AT&T is no stranger to supporting Black talent and creatives with their renowned Dream in Black platform. Since 2018, AT&T has honored “Black Future Makers” and “Rising Future Makers” who are making waves in their respective fields, while supporting their greater possibility with integrations throughout the year. As a long-time ESSENCE Festival partner, AT&T Dream in Black brings exciting activations and experiences to New Orleans all weekend long. This year, they’re elevating their continued commitment to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) on the ground by including exclusive merchandise created by Corey Arvinger, CEO of the Support Black Colleges brand. Not only is Corey a successful black entrepreneur and HBCU alum, but he used to work at AT&T! He has now dedicated his career to supporting HBCUs and with this AT&T Dream In Black collaboration, he is able to do it on a larger scale at ESSENCE Festival. We caught up with Corey and asked him a few questions about his career, this collaboration and if he had any words of encouragement for young creatives.
ESSENCE: Where were you born and raised?
Corey Arvinger: Greensboro, North Carolina
ESSENCE: Why did you choose to attend an HBCU?
CA: I was tired of being in the minority. I wanted to be a part of the majority for once. An HBCU gives you a perfect opportunity to do that at the highest level!
ESSENCE: What is one thing you learned at your HBCU that you don’t believe you could’ve learned anywhere else?
CA: At my HBCU I learned so many things it’s hard to try to limit it to one. The main thing I would say that stood out was learning how to persevere. There are so many things in life that will come at you FAST. My HBCU taught me to not only overcome adversity but how to strive in spite of it!
ESSENCE: You are multi-dimensional and have worked with Award-Winning production companies and at AT&T, how did you carve out this unique lane for yourself?
CA: I have always done what felt right. Because I have many skills and talents, I like to work at places that allow me to utilize as many of my skills as possible. Both AT&T and working in entertainment did that!
ESSENCE: Can you tell us more about what your day-to-day is like as CEO of the Support Black Colleges line?
CA: Everyday looks different, which is my favorite part. It’s less about structure and more about accomplishing tasks. I generally hit the gym in the morning, go home and freshen up, eat breakfast, head to work from a co-working space or coffee shop and lock in. Once I have completed my list, I head home to spend time with my family and my dog, and I relax.
ESSENCE: How did the AT&T merch collab come about? What was your creative process?
CA: The Collab came about while talking to Jasmine Allen from AT&T, who leads the HBCU work under Dream in Black. With me being a former employee and having a brand that aligns with what AT&T stands for it just made sense. For this design I really wanted to take it back to old school with a look and feel that would honor the history of Hip Hop but also keep it fashionable.
ESSENCE: What was it like working with AT&T Dream in Black? How do the two missions align?
CA: It’s amazing working with AT&T Dream in Black. The missions align because we are both just looking for ways to help people of color have a voice and to chase their dreams no matter how big it may be.
ESSENCE: Any advice for the next multi-hyphenate creative out there?
CA: Find a way to merge your talents that will have the biggest impact on the masses. Focus on impact over income. If you have the people, the money will flow. Also, I will say LOVE what you do. Don’t do things just to do it. Do things because you love it.
We’re always inspired by the amazingly talented people and causes that AT&T Dream in Black supports. Their commitment to support and empower HBCUs is furthered by their efforts to collaborate with creatives like Corey and providing opportunities for HBCU students to connect to greater possibility at events like Essence Festival through the Rising Future Makers initiative. We can’t wait to head to NoLa this weekend and see what else AT&T Dream in Black has in store!