Although opening a novelty shop was loosely a retirement dream, creating and expanding philosofher was the life-saving creative pivot I did not know I needed. What began as a quick answer to use my natural talents to generate profit after being laid off, philosofher quickly became an opportunity for consumers to shop original apparel, stationery, and accessories designed for and by creatives, women, and girls. With quoted and penned phrases that speak directly to the heart, spirit, and culture – literal conversation pieces that often invoke the sharing of personal experiences – philosofher products are simply like no other. I quickly learned that telling your story – even through statements pieces – permitted others to tell theirs. My creative niche fulfilled a simple need for people to build community, even while shopping.
Within the last five years, philosofher has grown by maintaining a viable profit margin, expanding our reach in various states, and most importantly, creating opportunities for creative Black and Brown young adults on the south side of Chicago. While working with philosofher, our interns and fellows receive hands-on experience, mentorship, creative coaching, and exposure to resources and professionals in their field of choice. What started as a necessary life pivot to make ends meet, has led to a profitable social enterprise, the recycling of community dollars, and the support and engagement of young adults on the south side – Woodlawn, South Shore, Englewood, Bridgeport, Morgan Park, and Altgeld Gardens, thus far.
More than your average retail venture, I am making a difference – and a profit – by harnessing my creativity and nourishing and supporting the creativity and development of our youth.