The man holding the small child took a look at the sneakers, holding it up in the light and then ordering up a black pair in his size. Gabriel, a father and husband, wanted to make it clear why he was in the mall buying sneakers on this particular day. “I’m always going to support my people,” he said as left the store with a pair in hand and his daughter in his arms.

TRONUS, a Black female-owned sneaker brand, made its Atlanta debut Saturday morning at Champs Sports in Lenox Square. The crowd in the store waited patiently for the arrival of owner and professional football player Santia Deck to arrive. Deck, who is recovering from ACL surgery, entered the store with a black knee brace and a gold and white TRONUS sweatsuit and matching TRONUS sneakers on.

Professional football player and TRONUS owner Santia Deck (above) shows off the product during her sneaker drop at Champs Sports in Lenox Square Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. Photo by Donnell Suggs/The Atlanta Voice

Deck was surrounded by her parents; mother and the company’s COO Cynthia Robles and stepfather Ariel Robles. The latter dressed in a neon green TRONUS hoodie and matching sneakers. Looking around the store and watching Deck being mobbed for video appearances and selfies, he said, “This is awesome. It’s been an amazing ride since the beginning of the company in July 2020.”

TRONUS may have debuted almost three years ago, but the past year has been a big one for the company, the first sneaker brand owned by a Black female athlete. An official partnership with Champs Sports began last year when the footwear giant began selling TRONUS footwear in its Pembroke Pines store.

The location of the retailer near Miami (Pembroke Pines is a little over 20 miles away) was a plus, but selling the sneakers in one of Atlanta’s premier shopping destination could possible alter the business plan in a big way. “This is an incredible opportunity for us, a minority-owned company, to be in a major footwear retailer in our hometown,” Cynthia Robles said. “We hope we are inspiring Black families to step out on faith and work together.”

Deck, finally getting a chance to sit down and rest her knee, took questions from the media in between signing a pair of shoes for a customer. Asked what makes TRONUS different from the many brands of sneakers on the market, other than being a Black female-owned brand, she said it was about the comfort level. “What makes our shoes different is because it feels like you’re walking on clouds,” she said with a smile.

The sneaker, the black and the white pairs are being sold at Champs, both have gold trimming and elevated soles. “You can dress them up,” she added. The footwear is also being sold up to size 18 to better accommodate for larger sizes of athletes.

Being a Black female sneaker brand owner has Deck in a rare position of leadership. About having grabbed the mantle, at least for the moment, she said, “For me it’s about the next generation of young Black women coming up that might not know that this is possible,” she said. “I want to keep showing these young kids that anything is possible.”

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Donnell began his career covering sports and news in Atlanta nearly two decades ago. Since then he has written for Atlanta Business Chronicle, The Southern Cross...