Overlooked Customers Drawing Support From Support Black Colleges
ATLANTE – It’s such a simple business idea that others are probably wondering why they haven’t thought of it themselves.
An upstart company from Atlanta sells clothing emblazoned with this motto: Support Black Colleges.
The owners of the company say they earn millions of dollars every year. But hundreds of customers say they are no longer fans.
“There’s no reason my stuff shouldn’t be here,” complained Gabrielle Brundidge, a guidance counselor at a Savannah elementary school.
Gabrielle Brundidge, a counselor at Savannah Elementary School, is among hundreds of customers angry with clothing company Support Black Colleges.
For Black History Month, Brundidge wanted to wear different shirts at his school that celebrate historically black colleges and universities – HBCUs.
In early November 2021, she placed an order with a company she had previously acquired: Support Black Colleges.
Fifteen weeks later, she’s received plenty of promises, but not the three t-shirts she paid $82.93 to wear.
“I feel like you took my money and I have no product, and you say you’re giving it back to the schools, but how do I know you’re really giving it back to the schools at this point? ” asked Brundige.
Paige McLester teaches sixth grade science at a low-income school in Douglas County.
“They’re not exposed to a lot of conversations about college,” she said. “I thought, ‘Oh, that would be a cool shirt to wear to school and get the conversation started with my students.'”
She paid $63.60 the week before Christmas. His hoodie didn’t arrive either.
“They knew they were taking money from people,” McLester said. “They knew they weren’t going to be able to fulfill their orders, and they were like, what can people do about it?”
Over 200 people did something. They complained to the Better Business Bureau. The company now carries an F rating, a rating that no college professor could sustain.
Corey Arvinger (L) and Justin Phillips are the masterminds behind Support Black Colleges. They have a list of reasons why they let customers down.
The owners of Support Black Colleges estimate that around 2,000 customers are waiting, some of whom may have ordered recently. They say they have taken 14,721 orders since November 1, 2021.
“We don’t want customers to feel like we’re taking advantage of them, and we also understand that we did some things wrong,” admitted Justin Phillips, 27, who with Corey Arvinger, 30, shares ownership in the business.
The idea started when they were students at Howard University.
“I didn’t know it was going to be a business,” Arvinger said. “We just thought what we were doing was going to be fun, and then it took on its own.”
Their online store offers $35 t-shirts, $45 sweatpants and $55 hoodies, with the website naming various celebrities “spotted rocking the brand”.
The site promises a delivery time of 2 to 4 weeks.
The company has even introduced its clothing line to retail stores like Urban Outfitters. Demand for Support Black Colleges clothing has skyrocketed.
Then came the 2021 Christmas season.
The company was unable to fulfill all orders. Generic emails were first sent out promising “by Christmas Day” deliveries. Then they would arrive between “January 5 and 30” and then “Valentine’s Day”.
But for many customers, they still don’t have a product. And no refund.
“My patience is really starting to wear thin,” complained Boston’s Roy Cruz. “I would like some sort of accountability from them.”
He and 83 others have joined a Facebook group called Black Shoppers Beware.
Phillips and Arvinger say a combination of COVID-19, overseas shipping slowdowns and their decision to take orders for products they hadn’t already put their business in the crosshairs, a bad look. they say they address.
They also explained that their financial contributions to HBCUs involve licensing and paying for campus marketing space. No direct donations so far.
“Over the past three years, we’ve personally invested hundreds of thousands of dollars, even in simple advertising, exposing HBCUs to tens of millions of people,” Phillips said.
Corey Arvinger sells e-books to anyone interested in learning his secrets to a 7-figure business. He says his company’s F rating with the BBB shows that “the best time to learn is when something is wrong”.
Despite their age, both have already written books about their entrepreneurial success.
Arvinger is selling his “29 Laws to a 7-Figure E-Commerce Business” for $49.99.
In a 2021 promotional video encouraging people to sign up for his advice, Arvinger points to a computer screen showing his company generates more than $4 million in revenue in one year.
Does he think it’s a bad image to sell his entrepreneurial secrets when his company currently has an F rating on the BBB?
“I wouldn’t say that because I think the best time to learn is when something is wrong,” Arvinger replied.
Does that mean it will add a new chapter?
“Oh yeah,” he said. “There are plenty of chapters.”
Owners say they will no longer sell products they don’t have ready to ship. They say they are revising their no-refund policy, a rule that currently limits unhappy customers to store credit only.
And they say they’ve opened an additional warehouse in Atlanta to reduce their reliance on overseas operations.
“If I have to be the scapegoat for other entrepreneurs to see that when you grow up, you grow up fast, there are things you have to go through, and we’re willing to take responsibility for that,” Phillips said.
One lesson they learned: no more promised delivery dates. Not until they get their house in order.
But for some it may be too late, clients like this Douglas County science teacher who says they will always support black colleges, but no longer the company that bears the name.
“I don’t even want the product anymore,” McLester said. “Because I won’t wear it. We don’t want to advertise a company that operates that way.”
WATCH: FOX 5 NEWS LIVE COVERAGE