An artist and textile designer allied with the Black Arts Movement, Robert E. Paige trained at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and worked at the architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. He traveled to Italy and Western Africa to learn the history and manufacturing techniques of textiles and began producing scarves and drapings with the Fiorio Milano company to retail at department stores such as Carson Pirie Scott. Sears Roebuck sold his Dakkabar collection nationwide.