Most aspiring fashion entrepreneurs don’t study Chemistry in college, but Deidre Roberson isn’t your average mogul. By day, Roberson is a full-time Environmental Scientist and by night she’s the Creative Director and Founder/CEO of Eumelanin; a clothing and jewelry brand empowering Black and brown people around the world.
Art and Science Belong Together
Having spent much of her schooling studying science, with a Masters in Chemistry from the University of Detroit Mercy, Roberson has been passionately outspoken about the connection between art and science. As a co-founder of Motor City S.T.E.A.M, an initiative that looks at how art and science function better together than apart, Roberson has consistently challenged the status quo.
The Detroit native Launched Eumelanin in March of last year and sold of pre-orders within six hours of going live. The brand name, which refers to the most abundant type of human melanin found in brown and Black skin tones and hair, looks to create a global collective conscious, but also has another message.
“Eumelanin addresses issues of colorism that I have experienced,” Roberson explains. “I grew up in Southwest Detroit, which is one of the most diverse populations in the city comprised of African Americans, Latin Americans, and Arab Americans. I witnessed first hand how our skin tones and shades were used to separate and invalidate us,” she details. “Eumelanin is a brand designed to challenge behavior that does not honor any of us.”
A lover of dance, design, sculpture, and theatre, Roberson looked to her own personal experience of the world to bring attention to the coexistence of seemingly opposing aspects of life. Art doesn’t appear to be a natural companion of science, yet with Eumelanin, both are just as important as the other.
The Science of Eumelanin
The brand logo, a structural depiction of the Eumelanin polymer is featured across the label’s range of clothing and jewelry. From rich hues of dark brown and burnt orange, hoodies, hats, and t-shirts are emboldened with the logo, a symbol of pride for the pigments that swathe the skin of Black and brown people globally. Necklaces, which also feature the structure of the pigment feature gentle gold latticework that is delicate and beautifully woven around the neck. Each piece is well-thought out and Roberson’s passion is ever present in each and every product.
Charged with the energy from her unrepresented ideas, Roberson recounts being called, “too bold and too dark,” but nonetheless, “completely falling in love” with her vision for the future— but more importantly, herself. “As a Black girl I want to inspire Black girls to love themselves completely; from who they are on the inside [to] what they look like on the outside.”
The Hustle Is Real
While Eumelanin is Roberson’s passion project, by no means does it take a back seat. Crediting late nights, early mornings, and sleepless days to the success of her burgeoning brand, hard work is a consistent theme in the life of this Detroit Scientist. Putting her money where her mouth is, Roberson has funded the brand with her own savings and has struggled with a work-life balance. “I learned the hard way,” Roberson admitted. “It taught me how necessary it is to find a balance between pursuing your dreams and not putting yourself in bad financial situations because of your dream.”
While she confesses, she’s “still learning” it’s impossible to deny Roberson her accolades. Having won a 5K grant and obtained her first micro business loan in the tail end of 2018, this year promises even bigger accomplishments. Approaching the one year mark of the launch of Eumelanin, she is already set to launch the label across three Macy’s stores, in the US in March — a sizeable feat for any new fashion designer.
Equipped with education, tenacity and a work ethic that’s impossible to falter, Deidre Roberson says she’s “just getting started!” The strong and aspirational Detroit-native has some sound advice for anyone looking to be an entrepreneur: “Be you, be creative and bring something new to the table. No matter what people tell you, there is space here for you.”