Donisha and I knew each other for a little while before I finally convinced her to have a seat in my chair. She is a natural force to be reckoned with and you can’t help but notice how cool and strong she is in her presence. She normally wears bold brows and a flawless complexion but I wanted to add a little bit more color to the apples of her cheeks.
L: So let’s start with the basics. Where are you from?
D: Born and raised here in Chicago. My family is originally from Jamaica so I was this American born child being raised in this new-to-the-states family, you know what I mean? It was crazy, I had to tell my aunt recently, they didn’t understand as they were going through their transition the children being born and taught by these people had their own transition too. When I got to grade school and was like, What a minute? Chicken salad? What’s that? So sometimes people forget about the first generation children because it’s just a transition for them as it was for their parents that come from another place.
L: Do you have a clear memory of growing up of a cultural difference you encountered?
D: So many. So I brought a cold champagne…
L: A what?
D: Exactly. It’s soda! But it’s bottled differently and I was in school, about third grade, and the this adult was like “Wait, what is this?”
L: But you called it champage?
D: But it says it. It’s kind of like what you would call cream soda. All those kinds of differences came up as a kid. But you know, I got older of course so I had to find a happy medium between these cultural differences. But at the same time, these values, well, let’s take my Nana for instance. My Nana came over to the states, left her whole family, left her children, came over with nothing. She lived with a jewish family in Hyde Park that she worked for as a nanny for years. Until she obtained her education to become radiologist. That was how she started supporting her family back home. I’m just saying that work ethic, that drive, is like embedded in us.
L: Is that explicitly spoken?
D: Oh, we don’t speak it. It’s kind of raised in you. You never say you can’t. It’s like a curse word.
L: Well, what I know about you know is so positive. Like positive affirmations and stuff, do you think that’s because of your childhood?
L: So you graduate from high school, what do you do next?
D: Even through high school I was very art focused. In grade school I had one of my portraits in the Art Institute. I love structure and buildings and that whole idea. But then it’s like pursue what my family expects of me and goto UofI to get a bachelors of science to go to medical school or to study art at Columbia and be an artist. I did one year of UofI and reluctantly I just decided to do it and transferred to Colombia. I was sitting in orientation and I am having a panic attack thinking I just need to go to UIC and go into occupational therapy or something. Those were my thoughts.
L: Isn’t is crazy when you’re that age how we’re still so concerned with what everyone else things when we are trying to make our own plans?
D: Abolustely. It’s human nature.
L: I mean, w’e’re still kids.
D: But if given the opportunity to really embrace who we know ourselves to be and develop that. That’s how I feel now, that’s how I feel about real estate. But It was outside of what I was taught but that career feels more natural to me.
L: But you’re definitely still so Chicago. You left for a little bit but you came back. Chicago is definitely your place?
D: I’m very big city.
L: What’s your favorite thing about Chicago?
D: All the different facets of Chicago. It’s so humongous! You go to one place and it feels so different. Different vibes, different energies.
L: I love that about Chicago too. I’m still slowly experiencing them.
L: So we talked about how in college your family expectations weighed on you but what would you say is your motivation now? Is it the idea of success in general or something that you feel that drives you?
d: What my family instilled in me is what drove me but I had to realize that same foundation could still move me in my dreams. I believe the success that I expect will come from what has already been instilled in me.
L: So almost like you want your inside passions and outside actions to match.
D: Oooh, I like that.
L: So it’s really not about money or security, it’s about authencity.
D: I think money will come when I’m doing what I love. Not that it will be effortless but I love it ultimately.
L: That’s the most Chicago sounding thing I’ve eve heard.
D: Is that Chicago?
L: Hustling to make your dreams a reality? I think so, yes!
D: You’re right. It’s a Chicago thing or a big city.
D: Right exactly, but you know, when I think about Chicago, we just have this thing, this realness. We are realists.
L: Yes! Exactly. It’s not that we don’t have dreams but we’ll keep it real with how we’re going to get it.
D: Yeah. Absolutely.
L: So what bridged the gap between all these schools and real estate?
D: Because I feel like it ties it all in. I get to use the expertise I have of my city, my love of structures.
L: So it’s still really about Chicago.
D: Look, Chicago and people.
L: You’re two favorite things.
D: My two favorite things. And because I love both I can merge them together. And I truly care. I can sit down with somebody and get a feel of their personality and because I know my city I’m like I know exactly where they would love to live.
L: It’s interesting, so like, I’ve known you for a little bit but as we’re having this conversation there are some core themes and it’s authencity, your love of Chicago and your love of people. It’s like your guiding forced.
D: That’s it.
L: I’ve never put those things together before but it’s really interesting. So what about your family.
D: But that’s how I move with those things.
L: What role does family play in your life today?
D: So my family is dispersed all over the place. I have an aunt that has a Jamaican restaurant in the city for over 25 years. I was in there the other day and mind you, she’s much older, but she’s got that Jamaican grind and I was like “Aunt, you need to go sit down somewhere” but she can’t, she can’t.
L: So you feel supported by your family?
D: I do, I do.
L: That’s important.
D: It is. It gave me a comfort to be who I am in my own skin.
L: What’s your favorite thing about makeup? What does it mean to do in your day to day?
D: I like makeup because it’s just an extension of my creative being. It’s not about changing, you know? It just polishes and puts everything together. It just creates an energy or a mood. I like creating mood.
L: If you could only use one makeup item for the rest of your life..
D: Oh gosh.
L: I know I hate these questions. I get stressed just thinking about it. Okay okay you can choose two.
D: You might be surprised but my highlights and my foundations. I love creating beautiful natural palettes.
L: So complexion. See, I thought you were going to say brows!
D: Oh shoot, Can I choose three?