We had the good fortune of connecting with Denise Silas and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Denise, how do you define success?
Success for me is a journey not a destination. It is setting realistic goals, achieving those milestones, and celebrating their significance along the way.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Well, after graduating high school in 1996, I attended the Art Institute of Philadelphia to study fashion design. My mom was a seamstress and my dad dabbled in art and design as well. These were not their professions, just hobbies they were great at doing when my brother Brian and I were young. It wasn’t until my 12th grade year of high school that I took a true interest in sewing during a clothing construction class. Thereafter, I was fascinated with becoming a designer and making clothes. While at the Art Institute, I was fortunate enough to have an aunt who was also a seamstress and owner of her own clothing boutique to send me textiles for all my sewing projects. Unfortunately, I was not as prepared for the real world at sixteen once I got to Philly and had to end my program just after a semester. I did, however, have the awesome experience of completing a couple of exams for my Art History course at The Metropolitan Museum of Art as well as the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
By the winter of 1997 I was back home working a few retail and clerical jobs. I later grew tired of sitting behind a desk and took interest in childcare. I come from a family of educators and creatives. I love children and was youth leader at my local church as I developed into adulthood. I had a desire to run my own childcare program like my grandmother Paulina and obtained the qualifying continuing education hours at my local community college to learn the field. I had so much fun, I worked with a few great Early Childcare Education programs within a time span of 20 years within the Washington metropolitan area. During my tenure, I have accumulated hundreds of continuing education units, local and national accreditation, as well as leadership and teamwork acknowledgments in addition to years of work experience. While teaching, I continued to have a passion for completing my fashion design program and searched tirelessly for schools that could accommodate me studying while working as a full-time educator.
In 2013, I was fortunate enough to find an online Fashion Merchandising and Management program at Southern New Hampshire University that allowed me to transfer credits from the Art Institute. During my first year of studies at SNHU, I was nominated to join not one, but three honor societies and volunteered on the board as Vice President of Community Service for the online chapter of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. In 2018, I graduated with Highest Honors receiving my Associate in Science for Fashion Merchandising.
Prior to the pandemic, I began a part-time paint party consulting business on the weekends that shortly after trickled into me creating abstract art. Back in high school, I had an art teacher by the name of Mrs. Trohanis that I worked as Teacher Assistant for after being a student in her class the year prior. There was this one time she taught us a marbling craft that stuck with me all of these years. I later found a similar activity that I introduced to my preschoolers and youth ministry students. While learning the paint consulting business, I discovered paint pouring and that is how my acrylic art interest bloomed because it reminded me of the marbling craft from high school. Since then, I have been able to participate in local creative events and showcased my visual art at the Fillmore Silver Spring with the RAW Artists organization. I have consulted at an annual team building event with Fannie Mae and also have one of my recent paintings in the lobby at Creative Suitland here in Maryland.
It has not been an easy journey, but it has been a rewarding experience. 2020 was a challenge for us all! I lost my teaching job during the summer and decided to use that downtime to study and work on my personal brand. I was able to launch my Faith Works t-shirt line and sew masks during the quarantine. I even had the opportunity to be interviewed by creative Christian Belton of CB Creates who was the first to have my visual art presented to the public at her reCreate event 2019. I could not have gotten this far without my faith in God and the support of my village. There have been many highs and lows. I have learned that every lesson is a part of the journey and those lessons have shaped me into the creative that I am today. I celebrate my wins past and present as often as I can. Today, my focus is on finishing this last term of my FMM program strong! August 22nd marks the completion of my Fashion Merchandising and Management program at SNHU and the Commencement Ceremony is scheduled for November 7th. I am excited about getting back into painting, sewing some phenomenal fashions, and emerging into a great career!
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.
Oh my gosh! I honestly have not been out much because of school and work. I promised myself that I would do everything I missed out on after I completed my program. But, if I were to take my best friend around town during their visit, I would want to try a few restaurants in the DMV. I love good food and drink! I would take them to the National Harbor and the Wharf in DC. They have great restaurants and shopping at both locations. Another great place to eat is La Canela in Rockville, MD. It’s a family-owned Peruvian restaurant. Great food! Their seafood ceviche and pisco sour are divine. Currently, there is a Black Hair Experience exhibit here in Maryland that we could check out and I would also take them with me for a bit of community service work that may be happening while they are here in town. My friends know that I serve the homeless a few times within the year, so they would not mind. A drive to Ocean City or Virginia Beach would be in order and a fun way to end the visit. I love adventure and would be down for whatever. So, no agenda needed. Let’s just get in the car and drive!
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?
I give total credit of my success to God! I know that sounds so cliché, but without my faith in God I would not be where I am today. The team of people that gets the recognition for rearing me up as a God-fearing woman are my parents, Larell and Darlene Silas, My grandmothers Paulina Chisley and Ethel Silas as well as my Phenomenal Archbishop, Dr. John-Paul James. I also must give credit to a former colleague who worked as one of my directors, Mrs. Phyllis Osborn. She saw and spoke to the leader within me before I saw it in myself. And lastly, the best Teambuilding and Communication facilitator, Mr. Michael T. Brown. These are the people who have had the most impact on who I am today. I constantly let them know how grateful I am for their support.
Hawa Maya Yasin F. Muhammad Erick Silas