One commonality that most Black entrepreneurs and creatives face across any and every industry is the challenge of strategically navigating and advancing within their workplace and career. This is a challenge that is even more exacerbated and difficult within the fashion industry. 

We’ve heard of Black fashion legends like Misa Hylton, April Walker, and Daniel Day (better known as Dapper Dan) speak extensively of the hardships and exclusion they’ve faced over the course of their careers. In fact, it wasn’t until September 2021, when the Council of Fashion Designers of America awarded the first black designer, Dapper Dan, with their Lifetime Achievement Award. This was the same month when we also learned of the disproportionate presence of current day Black fashion designers in the industry. Black or African American designers account for only 7.5% of the entire industry, while Caucasians account for 57.5%, Asians account for 17.2%, and Hispanics account for 13.1%. In light of this startling information, we love to see platforms come together and push for the success of Black creatives – and that’s exactly what AFROPUNK and Shopify have teamed up to do. 

The two companies have partnered together to announce the “Black Fashion Accelerator” program, an “extensive” six-month program that will “prepare nine promising talents for long careers in the industry.” The inaugural BFA program will feature access to various experts and resources. The first includes program mentor Chris Bevans, creative director at DYNE, plus three additional mentors who have not yet been announced. The class of aspiring Black fashion designers will be guided through a top-tier curriculum which will allow them “the opportunity to bloom as artists and build successful, sustainable, and profitable businesses.” 

The nine aspiring designers include Bronte Laurent, founder of Par Bronte Laurent, Archie Clay III and Tajh Crutch, founders of WEAR BRIMS, Corin Lindsay, founder of CORIN DEMARCO, Sophia-Danner Okotie, founder of BESIDA, Melissa A. Mitchell, founder of ABEILLE CREATIONS, Paakow Essandoh, founder of MIZIZI, Sylvester Ndhlovu, founder of RUVAFRICWEAR, Valerie Blaise, founder of VAVVOUNE, and Jelisa Smith, founder of House of Fleek. The “Black Fashion Accelerator'' program will also culminate with a fashion show set to be held in June. 

If you’d like to keep up with the program, you can do so at and via AFROPUNK’s social media platforms.