A Conversation with Desireé Dent About #UnityThroughCommunityBy
As we continue discussing ways to commit to intentional, sustainable change of equality within our community, we are using our platform to amplify the voices of Black wedding pros and celebrate their success so they receive the recognition they deserve within our industry. Our conversations have allowed us to listen and learn so that we can help drive lasting change within the wedding industry.
One of our recent conversations was with Desireé Dent, president and lead planner of Dejanae Events, an award-winning wedding and event planning company based in Chicago, Illinois. Here are our 4 takeaways:
Takeaway: Feel the emotion
The last few months have been an emotional rollercoaster. “What has transpired over the last few months with COVID-19 and financial hardships that businesses have had and now, we have racial injustices just thrown in the midst of what we are already dealing with— emotions are raw,” says Desireé.
What that looks like: Before you can do anything else, it’s important to feel the emotion and process it so that you can use it to move forward. “Dealing with it and digesting it will help you understand better what your role is and what you can do better to facilitate change within this industry,” she says.
Takeaway: Use your voice
There are times where you know you want to say something, but aren’t sure where to start. Or maybe you’re worried about saying the wrong thing. “Right now, being silent is not the best, because the world is watching. Being silent is noticed,” she says.
What this looks like: You have to decide how you want to use your voice. If you aren’t sure what to say, share a Black pro’s work, support them in comments or even send them a DM. “We are all in this together. Right now, what’s going on is hard but amazing to a certain extent. What you do will allow others to see the support and solidarity you have with the Black community and ideally, bring us together and help us learn in various ways.”
Takeaway: Don’t lose hope
“It’s been rough. I just didn’t work last week— I didn’t do anything related to clients. It was about being a voice. The platform I’ve created, I never knew where it was going to take me. I have learned that this week, I have a voice for our community and am able to speak positive energy,” she says. Keeping that in mind has kept her grounded. “I’m angry, hurt, but I have a sight of hope that could come from everything that has come up.”
What this looks like: Find something in your life that gives you reason to keep pushing “For me that is my daughter. Her watching me as her mom also grounds me, and I still have to be her she-ro. I know she’s watching, and every move I make especially when it comes to speaking for the Black community within our industry, I want to make sure that she’s witnessing my intelligence, grace and truth when I have conversations,” she says.
Takeaway: Get to know Pros of Color in your community
Now is the time to get to know your community and industry pros of color. “As a Black woman, I’ve been dealing with this forever— I wake up like this every day. If this is now the chance for you to understand how a Black person in the events industry is feeling, now is the time to reach out and connect and start networking,” she says.
What this looks like: This work should start in your own backyard. “Start in your community— what are your community activists doing? What are the pros in your area doing?” she says. “There’s a plethora of information and people to follow. Use hashtags and find people on IG. There’s also magazines and blogs of color. You can see how beautiful the couples are and how vibrant the decor is.” If you are sincere in being a part of this movement and making it part of your everyday life, focus on where you are and broaden the picture from there.
Who are Black industry leaders we should follow and support?
Preston Bailey of @prestonrbailey
Jackie Nwobu of @munaluchibride
Akeshi Akinseye of @keshevents
Watch the full interview (part 1 and part 2) with Desireé Dent of Dejanae Events. Stay tuned for more conversations with Black wedding pro leaders as well as others who have historically been underrepresented in the wedding industry.
Photo Credit: Jesus Santos of BM Photography
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