Dionne Ellison

Dillian Teabout | May 21st, 2021
Dionne Ellison (Photos by Dionne Ellison)

Dionne Ellison (Photos by Dionne Ellison)

Creative, self-disciplined, and passionate are only a few ways to describe Dionne Ellison.

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Dionne embodies the toughness and intuitiveness to survive. The skills come into play as she is the proud owner of Vuliwear, an intriguing sunglass line that is produced exclusively by her. Dionne shares she was inspired by some bug eyes she saw while surfing the internet. Each of her sunglasses remarkably captures different insects’ eyes, ranging from Striped Horseflies to African Twig Mantises. “I was surfing the web and came across some photographs of insects. They were magnified so large that you could see their compound eyes and beautiful colors. I instantly thought of sunglasses.”

Remarkably, Dionne discovered hidden beauty in something many people would simply swat away. Once the idea struck her, she took action and found two manufacturers to help bring it to life. Once things were in order, she launched her business on June 27, 2017, which is also National Sunglasses Day.

Vuliwear sunglasses are a functional fashion piece. They are fully polarized, UVA, and UVB protected. Not only do Vuliwear sunglasses look great, but they also promote good eye health.
Dionne was diagnosed with a small cataract in her right eye and learned that cataracts can be caused by UV damage. “My mission is not just from a fashion standpoint, but from a health standpoint as well,” Dionne said. One example of her efforts is the partnership Vuliwear has with nothingbutnets.net, a grassroots organization that provides treated nets for families threatened by malaria. “I thought it would be cool to partner with an organization that is helping families,” Dionne said.

Due to the Covid 19 pandemic, her three-year-old business slowed down a little. “I had to weather the storm and not spend money on advertisements, mainly because no one was thinking of buying sunglasses. However, now that summer is getting closer, and things are opening up slowly, I am in a position to launch some new marketing campaigns to help drive my business,” she says.
Even with the pandemic, she remains hopeful, and in the next five years, she has enormous plans for Vuliwear. She wants Vuliwear to partner with optical stores and fashion bouquets to expand her brand. Additionally, there are plans to start a fashion line for Vuliwear.

Currently, Vuliwear can be found in two stores located in Philadelphia. One is a black-owned optical store called “Omega Optical,” and the other is a fashion boutique called “Shop Sixty Five.” While retail can be profitable, her focus is moving to wholesale. She shares, “Wholesale, from a financial standpoint is a definite way to go, because the business gets exposure to our customers. I have been a one-woman show since we launched but I plan to add a few more designs and increase the Vuliwear team internally.”

Entrepreneurship is in the genetic makeup of Dionne’s family. Her late parents were also entrepreneurs, and she shares how she loves the benefits it provides. “I love thinking of new things and solving problems. Entrepreneurship is hard, but if it was easy, I probably wouldn’t do it,” she says. “I am driven by wanting to create generational wealth, and I plan to give my business to my son eventually. When things get hard, I think of my son.”

For young black entrepreneurs, Dionne’s most significant piece of advice for them is something she has personally done and believes in. “Believe in yourself, be authentic, and keep moving forward. Every day you are going to wake up and question yourself. You don’t need to conquer the entire world. All you need to do is find your market and go from there,” she says.

When asked how she wants to be remembered, Dionne shares she hopes for her drive to win. “I want people to know I believe in myself and a higher power. I tried to live my life to never say ‘I wish I would have because living with regret to me is one of the worst things to do. I want to be remembered as a person who tried everything that I had a passion for,” she says.

To learn more about Dionne and Vuliwear, please visit her website.

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