We had the good fortune of connecting with Danette Hollowell and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Danette, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I had just been fired from a job and shortly found out I was pregnant. Over the years & as an artist with older children I had bounced around service industry jobs and played music to keep my family afloat. I knew that moving forward I wanted real financial stability that wasn’t dependent on another person ( a manager or boss) measuring my work. I knew that the struggles I already had with traditional 9-5 would only be magnified by a new baby that I deeply desired to be present for and the current health crisis we were facing globally shortly after deciding to start a business class drove me to focus on generating multiple streams of income. I started with a problem I faced regularly and that was playing music late into the night and being hungry afterward. I had grown weary of the diner life an refused to do any more fast food if I could avoid. I had worked in restaurants to supplement my music income so that’s where I started. I asked myself “what can you cook fresh, healthy and QUICK for a late night artist industry crowd?” I soon came up with waffles after testing it on a few late night crowds with success. Shortly after I came up with idea & had had a few test runs I enrolled in the business boot camp at RMMFI, the program would end up being a HUGE turning point for my business.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I grew up in art school for the majority of my early education. I grew up truly believing that I would entertain for the rest of my life. Originally I was a dancer but after a couple babies that dream soon veered in a more musical direction. Performance art is my passion and I am grateful to have many ways I can express myself through my passion be it theatre, dance or vocal Jazz. I started out as a social work major and ended up auditioning for a jazz combo class as an extra curricular at the encouragement of a Jazz musician friend who heard me singing along to some jazz one day. I got two years of classical training in big band, swing n dixie and blues, structure, history of and performance style. From then on I was hooked, I remained in school for the occasional class but began playing professionally around Denver and continue to for the last 17years.
Music alone has held me strong through some dark days. It was initially very hard to be a young mother of two and a die hard musician. one requires early mornings loads of responsibility and lots of self sacrifice, while the other required late nights, discipline and networking.
No one in my circle could relate to my unique challenges which sometimes led me to hide my hardships from others so as not to appear less capable. The turning point for me was diving into the history of jazz and the characters that made up that era of music. I began to see myself in the stories and my own experiences in that icons and greats and decided that I belonged here, hardships and all. There is real beauty in challenges and to me all that I was experiencing was TRUE art. I’ve carried that confidence into my music career and my new small business.
My brand or story would be: Don’t let anyone make you feel like you don’t belong, if you are there to contribute then do so with your whole heart even if no one claps or supports, never give up on what you love and never stop learning,growing and being open to the possibilities, we truly create our own reality NOT the haters
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
My 2 favorite “go to” for food: #1 “Welton Street Cafe'”, for soul food and west Indian inspired cuisine, it has been a local fave in my family for almost 2decades. Pandemic forced them to close their dinning room but you can always call ahead and pick up.
#2″City o City”, they have a delicious menu of vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options and I’m OBSESSED with their vegan chick’n and waffles and their biscuits & gravy.
Whittier Cafe” is my absolute FAVE coffee shop both for the delicious Ethiopian coffee offered but also for their commitment to sustainability and social justice
Being outdoors in Denver is unmatched with the mountains and hot springs, its always worth a short drive to a local hot spring for some natural healing or to “Look out mountain” for the incredible views but I’m a city girl so I love down town for entertainment, , when the weather is nice I enjoy just walking the 16th st or people watching in Union station, or packing a light lunch to picnic at River front park. even better if there are any activities going on.
Dazzle is the best place for an intimate live music show, they bring in some of the BEST out of town and local acts so I’m always checking their calendar week days and weekends alike. In addition to being a music venue they also have made a quite a reputation for themselves as supporting musicians from paying fair wages to starting a food bank for industry workers and musicians struggling thru pandemic.
On Wednesdays I volunteer at Metrocaring with the “Food Rescue program” we take produce that is on its last leg and turn it into something with a little more shelf life, such as: soft tomatoes into salsa or brown bananas in to banana bread. Metrocaring is always looking for volunteers to help with a number of tasks and weekdays you can come get a box of food and other support services as needed.
I’m a huge fan of the new radio station “The Drop” 104.7fm and have been following Dj Dif’rent & Dj Bella Scratch for many years, so I’m super proud, they deserve all of their success.
My favorite daytime dance party is on Sundays and it’s called “Goodness” or “GDNSS” Headed by DJ Low key who also regularly brings in some amazing guest artists, its on Sundays currently in the Rino (aka 5Points aka East side) neighborhood but the location of the party can rotate last min so you have to follow them to be in the know.
The Black Girl museum is the 1st of its kind and a REVOLUTIONARY celebration of The Divine Black Feminine, its worth the ticket price and a must see for any visitor in Denver.
Last but not least Brother Jeffs cultural center has Black Dollar Saturdays, a market where business of Color can set up for free and the community at large can buy/support local Black business
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 want to dedicate my shot out to
#1 *Rocky Mountain Micro Finance Institute “RMMFI”: I attended a small business boot camp through “RMMFI” and they have provided me with the tools, network and support needed to get a successful business off the ground.
#2 *Metrocaring: I run a volunteer program in there, I sit on the board and I use there kitchen as my business commercial kitchen, they promote my business and regularly encourage me to contribute new ideas and implement them within the organization
#3 *Brother Jeff of “Brother Jeff’s Cultural Center”: Brother Jeff is a mentor and friend. He has supported me in many successes and failures with business and music, he refuses to let me give up and always provides a safe, affordable space through the cultural center for me to try new ideas and events.
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