Black Monarchy: A store with a story
Ruling its corner of Five Points
Black Monarchy owner Phylicia Dove
Photo by Luke Copping
527 West Utica Street, Buffalo
It’s been a whirlwind year and a half for owner Phylicia Dove at Black Monarchy, the eyecatching storefront at West Side’s famous Five Points intersection. The vivid store features fashion and jewelry from India, Senegal, Thailand, Brazil, and Kenya, with colors that pop through the window. These chic, eclectic novelty pieces have a “world beat” feel that can be suitable for the office or any outing.
Dove envisioned this boutique for four years, finally settling on a final location in August, 2017. A month later, she won $25,000 worth of grants through 43North’s competition for start-up businesses, The Pitch. In July 2018, another $25,000 came her way through Ignite Buffalo competitive grants. She also found herself advertised on bus stops and billboards all over town as part of Facebook’s campaign for their Community Boost small business seminar series when it came through Buffalo that same month.
Dove got her master’s degree and planned a career in public policy and social advocacy, but her heart has always been in fashion. With this store, Dove has found a way to marry the two skill sets. She takes otherwise marginalized expressions of culture and makes them mainstream and accessible. “A lot of us are more comfortable speaking about cultural differences around things that we like, and fashion is an easy way to start those conversations,” she says.
The word is getting out about Black Monarchy. “I’m so intrigued by the owner’s background,” remarks Sharon Gleeson (from Boston, New York) as she and a friend pay for their selection. “I just think this store is awesome.”
Dove takes pride in that her customers “buy into not just what you’re selling, but the story you’re giving. I think that’s the beautiful part of it.”