A “Dame” is a woman of refinement.
While Carol Pohly and I celebrated my birthday last summer at First Watch at the Dayton Mall, we noticed a little boutique across the street called Simply Hyacinth. We decided to check it out and found some treasures we just couldn’t resist. I had no idea of the special story behind this store and it’s owner.
On March 12 at the author event at Centerville Library, a woman came in and purchased both books being featured. My ears perked up when I heard her called Hyacinth, such a lovely name. I asked, “Do you own the store at the Dayton Mall?”
Sure enough, she does. She was so friendly and enthusiastic, I grew curious. I googled her and discovered that she had earned the title of 2017 Dayton Woman of the Year for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS). I sent her an e-mail thanking her because LLS helped me with doctor bills when I had lymphoma in 2009. One thing led to another, and, on March 22, we rendezvoused at First Watch for a getting-to-know-you-better lunch. I discovered that Hyacinth is a powerhouse of a woman.
Impressed that only 7% of LLS funds are earmarked for administration, Hyacinth decided to do fundraising for them. All their other funds go for research and patient care. She raised $103,000 in just ten weeks. Currently Hyacinth recruits people from other countries to get involved in taking LLS to the rest of the world. She never expected to meet anyone who has benefited from her efforts. I reached out and shook her hand, saying, “Now you have met someone.”
Hyacinth emigrated from India thirty years ago to teach bio-chemistry and do research in West Virginia Universities. She met her husband and they have two children. Her daughter attends medical school and her son college. She and her daughter are preparing to write a novel based on three generations of her family.
Hyacinth sang the praises of Americans for our generosity with our time as well as our money. She first experienced this generosity in India when she was was twelve or thirteen. A woman made a big impression on her when she passed out rosaries inside little blue boxes tied with a white ribbon.
“If you are given a gift, use it.” ~Hyacinth Paul
After moving to Dayton, Hyacinth became active in volunteer and philanthropic activities. One endeavor involved organizing fashion shows as fundraisers. The Noble Circle Project benefited from one of them.
In November of 2013, Hyacinth was shocked to hear about the high rate of poverty in Dayton. She was even more shocked when she learned that a friend she had known for seven years lived below the poverty level. In addition to volunteering at the Food Bank, she swung into action to create additional income and jobs for women living in poverty.
She and her friend started creating products showing them in Hyacinth’s home and online. Then she expanded to a kiosk inside the mall, and the day after Thanksgiving 2014, she opened Simply Hyacinth. Her boutique features unique work from local artists and ordinary people from around the world who supply the most socially-responsible, one-of-a-kind, often handmade goods. Hyacinth donates 25% of the profits to support education and entrepreneurship. You can read the full story here and here.
So, if you are looking for American artisan brands, locally crafted jewelry and fashions, and modern furniture and art … where Eastern tradition meets Western style … and where you leave feeling good about your money supporting worthy causes, pay Simply Hyacinth a visit. It is an adventure to remember. And if you are lucky, you will meet Hyacinth, the enchanting and impressive owner … definitely a woman of refinement.