Since 2003, Louisville Men’s Basketball star and NBA guard Junior Bridgeman has hosted The Trifecta™ Gala, among other exclusive charity events during Derby Week, attracting celebrities, professional athletes, and movers and shakers of the business world. In that spirit, a new generation of the Bridgeman family has created WeDerby™: “Birthed from history, crowned from the start, WeDerby™ celebrates Our Story in the ‘greatest two minutes in sports.’ As we honor the past, we will write the future together.” Junior Bridgeman’s daughter, Eden Bridgeman Sklenar, whom you may recall as resplendent in her yellow gown on the cover of our June 2020 issue, took some time with us to explain how WeDerby™ and the Kentucky Derby belong to everyone.
Eden currently resides in Columbus, Ohio, as Chief Marketing Officer of Manna Inc., an affiliate of restaurant concepts such as Wendy’s, Blaze Pizza, Fazoli’s, Golden Corral, Mark’s Feed Store, and Napa River Grill. She was born in Los Angeles, California and attended Louisville Male High School and the University of Louisville. She obtained her MBA in Entrepreneurship at Loyola University Chicago’s Quinlan School of Business. Along with her brothers, Eden has picked up the mantle of their father’s tremendous business legacy. They are taking his inspiration further by creating brands and events that speak to younger people.
WeDerby™ was born out of the Black and African American historical influences on the Kentucky Derby and its many celebrations. Their stories include and go far beyond the jockeys of 1875 through the early 1900s. “There are wonderful stories throughout generational family experiences that cross color lines,” says Eden, “I was surprised how little I understood about their influence in Louisville and all over the world.” WeDerby™ aims to bring the personal experience of the Derby to a point of unity for a cultural celebration that extends through the year. It begins with history appreciated, then reimagined and reinterpreted for a new generation: “We dress. We bet. We drink. We party. We dance. We Derby.”
Fashion, media, and art collide in a celebration of all things Derby with the WeDerby™ store and merchandise, “All-inclusive fashion celebrating the time-honored tradition of the Kentucky Derby in a modern era of human expression and social justice.” Eden hopes young people find their voice through their expressions of the Kentucky Derby experience, “We want people to see Derby as an action word, a cultural driver to create necessary conversations and expand understanding.” The merchandise offers an individual their own “crowning moment” like roses on a pink hoodie, a casual way to wear jockey silks, or The Shoe Surgeon’s Kentucky Derby Air Jordan 1.
As for the future of WeDerby™, Eden hopes “to continue to bring people together in a positive way.” There are plans to launch a podcast to maintain cultural conversations year-round. They will expand the fashion line into hats in partnership with Loreta Corsetti Millinery of Chicago. Look forward to more storytelling in conjunction with the Kentucky Derby Museum. Taking pages from history, “We will continue to curate from a fashion standpoint to pay homage in a modern way.” Eden continues, “No matter who you are or where you live, you can create your own story through this historic race. Others want to hear your story and celebrate in a unifying way.“ She points out that the delay of the Derby this year means a shorter countdown to May of next year. Eden encourages everyone to reach out through the website and social media to tell their stories.
For history, photos, and to see and shop what’s new, visit wederbystore.com, facebook.com/wederbystore, or @we_derby on Instagram.