ELLERBE — Did you know a local textile mill in Richmond County just made a huge contribution to Black History on a global level?
Affordable Hosiery in Ellerbe had some special visitors on Friday, Feb. 24. Matt Jensen of Fox 8, based out of Greensboro, toured the facility to film the multi-step process of hosiery production and interview owner Rodney Mabe.
A few days prior to the visit, Mabe received a phone call from Fox 8 journalist and “Made in NC” host Brad Jones. Jones learned of Affordable Hosiery after contacting Maryland-based Aurora Tights, whose products were recently worn in the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing by Team USA pair skater Ashley Cain-Gribble and would have been worn by Starr Andrews, who has her own shade of hosiery — “Starr Shade” — and was slated to compete, but withdrew from Nationals.
Back in 2017, Maryland-based synchronized skating coaches Imani Rickerby and Jasmine Snead, both Black women, recognized a barrier plaguing many of their student skaters, who were also Black. Rickerby recalled her own experiences from her childhood memories of skating when she felt as if she didn’t belong watching her teammates, who were not Black, easily coordinate the color of their tights with their outfits and makeup.
Recognizing the need for tights for skaters with darker skin tones, Rickerby and Snead teamed up with Sydney Parker — who was their sorority sister at the University of Maryland and also a former dancer — for a do-it-yourself project of hand-dyeing their tights. The trio quickly learned that the time-consuming process of mixing so many dye colors was one aspect of their novel concept that could be accomplished faster and consistently by an experienced hosiery manufacturer in North Carolina.
Cue Affordable Hosiery
The ladies contacted Mabe, who eagerly accepted their offer to both produce the tights and dye them in accordance with the color swatches they sent to match darker skin tones. See our post from 2020 on Affordable Hosiery to learn about the locally owned business here.
Along with the recent Olympic appearance, Aurora Tights have also been worn by Team Canada pairs skater Vanessa James and two-time Olympian Maé-Bérénice Méité. Making another big screen debut in the Netflix limited series “Inventing Anna,” the character Neff, Anna’s friend, wears the tights in multiple episodes.
Make sure you tune in to see one of our local manufacturers in Ellerbe doing big things! We are so proud of former Ellerbe Wildcat and Affordable Hosiery owner Rodney Mabe and excited to see him along with his team featured Tuesday on the “Made in NC” segment on Fox 8 this week!
(Note: The story is scheduled to air around 7:35 a.m. and again during the 5:30 p.m. broadcast on Tuesday, March 1 and will also be on the WGHP website.)
Meghann Lambeth is executive director of the Richmond County Tourism Development Authority. Republished from visitrichmondcounty.com.