Meeka Robinson Davis Gives Advice to Other South LA Business Owners
Today we’re featuring fashion designer and business owner, Meeka Robinson Davis, of One of a Kind Hats. Last weekend, VSEDC sponsored a fashion show in collaboration with Sole Folks that showcased the work of some of our Urban Pose cohort, including One of a Kind Hats.
LA-Born and Bred
One of a Kind Hats is a legacy South Los Angeles business that was originally founded 40 years prior by Davis’ mother, Sonja. What originated as church hats gained new life when Davis revamped the brand in 1997. At the time, Davis was working for Landmark Entertainment Group and pregnant with her daughter.
“I wanted to get into my family’s hat-making business. I thought to myself, let me make a go of this.”
Davis pulled out her 401k to open One of a Kind Hats’ first brick-and-mortar location in the former Fox Hills Mall (now Westfield Century City). Born and raised in Leimert Park, Davis knew the Los Angeles landscape well and chose a location close to Los Angeles International Airport.
“Since [One of a Kind Hats] was located in the closest mall to the airport, customers wanted hats for different occasions and locations. Sometimes people had bad hair days from travel. Sometimes people wanted everyday hats, sometimes they wanted something dressier.”
The Evolution of a Legacy Business
One of a Kind Hats saw a lot of success in its first location, but the company has continued to evolve over the years.
“The customer has always changed the business. I’d say the customer changes every five or six years.”
During the height of the pandemic, Davis saw a shift away from more elaborate designs toward a more basic line of hats.
“The theme was back to basics. People couldn’t see their hairdresser as often, so they needed a hat for every day.”
Post-pandemic, Davis is seeing a resurgence in dressier offerings.
“People want glitter and glam for weddings, concerts, events that they can now attend.”
Consumer buying habits have also fluctuated; prior to the pandemic, most of One of a Kind Hats’ sales were in-person. Since then, One of a Kind Hats’ e-commerce has exploded. Davis smartly utilized models during the pandemic to demonstrate how her hats were meant to be styled and worn and different sizes of hats.
Through various evolutions, One of a Kind Hats has continued to garner positive reviews and accolades. One of a Kind Hats has been featured in Harper’s Bazaar Magazine, The Grammy Museum, Netflix’s Family Reunion, Peacock’s Bel Air, KTLA 5 News, Facebook’s Buy Black Campaign, Love and Hip-Hop Hollywood, The Spiderwick Chronicles, TMZ’s South of Wilshire, and Disney’s The Descendants.
Davis first heard of VSEDC through her pastor, Reverend Dr. Shane B. Scott, who advised her to reach out to Adrian Veliz, our Senior BusinessSource Programs Manager. Veliz got Davis into the Urban Pose program in the nick of time.
Davis has glowing reviews of her experience in the VSEDC program.
“When you start a business, there’s no business 101. You go through hard knocks and dead ends and learn that way. Urban Pose was a new experience. Rich (Richard Stern) is a great instructor, and I learned from different professional advisors who were so thorough and patient, and took the time to answer and address everyone’s questions.”
Davis enjoyed the diverse cohort comprised of established businesses, like hers, learning alongside startups. Most of all, Davis walked away with invaluable resources.
“I got everything I wanted and needed out of Urban Pose. [The program] caught me up where I was lacking. It built my business savvy and knowledge of sourcing laws.”
“I’ve been telling other businesses, colleagues, church members – VSEDC is a resourceful place for you. VSEDC offers so many free programs for the community. Take advantage of the resources that are there!”Meeka Robinson Davis on Urban Pose
A One of a Kind Future
Davis has her eye on expansion for One of a Kind Hats, and she is eager to step back into more of a main designer role. Davis envisions future locations, an increase of product to more department stores and boutiques, and expansion of One of a Kind’s line to include clothing and accessories.
Davis is a veteran business owner, but the sky is the limit for One of a Kind Hats.
One of a Kind Hats is located at 4432 West Slauson Avenue between Angeles Vista and Overhill. Store hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 11am to 6:30pm. Visit them in person or on their website here. Follow One of a Kind Hats on Instagram and find Meeka Robinson Davis on Facebook.