We Dress. We Bet. We Drink. We Party. We Dance … We Derby!
Eden Bridgeman and her family created WeDerby “to bring new flavor to this long-standing tradition, while connecting incredible people to unforgettable experiences.” Submitted photo
Eden Bridgeman wants people to know Derby is for everyone. Eden, along with her two brothers Justin and Ryan, are the masterminds behind the Trifecta Gala, their annual Derby party that celebrates Black excellence and raises money for charitable organizations such as the Rajon Rondo Foundation.
But this year, they have taken their efforts a step further with the creation of WeDerby.™ The platform, created in 2019, focuses on educating the community about the contributions Black Americans have made to the Kentucky Derby, and it brings the discussion of inclusivity to the forefront. “We wanted to make sure people felt that they could be represented in all aspects of what it means to Derby. We wanted to create something that could happen 365 days a year versus the Trifecta Gala, which you will only see during Derby week,” Eden says.
When the Derby was postponed because of the pandemic, Eden and her team offered the people in Louisville and Southern Indiana the opportunity to show how they were celebrating Derby on lockdown.
For a $50 donation, participants could set up a photo session with a photographer, provided by WeDerby™, who would photograph them in their full Derby attire. The photos were posted on the Trifecta Gala website and the WeDerby™ social media pages. The purpose, Eden says, was to showcase the beauty of Louisville but also embrace the diversity of our city. “You had people who gathered with their family, people who had their own solo photo shoot, some people did wardrobe changes, and others were photographed with their pets. It showcased what WeDerby™ is, which is a movement and platform for all to be able to feel like they can be a part of the Derby no matter who they are. It was a way to keep Derby alive and was inclusive of every area code,” she says.
WeDerby hoodies available for purchase.
WeDerby™ has designed a line of apparel, which includes two different styles of hoodies, and they will be creating masks and hats to be released in time for Derby season. Eden says the inspiration for both hoodie designs came from the historical connection between Black Americans and the Derby. “There were a large number of African American jockeys who participated in the first Kentucky Derby, so we came out with our version of what a jockey silk would look like but in more of a hoodie form. The other hoodie is in pink to signify femininity and the running of the roses.”
Emphasizing the importance of inclusion is a crucial goal of WeDerby™, but Eden also wants to encourage people of color to become involved in the Derby outside of being a spectator. “We want to elevate opportunities for the new generation to be involved in the sport across all aspects — not just the idea that you have to be a jockey, but you can be an owner, or you can work for Churchill Downs. You can be a part of the Derby in so many ways.”