Always on the forefront of shaping what’s next, UNC Charlotte’s students, alumni, faculty and staff are driving innovation and progress. The University is powering entrepreneurship with resources like Ventureprise, the Small Business and Technology Development Center, the 49er Foundry and the newly announced Entrepreneurship Certificate from Belk College of Business.
This month we pay homage to just a few of our Black alumni entrepreneurs who are making their marks in Charlotte and beyond. An impressive collection of change agents, social justice advocates, brand builders, artists and more, this group is shining brightly, making Niner Nation proud.
Call it a marriage of art and entrepreneurship. Change agent, public speaker, influencer, disruptor and self-described creator of all things dope, Davita Galloway ’03 and ’06 has been blazing a trail in Charlotte for years. A student at NYC’s Parsons School for Design and a graduate (bachelor’s and master’s degrees) from UNC Charlotte’s College of Health and Human Services, Galloway is passionate about self-expression and a champion of community building.
Along with brother Dion, Galloway opened Dupp&Swat in 2010, currently located in Charlotte's hip Camp North End. Featuring retail, art and performance events, the venue provides a safe and expressive platform for social growth opportunities, with a focus on Black innovators. CrownKeepers, the nonprofit arm of the organization, is dedicated to invigorating the vision, scope and impact of Black artists.
In 2019, along with several fellow community change agents, Galloway launched Hue House, a creative black-owned marketing and advertising agency dedicated to empowering clients through culturally competent strategies, impactful design and authentic engagement. The innovative team has worked with clients such as Charlotte’s Arts and Science Council, The Foundation for the Carolinas and Bank of America. Galloway is a frequent speaker in and around the Charlotte region — keep up with the latest events and follow this trailblazer on Instagram.
When they met as undergraduate students in the Belk College of Business at UNC Charlotte, Chris Moxley ‘03 and Jerri Shephard ’14, along with classmate Scott Wooten, had no idea they would be forever bonded by the city’s area code. Founded in 2013, 704 Shop is the brainchild of these innovative alums, born out of a passion for their hometown and a desire to build an inspirational brand. The popular apparel provider specializes in designs that pay homage to the Queen City with a unique and edgy vibe.
In the finance industry since 2005, Shephard is the business sales and risk analyst, overseeing management and fulfillment with his eyes on every item in and out of the shop. Moxley brings entrepreneurial prowess to the team with a background in financial services and having previously run his own recording studio. He handles business strategy and development as well as building the brand’s visibility.
704 Shop first began as an online platform, selling T-shirts. As the retail provider’s popularity grew they branched out into headwear, socks, sweatshirts and more. They began participating in pop-up shops throughout the city and eventually expanded to a storefront on Southend’s Camden Road in 2017. Collaborations with Cheerwine, the City of Charlotte and of course, UNC Charlotte, have further cemented the brand as a Charlotte hallmark.
They remain committed to the community with fundraisers benefiting the University, Autism Charlotte, COVID-19 and more. The founding trio also established the 704 Shop Scholarship for Creatives benefitting UNC Charlotte students with both a significant financial need and an interest in fashion, design or apparel manufacturing. Additionally, Moxley, who serves on the UNC Charlotte Foundation’s Board of Directors and received Belk College’s 2018 Distinguished Alumni Young Award, recently established the Jaylen C. Moxley Scholarship for Academic Excellence, named for his son, for incoming freshmen with both significant financial need and a history of volunteerism. Shepard currently sits on the Ventureprise Board of Advisors. Keep up with 704 shop’s latest designs on Instagram and Facebook.
Twenty-year old dynamo Destiny Wilson, aka the Artvst (pronounced “artist”), graduated from UNC Charlotte’s Belk College of Business in December 2021. She's a lover of all things art-related, from photography and design, to fashion and creative direction. However, it’s her fancy footwork that currently has her in the spotlight. Garnering critical acclaim for 2021’s Best in the Nest awards, Wilson has the unique ability to transform the ordinary sneaker into a work of art is putting her on the map.
Wilson was just 15 when she was first inspired to use her shoes for self-expression. Pleased with the result, she continued creating for her own wardrobe, eventually designing for family and friends. Five years later, she’s had hundreds of clients and more than 10,000 instagram followers.
But she doesn’t stop at aesthetics — her creations serve to elevate social justice matters, history and even breast cancer awareness. Wilson recently designed custom cleats for Charlotte Panther Colin Thompson supporting the annual NFL initiative “My Cause, My Cleats,” as well as a pair of custom sneakers for Honeywell’s grand opening as they welcomed their new employees. See her complete portfolio and request commissioned work on her website.
Kirsten Ussery ’00, was a mover and shaker even in her early years. While earning a bachelor’s degree in communication studies, from the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Ussery founded the University’s collegiate chapter of 100 Black Women, the first on a non-HBCU campus, and jump started her career interning with the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce and Duke Energy. Following graduation, she moved to Detroit, Michigan, to direct internal and external communication for C-Suite executives in statewide government and private global companies.
However, she couldn’t resist the call of her entrepreneurial spirit and in 2013 she and her business partner co-created Detroit Vegan Soul (DVS), Detroit’s first 100% vegan soul food restaurant. Following the death of Boyd’s father in 2010 from prostate cancer, the pair began to focus more on their own health. They began experimenting with plant-based alternatives to the Southern favorites they grew up with, quickly seeing opportunity in the market. Bringing fresh, organic and completely plant-based food to the masses, DVS has garnered award after award and is a founding member of FoodLab Detroit, a community of food entrepreneurs with the goal of providing healthy food sustainable.
A graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program and with more than 20 years combined experience in both communication and public relations, Ussery has been a speaker on panels about entrepreneurship including the Small Giants Conference, the Net Impact Food Panel and JPMorgan Chase’s CityLab Detroit Global Summit. Learn more and connect Ussery on LinkedIn.
A Charlotte native, Dedrick Perkins ’15 has been involved in the arts ever since he can remember. His love of dance led him to UNC Charlotte’s College of Arts + Architecture where he received his B.A in Dance Performance. While earning his degree, Perkins began instructing locally, soon realizing his passion for teaching and choreography. At just 21 years old and still a student, Perkins founded Dedrick’s Dance District, a children’s school of dance offering ballet, hip hop, jazz, contemporary, gymnastics, and more, for ages 3 and up.
Along with running his own studio, Perkins is sought after as a choreographer, guest instructor, and coach/mentor. Working within dance programs and teams such Johnson C. Smith University, North Carolina A&T, Hopewell High School, and more, has helped established him as a popular local resource in the dance community.
His programs continue to grow and receive top accolades at regional and national competitions including being awarded Nationals Choreographer of the Year. He’s been a lead CIAA choreographer and his program has performed at halftime shows for CIAA, UNC Charlotte and Johnson C. Smith University.
Perkins continues to build the buzz as an NBA dancer for the Hornets Hive Hip Hop Crew along with being featured as a successful entrepreneur for Black History month by the Charlotte Hornets. Keep up with Perkins on his Instagram.
Nakisa Glover ’04 is a climate justice practitioner and founder of Sol Nation, an organization devoted to finding solutions for environmental and social justice issues. Earning a degree in biology, with minors in chemistry and African American studies, Glover is a highly regarded subject matter expert, tech advocate, cultural consultant and community engagement specialist. She develops strategies across activism, films, music and podcasts to help inspire and activate across multiple audiences and generations.
With a proven track record as a national community organizer, she has worked with Girls Who Code as a regional partnership coordinator and Hip Hop Caucus as a Think 100% organizer. Glover is a sought after speaker with deep knowledge about the intersections of race, climate, gender, technology and justice. She’s a frequent thought-leader and media contributor for outlets including the National Medical Association, Media Matters, Yes Magazine, HuffPost, Earth Gen and more. She’s also been a featured speaker for the Black Women’s Health Imperative, the National Conference on Equitable Development, the U.S. Climate Action Network, among others.
She has been recognized as a 2019 Grist 50 Fixer and received the 2019 Martin Luther King Jr. Growing The Dream Award and the 2016 Clean Air Carolina Airkeeper Award. She currently serves on UNC Charlotte’s Black Alumni Chapter Board as chair of the Community Engagement Committee. Learn more about her work or contact Glover through her LinkedIn Profile.
Latesha Byrd ’12, as the CEO of Perfeqta, serves as an advisor to executives seeking to create and nurture remarkable organizational cultures and invest in their talent. She helps companies align employee growth with company growth in an equitable fashion. She’s also a certified career coach, talent developer and lifelong advocate of creating safe spaces and building positive community cultures. Her vision is simple: make Perfeqta an industry-leader helping businesses foster productive and inclusive workplaces.
Byrd discovered her passion for diversity and inclusion while managing recruiting within the accounting industry. There she helped develop innovative strategies to build the talent pipeline with a lens on diversity. Seeing firsthand how intentional cultural strategy and engagement could elevate an organization, she wanted to make an impact on a global scale.
Byrd previously served as a Google digital coach in partnership with “Grow With Google,” leading trainings and workshops to more than 150 minority business owners to bridge the racial digital divide. She’s been a speaker and presenter for United Negro College Fund, the National Association of Black Accountants, Wal-Mart, Black Enterprise and Honeywell, as well as an adjunt lecturer at North carolina A&T University. Learn more and connect with Byrd on LinkedIn.
Jabbar Jamison '08 began his financial education when his father opened a checking account for him at age 8. He taught Jamison how to read and understand the stock market pages in the newspaper, laying a foundation for the years ahead. Two decades later, after earning his MBA from the Belk College of Business, Jamison chose to focus on the gap between the African American community and wealth management.
After working with PNC Bank, TIAA and BB&T, Jamison decided it was time to launch his own business. His passion for the economically disadvantaged and for reducing inequality in the AfricanAmerican community motivated him to start J&G Legacy Financial Group with his business partner in 2018.
Jamison sees his profession as more of calling than a job. He tackles conversations about wealth and finances in the AfricanAmerican community daily, including history that has not always been kind. One local example is when Charlotte’s Brooklyn neighborhood was broken up starting in 1949 by construction on Independence Boulevard — leaving many starting at ground zero. Jamison uses his talents to encourage communication and trust, showing individuals how to strategically build their money.