Black-owned clothier opens at Mall of America with eye on ‘investing in the youth’

A Black-owned business has opened its first storefront at Mall of America with a mission to help kids and teens in north Minneapolis.

Honor Roll Athletics is a clothing brand that makes academic excellence a fashion statement.

“That’s why we came up with the slogan, ‘Great at the game, better at the books,'” said Charles Caine, Honor Roll Athletics owner and founder. “When you look good, you do good and you feel better.”

Caine designed the look for student-athletes and their families down to every stitch. Behind every sweatshirt or backpack, there’s a lesson.

“It also shows young people that if you believe in something and you manifest it, you know that it can happen,” Caine said.

Two years ago, Caine launched the business with his north Minneapolis organization, Brothers EMpowered.

He teamed up with boys he mentored and sold clothing out of Northtown Mall in Blaine.

Then an opportunity to share a space with other minority-owned businesses opened up at Mall of America.

In 10 months, he transitioned from a shared space to his own space at MOA.

“I wanted to show a lot of other Black men, both young and old, the path to success and overcoming barriers and challenges,” Caine said.

For some kids who live in north Minneapolis, the store can be an escape from reality.

“It feels bad. Growing up, you see violence, and you kind of get pulled into that,” store employee Elijah Wilson said. “That’s what you think is OK, but it’s really not.”

Wilson found a way to write a different story.

“You have to surround yourself with the right people,” he said.

Wilson said Caine was the right person.

The 18-year-old works in the store to learn how to run a business and pour into the community at the same time.

“I believe that when we invest in the youth, it’s our biggest investment,” Caine said.

Ten percent of the store’s proceeds go back to the youth on the Northside.

Caine calls it a full circle moment because he believes what you put out, you get back.

“I wouldn’t be where I’m at today if somebody didn’t give to me,” Caine said.

The store is located on the third floor of MOA near the food court.