Three of the four local businesses that will get storefronts in Uniquely Philly — a new space in Fashion District Philadelphia dedicated to supporting small businesses — are owned by Black women.

“We are really just over the moon about this because this is such a major opportunity,” said the Rev. Georgiette Morgan-Thomas, owner of American Hats, one of the shops that got a spot in Uniquely Philly.

Dolly’s Boutique and Duafe x The Sable Collective, both Black-owned businesses, and South Fellini will have the opportunity to build their brands at what formerly was known as the Gallery mall.

The $400 million Fashion District project is slated to open on Sept. 19 on East Market Street. It is being developed by PREIT and Macerich.

The Uniquely Philly program is designed to “foster opportunities for local retailers to raise their profile and connect with our city’s shoppers,” said Joseph Coradino, CEO of PREIT, in a news release. “As their businesses grow, we hope to help expand their brick-and-mortar presence and welcome the next set of local entrepreneurs to Fashion District, to thrive alongside major, top-drawing national brands.”

Fashion District collaborated with The Enterprise Center, a local organization that seeks to better position high-potential, minority and female entrepreneurs in the economy. The Enterprise Center recruited and evaluated prospective tenants and presented recommendations to Fashion District for final selection.

Fashion District has set aside 4,647 square feet on its concourse level for Uniquely Philly. Each business will get its own storefront in that space for 12 months.

To foster a collaborative environment, Fashion District and The Enterprise Center will offer a range of mentoring services including the development of business plans, design assistance and marketing support to drive business growth for the participating businesses.

Here’s a look at the Uniquely Philly tenants:

American Hats, LLC:

Based in Philadelphia’s Frankford section, the family-owned business makes women’s and men’s hats, church hats, dress and evening wear hats, fascinators, classy and casual headwear, vintage headwear and specialty hats for weddings and the Kentucky Derby.

“We know that we have a fabulous product,” Morgan-Thomas said, acknowledging that her hat factory is not located in a heavily trafficked area.

“The problem is that people don’t get to see our product and so now people traveling on PATCO and SEPTA will see our product. It will give us the opportunity to also showcase the art of hat making so that people can recognize and realize that these hats are a work of art and they are made right here in the USA.”

Dolly’s Boutique: Shani Newton has been operating Dolly’s Boutique on Germantown Avenue for more than nine years. From daywear to formal attire, Dolly’s Boutique caters to working women. At Dolly’s Boutique, women reentering society from homelessness or incarceration can obtain clothing free of charge to help them transition back into the workplace.

Duafe x The Sable Collective: Entrepreneurs Syreeta Scott and Shanti Mayers created a space for women of color to explore their narratives of joy, beauty and wellness with Duafe x The Sable Collective. The boutique features homemade hair products as well as a collection of locally sourced, female-owned brands in clothing, jewelry, housewares and body care.

South Fellini: Operating on Passayunk Avenue for two years, South Fellini features quirky Philly-themed gear that appeals to both Philadelphians and tourists. Philadelphia natives Tony Trovarello and Johnny Zito first collaborated by designing parody Phillies T-shirts for local retailers in celebration of the 2008 World Series victory and opened their first brick-and-mortar store in 2016. (215) 893-5747

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See also the same writer's story from last year:

"When her friend Harriet Rosebud, a hat designer for the ailing S&S Hat Company, told her the business faced being shuttered, she sprang into action. The retired social worker and pastor invested more than $100,000 to buy the Philadelphia-based business and renamed the factory American Hats, LLC."


"Black" women, not women of color, please ...


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