Creating Places of Abundance and Comfort


by Bethany Snyder

There wasn't a title to describe the work that Phylicia Robinson Dove '09 does, so she created one: fashion activist. Dove is the owner of Black Monarchy, an artisan and fashion boutique in Buffalo, N.Y. The store specializes in custom clothing and accessories from all over the world, including India, Brazil, the Dominican Republic and the Seneca Nation, but heavily concentrated from Africa.

Dove works closely with the refugee and immigrant population to create the vibrant merchandise. "I sit with my tailors and they teach me," she says. "They are so open to sharing their craft."

Dove's community work expands far beyond fashion. She also created Alabaster Box, an outreach event that has provided haircuts, manicures, socks, shoes and food to more than 600 homeless people, or "displaced guests," as she says, as well as free dental care through a partnership with the University of Buffalo School of Dental Medicine. "We're showing them that in a world that teaches us scarcity, there is a place where there is abundance," Dove says. Her goal is to expand Alabaster Box through mobile units that travel across the country providing showers, refrigerators and electricity.

Dove has received numerous grants and awards for her work, including the 2019 Remarkable West Sider Award from West Side Community Services in Buffalo.

As for the future of Black Monarchy, Dove hopes that it will become the leading local franchise and fashion boutique in the world. "It's more of a movement than just the boutique space," she says. "It's a place of comfort, of conversation."

Creating something out of nothing isn't new for Dove. As a William Smith student, she created her own major, social justice and advocacy. "The Colleges were the grooming grounds for my advocacy," she says. "It's where I learned to be inclusively excellent."

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