What at first seemed to be an impossible dream, has now become a reality for graduating high school senior Danielle Jamison.
Encouraged by her teachers, Danielle, a special-education student at Bennett High School, turned a talent for making jewelry into a business, selling her creations at school. But with graduation looming, it became apparent that she would need to find a home for her work in the community.
There were a couple of requirements: She needed to do it on a consignment basis, and the store had to be located on a bus line.
That's where another young entrepreneur, Junide Brice, stepped in, offering Danielle space in her Elmwood Avenue boutique, Fierce Accessories.
"I feel overwhelmed, and excited," Danielle told The Buffalo News as she arranged her jewelry at the store Thursday afternoon.
Brice, who opened her store last fall, learned about Danielle from an East Side Story feature in The News.
"Being a young African-American woman myself, I wanted to give her the opportunity to succeed with her jewelry," Brice said Thursday. "I was looking for local designers anyway."
The result: DJ's Jewelry now has a home in her store.
Anna Klapakis, Danielle's teacher at Bennett, said her success is a lesson for all students, whether they are in general education or special education.
"It's a statement to all the kids," she said. "Look at what Danielle did. If she can do this, in spite of her disabilities, and can become a successful entrepreneur, then there should be no limits on anyone."
Brice said Fierce Accessories is holding a special event, "Girls Night Out," from 6:30 to 9 p.m. today at the store, 830 Elmwood Ave. In addition to offering her work for sale, Danielle will also contribute a piece of jewelry to a raffle that will be held during the event.
Danielle's work is also available at the Buffalo & Erie Historical Society, Klapakis said. The organization immediately contacted Klapakis when they read about Danielle's jewelry and offered a hand, as well.
The Buffalo-themed jewelry sold there is more conservative than the "fun" pieces that can be found at Fierce Accessories, Klapakis said.
Today is also graduation day for Danielle, who plans to attend Buffalo State College.
When asked how she felt about all the changes in her life, Danielle said she had mixed feelings.
"At the same time I feel happy because I'm moving on," she said, "but I'm going to miss the people who have helped and loved me."
"She's a real success story for the program," Klapakis said. "It keeps me excited for what's to come after this."