#AmplifyMelanatedVoices: Danielle DeLaine, Chapeau Couture

#AmplifyMelanatedVoices: Meet Danielle DeLaine, Owner of @thechapeaucouture:

What do you want heard? 
Growing up in Cincinnati, unlike some, I saw so much potential here. For everything we didn’t have, I saw so much opportunity. When I would visit my dad during summers in California, it would seem like we were light years away from what they were doing in business. And I always said that I wanted to be apart of the business shift in Cincinnati because it was sure to come. And here we are. I learned early that some of the barriers with business success will fall under lack of support and resources for black entrepreneurs here. Nowadays, there have been some improvements but still not nearly as much access as our white counterparts, systematic exclusion. And this is because of a plethora of reasons such as poverty, unlawful imprisonment, systematic injustices, inequality and lack of empathy from a country that doesn’t see the full value in your life, just no name a few. Black people being the talented and creative individuals that we are want the same opportunities for success without having to beat down the extra walls and overcoming the extra hurdles just because we are black. That doesn’t mean that all people don’t work hard to get what they have, but black people more often than not have to work three times as harder to get it and keep it. From birth, we are marked with this beautiful melanated skin that we are so proud of and others fear. And it is out of this fear that every ugly racist thing was birthed against us. Why does one race fear another race’s success and uprising? We ought to all be ashamed of what we’ve felt comfortable with turning a blind to. To do something about it now, would mean listening to the voiceless, taking ownership individually and standing firmly against injustices of people of color. Our forefathers built this country on their backs and we have as much right to it as anyone else. For black people, business ownership has always been a way to escape a form of systematic injustice for black people and give a sense of proud ownership. Your own personal piece of the pie, which were told you couldn’t have.

And made it harder for you to get. We are here to share our God-given gifts and talents with the world, too. Furthermore, just because you own a black business does NOT mean that your product or service is just for black people. I can remember when I first started out in designing hats for my business Chapeau Couture, an older Jewish man that worked for one of my suppliers told me, don’t use black mannequins for display. At first I was offended and asked why not. He told me “Black people will buy no matter what if they see value in your product. But white people will buy only what they feel familiar with. For some, they will see your product as they see you. Even if you offer the best of something, just because it’s you selling it and you’re black, most won’t buy from you.” Well, I disagreed immediately because I had a vision that serviced all people. I was here to share my gifts and talents with the world. Shortly after I got started, I was soon disappointed to find some truth in what he warned me about. I have been intentionally ignored, mistreated and looked down upon even in my own establishments.

So blatantly showing disinterest when finding out I’m black-owned and not a sales associate all of a sudden and walking out immediately. Some even going as far to say “you’re the owner?” in a tone of disbelief. Why can’t I be the owner? No, this isn’t everyone and we have been fortunate to come across customers from all backgrounds support us for years. But it’s there, it’s ugly and needs to be called out. So much so, one year I felt the urge to do an experiment, I hired a white older lady as a full time sales person. My numbers more than tripled during peak season. Selling the same merchandise in the same place as years before. I have been standing there and an associate say I’m the owner. And the customer respond back to her only in full conversation while we are conversing in a circle. Asking the associate to ask me xyz. I was standing right there. She refused to acknowledge that I was standing right there the entire time. Even making a purchase and thanking the associate for her time. My associate turned to me after the interaction and apologized. I told her it wasn’t her fault some people are just ignorant. I could go on and on. But I wont. It’s not just for black people to call out injustice but everyone who is witness to it. Stop saying racism doesn’t exist and look how far we’ve come. Because we are still on this journey today.

What do you want known?
My name is Danielle Delaine, a native to Cincinnati. I love everything creative arts and mindfulness. I set out with an intention of gratitude everyday for where I am and where Im going. Every morning, facing the day ahead and tasks before me with an attitude of “I get to _____ today!” Instead of Ugh I have to_____ today.” I’ve learned that perspective is everything and will take me far under God’s direction. I am a proud mother of one son and I’m an entrepreneur who sees her ventures as additional children. I am the designer and owner of Chapeau Couture Hats, Herban Vegans (a pop-up eatery that specializes in vegan seafood, one of only a couple in the U.S.) and a few other budding ventures that I’m giving birth to in the near future. I’m also an aspiring author of “Living Under the Hypnosis of the Spirit” and “The 60 Day Radical Reset,” on which I am working diligently to complete before the end of the year.

What do you want supported?
I would love for black businesses to feel the love and support during this time and going forward that they deserve. It’s not support just because it’s black owned, but rather think of it as a bonus that your shopping with black owned establishments because of all the additional hurdles it took to overcome to get up and running. Give black business a chance to showcase their talents. You can also shop my businesses, Chapeau Couture, at our seasonal showcases for over 10 years at Kenwood Towne Centre and online 24/7 at chapeaucouture.com. You may also be familiar with some of our current and past collaborations with Cache’, Lilly Pullitzer, Saint Ursula Academy, Cincinnati Parks Hats Off, Woman’s Alliance, all area news stations and too many others to name in our 15 years in business. My newest business Herban Vegans is actively searching for a new home due to the pandemic and all referrals are welcome. We will back soon due to the popular demand of our delicious pan-cultural vegan seafood dishes and so much more! We are excited for the vision of where we are going with this concept. In the meantime you can reach us and view our current menu at herbanvegans.com. Both businesses can also be reached on all social media platforms.
As a publication, we realize the importance and responsibility of having a voice and we want to lend that to those in the community who need it now more than ever. We started by reaching out to our friends with black-owned business to offer this platform for sharing what’s on their hearts and learn what steps we can take for a better tomorrow. Those will be posted throughout the day and rest of this week as we receive more. Want to be featured? Message us with a photo and your responses to Q&A: 1) What do you want heard? 2) What do you want known? 3) What do you want supported? Much love from everyone here at Team Chic.

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