We had the good fortune of connecting with Deja Allison and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Deja, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
SHINE Cloth was initially created out of need, we ran out of disposable diapers and after using a disposable diaper sample in between diaper shopping my son Jaylen developed a rash. I then considered other forms of diapering and started to use cloth diapers. Once I dived into the online cloth diapering community I discovered there weren’t enough black owned diapering companies in the industry. At the time that I started in 2011, there was only one other business ran by a black person and it closed later that year. I thought, this shouldn’t be and started sewing diapers for babies other than my son Jaylen. My inspiration was renewed when the Trayvon Martin murder ruling came back and George Zimmerman was acquitted. I saw then I needed to continue to sew diapers but to redirect and center my focus on activism while doing so. I am a mother of a 10 year old black son, Jaylen is my continued inspiration in activism and the drive behind SHINE Cloth.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
My business is geared towards parents and families where social justice and human rights are a huge part of their lives. I make cloth diapers and children products for the WOKE WOKE and Super Lit ! The industry that I am in lacks diversity to be plain and that is where I disrupt what a brand looks like. I don’t share one or two black faces and claim that I am inclusive, I center my business around blackness, black culture, activism, and pop culture. I start conversations about black excellence and move past the obscure notion of being a good human and stepping into human rights and nothing less. I have learned perseverance, hard work, accountability, and to ask for help in my ten years in business. It takes a renewed dedication to self development, awareness, and hard work in order to run a business and the rewards are worth it. For me when I speak of the rewards it’s the reflection of blackness in the cloth diapering industry. There are now 15+ black owned cloth diapering or diaper centered businesses currently up and running. That is a huge leap from 10 years ago when there was only me, it is a welcomed change and shift ! I want the world to know that being a way maker and building a business that you’re passionate about is ok. You don’t have to build a cookie cutter business that fits the fold of what everyone else thinks is acceptable. Be unapologetic about your passions and don’t be afraid to be a disruptor. It is when I stood up and shared that #BlackLivesMatter and centered blackness and social justice in my brand that my business truly thrived. My business became my legacy, my life’s work, and a reflection me as a person and that shift has brought me the success I have had thus far.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m a foodie so let’s talk food lol Oh My Burger in Gardena, Ca Louis’s Burgers – Long Beach The Attic – Long Beach, Ca Steven’s Burger – Los Angeles Fries Guy – Gardena, Ca Happy Ice – Compton’s Truck is FIRE Beachwood Bar and Grill – Long Beach, Ca Tacos Super Gallito – Los Angeles, Ca Wings 2 Go – Los Angeles. Ca Chubby Rice – Hawthorne, Ca Susie Cakes – Costa Mesa, Ca The Crab Shack – Gardena Hiccups – Carson Venice Beach Hollywood Walk of Fame Serra High Gardena – my alma mater Del Amo Mall and slide by the Galleria for Nostalgia Rowley Park Gardena Mother’s Beach – Long Beach CSULB – Long Beach
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Shoutout to the Sunshines! Sunshines are the people that make up my online business community and have truly shown up for me the past 10 years. Without my family, friends, customers, supporters, fellow activists, and online community I wouldn’t be able to do this work. Sunshines have bought groceries for my family, shared my work, purchased diapers, and inspired me to continue being a social disruptor. I also want to give a special shoutout to my sonSHINE Jaylen. Since his birth I have been pushed to new spaces and faced things that have made me a better person. He is absolutely the source of my inspiration and his light shines brightly even in the hardest of spaces . So son, thank you, I love you, and know that I will forever support you and have your back.
The photo of myself is from JB Photography The photos of the families and babies are from Jade Beall Photography