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Need to add some new kicks or clothes to your wardrobe? Head over to Silhouette Sneakers & Art here in Greenwood.
On November 1, 2019, Venita Cooper, former Dean of students from Lawton, opened Silhouette. “I was hanging out with some friends looking for sneakers but there wasn’t anywhere in Tulsa where you can get dope kicks and one of my friends was like, ‘You should just open a sneaker store.’ I thought about it for several days and I was like why not,” Cooper said.
The store was able to get up and running with the help from community members such as Brandon Oldham and TEDC Creative Capital. “He’s [Brandon] a mover and shaker around town, he’s very well connected. They were and still are supporting the creation of Black owned businesses,” Cooper said about Oldham and TEDC respectively.
Why is it called Silhouette though?
Cooper decided on the name Silhouette because it is a term for both shoes and art. For shoes, the silhouette is the model or build of a shoe. An example would be how Air Jordan 1’s have the same shape/design but the colorways are different. For art, a silhouette is an image or design in a single hue and tone. An example of this would be the popular 18th- and 19th-century cut or painted profile portraits done in black on white. “The reason I wanted to name it that is it’s really pretty, hard to spell and very pretty to say.”
For Cooper the biggest challenge she faced was when starting out was not knowing how to run a business. “Some people get started in this (the sneaker business) because they’ve been flipping sneakers a little bit on the side and I never did that,” Cooper said.
Having her business on Black Wall Street seems to have been a dream come true for Cooper. “ I didn’t know about the massacre and all that stuff until I moved here five years ago, once I learned about it I knew I would love to carry on the legacy of the Black entrepreneurs and founders of Greenwood.” Cooper said.
The story is tragic but also there’s so much to be hopeful about and feel empowered by.”
While Silhouette does mainly sell shoes, that is not all that they have to offer. Whenever you walk in or visit the shop online you can see clothing options such as their Freedom From 1906 Until selection to the T-Town Clown tees. “Sneakers are not cheap and I want everybody to be able to come into the store and walk away having purchased something. It’s easier to justify spending $30 on a shirt than it is spending $300 for shoes,” says Cooper. Not all of the apparel in Silhouette is made by them specifically. “ We carry a lot of local apparel because we want Black creators to have a platform to sell their merchandise.”
Selling merchandise from local creators is just one of the ways Silhouette tries to give back to its community. “ As a community Tulsa, Oklahoma has a lot of needs, there are a lot of communities that are underserved and I saw this business as an opportunity to give back in a different way. I feel a great responsibility to try to fill gaps in the city as well as I can and I hope other people do as well.”
One of the recent events that Silhouette took place in was the second annual Sneaker Soirée on June 4 in partnership with the Philbrook Museum of Art. “ It’s just an opportunity for us to celebrate and love one another and to look fly while doing it,” says Cooper. The Sneaker Soirée celebrates Black culture, businesses, artists, and more. The event featured food by local Black-owned food trucks, raffles, live performances by St. Domonick and Ayilla, and a cash bar. Participants were told to come dressed to impress in their favorite sneakers and formal wear. Cooper explains,“it was an opportunity for us to have fun, the world is heavy right now, there’s a lot of negativity but I think we have to remember to put into ourselves.”
I want people to come in here and feel like they are cared for and that they belong here.”
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