Juneteenth Our Black Women In Business Spotlight: Mary Daniels, Owner of CHOKE.HER.SKINS
Hello, I’m Mary Daniels a leather jewelry designer and founder of the CHOKE.HER.SKINS brand. At an early age, I became interested in the art of sewing. Accompanying my mom to her Singer sewing class was exciting. Seeing what a machine could maneuver and create from a single piece of cloth was the highlight of my weekend. The roar of the sewing machine itself was such an amazing sound of creativeness. Once I returned home the search for anything resembling cloth was torn apart which meant my mom’s aprons in order to duplicate what I witnessed that day in her class. (laugh) My skills were manually handcrafted with simple stitches and crooked lines, but I knew this was my calling.
Throughout my school years, I continued to educate myself as a seamstress and tailor. I had the privilege of being taught by an established tailor from Germany. I sponsored fashion shows with garments I uniquely created and traveled to show others how designing could be satisfying as a career. As time went on my focus and commitment for exclusively designing was progressing at a slower pace. Nonetheless my perception of art and love for my machine never wavered from my hands or heart. In 2013 I started taking an interest in various textures of skins and its ability to be maneuvered into an artform even the smell of it intrigued me. I’ve always liked simple canvases of fashion because I wanted to create my own style and accessorize without the influence of trends. The more I became acquainted with various forms of leather I started designing handcrafted jewelry that consisted of shapes, unexpected details and interesting textures. I realized my inspiration was manifested from feelings of emotions experienced at an early age in life to visuals of creativeness that surrounded me, or I encountered. Something was different about my designs; they were very personal and compassionate. In 2014 CHOKEHERSKINS was born! My desire was to start creating pieces of art that was starting to follow me through life.
Chokers were the first accessory I started designing from leather. The design of my chokers beautifully enhances the neck always elevating her crown. This is personal for me because so many women don’t feel uniquely beautiful by comparison of what they see portrayed daily. We’re all uniquely made and carry our own DNA of what beauty is individually. My creations once completed are given names based on what motivated me while designing. My pieces are never duplicated by color or design. CHOKE (to wrap) HER (female /woman) male and SKINS (skin to skin in terms of leather and the human touch) this is my definition of my brand, but it takes on its own meaning by each individual and that’s ok. (laugh) An unexpected shift in my health caused a pause in my business. I underwent lung surgery because of an existing chronic lung disease that I wasn’t aware of and was accompanied with Lupus an autoimmune disease. Going into early retirement and making many financial sacrifices I had to learn not only to endure but recreate my life. Mentally and physically, I needed to keep breathing in positivity and hope. Once my health was stabilized, I was able to begin creating my chokers with even more purpose and conviction.
Later into 2015, I showcased my brand to a friend Shandera and her reaction for my designs prompted me to ask that she become my Brand Ambassador. CHOKEHERSKINS is a brand crafted from a genuine love for people who want to feel uniquely beautiful without comparison and judgment. My collection of ChokeHERS/HipHERS and WristSprouts are now being showcased at Inspire Marketplace at Partridge Creek Mall and upcoming locations. I’m also honored to be one of the designers in collaboration with Natasha Lee Maxwell of That Girl. My brand is being embraced internationally and it has humbly assured me that CHOKEHERSKINS creativity is seen through my eyes, embedded in my heart, and shared with anyone who wants to define their unique beauty and positive energy with style! -MaryD
Keep up to date: @choke.her.skins
Photo Credit: LaTesha Turner Stewart and Daevita Woods