In Trenton, there is a whole separate world of beauty and fashion that manifests itself within the community.
The practice of fashion and beauty allows individuals to freely express themselves, empower citizens, and devise a sense of unity. With the guidance of Jacque Howard, the creator of the radio program, Trenton 365, I was able to sit down with five entrepreneurs from Trenton, who all shared how they’ve contributed to this beautiful and chic industry.
Donna and Andrew Paris run a beauty supply shop in Trenton. The birth of “Paris Hair and Beauty” was initiated after the married couple learned that many beauty products contained ingredients that were toxic to those of African American descent. Instead of just complaining, they both decided to “put our money where our mouth is,” and created a movement entitled “Operation Take Our Hair Back.”
This movement signified their objective to economically empower black entrepreneurs and expose their products by providing them in their store.
Both Andrew and Donna have succeeded in creating a business where they strive to heal their customers and steer them away from toxic products, but they also genuinely care about their community, which is apparent in their speech and in their passion.
While beauty flourishes in Trenton, the art of fashion does as well, as many creatives showcase their talents through their work. Two entrepreneurs, Shahedah Williams and Qaysean Williams, both from Trenton, are currently working within the fashion industry.
Twenty-six-year-old Shahedah Williams is a designer and a business owner who proves to be extremely versatile with her range of projects. Her swimwear design line, Shahedah Textiles, exhibits her sheer excellence through Caribbean-style prints and her ability to make each swimsuit look unique.
She also is the founder of the non-profit organization, Prom Scholar Inc., which gives high school students the opportunity to have a customized prom experience, including outfits, makeup, and hair.
Qaysean Williams is the secretary for Prom Scholar, as he is a contributing designer, but is also the creative director and founder of Manikin MOB LLC, a luxury streetwear design line. He calls himself the “One Hand Sewing Man” because he successfully fashions apparel with one hand, due to a separate injury at birth, which caused cerebral palsy to his left arm.
When discussing his craft, Qaysean asserted that “originality is the key for me and my branding, and the fact that I sew with one hand automatically sets me apart.”
Designers like Qaysean and Ray Vincente have contributed to The Giayana Monae Genesis Foundation’s “Gem Dynasty Fashion Weekend,” which is an annual fashion show that celebrates individual children and diverse types of beauty.
The Giayana Monae Genesis Foundation, Inc. was formed to help children between the ages of 3 and 17 that encounter partial or total hair loss. The foundation was founded by Crystal Feliciano, a caring mother who was inspired by her daughter’s experiences with alopecia and wanted to take the opportunity to bless kids who also encounter hair loss.
Each year, they dedicate the show to one child, and present them with gifts and money, which Crystal describes to be like “Christmas in September.”
The foundation also invites other designers from Trenton to bring visibility to the talent within the city and to help revitalize the beauty of Trenton. “Theres so many negative things that can be said, but there are a lot of positive things that can go overlooked and fashion is a piece of that, I believe.”
Moving forward, members of the foundation have partnered with Trenton citizens, Donyale Thompson, Will Foskey, and Steve Cooke, to create Trenton Fashion Week®, which will take place in September 2019.