A new Cherry sports apparel collection commemorates past Chiefs players with a focus on community impact and bridging a divided Kansas City through pride in the city teams, said Thalia Cherry.
“I think the excitement around the Chiefs will be here for years to come, and … I often share when I speak with groups how powerful it’s been to see one city [united in sports] versus a divided community,” said Cherry, owner of Cherry, a KC-based sports gear company catered to women. “If you think about it, it just goes back to that historical perspective — that … sports has [encouraged] people to be collective in one goal, to really cheer for the same thing.”
Through the direction and goals of the company, Cherry is guided by the idea of legacy and the impact of sports on race and equity, she said, noting the design team focuses on emotional impact.
“Those are the things that really shaped how we created our designs — around history, fashion, sports — and what that really means to people,” added Cherry.
In featuring past players like Christian Okoye, Deron Cherry and Derrick Thomas, Cherry hopes to give new life to a spirit of commitment to the city, she said, noting each design was catered to the era of each player and period elements were incorporated to strengthen ties to history.
“We researched each athlete and what was symbolic in each time period of when they played down to color schemes, [fonts], and everything that would be associated with that time period,” she added.
Click here to check out the KC Legacy collection.
The company’s emphasis on women’s apparel since founding in 2012 was centered around the belief that fashion could be a part of opening the gates for women to take more ownership of the sports industry, Cherry said.
“I wasn’t seeing a lot of [women’s sports apparel],” said Cherry. “I knew that it was an opportunity for our business and so, with an understanding that people were really seeking it and desiring those styles, we started to test the market and the popularity around them grew really, really fast.”
Careful thought into every aspect of the business helped make Cherry profitable since its first year of operation, the entrepreneur noted.
“Since 2012, we’ve actually made a profit every year… I mean I feel like that’s kind of rare but also very special,” she said. “The business has operated in the black from the inception of the company because we still have a lot of that interface with the same audience of consumers — and the market has just been really strong for us.”
Previous collections from Cherry have focused on other KC institutions like the Negro baseball leagues — with the line focusing on Toni Stone, Connie Morgan and Mamie Johnson, the only three women to play for the groups — as well as the Monarchs, she added.
“The [“Beauty of the Game” collection] for women — that one was inspiring because I didn’t even realize that women were an integral part of the league …” Cherry said, noting the collections was created in collaboration with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.
Click here to read more about the “Beauty of the Game” collection and the thought process behind it.
“[For the KC Legacy collection,] I just want to be really respectful of the players,” she added. “We just want to, in essence, capture their love and commitment to Kansas City and their businesses and just the different realms of how they’re helping to build a better Kansas City.”
The collection is expected to further support the recent success and interest surrounding the Chiefs as well, Cherry said.
“I think we’re all stoked for the Chiefs to win,” she said.
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.