Sports | December 8th, 2023
FAMU Cheer’s Trailblazing Partnership with Mielle
By: Jaden Bowen
Mielle Organics, a Black-owned natural hair care and beauty brand with products sold across the globe, has partnered with Florida A&M University cheerleaders for a groundbreaking deal.
Valued at $250,000, FAMU Cheer secured a three-year deal with the company. The cheerleaders will serve as brand ambassadors, sporting and sampling some of Mielle’s best goods and engaging in various social media campaigns.
Nyla Jones, a third-year elementary education student and side base, vividly recalls the day she and her team found out about the deal, giving insight into the behind-the-scenes of what was seen in the video footage posted on the university’s socials.
“We didn’t get any other information regarding what we were doing. In the video, you can see us walking up to the tables confused because we saw bags, and we weren’t sure what was in them,” Jones said. “My coach, Brandi Tatum, did her spiel about how the partnership became, and once we got to open the bags and look inside, I was super excited.”
The announcement came as a surprise to the current roster of cheerleaders on the team, facilitated by the team’s head coach, Brandi Tatum-Fredrick, and 2004 FAMU graduate and current president of Mielle Organics, Omar Goff.
Goff aided in establishing the deal alongside Tatum-Fredrick and Mielle’s CEO and COO Melvin and Monique Rodriquez.
“I loved everything about my time at FAMU, and this is a full circle moment to give back in this way,” Goff said regarding the collaboration. “We started the HBCU partnership journey at Howard University with the queens of the pool, and now we are here to partner with the queens of cheer.”
This marks a historic accomplishment for FAMU Cheer, serving as its first hair care brand partnership and Name, Image and Likeness deal.
Although this may have been a strategic move on Mielle’s part, extending their products to sports at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, it’s also a crucial one that will undoubtedly open the doors for other college athletes nationwide.
“Many of us grew up doing a trial-and-error method with our hair… trying new products while still not knowing what it is supposed to look like,” Ashlyn Boles, a fourth-year business administration student and cheer co-captain, said. “We may see a style we like on someone we look up to, or on social media and want to try it. We can now try it with healthy methods of leave-in conditioners, curl smoothies, styling gel, etc., with products that have natural ingredients and that are truly made for our hair. We can then teach our children how to do their hair correctly, which can lead to more hair positivity in society.”
While this is a first for FAMU Cheer, this is not FAMU’s introduction to Mielle’s wide range of products. Their hair care line can be seen and purchased in the university’s hair store — if in stock.
Last year, a rise in viral trends surrounding the company boosted its supply and demand. This negatively affected consumer access to Mielle’s most used products, including their Rosemary Mint Scalp and Hair Strengthening Oil, nationally and on campus.
“I was familiar with Mielle before this partnership,” Jones said. “I remember a point in time [when] their oil was trending on TikTok, and it was sold out in stores everywhere.”
This collaboration and milestone hold great sentimental value to FAMU’s cheerleading squad, given that several members can be seen wearing their natural hair throughout the season.
Some even used Mielle for their hair before this deal.
Amiya Reese-Loving, a psychology student and backspot for FAMU cheer, became familiar with the company after her mom and stepmom introduced her to it a few years ago. She says the presentation of hair is a “staple” in the Black community and that it is “very encouraging” that the brand chose FAMU Cheer to represent them.
“It’s important that we advertise hair care in sports because most of sports is participating in rigorous conditioning and practices, and if not taken care of properly, our hair falls on a back burner and could result in damage,” Reese-Loving said. “This resonates with me, especially since I wear my natural hair often, and if I don’t take the right steps or use proper products, I could easily ruin the progress I’ve made with my hair.”
Encouraging and advocating for natural hair care, diversity, self-care and expression are the foundation of FAMU Cheer’s NIL deal with Mielle. This reflects the company’s, the university’s and the team’s values simultaneously.
It also breaks the bounds of harmful rhetoric directed toward Black women and their hair.
“I think this partnership shows that we as Black leaders can escape the stereotype society has placed on natural Type 4 curls,” Boles said. “Cheerleaders are supposed to look ‘gorgeous and effortless.’ If we can do that while wearing our curls, little Black girls will grow up thinking they can still be beautiful in their curls.”
Additionally, FAMU securing the collaboration with Mielle will call for more recognition and respect for cheerleaders as student-athletes, contributing to their legacy and growing exposure.
“I think this will give FAMU Cheer more recognition to sports at FAMU overall,” Reese-Loving said. “I believe this will help us be seen as an individual sport like we are instead of only as supporters for the more publicly acknowledged sports.”