What does it take to be a basketball star and a fashion line CEO? Ask Destanni Henderson

Destanni Henderson won a national title, then went home and saw the orders coming in.

Hours after she scored 26 points to help South Carolina knock off Connecticut, she was processing orders for her fashion line. Now, as a second-round draft pick of the Indiana Fever, she’s hoping her business gets even bigger.

The inspiration for her business — Clothing by HP (“Hennything is Possible,” playing off her nickname Henny) — came during a period of reflection during the pandemic. Henderson began planning for life after basketball, and she decided to get a head start.

Second-round pick Destanni Henderson passes the ball up court during Indiana Fever training camp on Sunday.

Second-round pick Destanni Henderson passes the ball up court during Indiana Fever training camp on Sunday.

More: NCAA title game star, clothing designer picked by Indiana Fever in 2nd round

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“I had to invest in myself. I had to take my own earnings and invest into something, hoping that it turns out great, hoping that I get my money back plus some,” she said. “I had to take the risk because it was something I truly wanted to do. I will never regret it because it’s been really helpful to me.”

Henderson initially reached out to some others who had started their own lines, but she was disappointed in the lack of support she received. So she made her own path.

After brainstorming what her products would be like, she started small through a process of trial and error. First, she only designed sweatpants. Then she expanded into other areas.

Mar 20, 2022; Columbia, South Carolina, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks guard Destanni Henderson (3) celebrates after defeating the Miami Hurricanes at Colonial Life Arena to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.

Mar 20, 2022; Columbia, South Carolina, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks guard Destanni Henderson (3) celebrates after defeating the Miami Hurricanes at Colonial Life Arena to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.

“I can’t just put something out that I will wear, because everybody doesn’t like the same stuff,” she said.

Henderson’s “passion for fashion” has been a lifelong endeavor, and was a natural route to take when she was considering a business venture. When she started her business, the NCAA had yet to adopt its name, image and likeness policy, allowing athletes to make money from endorsements.

But she began putting wheels in motion behind the scenes. Her first piece was a pair of sweatpants honoring Kobe Bryant. She currently has 34 products available on her website, including t-shirts, sweatpants and hoodies.

More: Ameshya Williams-Holliday quit basketball and disappeared. Now she’s chasing WNBA dreams.

On draft night, two items on her site were sold out. As of Monday afternoon, 29 are sold out.

She made waves with her self-designed outfit at the WNBA Draft, sporting a powder blue suit and a matching New York Yankees hat. She’s seen her social media following skyrocket. Her clothing brand line has 19,000 followers on Instagram. She has 185,000 followers on her personal Instagram account, where she models her own products and promotes new items.

Henderson says social media has been vital to her brand’s success. She’s also gotten the endorsement of several celebrities, including DaniLeigh (4.3 million Instagram followers) and DaBaby (20.7 million Instagram followers).

Prior to NIL changes going into effect, Opendorse estimated the value of the basketball players in the Elite Eight of the 2021 NCAA Tournament. Henderson was estimated to have a value of $81,000. She’s hoping that the jump to the WNBA will pay off.

“I feel like it’s gonna be great,” she said. “Coming into a league with so many great players and people showcasing their style on and off the court, I feel like I’m gonna be able to do that.”

Many expected Henderson to be a first-round pick after her performance in the national championship game, but she fell to the Fever at No. 20.

“At the end of the day, whatever happens happens,” she said. “I was hearing certain things. I kind of thought I was going (in the) first-round. It didn’t end like that. But it’s OK. I still got the opportunity, and I’m still gonna work for it.”

There figures to be an opportunity for Henderson to earn significant minutes at point guard. She averaged five assists per game during her junior season and 3.9 as a senior.

“We had a group we were hoping to be able to choose from, and Destanni was right there,” Fever coach Marianne Stanley said on the night of the draft. “To know we have a guard that helped South Carolina win the national championship, that’s huge.”

She’s determined to put work in on the court. And when she’s off the court, she’ll be putting in work, too.

“I’m the CEO. I’m the boss,” she said. “I don’t have to be bossed around by somebody else. I pick and choose what I do, but it is a great amount of time and effort that I put into my business. Otherwise, I don’t feel like I will progress.”

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Indiana Fever Destanni Henderson: basketball star, fashion trailblazer

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