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Norfolk State grad’s HBCU clothing line ink deals with major retailers

While in undergrad, Ashley Jones came up with the idea for a fashion line. Now, her works will be in more 100 stores nationwide.

NORFOLK, Va. — A Norfolk State grad is putting the spotlight on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and her work is catching on across the country.

We introduced you to Ashley Jones last week as part of our Making A Mark series. Since then, she’s been very busy launching a new spring line and signing deals with major retailers.

“I saw the need in undergrad but I didn't think it would take it this far,” said Jones.

As an undergraduate student, Jones said she noticed a glaring issue on campus.

"I attended Norfolk State from 2011 until 2015," Jones recently told 13News Now. "I feel like the university bookstore didn't reflect millennials."

While in undergrad, she came up with the idea for a fashion line.

Her streetwear brand, Tones of Melanin, spreads awareness of HBCUs.

Since Jones’ interview last week on 13News Now, she launched her new spring line and orders are already lining up at big box stores.

“We’re in the process of putting out orders for three different department stores,” she said Wednesday. “The warehouse is crazy!"

Major retailers – Belk, Fanatics.com and Dick’s Sporting Goods – all placed orders. Now, Jones’ brand will be in more than 100 stores nationwide.

At times, Jones said she still can’t believe people wear her heart on their sleeves.

“I get this surreal feeling when someone I don’t know directly, like they find a friend who is like, ‘Look what I got at the store.’ And they are like, ‘I know her,’” she said.

The clothing line is also featured in more than 20 HBCU campus bookstores.

Jones hopes her story encourages others to follow their dreams.

“If you find a passion and it starts to pick up, and it’s your purpose, follow that,” she said. “It’s going to make sense at the end of the day.”

Tones of Melanin also gives back to HBCUs. Proceeds from every purchase go to the school featured on the clothing item.

Tones of Melanin is also available for purchase online. You can follow the apparel line on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

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