My Charlotte: Davita Galloway
Davita Galloway, co-owner of dupp&swat, shares her story and what she loves about the Queen City.
Tell us about yourself.
My name is Davita Galloway (aka “swat”) and I’m a Black woman, a creative, entrepreneur and an authenticity evangelist. I was born in Winston-Salem, a middle child of three, and an Aquarius whose favorite color is pink (the brighter, the better). My superpower is in being authentic by showing up as myself in all circles and rooms while encouraging others to do the same. I’m the Creator and Founder of dupp&swat, Executive Director of Crownkeepers, Co-founder of Hue House and a costume designer.
How did you get to where you are today?
In 2009, after returning to North Carolina from an exhausting living experience in New York, I found myself at a point where I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life. I had checked all the boxes–graduated college, went to design school, obtained my master's degree, got the “good” job–and none of it “felt” fulfilling for me. I knew that art was going to be the vehicle to guide me to my purpose, I just didn’t know in what direction. So with all bets on me, I began to rely on the talents that the Creator had naturally gifted me.
That’s when the winds changed.
I noticed very early on the lack of studios that were showcasing local Black artists in Charlotte. Being the doer that I am, I tapped my brother and business partner, Dion (aka “dupp”), who gave me the “yes” that we continuously give artists, creators and entrepreneurs today, and dupp&swat was born. Twelve years later, our walls are still covered with art that we sell on behalf of Black artists and we’re (literally) still holding space with and for our community.
How did you learn your craft?
As far as I can remember, I’ve also expressed myself in a variety of ways–be it fashion, poetry, sketches, or whatever. By engaging these expressions on a regular basis, I became more confident in my abilities to do and try new things creatively.
I enrolled in quite a few sewing classes earlier on but since they were all group settings, I didn't get the one-on-one assistance I felt I needed. So in true Davita fashion, I taught myself how to sew using my mother's machine and between that, Google and Youtube, not only did I learn it, I mastered it. Doing so not only taught me that I can do anything I can put my mind to–it introduced me to the monetization side of art, helping me lean into the business side of things and learn how to make a sustainable living with my passion.
What can people do to support small businesses like yours?
Support is simple. Great places to start include talking about local small businesses (shoutouts are free, ya know?), follow businesses on social media, leave Google and Yelp reviews and, in general, be brave enough to step outside of your comfort zone and experience something new. For us specifically, follow @duppandswat on all social accounts, book an event with us and swing by our Camp North End location and make a purchase.
What inspired you to create Hue House?
Hue House is a creative agency that I co-owned and founded with David Butler and Dae-Lee Arrington. We have two branches: creative agency, where we provide creative services that give brands and organizations access to audiences they may not have a direct connection or link with - and community, which is relationship-focused, where we house THE BLOCK events and our digital publication of the same name.
What makes Charlotte feel like home to you?
It’s two-fold for me. On the one hand, my support system is here. The people who love, care, and support me are at arm’s length and they never hesitate to pull up for me or us when we need them. On the other hand, I’ve planted so many seeds in this city, it’s beautiful to see the harvest. From the growth of dupp&swat to the relationships and partnerships I’ve built, there’s not a day that goes by that I’m not reminded of the great opportunities I’ve had by just being here.
How would you describe Charlotte in one sentence?
A city filled with splendor, energy, culture, talent, and promise, yet is still evolving into its own.
If someone is visiting Charlotte for the first time, what should they do and see?
To get the full Charlotte experience, I believe the best places to start are:
Camp North End–There's much to experience including murals and local small businesses.
The Mint Museum’s Randolph Road location–There are great exhibits, like the Anna Sui exhibit that will give you chills (at least that was my experience!).
Grab a baker's dozen of anything at Reigning Doughnuts
Go on a walking art tour
Catch a play with any of the amazing production companies
Catch a local band at Snug Harbor
Where are some of your favorite gardens, parks and green spaces to visit in and around Charlotte?
Romare Bearden Park is easily one of my favorite parks in the city. I go there often to write, chill or clear my head. UNC-Charlotte also has beautiful green spaces and the McGill Rose Garden is definitely worth a visit.
What are some of your must-see attractions in Charlotte that you would recommend to friends and family?
And, as an honorable mention, I also recommend spending some intentional time on the east and west sides of Charlotte. There is so much rich, authentic goodness in these neighborhoods and, with a little perusing, you'll certainly come across your own “attraction.”