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Bowie State senior wins Black History Month design contest for Target

Sharone Townsend says he wanted his design to symbolize unity, bringing together all different communities.

BOWIE, Md. — Sharone Townsend’s design career began as a child. He drew his inspiration from everything around him. As he got older, he focused on how the music industry and the fashion world intersected.

Townsend went on to study design at Bowie State University. He’s still a senior at the university, but his design work is already on a national platform. Townsend is one of the three winners of Target’s HCBU Design Challenge for Black History Month. His designs are now in Target stores across the nation as part of the brand’s Black History Month collection.

Townsend said he wanted his design to symbolize unity, bringing together all different communities. 

“In society, there’s just so many crazy things going on. We just have to come together as a whole. Black, white, just as a whole human race we got to come together,” said Townsend.

Since his design hit stores, he said the entire inventory has sold out.

“Target is the only large corporation I see doing something like this and people love it. It gives us as Black people a stepping stone to either get your name out there, get some type of recognition, some type of following if you don’t have any – it's like an introduction into the world of design,” said Townsend.

Townsend entered Target’s competition last year and was chosen as a runner-up. This year, he submitted two different designs that put him in one of the top spots.

Townsend first started his clothing label ‘Stranger Than Nature’ as a student at Bowie State. He hopes this new exposure with Target will give him the opportunity to work with his biggest influences, musicians André 3000 and Pharrell.

He credits his university with providing students access to faculty and professors that have in-depth knowledge and experience in the field they teach. He said it was one of his professors, Jennifer White Johnson who introduced him to this design challenge competition.

Townsend tells WUSA9 he plans to give back to the school that gave him his first opportunity, producing a design that staff and students can purchase right on campus.  

The winners also received $3,000 in prize money, an Apple MacBook Pro, design courses led by Target designers and Snapchat’s augmented-reality glasses. Townsend has set up a GoFundMe account to raise money for materials to help fund the production and labor of his next designs once he graduates in May.

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