Last week we shared the latest episode of AT&T Dream in Black’s Rising Future Maker pep rally featuring Malachi McMahon.
This week we get to know Malachi on a deeper level. The 21-year-old HBCU junior, who has his own design line — Imaginary Volume, says he had an inkling of his future career aspirations from a fairly young age.
“When I used to go school shopping in the mall when I was younger, I would be gone a long time,” McMahon recalls. “I would say it started then, picking out the clothes I wanted with the little money I had. I’ve always been interested in clothes. I’ve always had an artistic side. I didn’t really tap into it until my senior year of high school.”
McMahon remembers the period before he enrolled at his HBCU as a tumultuous time in his life. After years of playing high school football, he found himself without any college scholarship offers. To make matters even worse, issues with his father and stepmother reached a point where he was forced to move out.
“It was extremely difficult having to deal with feeling unwanted, feeling unaccomplished, seeing my teammates get scholarships, feeling like I don’t really have much support,” Malachi remembers.
He initially moved in with his uncle and enrolled at a junior college as he began to find his footing. Eventually, Malachi chose to apply to an HBCU out of state, putting his childhood dreams of playing football at USC to rest, and opting instead to pursue a path toward entrepreneurship and design.
“I wanted to attend an HBCU because I’ve always been a leader, an inspiration to the people immediately around me,” Malachi explained to Global Grind. “I felt like going to an HBCU would help me understand the way I feel about who I am. It would also help me become more confident in becoming a strong Black man.”
Since enrolling at his HBCU McMahon has been pushing harder than ever to make his design dreams come true. He sees his school’s atmosphere as an example of the positive results that come from Black people unifying and supporting one another.
“HBCUs are a safe haven for young Black students,” Malachi told Global Grind. He spoke about how it really hit home for him that he was in the right place when he experienced his first homecoming. “Homecoming is great because you see all the Black families coming together in a positive way, it’s not a funeral or anything like that, that’s really inspirational because it shows we can come together under one common cause. It’s refreshing.”
Similar to other Rising Future Makers, Malachi says the AT&T Rising Future Maker recognition arrived when he needed it most.
“I was leaving class, I had just spent my last money on something for my brand,” McMahon recalled. “I got a little sewing machine too. I have a job on campus, but the Texas minimum wage is low. I was coming in from class, stressed, and got a call from one of my advisors.”
The call turned out to be good news — Malachi had won a coveted spot among the 2022 AT&T Dream In Black Rising Black Future Makers.
“I was in disbelief cuz I felt like I’d been doing my part, trying to be my best self,” McMahon told Global Grind. “I don’t need recognition from anyone — but it does feel like sometimes the hard work you put in is to not much avail, so to have something like this come out of the blue is really life-changing.”
McMahon says he is looking forward to using his brand to leave a positive mark, not only on his campus and the students there, but also on other HBCUs. He points to the example of one of his biggest inspirations, designer Virgil Abloh, as someone who exemplifies how representation truly matters.
“Virgil was a big inspiration of mine,” Malachi said. “He showed me that you can create value out of whatever you have, whether it be small or large, expensive or inexpensive.”
One thing that’s certain is that McMahon’s dreams are big and his future is even bigger.
To learn more about how AT&T Dream In Black is recognizing and celebrating HBCU Students through Rising Future Makers, visit attdreaminblack.com/rfm.
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