by Troy Landrum Jr.
The exploration of generational wealth has brought a kaleidoscope of images and thoughts that have challenged the way I have viewed this topic in the past. The discovery of what it means through the voices of the community continues to reshape my sense of the urgency and importance it has on the present and the future. Through our first excavation of generational wealth, we were able to reimagine the topic as knowledge circulated in the community, the gift and importance of passing down knowledge of portions of American history often disregarded in our history books — more specifically, the history of African Americans’ place in the history of the United States. As we collect the tools along this journey, we move from the importance of passing down and sharing knowledge as generational wealth to its actualization in our community.
That actualization is seen through a beautifully crafted and meticulously designed fashion boutique based in downtown Seattle’s Pacific Place Mall. Kyle’Jacquea Hair is the owner, designer, and visionary behind the popular fashion boutique Debonair Decor. His boutique sells fashion items such as crew T-shirts, hoodies, sweatshirts, shoes, fitness gear, jackets, and decor pieces such as artwork, that adorn the walls of the space as you enter. The moment you step foot into Debonair Decor it is a vision of Black excellence and Black beauty. It enshrines the legacy of the culture by representing the artists and sports idols of our past and the hopes of our future. The most noticeable pieces of artwork in this boutique are paintings of a Black man and a Black woman that greet and acknowledge your presence as you start your exploration of the shop. The paintings are the faces of Kyle’Jacquea’s late brother and mother. They are placed as a representation of honor and prestige, like the honoring of a king and queen, elevated in a way that makes you feel as though they are watching over you. And they are just that: the king and queen of this boutique and the inspiration behind Debonair Decor’s logo, two D’s with wings behind them.
Kyle’Jacquea’s mom, Deborah, who represents the Decor in his boutique name, was an interior decorator and an artist who grew up in Los Angeles. His brother Deon, who they called Debonair, was all about fashion, sneakers, music, comics and shared the same love of art as their mother. “Unfortunately, they passed away in the last few years, and I was grieving pretty hard. … I couldn’t sleep … And the meaning behind [Debonair Decor] is essentially my mom [and] my brother intertwined. So the two D’s representing their names Deborah and Dion on the wings are now guardian angels watching over me,” said Hair.
This statement confirmed the feelings I had when I first walked into the boutique, the proximity I felt to the king and queen of the space that watched over me just as they watch over him every day. I felt the spirit of my own ancestors, our ancestors rejoicing in the creative and honoring space that is transforming grief into inspiration.
Kyle’Jacquea worked for the Seattle school district for about 15 years before transforming his vision of Debonair Decor into a full-time business. He tirelessly worked his way through school, graduating with his bachelor’s and eventually his master’s in education and child psychology, which is reflected in his 17 years of service as a sports coach for youth in the Central District. He remembers working those long nights towards his degrees to make his mother proud when she was still alive. Even though he had accomplished the things he wanted for his life, including the years of service to the school district, he knew he had more to give and more freedom to ascend to. It was on the passing of the people who meant everything to him that he chose the path of living out his life to honor theirs.
Kyle’Jacquea’s boutique blossomed through the pandemic and he has a vision to expand globally. He is currently working on the blueprint for another store in Inglewood, California, where he was born, taking the vision of the store back to where it all started for him.
Kyle’Jacquea’s boutique, his vision, gives me a glimpse into his entrepreneurial spirit and what it means for him to create something for his healing process, for his children, and for the community. “The reality is we’re promised one thing in life and that’s an expiration date … If you have children or, you know, people that you care about, generational wealth is doing something that can currently create an income for when you expire, that can be continued on,” says Hair.
Not only are his sights set on expanding, he also intends to pass that blueprint for success down to his daughter, Kaidence Jade, who has been a part of the vision from the ground up and has seen her father’s hard work and dedication come to life firsthand. Both Kyle’Jacquea’s son and daughter have seen this boutique grow from a pop-up to a full-fledged store, but it was his daughter who wanted to take it further and create her own brand within Debonair Decor. “Right now we’re working on creating her own brand as, like, a branch to what we’re doing. And that’ll be a part of, you know, creating generational wealth,” says Hair.
Kaidence Jade’s vision has taken root because of what she has seen and been taught by her father. It created in her an idea to expand that vision and, furthermore, place her handprint on what Debonair Decor represents for the community. For Kyle’Jacquea, Debonair Decor represents resilience, strength, fashion, family, pride, loyalty and, most importantly, being his individual self. That is what his daughter is carrying the torch toward and, for me, that is generational wealth actualized.
As Black people in the United States, I believe we have always been looking for freedom. Freedom metaphorically, spiritually, psychologically, and financially. Freedom to be our own individual selves and freedom to live and have control of our own lives, because history in this country hasn’t granted that to us. What I see in Kyle’Jacquea’s story is a Black person realizing freedom through his journey of grief and transforming it into beauty, honor, and the feeling we all hope to have when we look in the mirror: feeling good and looking good.
Generational wealth is knowing that we all have to walk through the universal gates of expiration and answer the question of what are we doing with our time? Are we taking chances and transforming our pain into honor and beauty? Are we sharing the blueprint with the younger generations? What talents and abilities do we possess that could put us on the road toward freedom in our own lives? Some of us may not be in that place or are unable to see those realities of commodity and leaving our children with financial stability coming to light. Then, I believe income has to mean something different for our circumstances. It has to transform into knowledge, into family history, into the concept and understanding of financial, spiritual, and psychological freedom. Then we can finally ask ourselves, what am I passing down?
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The opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints expressed by the contributors on this website do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints of the Emerald or official policies of the Emerald.
Troy Landrum Jr. was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, and is currently a program producer for KUOW’s “Radioactive” program. He has spent the past few years as a bookseller at Third Place Books in Seward Park and recently graduated with a master’s in fine arts at the University of Washington, Bothell. Follow Troy on Twitter at @TroyLandrumJr.
📸 Featured Image: “The reality is we’re promised one thing in life and that’s an expiration date,” says Kyle’Jacquea Hair, owner, designer, and visionary behind popular fashion boutique Debonair Decor. “If you have children or, you know, people that you care about, generational wealth is doing something that can currently create an income for when you expire, that can be continued on.” (Photos courtesy of Kyle’Jacquea Hair/Debonair Decor.)
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