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This SHEeo Created A Wearable Art Brand That Helps ATL-Based Artists Level Up Their Income

Meet Dionna Collins of ComfiArt, a collaborative brand that will get your home decor game all the way together.

Meet The SHEeo

With the rise of more and more black women breaking away from traditional 9-5s to become their own bosses, the CEO is getting a revamp as the SHEeo. CEOs are forging their own paths, blazing their own trails, and turning their passion into a profit. Curious to know how she does it? In the Meet The SHEeo series, we talk to melanated mavens leveling up and glowing up, all while redefining what it means to be a boss.

Dionna Collins originally launched ComfiArt in 2016 as a way to combine her graphic design and digital marketing skills into unique home goods pieces for herself. But a year later, a job layoff led the entrepreneur to rebrand ComfiArt to cater to consumers who want affordable art and home decor and expanded her product offerings to include apparel and accessories. Partnering with local artists and brands in the Atlanta community, ComfiArt services e-commerce, events, and business-to-business clients wishing to take their space up a notch without sacrificing quality or style.

In this week's feature, meet Dionna Collins of ComfiArt.

Courtesy of Dionna Collins

The Stats

Title: Founder/CEO of ComfiArt

Location: Atlanta

Year Founded: 2016

# of Employee(s): 2

30-Second Pitch: "ComfiArt was founded in 2016 as an affordable way to buy unique art that you can wear and also decorate your space. We create exclusive pieces while collaborating with artists and brands around the community."

The Details

What inspired you to start your brand?

I've always loved graphic design. I have 14 years in the graphic design and digital marketing world, but I didn't want to deal with freelance market. I started ComfiArt for myself. Originally, it was only pillows and home goods. Creating ComfiArt has allowed me to be able to create for the consumer while feeding my soul with the love and passion of creativity without the pressure.

What was your "A-ha!" moment that brought your idea into reality?

My "A-ha!" moment was in 2017 when I got laid off from my job. While trying to generate an income, that pushed me to rebrand ComfiArt. I expanded the products I was selling online to include more apparel and accessories, which led to the three tiers that make up ComfiArt: e-commerce, events, and business-to-business.

Courtesy of Dionna Collins

Who is your ideal customer? 

Being that my main focus is on art, we at ComfiArt like to collaborate with artists in their area, Atlanta, Georgia. With that, we ensure that people are able to afford beautiful artwork in the small pieces we offer online. Our goal is to make sure that if you aren't able to afford a $5,000 and upward original piece, you can afford original artwork with ComfiArt. Our ideal customers are art enthusiasts, people that love unique items, creatives, home decorators and people who like to stand out from the crowd.

What makes your business different? 

ComfiArt is an affordable way to bring unique art that you can wear and also decorate your space. We create exclusive pieces while collaborating with artists and brands around the Atlanta area. The collaborations we have with Atlanta artists help them find other alternatives in creating financial wealth for themselves. Some ways that we help are by curating events, connecting them with brands, and sharing profit opportunities with ComfiArt through our website e-commerce.

What obstacles did you have to overcome while launching and growing your brand? 

Like everyone, I'm still going through obstacles. Finances are one struggle as a small business. It can be hard finding funding to help grow and expand the business. Self-doubt, confidence, and depending on others to make my dreams come true are some of the obstacles I've overcome so far and I depend more on myself now. This entrepreneurial life is more personal. It has forced me to depend on myself, not doubt my own ideas and how to follow through. Now when I hear a "no" or a door closes, I don't get as upset anymore. I just realize that it's not the time or that God is telling me that I'm not quite ready and that opportunity will come back when the time is right.

What was the defining moment in your entrepreneurial journey? 

For me, I don't think I have one yet. In this past year, I have reached some major milestones in regards to helping artists sell their artwork and expanding my brand identity, as well as collaborating with other major brands such as WeWork and Whole Foods while still being such a young company. As a brand, what sets me apart is being able to bring artists to platforms and environments that they're not typically used to being in. In the upcoming years, I'd like to expand more on that. The NBA, Hawks, Nike, Amazon, and Coca-Cola are a few of the brands that I'd like to collaborate with.

Where do you see your company in 5-10 years?

To be a global brand. In the next 5-10 years, I want to be the company that brands call to find artists while being the brand that artists come to find contracts for work. Our main purpose at ComfiArt is to help artists find alternatives to building financial wealth while merging the gap between brands and artists and assisting with government contracts. My goal is to also expand the e-commerce aspect of ComfiArt and collaborate with more artists while being the brand that hosts major art events throughout the country and simultaneously expands the experiential realm for artists.

Where have you seen the biggest return on investment?

Social media has been our biggest ROI. We get a lot of traffic via Instagram and influencer marketing through our events with other artists. This has helped to grow my email marketing list and expand the brand to other artists.

Do you have a mentor? 

No mentors, hoping to find one soon to assist with questions that I have on building and expanding the company and learning more about investments and finances.

Biggest lesson you’ve learned in business? 

Not everyone will believe in your dreams at first, you just have to trust and believe in yourself and take risks. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication, blood, sweat, and tears. It won't happen overnight, you just have to be consistent.

For more ComfiArt, follow them on social media @ComfiArt.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

This article is in partnership with Staples.

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