Created by three extremely accomplished competitive ice skaters and dancers, Aurora Tights is an activewear line designed for athletes and artists of all skin tones and sizes. With their size and shade inclusive tights, they are breaking the mold of what "traditional" skate and dancewear look like (we're talking seven sizes and five shades!) T hey are helping women and girls from all backgrounds to feel empowered by who they are and what they look like, one pair of tights at a time.
Who are the women behind Aurora Tights?
Imani Rickerby, Co-Founder and COO of Aurora Tights
- Lifetime competitive synchronized ice skater
- Born and raised in Jersey City, NJ
- Ice skater for 20 years, competitive for 13 years, specializing in synchronized skating
- Career highlight: skating for Team USA in 2012!
- Currently an ice skating coach and a student at University of Michigan pursuing a Masters in Health Services Administration
Jasmine Snead, Co-Founder and CFO of Aurora Tights
- Lifetime ice skater
- Currently a full time student at the University of Maryland, College Park, pursuing an M.B.A. and Masters in Public Policy
- Started skating at the age of five
- Main discipline was freestyle skating, but also did synchro, ice dance, and production
- Figure skating coach from the age of 16
Sydney Parker, Co-Founder and CMO of Aurora Tights
- Lifetime competitive dancer
- “I had very similar experiences to my co-founders, but in the world of dance and with the added pressure of being a dark skinned woman in a predominantly white sport. Whether it was the hair or makeup or especially the tights, nothing ever fit. It wasn’t until I got to college on a team with predominantly black women that I not only started to have confidence in my skills, but also in my appearance. Being on that team taught me what it meant to have a support channel to turn to in times of need. Together with my two co-founders, we all decided to build this same community of empowerment through Aurora Tights."
Imani Rickerby, Jasmine Snead, Sydney Parker, co-founders of Aurora Tights.
How did you all meet?
Jasmine: Our lives are intertwined in a lot of different ways! We were all students at University of Maryland (go Terps!), we were friends and line sisters (or sorority sisters) for Delta Sigma Beta Sorority Inc., and Imani and I were co-coaches for a synchronized ice skating team. All these different experiences are what made us the perfect trio to get Aurora Tights started!
How and when did Aurora Tights begin?
Imani: In the Fall of 2017, Jasmine and I were co-coaching a synchronized ice skating team in Maryland. We were super excited because the team was extremely diverse, but our skaters were still wearing tights that did not fit their skin tone. This is something that Jasmine and I experienced growing up. Jasmine, however, was able to dye her tights, but it was a messy process. I didn’t have that option at all. Through conversations, we said, ‘No, we’re coaches now. We can make this change.’ So, we came up with the idea of creating ice skating tights for all different types of skin tones to really embrace all different types of skaters. Of course, we had to share the idea with Sydney! We talked about it, and Sydney had the same type of experience. She grew up being a competitive dancer, and she could not wear dance tights that fit her skin tone. In January 2018, Aurora Tights was founded. We decided that we were going to be the change to create ice skating and dance tights for all skin tones to make sure all types of performers perform in color.
Can you tell us a little bit about the beginning stages of creating a skating and dancewear line? What has the process been like?
Sydney: The process of making a dancewear line was a little extensive. We first started in our kitchen, and we started to make recipes to dye tights with Rit dye, one by one. As you can imagine, this process was super time consuming, and it wasn’t always consistent. We knew that we had to go and find a manufacturer, and we were lucky enough to find one right here in the United States! Once we found that manufacturer, we started to surf through hundreds of samples to find colors that matched real human skin. One thing you’ll find out there in the market of diverse tight shades is that there’s diversity, but your skin can’t really fit a lot of them. We came up with five shades, seven sizes, and two styles. The two styles are transition and footed; these fit the shoes that dancers and skaters usually wear. This Fall, we’re going to be expanding our styles even more by adding stirrup tights and over the boot tights to our line, as other dancers and skaters also wear these tights. Overall, we wanted to make sure that our tights line was inclusive, but also was something that people can actually use.
What was the driving force behind creating the company?
Jasmine: The driving force behind Aurora Tights was that none of us had or could easily achieve tights and gear within our skin tone. Imani and Sydney didn’t have any options that really fit their skin colors. For me, I would dye my tights myself in the bathtub... and as you might guess, that was messy, time consuming, expensive, and honestly experimental. Because it was such a hassle, we just realized that all performers, no matter their shade- from the fairest to the deepest tones- should be able to buy tights online or go to their local store. It should be as easy as that, and that’s why we created Aurora Tights.
Models wearing Aurora Tights
Why are inclusive tights so important and necessary for the figure skating and dance communities?
Imani: Shade and size inclusive tights are extremely important and should be embraced by both the dance and ice skating communities. Tights that come in multiple shades and all different sizes send the message to performers, from all backgrounds, that no matter what they look like, they do belong in this sport.
How does having the appropriate clothing and gear help athletes and artists of color, mentally and physically?
Sydney: For an athlete of color, having the appropriate clothing that matches your skin directly ties to your confidence as a performer. Confidence is everything as an athlete. We all know what it means to have that little extra “umph” when you’re out there on that stage. We want to be that little extra “umph” for those performers so that they can perform to the best of their ability.
What would you tell young girls who may not see themselves reflected in the current dance and figure skating scenes?
Jasmine: I certainly empathize with young performers who might be discouraged by not seeing people who look like them reflected in the sports that we love. But, I also want to point out there have been so many people before us; from Pearl Primus, Mabel Fairbanks, Josephine Baker, Rory Flack, Debi Thomas, and so many others who really put their names on these sports. Even though they did not get the attention, accolades, and exposure that they deserved, they were amazing performers in their craft. I also want to point out that you’re not alone. There is a whole community of performers of color who are here to support each other and really are pushing to diversify these sports that we love. From ice skating and dance to other niche performance sports, people perform in color!
What are some other ways the dance and skate communities can diversify and embrace athletes and performers of ALL skin tones?
Imani: Both the ice skating and dance communities need to take action to make sure that performers of all backgrounds feel included.
- Making sure that judges, judges panels, and technical panels reflect the type of dancers that are performing. It is important that diversity is embraced in all parts of the sport, not only at the performance level.
- Organizations need to start having that conversation. How do you become more diverse, not only in your performers, but also in your managing and coaching staff?
- Making sure you’re taking steps to make your performers of color feel included. Let them feel empowered to wear apparel that matches their skin tone, and embrace them.
- Making sure your hairstyles complement all different textures, and that make-up selections complement all skin tones.
What is the future of Aurora Tights?
Sydney: Aurora Tights has such a long journey ahead of her, and we have so many dreams as a founding team. The first one is to be able to have a product line that serves athletes in the gymnastic and cheer sports. We also want to work in all performance sports to make sure that they are accessible to all people, that we are retaining diverse talent, and that we are working with the governing bodies to educate them on how to make inclusive environments for all athletes. Last but not least, and really the most important thing, is that we want to build a community of performers of all shades and sizes so that they know that Aurora Tights is a home that they can always turn to for support.