Danielle (DL) Mullen (@danni.aint.write)

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Anais Nim once said, “Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.”

We all have heard such sayings billions of times where someone is telling us to risk it all and follow our dreams, but more often than not, we don’t take these sayings seriously. However, there are some people out there for whom such sayings strike a chord in their hearts. They are those lionhearted people who put their complete faith in themselves and risk it all to achieve what others were too hesitant to go after- their dreams. Danielle (DL) Mullen is one such inspiring individuals.

Since a very young age, Danielle has always loved books and words more than anything. While other kids were playing outside in the sun, she always found herself in a corner reading the dictionary and getting captivated by new words. To her, increasing her vocabulary filler her with such joy that no toy could ever fill. Since then, Danielle knew that she would go into an industry where she could put this love to good use.

She was only eighteen-years-old when Mullen took her first step to follow this dream by starting as a copyeditor in college. Being a firm believer in success coming to those who stay persistent and determined, she freelanced as a copyeditor for five years. In building her freelance network, she was lucky – or rather talented – to be able to join the Barnes and Noble New York’s team and had the utmost pleasure of working directly with all kinds of authors. During her time there, she got to edit their work, build their brand from scratch, and research how to market them as the best. Each and every moment of those five years increased her love for books even more, which is why she decided to move to Chicago, Illinois.

Upon moving there, Danielle decided to tie her love for words and art together. Thus she started a company that focused on writing for museum art. Due to her relentless hard work, her company grew exponentially. Within three years, she was already working in fifty-two museums all over the country.

Everything was going well for her, but unfortunately, it was just the silence before the storm. Danielle got diagnosed with a tumor on the ocular nerve behind her right eye. This near-death incident forced her to answer questions Mullen hadn’t thought much about: what is her legacy? Has she done enough to be remembered for even after she is gone? These thoughts led her into following her real dream of creating a space that she had always wanted for a bookstore.

Mullen was initially opening Athenaeum Librarium, a comfortable mixture of a great library, aesthetic bar, and a tech store. But destiny had other plans. When construction woes cursed her place, she knew it was best to put this luxurious dream on hold. Rather than wasting her two years’ worth of blood sweat, and tear, she decided to develop a new concept for her bookstore. Thus breathing Semicolon, the city’s solely Black woman-owned bookstore, into existence. For her, semicolon – the punctuation mark – symbolizes the ability to continue forward without stopping. It describes her life entirely, thus it felt right to name the place after it.

The reason why it got popular in no time lies within its concept. The Semicolon is no ordinary bookstore. It is a mixture of bookstore and art gallery with 800 + books in all genres on the first floor to rising artists having a space to showcase their work downstairs. She uses her entire place to show how all art mediums can be interconnected and intertwined into making you feel something.

Being a person of color, Danielle has seen how society can make once feel unwelcomed and an outcast. Therefore, with Semicolon she wants to create a safe space for all irrespective of their caste, color, and race; A place all can call their second home. There is no doubt in saying she was successful in her wishful goal because once someone goes to her store, they cannot stop revisiting it.

Life wasn’t merciful on Danielle (DL) Mullen, but her love for words never let her back down even for a second. Her infectious attitude of working relentlessly and never taking failure as a sign of defeat are the reasons she has achieved so much and will achieve more in the future. Her story is an inspiration to those who want to break the norm’s chain and do something which has never been done before.

The best part for her story is Semicolon is just the beginning of numerous blessings, success, and never-done-before projects coming her way. All of which started with the little Danielle looking up new words in the dictionary.

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