DESIREE VENN FREDERIC | SOCIAL ALCHEMIST
Desiree Venn Frederic defines herself first and foremost as a social alchemist: creating new social compounds, gathering ideas, experiences, skills and resources in configurations that society is not naturally aligned to produce. As the founder of Nomad Yard Collectiv, a globally minded vintage shop on New York Avenue, Venn Frederic creates a playground for those who love culture, history and rare antiques steeped in stories. Nomad Yard Collectiv is also a small business incubator for burgeoning vintage and antique dealers as well as local artisan goods, including jewelers, stationery and candle makers. Venn Frederic sees vintage as a means to connect the community to art and use antiques as a means to teach history. With relationships forged with Urban Outfitters, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, Howard University, Busboys and Poets within its 1st year in business in Ward 5. Similar to Nomad Yard, the retail component at Mule Bone, in partnership with Andy Shallal of Busboys and Poets serves as an incubator for burgeoning lifestyle and craft brands, including jewelers, fashion designers and furniture makers. “My intentions are to expand the Nomad Yard brand so we can support more businesses,” Venn Frederic says. “The hope is that these businesses become stable enough to open their own small business and support other small businesses.”
Formerly, Venn Frederic founded and served as Executive Director of Fashion Empowering Women Foundation, an innovative non-profit organization that mobilized the creative industries of fashion, music and film. FEW through it’s Look Good, Do Good campaign created opportunities for its millennial members to support the missions of social service organizations that empower girls and women. With fundraising efforts bolstered by strategic partnerships and unique events showcasing innovation and creativity, FEW mobilized the immense resources of the creative communities to support girls and women social service organizations fro 2006-2012. With strategic partners to include Westfield, Nordstrom and Hot Topic.
At 13, Venn Frederic began her fashion career as a high fashion runway model signed with Elite Model Management. After completing a degree in fashion marketing, she worked as a luxury fashion buyer and brand consultant for several fashion houses. Considered a respected authority on the business and politics of fashion, armed with experience of the fashion industry and driven by an innate entrepreneurial spirit, Venn Frederic founded the image consultation firm, NARCISSISM: the style and image network, in 2005 which served 800 clients.
Although most of Venn Frederic’s career has been spent in the creative industries, the native Sierra Leonean’s breadth of talent and influence surpasses fashion to humanitarian interests. She was raised with a strong sense of commitment to philanthropy, witness to her late grandparents, Emeric and Matilda Williams, who supported refugees from Liberia and Sierra Leone’s civil wars, rebuilt churches and provided safe spaces for men, women and children in danger. She was taught that people have whole needs. Therefore the organizations and businesses that serve them must meet them wholistically. “My grandmother was my first lesson in how an efficient non-profit should operate: provide resources, rebuild lives but most importantly, rebuild self-efficacy.” With that in mind, Venn Frederic strives to support the organizations that girls and women depend on. With an understanding of the power of the arts, FEW uses fashion, music and film as vehicles for social awareness.
A Member of Industrial Areas Foundation and Action In Montgomery, a broad-based community power organization, rooted in Montgomery County’s neighborhoods and congregations. Venn Frederic’s advocacy work focused on The DREAM Act which was passed by the Maryland General Assembly. As a member of AIM, alongside Maryland Industrial Areas Foundation, CASA de Maryland, Maryland Catholic Conference, we worked to create the political will to win 58.3% of the vote for DREAM by leading massive grassroots efforts to educate Marylanders about the act. This was done by holding the largest DREAM voter mobilization effort ever, which trained over 1,000 clergy and lay leaders to be “DREAM Ambassadors” who then held over 250 DREAM events throughout the state.
In 2013, Venn Frederic launched a niche brand consultancy, New Things Collectiv, offering brand creative development, marketing and social media strategic support to emerging and evolving vintage brands. The 33 year old was named Washingtonian Magazine Style Setter 2015, Washington City Paper best vintage store for 2 consecutive years, 30 under 30, interviewed by The Huffington Post, Siruis XM Radio, Washington Post and countless blogs and podcasts around small business incubation and vintage as history. Her personal story was recently featured in The Washington Post.
A storyteller, writer and installation artist, Venn Frederic shares her creative interests as an exhibiting artist with the Smithsonian Asian American Pacific Center drawing parallels of her own personal immigration detention in 2013 to the criminalization of human existence throughout history. She holds a certificate in Community Advocacy and is fluent in French and Krio. She is a keynote speaker at University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business, The National Endowment for the Arts National Maker Faire, Made in DC Maker Summit, General Assembly, and Creative World’s Creative Economy Summit. She exists via the internet sphere simply as @xoDVF on all social platforms. She is a mentor to 2 college aged creatives and was a member of the board of trustees for Church of Our Saviour and resides in the Trinidad neighborhood of Washington, DC.