Denise Shanté Brown

|| - holistic design strategist - ||

unapologetically prioritizing the wellbeing of black women
to co-design TRANSFORMATIVE possibilities for inner and outer HEALING.


Through my collaborative and compassionate practice, I am exploring the relationship between design justice and health equity in ways that are holistic, strategic and culturally relevant.

Too often, the topic of wellbeing—especially mental health—is discriminated against and viewed as a white luxury when it comes to the lives of Black women, despite our labor and contributions to the wellbeing of others. I’ve found myself angry and heartbroken by the ways multifaceted structures of oppression and toxic cultural stereotypes continue to impact the quality of our health. Because of this injustice, I have made the intentional decision to center the health concerns, lived experiences, creativity, and imagination of Black women, girls, and the communities we care for.

I am wholeheartedly invested in the movement to truly realize the wellbeing of Black women—with all of our complexities and intersectionalities—and to birth new strategies that awaken our capacity for self-leadership, sustained health, and self-recovery.

In doing this work, I’m beautifully reminded by a quote from Elizabeth Alexander reflecting on Black women’s power and essence:

“…undervalued, yes, but also, abundant.”

In spite of everything that is unseen and unsung, I believe in our abundance and continue to move through this lifework cultivating possibilities that are bountiful in healing and rooted in justice.

creative muses

wisdom + ingenuity

This work never happens in isolation, and the voices of the people who are directly impacted by the design process and problem will remain at the forefront. I not only have collaborations with communities of healers, teachers, organizers, and justice leaders to thank, but I also have creative muses who continue to evoke insight into my design and healing methodologies.

Their work, infused with wisdom and ingenuity, has become an inspirational force for what I cultivate in the world. To me, they are designers and strategists in their own right, reminding me that transformation is possible and we must not sacrifice ourselves on the journey to collective liberation.

As an individual, get really good at being intentional with where you put your energy, letting go as quickly as you can of things that aren’t part of your visionary life’s work. Then you can give your all, from a well-resourced place, when the storm comes, or for those last crucial miles.
Since society rewards us most, indicates that we are valuable, when we are willing to push ourselves to the limit and beyond, we need a life-affirming practice, a counter-system of valuation in order to resist this agenda.
— bell hooks
Perhaps the most valuable thing that we can learn in life is how to develop the kind of inner structure that is both sturdy and flexible, solid and adaptable, hardy and responsive, so that we can hold the heartbreaks, bear witness to our struggle, and be with the uncertainty of our path.
— chani nicholas