The specialty footwear and lifestyle chain, The Athlete’s Foot (TAF), announced GRAMMY-winning gospel artist turned entrepreneur, Tasha Cobbs Leonard as the first female recipient of TAF USA’s new signature program, StAART. StAART, which stands for Strategic African American Retail Track, was founded by TAF in the summer of 2020 at the height of the Black Lives Matter Movement. Its goal has been to generate awareness and promote change for one of the great disparities in the footwear industry.
“Grateful is the word that comes to mind when I explore my feelings about my new venture with The Athlete’s Foot. I’m grateful that I have an opportunity to be a leader and an example that Black girls need in order to believe they can be whatever they want to be,” shares Tasha Cobbs Leonard about her next chapter as a franchise owner.
The multi-award-winning singer currently owns several successful lifestyle brands and with a passion for the fashion and clothing industry, the self-professed “sneakerhead” is now taking on the footwear world. As a new franchise owner of The Athlete’s Foot, Cobbs-Leonard is currently scouting locations for her store which will be located in her hometown of Greenville, S.C. It will give the city its first TAF.
“We sought to bring a powerful Black female entrepreneur into The Athlete’s Foot community and I could not think of a better person to fill this spot than Tasha,” said Senior Director of Product and Marketing for TAF, Darius Billings. “Everyone at TAF knows firsthand what kind of impact she can provide to our business and the StAART program. We are excited for everyone else to witness it.”
StAART’s mission is to increase African American representation and ownership within the sneaker industry. This is done particularly through franchising while championing Black-owned retail and entrepreneurship within the Black community at large. Through StAART, The Athlete’s Foot directly recruits, develops and mentors Black entrepreneurs through its retail franchise model. The program provides StAART franchisees, including Cobbs-Leonard, with access to resources, systems, relationships with its strategic brand partners and a mentorship network. This directly addresses many of the barriers that typically prevent Black entrepreneurs from launching and successfully sustaining their businesses.
TAF USA has curated a StAART advisory council that includes influencers within the industry and professional and community organizations. These organizations can lend additional support in making StAART a success. For example, The Athlete’s Foot has strategic partnerships with several key organizations such as T. Dallas Smith & Company, the largest African American-owned commercial real estate brokerage firm in the country that focuses exclusively on tenant and buyer representation.
For further information please go to www.theathletesfoot.com.
About The Athlete’s Foot
The Athlete’s Foot is more than just a retail store but is a destination for athletic street style. TAF is a global retailer of athletic-inspired lifestyle for streetwear, footwear, apparel and accessories. The Athlete’s Foot sneaker and streetwear chain have 550 stores and e-commerce shops in 32 markets. Its global headquarters are located in Stans, Switzerland and in Atlanta, Ga. in the United States.
About the StAART Program
Founded in the summer of 2020 at the height of the Black Lives Matter Movement, through The Athlete’s Foot, the program’s mission is to generate awareness and promote change for one of the great disparities in the footwear industry. StAART’s goal is to increase African American representation and ownership within the sneaker industry, particularly through franchising, while championing Black-owned retail and entrepreneurship within the Black community at large. Those interested in learning more about the StAART program, applying or becoming a StAART partner can visit staart.us for information.
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