Danielle's Scotch Bonnets are hot

Danielle's Scotch Bonnets are hot

Observer senior writer

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

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When budding American designer Danielle Hawthorne launched her line of Dani bonnets two years ago her Jamaican parents suggested a name that reflected the family's Caribbean heritage.

Scotch Bonnet, inspired by the popular pepper variety, is the tag of her creations, which are hot items with students at historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) in the United States.

She released a new line of Dani bonnets on June 19, celebrated by black Americans as Juneteenth to mark that day in 1865 when slaves in the slave-holding state of Texas were freed.

They were launched during the height of protests surrounding the death of George Floyd as well as the novel coronavirus scare.

“I am extremely surprised by the response towards the bonnets, especially in such a short period of time. There has definitely been an increase in the demand. Since the pandemic and release of the HBCU-inspired line, sales have gone up tremendously,” 16-year-old Hawthorne told the Jamaica Observer.

Students from Spelman College, Howard, Delaware State, North Carolina A&T, Clark Atlanta, Florida A&M, Morgan State and Hampton universities have not only bought Scotch Bonnets but also participated in a video promoting the product, whose line bears their school colours.

Many Jamaicans and West Indians have attended or taught at these institutions for decades. Hawthorne, who attends Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx, is aware of their contribution.

“These colleges give African American students a sense of belonging, a sense of purpose with different opportunities. In the midst of the segregation and racism, HBCUs offer higher learning to African Americans, keep us grounded and together as one community,” she said.

Born in New York, Danielle Hawthorne's father is from Ocho Rios and her mother from Gordon Town. She is largely self-taught, though her mother introduced her to sewing.

She reckons the family business has produced over 5,000 bonnets since officially debuting in September 2018.

Her next batch of headwear will be a salute to her roots.

“I am currently exploring and brainstorming the ideas for my Jamaican-inspired bonnets. Hopefully, over the next year, I will be able to release a Jamaican-inspired line.”

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