Interview By: Appei Porbeni
I’ve always loved that cute delicate gentle doe-eyed aesthetic – it’s been used by Barbie, Audrey Hepburn, Zooey Deschanel, and even Usagi Tsukino (Sailor Moon) – but it’s never been associated with black women. Black women are not allowed to be seen as delicate or tender, we’re always depicted as fierce and loud. While white feminists fight for the liberation of not being seen as the princess in the tower, black feminists argue that black women were never given princess status in the first place – we are never seen as a purity worth protecting.
Thanks to shows like Issa Rae’s, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl and Insecure, and Michaela Coel’s Chewing Gum, the rise of the awkward black girl is more apparent and serving to show that black girls are not an ‘other’ that can be stereotyped and shelved in a box – we are people and people have their own proclivities and personalities, and some black girls are awkward and cutesy.
I recently discovered Adorned by Chi, a cutesy lifestyle brand that embodies the cutesy feminine aesthetic and highlights the aspects of being a black girl that are often left out by other brands.
I got to speak to Jacque, the creator of the awesome brand, and it was the most amazing experience. She’s basically the coolest entrepreneur out there, read on to see why I think she’s a BO$$.
– What inspired you to create Adorned by Chi? What does the “Chi” stand for?
I created Adorned by Chi as a creative outlet after quitting my job. I was freelancing at the time and I wasn’t having much fun (I was also broke, ha!), so Adorned by Chi was a way to build something that encompassed all of my hobbies into a fun side hustle. “Chi” actually means God in Igbo, so when you read Adorned by Chi I mean it as “made beautiful by God”.
– What inspired you to embody the quirky cool “kawaii” black girl aesthetic?
I’ve always been drawn to cutesy, quirky and super girly aesthetics. I’ve also been frustrated by the lack of representation in that area, which I’ve written about for Black Girl Nerds in the past. When you see pages that celebrate that type of aesthetic you never see Black women…only white and Asian women. And don’t get me wrong, they look great in their poofy skirts and bubblegum pink hair, but so do we!
– What’s your favorite shirt in the store?
Right now, the weirdo crop top is my favorite because I’m the epitome of weird ha!
– Would you ever consider expanding into Lolita since your brand’s cuteness aesthetic isn’t too far from Lolita?
I love and admire Lolita fashion but I’m not necessarily part of the culture, however, I do love a good poofy skirt and people often ask where I get mine from, so a line of skirts is definitely in the plans!
– If you could go back and change one decision you made in your career, what would it be?
I don’t think I’d change a thing. All the wrong turns I made, made me more familiar with the right way. I think mistakes are the best lessons.
– What’s your work process? What’s a day in the life of a working Jacque like? How do you keep yourself on top of everything?
Because I do everything on my own, no two days seem to be alike! One day I may be designing new products, the next day I may photograph pieces and the day after that I’m shipping orders. The only constant is that I don’t often venture outside, ha! Being able to make my customers happy really motivates me to create more, and stay on top of things. I seriously have the best customers and they give me the best feedback and encouragement.
– How do you handle nervousness and dealing with the stigma that black women don’t get anxious?
I have pretty extreme social anxiety. In fact, my anxiety is the reason I ventured out on my own- to work without politics. I’m no expert on coping mechanisms, but for me, setting boundaries help. I let my friends know that sometimes I just need to be alone and some understand and some don’t and that’s ok! When it comes to anxiety about business, having other people in my life who have the same goals and deal with the same issues helps immensely. When I start feeling nervous they remind me that I’m not alone. And generally, throwing pity parties– with candles, cool music, and greasy food- usually calms my nerves.
– How do you deal with haters?
As a freelance designer, I’ve become accustomed to negative feedback. In fact, negative feedback is valuable because it helps you improve! But the comments that get to me are ones that are rude or hateful for no reason. With those, I usually have to convince myself that it’s not about me, and the comments are a reflection of the person spewing them.
– What’s one thing you’re most proud of?
I’m super proud of the community I’ve built around my business. Customers have become my friends, I ask them for feedback, and I want them all to be happy! Our upcoming Magic and Melanin party was actually requested by my customers and I’m super happy that I have that kind of relationship with them.
– What advice would you give to young black creators who are struggling to find that “edge” or “voice”?
Just be you! No matter how awkward or weird or shy you are. People will be drawn to your genuine energy. 🙂
*End of Interview!*
Jacque has also written other articles Black Girl Nerds! You may read her wonderful articles here: