The Evolution Exhibition: How Mona Dinal Plans to Highlight Black Businesses

Mona Dinal is a junior, Business Major from Brooklyn, New York.  She is currently organizing Howard University’s next hottest fashion event.  The Evolution Exhibition: The Journey of Fashion and Beauty is set to take place Wednesday, February 28 at 6 pm in the Inclusive Innovation Incubator. The event will be a showcase of various Black-owned fashion and beauty businesses (and a great finale for Black History Month). Her Campus Howard got the opportunity to speak with Mona about the event and what attendees can expect, check it out:

Asha: What inspired the creation of this event? How are you involved?

Mona: I was thinking “how can I highlight the Howard community and upcoming entrepreneurs to give them an opportunity to showcase their work?” and show their accomplishments and achievements.  I’m getting involved in the beauty industry right now, so I am currently a brand ambassador for Shea Moisture.  I’ve done Curlfest and various hair shows. They were all amazing events so I’m just like “wow,” I want to do something on a smaller scale to highlight the upcoming so that they can eventually get to large events such as those.  It was really all my thoughts over winter break, and I really wanted to do something for myself and for others, and just really bring everyone around me up.

Asha: In the executive summary it states, “at this event you can speak to a variety of innovators, network, and become inspired by the information presented.”  What are some of the names of individuals or companies that will be in attendance?

Mona: My supervisor, Dawn Green, is a marketing expert that finds brand ambassadors for these brands.  She has a marketing excellence company, and she also owns her own lash company on Long Island, NY.  She is like a connection between the beauty supply stores and these companies, so she scouts out different beauty supply stores and kind of gets them what they need.  She is also one of the panelists.

I’ll just give you an overview of how it’s going to be set up…when you walk in, you’ll check in, etc. and then there’s going to be a main space.  So the whole point is also to really highlight the pioneers who’ve come before us.  So “that’s the journey of fashion and beauty by people of color,” the subtitle.  At some point when you walk in you’ll see different tri-fold boards of different pioneers in the fashion and beauty industry so you can get a little bit of background.  There’s going to be a main space, there are going to be big tables: two main tables for our major sponsors including Shea Moisture, where people can receive free hair care products, and they can get pamphlets for more information.  We will also have Spoke Hub there, which is an app that was just released and they will be giving away an apple watch to a lucky winner.  So, those are our two main sponsors that will be on the main floor with the DJ.

Asha: Who will be speaking during the panel sessions? What will they be discussing?

Mona: There’s going to be a fashion panel first, then a beauty panel at 7, and they’re each 45 minutes long.  The panel will be interactive.  The beauty panel consists of my supervisor Dawn Green, Ms. Wanda from Wanda’s On 7th, and a few students.  On the fashion panel there will be the founders of different fashion brands, and a few other people as well.  So it’s just gonna be like a variety of people speaking.

Asha: Will items in the merchandise area be available to purchase? What type of items will be included?

Mona: Yes. The whole point is to give the Howard student business owners and DMV area businesses an opportunity to sell to whoever comes.  It’s basically like a Black business expo, and it is open to Howard students and whoever would like to come. There will be people selling lashes, wigs, clothing, skin care products, everything.  The giveaways will include merchandise that’s being sold, such as t-shirts and products.  Everyone will receive a bag upon entry consisting of samples of products, as well as a 20% off discount from Beauty Island, who are also one of our sponsors.  So there will be those and other goodies just thanking people for coming. 

Asha: Is this event free for Howard students?

Mona: No, there is a $2 entry for Howard students with their student ID.  It is $5 if you’re not a Howard student.

Asha: What will the fashion show be presenting?

Mona: It will be showing the work of the different fashion designers that are there. The models will consist of Howard students.

Asha: What is the message you hope people will be able to receive from this event?

Mona: The main thing is that entrepreneurs and creators are so important and they kind of pave the way for us to really just succeed and thrive.  And I think that we should all live our passion out and just take that chance.  Take that leap of faith because there will always be a support system for you, there’s always an opportunity to show your work, there’s always an opportunity for someone to scout you out and find you.  It’s opportunities like this that I hope I can continue to present for these people.  My big thing is...use your resources.  Networking is so important and I feel like this event is one of those opportunities for people who are interested in fashion and beauty.  It’s not just for girls, it’s for everyone.  Whatever interest you have, just come out and see what it’s about.  Talk to these entrepreneurs and ask them how they started their business.   There’s a whole thought process that goes into it, like “who am I buying from?” “Where do I get it printed?” “How much does shipping really cost?”  Right now I’m wearing two of my vendors, Capsulated and Trophy Year.  It’s all about the support, that’s what I’m about.

Asha: Will the event feature items and information for both women and men?

Mona: Yes.  I have male and female models as well.

Asha: The summary stated that this will be the first event of this nature, do you hope to make this event traditional/yearly?

Mona: Yeah, this was kind of a test run.  There’s so many things I could’ve done differently.  I started this project on January 15th, so I’m kind of proud of myself.  But, I will be really proud when the event is completely over.  Next time I will use my resources differently.  I wouldn’t be as scared because right now I am so nervous.  I would try to find a better way to convey the message, because I feel like a lot of people think the event is cool but I want them to know what they are paying for.  All of this is a lot of planning and a lot of running around.  There’s just a lot of things I’ve learned that I would go about differently for next time.  Next time I would create a team, because right now it’s really just me and one of my friends.

Asha: Why do you believe it is important for people of color to attend?

Mona: It’s all in the title, the journey of fashion and beauty by people of color.  You see people who have set the tone for you, people who have been overlooked and don’t get as much recognition.  It’s an opportunity for me to learn as well and for me to share it with people.  I think people of color need another reason to be inspired.  And it’s the end of Black history month, it’s the last day so you might as well come out!  I have vendors coming from New York, Nashville, the DMV area, all over.  Our vendors are so awesome.  I’m just really excited for everyone to just gain another platform.  Even if you don’t make monetary transactions, it’s important to just have the experience.

So here you have it!  There is no excuse for why anyone should miss out on this event full of networking, entertainment, and fun.  Mona Dinal is a Howard student that has worked extremely hard to put this opportunity together for her school and her community.  The event is on the last day of Black history month, and what better way to spend it than supporting Black businesses?  Hope to see you all next Wednesday!