Saturday, June 22, 2024

College Basketball Stars Flau’jae Johnson & Deja Kelly Plot Business Takeover w/NIL Blueprint

Flau’jae Johnson & Deja Kelly / Photo:
Deja Kelly & Flau’jae Johnson  / Photo:

*Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) is making waves on and off the women’s basketball court. A notion that Flau’jae Johnson and Deja Kelly are using sweetly as the new owners of Bazooka Candy Brands.

For the pair, owning a business only scratches the surface of being a real boss. It’s getting a grip beyond the title to learn what makes their business tick after recently acquiring equity stakes in Bazooka. The company, known for Bazooka bubble gum, Ring Pops, and Push Pops, represents Johnson’s first equity investment and her and Kelly’s efforts to drive the NIL bus towards generational wealth. According to Kelly, the key lies in expanding beyond billboards to add value to the boardroom.

“It’s a really beautiful thing how we’re able to profit right off our name, image, and likeness, but being an entrepreneur takes it another step further,” Johnson, a 20-year-old rising LSU junior, told “It’s not just making money and profit but actually making the money make money for you, you know what I’m saying? And I believe that should be the next step in NIL after the money, after the deals; setting yourself up for the next years of your life. I always tell people, that you only really get four years, and NIL is a really small window. So to be able to make investments and be smart with your money, now you don’t have to wait until after NIL.”

Kelly, a 22-year-old UNC student, is already familiar with NIL and its benefits, having her hands in venture capital, and private equity. As a result, her focus comes on the next level of her growth as an entrepreneur.

“I already have some equity in a few companies, so we’re ahead of the game now,” the Oregon-bound pupil told Boardroom, “so just continuing to build off of that will put me on the right track to just continue to be a big part of the business world.”

Deja Kelly / Photo: Grant Halverson/Getty Images
Deja Kelly / Photo: Grant Halverson/Getty Images

While their drive is a force in and of itself, Kelly and Johnson’s longstanding success does not come without a solid team. In this case, the duo surrounds themselves with the right advisors and a financially savvy support system to assist in balancing schoolwork, basketball, and their flourishing business pursuits. Those forming Johnson and Kelly’s team include their respective moms and the team at Patricof Co.

Armed with a portfolio including land and real estate, Boardroom acknowledged Johnson’s love of being hands-on with the companies and products she puts her name behind as well as a penchant for investing at her own pace. In Kelly’s realm, she likes how her team helps research investments as they help her learn throughout the process instead of just taking care of everything for her. The purpose overall is to help the collegiate standout collect knowledge to make more informed decisions in the future.

Thinking of the next generation of trailblazers, Kelly and Johnson aim to better women’s sports and women’s basketball by leaving the sport better than when they started college.

“I remember being that young girl, looking up to the college players and W players, watching them thrive and wanting to be them one day,” Kelly said. “And now that I am, being able to see that perspective in a different lens definitely helps me serve in the way that in helping grow and give back to the younger generations is a big focus of mine.”

And while Johnson and Kelly are playing in college, the WNBA appears to be making effort to improve the league for when they join the W. As of next week, all 12 teams will have charter flights for every game. The Golden State Valkyries will enter the league in 2025, a team in Toronto is likely to arrive in 2026, and the league expects to expand to 16 teams by 2028. This will provide desperately needed roster spots for a huge talent pool seriously lacking in a place to call home.

Flau'jae Johnson / Photo: Getty Images
Flau’jae Johnson / Photo: Getty Images

“I’m really sick of watching the draft and some of my favorite players from college are going to the W and they’re getting cut. And you’re not able to watch that growth and development off the rip,” Johnson said about the WNBA’s efforts to expand their roster of teams.

According to Boardroom, the forecast for the league includes the arrival of the Golden State Valkyries in 2025, followed by a team in Toronto coming in 2026. All in all, expectations for the WNBA call for it to expand to 16 teams by 2028.

“It’s kind of lame because you see in the NBA, they actually give these players a chance to be developed. But I believe that before we know it, we’re going to see a lot more opportunities for women to get more time in the W. And that’s why these expansion teams are so important.”


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