Texas Tech University

One Entrepreneur’s Mission to Support Emerging Artists

Kathryn Dankesreiter, Innovation Hub Team

July 19, 2021

ELAH supports the East Lubbock community through art exhibits, workshops, and events!


In 2020 Danielle East opened her nonprofit art house's doors, determined to support artists neglected by traditional galleries. East Lubbock Art House (ELAH) “focuses on affordable art, displaying different artworks frequently, and supporting emerging, marginalized, and BIPOC artists.” BIPOC stands for “Black, Indigenous, and People of Color”. 

Danielle East is an artist from La Grange, Texas who focuses on poetry and sculpting. Her dedication to the arts coupled with her passion for civic engagement led her to launch ELAH. East got her inspiration from seeing other African American women start businesses.

In fact, African American women launching startups is the largest growing demographic of entrepreneurs, according to Forbes. Kerry Hannon, Forbes Contributor, wrote, “the number of women-owned businesses grew an impressive 58% from 2007 to 2018, the number of firms owned by black women grew by a stunning 164%, nearly three times that rate.”

The twenty-four-year-old entrepreneur concentrates on bringing together individuals “heavily conscious about social activism” through ELAH. But not everyone shares her passion. East's greatest challenge was acknowledging criticism and working to overcome her own doubts. “One of our greatest challenges prior to launch was the consistent backlash… [People wanted] to belittle not just ELAH, or myself, but members of the East Lubbock community. It's something that continues to occur and makes the reason of ‘Why East Lubbock?' so important.”

After meeting with Hub mentor Stephen High and Hub Program Director Ganga Baskar, East entered the Innovation Hub's iLaunch Competition. The competition benefits entrepreneurs by giving them insightful feedback and leading them through creating a business model. “It made me focus on our exit strategy, our three-year projections, and actually drafting up a business plan I can send to potential donors and fellowships.” In February, ELAH won third in the 2021 iLaunch Competition.

When asked about what impact the Innovation Hub had on ELAH, East said, “The Innovation Hub through the iLaunch Competition made me really think about the community I was serving and made me look back at all we had done towards ELAH over the year.”

East has high hopes for ELAH. “Many initiatives in East Lubbock come and go, and we do not want ELAH to be like that. I at least want to strive to see ELAH last many years and create lasting change whether it be economically, artistically, or towards racial justice.” Through her art house and supporting local artists interested in social activism, East hopes to create a lasting impact in her community! 

“I think if anyone is interested in growing a business and brand, they should definitely do it! The world needs more entrepreneurs and founders; and if you don't think you have enough experience, no one does.”