Browne means business on and off the court

Photos Courtesy of Kiandra Browne | Basketball player Kiandra Browne has recently launched a small business called UpLifT. Her brand focuses on selling affordable, modest and breathable active wear.

Isabella Abbott | Features Editor 

At 6 a.m., Kiandra Browne wakes up and then prays at 6:20 a.m. She does some homework then works on content and collaborations for her small business between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. Later in the morning, she goes to class, has lunch, does more small business work then prays again at 12 p.m.

She attends another class, prays again at 4:15 p.m., and then has basketball practice for a couple of hours between 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. At the end of her day, she prays again at 7:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., eats dinner and catches up with friends and family.

Playing Division-I basketball, running a small business and studying sounds difficult, but for Browne; it has become routine.

Browne became Muslim her freshman year of college and started wearing hijabs by her sophomore year. However, she noticed it was hard to be modest in an athletic setting, especially while sweating on and off the court.

“I didn’t have what I needed, and it was really frustrating to get men’s stuff … to resemble some kind of modesty,” Browne said.

Browne and other Division-I female athletes at Duquesne receive practice and game uniforms through the athletics department, but sometimes they don’t fit right or are just too tight.

“As a Division-I athlete, you have so many resources available to you, which is such a great thing, and when I got to Duquesne, everyone was really amazing trying to help me find stuff that was modest enough,” Browne said.

“But it was difficult, and I was like, ‘If I’m having this problem with resources available to me, someone else who is just trying to get into fitness probably can’t find anything.”

She would order XXX-L shirts in men’s sizing to not make her clothes feel skin-tight like most women’s athletic clothing brands. Her frustration led to the creation of her brand, UpLifT.

“It got to a point where I realized I should start a modest activewear line because I can’t be the only one frustrated with this,” Browne said.

Her teammate, Amaya Hamilton, said Browne is “very versatile.”

“She is very smart, she’s good at school, she’s a very nice person,” Hamilton said. “It’s really cool to see the fact that she can kind of juggle both having her own business at the same time as being an athlete and a student. We’re really lucky to be able to support her and watch her chase after her dreams.”

After researching other modest activewear companies, Browne realized prices were high, especially when considering her primary audience was college-aged individuals. So she took her mother’s advice of ‘if you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself’ and created her own business combining modesty with affordability.

UpLifT was launched at the beginning of September and sells modest, breathable activewear for people who may be uncomfortable working out in skin-tight athletic uniforms, or may be tired of wearing men’s oversized clothes like Browne was.

“I wanted to kind of redefine what is empowering and what is comfortable for women to work out in,” Browne said. “Especially for my baby sister, I don’t want her to grow up in a world where she thinks the only way that people will think she’s confident is if she’s revealing her body.”

Before she started wearing a hijab, Browne focused on how her body looked while playing her sport, sometimes more than playing the sport itself. After creating UpLifT, she sees herself focusing only on playing basketball, calling this change of mindset a new type of “freedom.”

Browne said it’s also easier to move and breathe in her clothing rather than wearing a big, heavy-material sweatshirt. UpLifT sells a lightweight, oversized, long-sleeve top and joggers with extra room in the calves and sides for more mobility.

“I don’t want people to think they have to dress a certain way in order to be confident,” Browne said.

Browne, who was tired of seeing hoodies tied around waists and tired of layering clothes, said her brand’s long sleeve top could achieve the same things that layering with a hoodie can achieve: covering bottoms and achieving modesty.

Browne’s teammate and model for her brand, Raymi Couëta, said Browne has always been willing to give and help people no matter what. Seeing other brands prioritize some aspects over others, Couëta knows Browne is trying to incorporate all she can in her business.

“There are not a lot of brands that highlight modesty and beauty at the same time Kiandra wants to revolutionize the world in joining those two worlds together,” Couëta said.

Another teammate and model for her brand, Precious Johnson, said she thinks Browne’s brand is great because women have choices that cater to different styles and needs.

“It allows people to feel comfortable and confident while exercising, regardless of their personal beliefs or preferences,” Johnson said. “It provides options for those who prefer more coverage or modesty, promoting inclusivity and diversity in the fitness community.”

Johnson also acknowledges the work Browne puts in daily.

“She is driven by her goals and shows great dedication to her work both on and off the court,” Johnson said. “I think she brings that extra edge and energy we need.”

Browne is ready for her new business to continue growing.

“I’m still working on it every day, but it’s still new, and I’m still learning,” Browne said. “I’m excited for it.”

UpLifT is dropping more items soon, but in the meantime, customers can visit the brand’s Instagram @uplift.activewear.

Pictured here are Kiandra Browne’s teammates and friends wearing UpLifT’s clothing items. She sells items including a long sleeve shirt and joggers.