that process,” said Hilton. Some of Hilton’s students have already begun their internships.
During the month of February, TRONUS will be donating 20 percent of the proceeds from purchases of the Motherlands, the limited edition African inspired sneakers, to Benedict College as part of the “Prideful Journey” campaign. The Motherland sneaker was created to honor the roots of African American culture.
TRONUS, the future of footwear, is representing royalty, legacy, and community in the form of luxury athleisure sneakers.