CEO, Studville Apparel
As CEO of her own clothing line, Malissa Boles, 38, wears the term Stud with pride—literally. She was working as a billing specialist for an attorney in 2005 when, inspired by the business and fashion savvy of Jay-Z and Russell Simmons, she launched Studville, her line of urban apparel.
“I created Studville specifically for the LGBT community,” she says, “filling a need for Proud folks to see themselves reflected in fashion.” With a grant from enthusiastic family members, Boles made Studville her full-time gig in 2006. She has her sights on becoming an internationally recognized brand. Hoodies, shirts, hats, cufflinks and a lock-and-key pendant make up her inventory, much of which was snapped up recently by Charlotte Black Pride attendees in July 2008. “When I’m up for days at a time at a Pride festival, my body gets tired, but mentally I’m super charged,” she says, “because I’m doing something I love.” —LF