2 Minutes With ... the Co-Founders of Creative Agency Hue House
David "Dae-Lee" Arrington, davita galloway and David J. Butler are co-founders of Hue House, a creative agency in Charlotte, N.C., dedicated to decolonizing the marketing and advertising industry through creativity, community and consulting.
Dae-Lee is a Grammy-nominated producer, recording artist, designer and creative entrepreneur with a love for stories behind the data that create unforgettable connections. davita is a community change agent, creative, speaker, influencer, disruptor and a creator of all things dope. David has been exploring the relationship between creativity and business for a decade, with experience ranging from working on campaigns and special projects with the biggest brands in fashion to curating exhibitions and events for large cultural institutions.
We spent two minutes with the trio to learn more about their background, creative inspirations, and recent work they've admired.
Where you grew up, and where you live now.
• David "Dae-Lee" Arrington: I grew up in Old Huntersville in Norfolk, Va., and currently live in Charlotte, N.C.
• davita galloway: I was born and raised in Winston-Salem, N.C., currently living in Charlotte, N.C.
• David J. Butler: I was born and raised in Charlotte, N.C.
What you wanted to be when you grew up.
• DLA: I love architecture and I wanted to be an architect or a basketball player, as all my brothers and friends used to do in my neighborhood was ball.
• DG: Oh wait, am i grown? Lol. i wanted to be a fashion designer ever since i was a tot.
• DJB: My original goal out of high school was to start a chain of men's grooming salons. The barbershop played a transformative role in my upbringing.
How you discovered you were creative.
• DLA: Doing pencil sketches as a child and when I was introduced to sequencing on my uncle's keyboard.
• DG: When others labeled it as such. For me, i was just emoting and expressing myself in the manner that felt "right," whether that was in how i dressed or the poetry i penned. Oh, but now, i own it 1000000000%!
• DJB: In retrospect, growing up with early social media, I was always making or documenting something but didn't realize it was "creative." It was just kind of like … living. I figured it might be able to be a career path in college but wasn't sold on making it a priority until my first year in corporate America and I realized corporate sucks!
A person you idolized creatively growing up.
• DLA: Timbaland.
• DG: OMG … MICHAEL JACKSON … really, was there anyone else?
• DJB: Early childhood: Allen Iverson. Teenage years: Pharrell Williams.
A moment from high school or college that changed your life.
• DLA: When The Arts Institute gave a presentation about their school, which led to me moving to Charlotte to study multimedia and web design.
• DG: Ohhhh there were many life-changing moments but i'll mention the time in which i saw Project Runway for the first time during grad school. I knew in that moment that i needed to be there, take a chance on my creativity and fly … and, so i moved to New York upon graduating from UNCC.
• DJB: My African American studies professor at WSSU owned a media company. I had an informal internship with him—took a stab at sharpening my photography, T-shirt design, e-comm development, merchandising, marketing, writing, etc. I got to do everything I loved through someone's brand voice, and that was when I knew I had acquired some useful skills via my childhood interests.
The first concert you saw, and your favorite band or musician today.
• DLA: I actually don't remember the first concert. I don't really do favorites but a few artists/musicians that are in rotation are Jay Z, D'Angelo, Lauryn Hill, Earth Wind & Fire.
• DG: Wow!! Lol. My very first concert was an "immature" show!!! Hahahha such great times! Really? We're asking favorites? I have such a hard time selecting a favorite but can give you a list of artists I LISTEN TO ALLLLL THE TIME: kendrick lamar, ari lennox, jay z, outkast, j cole, rihanna, anderson paak, robert glasper.
• DJB: Outside of gospel concerts my family took me to when I was young, I didn't attend a real concert til college. Had to be Homecoming 2009 at WSSU—New Boyz, Durrough, and The Dream. That's a shitty first concert experience in hindsight :( Favorite musician today depends on the mood but I could listen to Dom Kennedy 24/7 if I had to. His concert in Carborro, N.C., in 2012 was the first concert I remember going to and actually enjoying.
Your favorite visual artist.
• DLA: Basquiat, Kara Walker, Frankie Zombie.
• DG: That favorites thing again … basquiat, carla aaron-lopez, kehinde wiley.
• DJB: I can't choose between Blue The Great and Hank Willis Thomas.
Your favorite fictional character.
• DLA: Honestly, I don't know...
• DG: Mickey mouse, belle from beauty & the beast, jerome from martin ... lol. They invoke nostalgia!!
• DJB: Very interesting question: Let's go with Spike Spiegel from Cowboy Bebop.
The best book you've read lately.
• DLA: Winners Take All by Anand Giridharadas.
• DG: Honestly, i haven't read a book in a long time. It would be nice to have the time to do so…
• DJB: Stuck between Decolonizing Wealth by Edgar Villanueva and Black Fortunes by Shomari Wills. Honorable mention: Palaces for the People by Eric Klinenberg.
Your favorite movie.
• DLA: Harlem Nights.
• DG: The devil wears prada, sex and the city, this christmas … ma'an, this is hard, soooo many great ones!
• DJB: The Mighty Duck Trilogy.
Your favorite Instagram follow.
How Covid-19 changed your life, personally or professionally.
• DLA: Covid-19 has reminded me of what's most important, what we have become accustomed to missing out on because of the structure of our society, how good can be the enemy of great, and how important it is to be mindful of where I invest my time.
• DG: Honestly, it's been a lot of "thinking outside box," both professionally and personally, as well as leveling up. More than anything, my "get it done attitude—by any means necessary" has turned up several notches. I've been at this entrepreneurial life too long to allow covid to have me on the sidelines.
• DJB: I've been hustling the last 7-8 years since leaving corporate America so the pandemic really created space to breathe, ironically. I was blessed to see growth during that time personally and professionally. Everyone being at home broke the rat race for a bit and that space was needed to get mentally and physically healthy while reprioritizing for the future. It provided a very hard reset.
Your favorite creative project you've ever worked on.
• DLA: Producing, recording and performing my song "Imagine." It was made in the wake of Mike Brown's death and has sadly been revived as more Black Americans have died at the hands of police, but thankfully it has been instrumental in engaging, inspiring and challenging leaders within my city on how we go about change as well as our individual responsibility in it.
• DG: Not to be difficult but my "favorite" creative project is always the one that's next, that's being queued up—simply because all of my experiences are shaping, chiseling and preparing me for it. How exciting?!?!
• DJB: In 2018 I co-curated and handled exhibition design for a show at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts + Culture called "Welcome to Brookhill," which documented the life of one of Charlotte's last Black neighborhoods through the lens of social justice photographer Alvin C. Jacobs Jr. It was my first time working with a major institution and to do such meaningful work in my hometown meant A LOT! I was named a 2018 Charlottean of the Year by Charlotte Magazine alongside Alvin for this work.
A recent creative project you're proud of.
• DLA: CLT DJ Battle 2020! This is a DJ Party Rocker style battle I spearheaded the creation of to shine a light on the DJ talent in Charlotte while leveraging the power of what they do to bring the four corners of our city together. Obviously last year we couldn't do it in person, but I'm proud of the team for successfully transitioning it to being 75 percent online.
• DG: Hahahhha the persistence… Okay, i'll commit and drop links:
The Block platform to authentically express oneself is major!
#TheHerbanFarmacie, a labor of love addressing food insecurity and, ultimately, access to healthy food options.
• DJB: Recently showed some conceptual photo work in an exhibition called "Home" at Elder Gallery here in Charlotte. I felt my art career hit a new space with this show
Someone else's creative project that inspired you years ago.
• DLA: SUPERPHONE by Ryan Leslie. He was ahead of the curve with diving deep with super fans and connecting personally with them.
• DG: Bc issa rae is THE BOMB and hella authentic!!
• DJB: My boy Justin Jenkins is a graphic designer and illustrator from Jersey who's based in NYC and he published a few zines a few years back and I covet them. I was supposed to contribute to the third volume. We'll see if he brings it back. @mistadeadhead on IG.
Someone else's creative project that you admired lately.
• DLA: Verzuz. First, I have mad respect for both Timbaland and Swizz Beats musically and how they have both transcended music and business. How they innovated during Covid in a culturally relevant way was dope and to take it even further in their partnership with Triller by making sure the 43 artists that made Verzuz successful received equity in the deal.
• DG: Kanye's collab with GAP! Listen, he is about to win!! And, i'm here for it!
• DJB: Anything from BIYDIY. Matt and Stonie are NUTS!
Your main strength as a creative person.
• DLA: Belief and dedication to what I create.
• DG: Ideating and coming up with solutions—to any challenge—is never an issue.
• DJB: Cross breeding strategies and mediums from various industries and disciplines.
Your biggest weakness.
• DLA: Not leaving space for failure.
• DG: I prefer the word challenge but i would say allowing time for self-care and "me-time." i, oftentimes, prioritize everything and everyone else. I'm working on it—or shall i say, i'm working on me…
• DJB: I don't consider it a weakness but it causes the most conflict with others and it's moving at my own pace.
One thing that always makes you happy.
• DLA: Family.
• DG: COLOR.
• DJB: Anything from my childhood.
One thing that always makes you sad.
• DLA: Unrealized potential.
• DG: Regrets, what-ifs… one of the reasons i always do what feels right!! I have to answer to me when it's all said and done…
• DJB: Seeing or talking to people who feel stuck.
What you'd be doing if you weren't in advertising.
• DLA: I'm doing everything I want to be doing, like creating music, investing in the community, making space for others, loving my family and friends all while in advertising.
• DG: Exactly all the things i'm currently doing… being a business owner of a few entities, being an unapologetic Black woman, creating opportunity for myself and others…
• DJB: Advertising is just another piece to the puzzle. My work and lifestyle are integrated. So it's tough to say. I don't feel like I'm missing anything by being in advertising.