Not many businesses can attribute their launch to a bad hair day.
Yet if Ashley Lauren hadn’t awakened one morning with unruly hair when she was 15, she wouldn’t have started Diva Rags. That fledgling enterprise, in turn, begat Diva Rags & Suave Clothing, a South Minneapolis boutique that sells custom clothing, shoes, jewelry and related accessories.
While Lauren, now 25, says her business is profitable, counting her riches isn’t her primary motivation in life. She aims to inspire others to follow their dreams and uplift the community, particularly youth.
That’s why she conceived the Diva/Suave Project, a nonprofit through which she has donated hundreds of headscarves for cancer patients and others. Numerous items she sells on the for-profit side—among them, hats, tennis shoes, ties, jeans, shawls and shirts, many of which are emblazoned with “wearable glitter” and gems and inscribed with positive messages such as “Live With Purpose,” “Persevere” and “Believe”—she also gives away through the nonprofit. As part of her charitable efforts, she also teaches and inspires youngsters in after-school classes.