Of all the factors to consider when moving away to college, whether or not the clothing stores carry items that cater to your body and needs might get lost in the mental shuffle next to things like pricey meal plans and planning routes to class. 

Regardless, that’s exactly the situation Junior Advertising management student Onylah Taggart and her friends found themselves in as students at Michigan State University. She and other Black women students looked up and realized they had unacceptably limited options for brick and mortar clothes shopping in East Lansing. 

According to U.S. Census Bureau, East Lansing is 75.94% white in terms of race. African Americans make up just 6.79% of the population. 

“We need more clothing stores,” said Taggart, in a statement to the Lansing State Journal. “We shouldn’t have to sit (at home) right there and order things online and cross our fingers to make sure it comes in time.”

Before Taggart opened DBN Boutique last week, she and other Black women students had to work with what they brought to school with them until they couldn’t anymore. Buying new clothes that flatter and are suited to their bodies involved either planning a trip south, taking time away from studies and weekend fun, or ordering clothes online and praying they were good quality and actually fit when they arrive. 


Now, DBN Boutique eliminates some of that stress. One of the most popular and sold out offerings, the “Kim K set,” is also one the of the simplest outfits; a crop top and leggings. Taggart recently posted a poll on Twitter where customers begged her to restock them just days after being open–that shows how desperately the niche for simple, stylish Black girl fashion needed to be filled in Lansing. 

“Having this here is nice because we could come and get a quick and cute outfit for tailgates and homecoming,” Taggart said, in a statement to the Lansing State Journal. 

DBN started as Designs By Ny, Taggart’s first foray into fashion with bedazzling and shoe design. Now it’s a full-fledged store that even hosts other startups. Nursing student Rakala Todd, Taggart’s friend, operates her lash and lip filler business KLASHED out of the shop. 

“I like being across the street from Michigan State and (people) being able to walk in and get their lashes done,” Todd said, in a statement to the LSJ. 

Both women operate their businesses in-between classes, and hope to both hire more help and foster more Black-woman led businesses and start-ups when they graduate. 

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