Jonathan Robinson and Devoski Boyd have a lot in common. Both grew up in Alabama’s capital city, both went to college here and both are young Black men.
But their biggest shared passion is a love of the outdoors — golf, hunting, fishing — and when they looked at the outdoor industry, they didn’t see a reflection of the diversity they saw around them.
“We saw a space where we didn’t see ourselves,” said Boyd. “We really wanted to find a common ground with the outdoors, the different races, the different beliefs. We just wanted to unite all the people that had love for the outdoors.”
This past summer, as the nation dealt with a racial reckoning while in the grips of the pandemic, 23-year-old Boyd and 24-year-old Robinson felt the time was right. The duo launched a new outdoor brand and apparel business called Black Creek Outdoors to spread their message of unity.
They started with a line of trucker hats, which quickly sold out. They expanded into shirts, and those sold out.
Boyd said they’re working to restock now, and customers are already asking for more types of products. “There are a lot of people that have been supporting us along the way, and we’re very thankful to them,” he said.
Meanwhile, they’ve formed partnerships with outdoor enthusiasts in different walks of life from coast to coast. There’s a cliff jumper in Seattle, fly fishermen in Colorado, a kayak tour guide in New York and more. They’ve formed ties with the University of Montevallo’s bass fishing team, which is one of the top teams in the nation.
“It’s not only different ethnicity groups, but different cultural backgrounds,” Robinson said. “It can be a common ground for anybody. … Especially in this time when we’re dealing with COVID-19, the outdoors is a place where you can feel more safe, where you can still have fun and enjoy life.”
The company is only a few months old but they’re already talking about growing to an international brand, something that could amplify the core message of bringing people together.
It’s a busy time for the duo, beyond their apparel startup. Boyd earned a political science degree from Alabama State University as the pandemic started, and his friend Robinson had recently graduated from Huntingdon College and started law school.
But they still make time to get outside. Boyd smiled as he remembered bonding with a new friend during a recent fishing trip on the Alabama River.
“We’re just trying to grow our brand and show that there is diversity in the outdoors,” Boyd said. “There are Black people in the outdoors. There are Indian people in the outdoors. There are Hispanic people in the outdoors.”
“We just felt like this was the perfect time for something like this,” Robinson said.
Contact Montgomery Advertiser reporter Brad Harper at [email protected]
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