The athletic equipment industry brings in millions of dollars annually. This is evident in a 2021 report published by Statista. It reported that the U.S. wholesale sales of basketballs amounted to an estimated $286 million, making it a lucrative sector for entrepreneurs.
The sector is also among the less diverse business ventures in America. It is largely dominated by companies operated and owned by whites. This became clear to Oronde Booker whenever he went to support his son at team practices and games.
He observed that equipment used by the players, trainers, and coaches was developed by four companies, and not even a single one of them was Black-owned. This inspired him to start Book Dawg Sports so as to become a major supplier of athletic products. He established the company with his son Kendall.
“When thinking about sports, it’s likely that several Black stars across all sports — basketball, football, tennis, or soccer — come to mind easily,” Booker told Black News. “Black people have contributed much to sports, attracting fans and diverse audiences, redefining the game and helping shape its culture, yet so few are found ‘behind the ball,’ particularly when looking at industries like sports equipment.”
The Atlanta-based company is the first ever Black-owned athletic supply company. Last September, the company said that it was taking pre-orders for its flagship product called HW101, which is a basketball made with premium microfiber composite leather that offers amazing grip and durability to last all season and beyond.
HW101 stands for Hard Work 101 and is inspired by the fact that excellence on the court requires hard work. Booker also wants the name to be a constant reminder of what it takes to succeed.
“You have to put in hard work, and I like to deal with people who like to work hard,” he told RollingOut. “I want that to be a representation of, if you see this, you’re going to want to put that effort in, and you’re going to want to go above and beyond. When I was growing up playing football, they told us to give 110 percent. I don’t know how the h— you can do that, but that’s what we had to do.”
Booker said his focus is to produce top-quality products for students of the game at various levels. “We believe in high standards and high quality—our ball is for people who are serious about improving their game,” said Booker. “I love the game and continue to play and coach, so I know firsthand that no matter how talented you are, it requires an investment in the best equipment, time and effort.”
Booker added that owning an athletic equipment company is not only to make the industry diverse but to also build generational wealth for his kids.