Meet Danielle Hawthorne, Jamaican-American Designer of HBCU Bonnets

Meet Danielle Hawthorne, Jamaican-American Designer of HBCU's Bonnets
Danielle Hawthorne

by Howard Campbell

NEW YORK – On June 19 as protests against racial prejudice took place throughout the United States, Danielle Hawthorne launched a line of merchandise in homage to Juneteenth, a special day for black Americans.

Her Scotch Bonnets by Dani headwear, named for the popular pepper from Jamaica, her parents homeland, is geared toward students of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU).

It has been a hit to date with students at schools like Howard University, Spelman College and Delaware State University.

Hawthorne, who is 16 years-old, attends Cardinal Spellman High School in The Bronx. She has been making bonnets since September, 2018.

“Word about my bonnets first caught on in my school. A lot of kids started to get interested in them once I posted it. My friends and family also shared my bonnets, bringing more attention to my business,” she recalled. “When I decided to launch my Historically Black Colleges and Universities-inspired collection on June 19th, 2020, a lot of students and alumni were drawn to my products. I mainly promoted through Twitter by reaching out to students from these schools”.

Hawthorne’s HBCU line are reversible satin bonnets that bear each school’s colors.

Meet Danielle Hawthorne, Jamaican-American Designer of HBCU's Scotch Bonnets

In addition to Howard, Spelman and Delaware State, students at North Carolina A&T University, Clark Atlanta University, Florida A&M University, Morgan State University and Hampton University are sporting Scotch Bonnets. Some of them show off the floppy headwear in a video promoting their schools and stressing the importance of HBCUs.

Hawthorne was taught to sew by her mother who is originally from Gordon Town in rural St. Andrew parish, Jamaica. She began making bonnets as, “I was not satisfied with the quality of the bonnets in the store”.

Click to watch more about Danielle and “Scotch Bonnets”

Danielle Hawthorne - Scotch Bonnet

The initial batch of Dani bonnets were introduced via Twitter and found a ready market among friends and family. With assistance from her mother and friends, Hawthorne has produced over 5,000 bonnets to date.

Danielle Hawthorne was born in New York but her parents ensured she had a strong sense of Jamaica through regular visits to their country. It was her father, originally from Ocho Rios, who suggested the name Scotch Bonnet.

Hawthorne, who hopes to attend a HBCU, is planning to go Jamaican with her next creation.

“I already have a red, green and gold striped bonnet and will consider Jamaican bonnets along with other Caribbean countries!”



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