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The Athlete’s Foot Is Helping a Grammy Winner Open Her Own Franchise

Continuing its mission to boost Black ownership, The Athlete’s Foot has made a splash with the first woman it has tapped for its Strategic African American Retail Track (StAART) program.

The retailer announced today that Tasha Cobbs Leonard, a Grammy Award-winning gospel artist, is the first woman recipient of StAART, its effort to recruit, develop and mentor Black entrepreneurs through its retail franchise model. The singer-turned-entrepreneur, according to The Athlete’s Foot, is looking for a location in her hometown of Greenville, S.C. for her store, which would also be the retailer’s first in the city.

“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 and brown girls need in order to believe they can be whatever they want to be,” Cobbs Leonard said in a statement.

Tasha Cobbs Leonard The Athlete's Foot
Tasha Cobbs Leonard.
CREDIT: Courtesy of The Athlete's Foot

In April 2021, the retail chain launched StAART, which was created by The Athlete’s Foot senior director of product and marketing Darius Billings to increase African American representation and ownership in the sneaker industry. Billings told FN last year that the company’s franchise model offers potential business-owners an advantage that starting from scratch cannot.

With StAART, The Athlete’s Foot will help with the real estate process, guiding the franchisee to find an ideal location before the store design director steps in to guide them through the buildout process. Also, the retailer’s $30,000 franchisee fee will be waived.

The Athlete’s Foot confirmed last year that the goal is to open at least 50 stores over the next five years.

“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,” Billings said in a statement. “Everyone at The Athlete’s Foot knows firsthand what kind of impact she can provide to our business and especially the StAART program and we are excited for everyone else to witness it.”

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