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Last week I got the opportunity to experience quite a few new things thanks to Lincoln Motor Company. Lincoln and its partner brand Ford are friends of the LoveBrownSugar family. You might recall that I attended my very first BET Awards back in 2012 courtesy of Ford and that I attended this year’s Essence Black Women in Hollywood luncheon for the very first time as a guest of Lincoln.
Well last week, they gave me the pleasure of attending my very first TriBeca Film Festival! Growing up in NYC, I’d always heard about the festival and that it often brings out a myriad of celebrities including musicians, actors and actresses that are featured in these independent films.
I’m not a huge film buff but I can always appreciate works of art that people put their hearts and souls into. There’s something very special about film and I appreciate the storytelling aspect of it because I consider myself a visual and written storyteller as well.
Zoé Zeigler’s life is all about balance. The marketing professional doesn’t believe in limiting herself and manages her multiple professional roles with poise and polish. As the Executive Director of New York’s chapter of ColorComm she hosts warm and welcoming events designed to inform and empower women of color. As a Senior Manager at Teen Vogue, she focuses on managing Integrated Marketing & Brand Partnerships and as a blogger she creates compelling content designed to uplift and stand out. We caught up with Zoé to learn about statement earrings, confidence, and the importance of branding beyond your business card.
Name: Zoé Zeigler
Location: New York, New York
Describe Your Personal Style in Three Words: Thrifts, prints and…me
Who Are Your Favorite Designer(s): I love supporting independent designers. Some of my favorites at the moment are DPiperTwins and Lois London. I’m not really into your traditional “labels.” I’ll take nice one-of-a-kind vintage/thrifted item or a cute African printed piece over a big name brand any day.
What Are Your Must Have Accessories?: A statement pair of earrings for sure. I have over 60 pairs displayed like art in my apartment that I rotate wearing daily.
Learn more about Zoé Zeigler below.
This post is a follow-up to The Truth About NYFW, an opinion piece penned in February 2015. Sentiments below are my own and do not reflect the sentiments of any brands or entities I’m affiliated with. Just keepin’ it 100.
I often get lauded as a lifestyle blogger of color for having a platform that caters specifically to women of color. I created the LoveBrownSugar brand and its sister brands (BabyBrownSugar and BrownGirlsLove) because of the lack of diversity I saw in the media industry. I wanted to create spaces where women who looked like me and who were proud of their skin tones, their curves, their curly hair and everything in between that made them unique, could come and dish on all things lifestyle. My platform and my brands have always been primarily for women of color, and I’m not the least bit apologetic about that.
What has surprised me though, about having a quote on quote “niche” audience in the lifestyle space, is that it comes with very interesting labels and subsequent treatment. You’d think, considering platforms for women of color, by women of color, are typically created with positive intentions and also to help encourage diversity, that they would help usher in and open up broader conversations about the importance of black dollars. Sometimes they do, and when that happens it’s awesome. We jump up and down. We twirl in a circle. We stand in formation (thanks Bey). We millie rock on every block. But then. Then, there are the days like Monday. When we scroll through Instagram only to find a fellow influencer of color like Jessica Franklin of HeyGorJess post something like this:
Appalled? Shocked? Blown? I’m not. It’s sad and incredibly unfortunate but when I saw Jessica’s Instagram post yesterday I was angry but NOT SURPRISED. I said to myself,
“Wow. Somebody finally owned up to not wanting to market to black people.”
It may surprise you but what I’ve grown to accept in my former 6 years as a digital influencer is that many of the companies that we, as consumers of color, support on a regular basis really could care less about marketing directly to us. This response from ShopLondon-LA boutique is proof. Granted, there are quite a few speculations about the background (and mental sanity?) of the owner behind this company but that’s beside the point. The company reached out to Jessica about a partnership with her blog, then when she declined the opportunity, subsequently deemed it a mistake stating that they “are not looking for a black audience”. Her audience is black. And not what they wanted.
This is real life when blogging while black.
It has become strikingly clear to me that some brands appreciate our money but don’t want to be affiliated with us. And it’s an incredibly sad but true reality that some marketing departments won’t even reach out and offer opportunities to “niche” bloggers because they don’t want to cater their brands to diverse audiences. They don’t want to sit with us. So why should they spend marketing dollars on us?
You become incredibly aware of your blackness when you work in this industry. In my post The Truth About NYFW that I penned exactly one year ago, I expressed my sentiment about this. You start to realize, when there are only one or two fellow black girls in the room at press events, backstage at shows during NYFW, on the runway or on set for photo shoots for national campaigns, how different you really are and how little the fashion industry cares about diversity and representation.
Approaching my 13th consecutive season here in NYC during NYFW, it’s a sad reality but I am attending and supporting less and less runway shows and doing way less backstage coverage than ever before. “I’m over it” is an understatement. Controversial situations like Jessica’s demonstrate a mentality that is not discussed but that is widespread in this industry.
So, I can hear you asking me – well, what do we do? How can I help? How can we change things? You know I would never come to the table with a problem without a solution.
The solution is to be the change we want to see. That has always been my solution and it should be yours as well. I hated the fact that women of color have so much spending power but companies don’t care about us. So, I created the Shop LoveBrownSugar holiday pop-up shop to help support black and female-owned businesses annually during the holiday season.
I hated that after years of working in the fashion and beauty industries, it was still a FIGHT to get invited to shows by designers who could care less about reaching my audience. So, this season I’m bypassing all that and instead I am proud to be a Social Media Hostess for Texture on the Runway – NYFW’s premiere textured hair fashion show that caters specifically to celebrating diverse women with curly hair.
It’s being presented by NaturallyCurly with exclusive retailer sponsor Target and myself and many of my favorite influencers (including HeyGorJess!) will be in the building. The brands represented at the show (like Cantu, Design Essentials, Creme of Nature, Dark & Lovely and Garnier) celebrate diversity and inclusion and I am proud to be part of something during NYFW that makes me feel good and will empower and unite women across the board.
I created LBS because I couldn’t stand reading print magazines and online media that didn’t cater to me. So now, I align only with publications that I feel stress and encourage diversity. That’s why I’m a proud ambassador for magazines like People StyleWatch and their digital property TheOutfit. They’ve placed a great emphasis on making sure women of different sizes, skin tones, and backgrounds are represented in their pages. Something that the rest of the editorial world can take a cue from.
The sad reality is, brands like ShopLondon-LA will ALWAYS be around and the people behind them will continue to be closed-minded and prejudiced. Be mindful of who you give your support to and know that every dollar counts.
Thoughts? What would YOU do to create change?
Photography by Augusta Sagnelli
When Obi Nwabuzor realized she was spending more time styling floral arrangements and streamers than studying and solving equations she knew her priorities had permanently shifted. The accounting major and member of Alpha Kappa Alpha inc. sought out ways to turn her talent for throwing parties into a profitable event production firm beginning with an informal internship that imparted invaluable information. Now with clients, including LoveBrownSugar, clamoring for her services Obi has made a name for herself as a top producer of quality social experiences including unforgettable weddings and stylish pop-up shops. We spoke to the woman behind O.N. Events about budgets, organization, and why it’s important to voice even the most unpopular of opinions.
Find out more about Obi below!
Entrepreneurs Ginger Johnson and Liz Pickett have transformed shared values into shared success. The best friends and business partners used financial literacy, marketing savvy, and organic relationships to their launch their luxury nail lacquer line Ginger & Liz. Available in a variety of vibrant colors the Ginger & Liz brand is committed to making sure women understand why they have right know what’s in their cosmetics. They’re also dedicated to providing safe beauty options that are affordable and accessible in the future from pigmented polishes to luxurious lip scrubs. Find out how these two women turned a non toxic lifestyle into a lucrative company below and don’t miss your chance to check out their product with a complimentary mini manicure at #ShopLoveBrownSugar!
While some may have seen a stint of unemployment as a reason to give up hope Dana Bly found grace in uncertainty. Inspired by the dynamic styles of the natural hair movement and the vibrant moments that occur in everyday life she used her illustration skills to start a small business. Pardon My Fro speaks to women of all backgrounds infusing spice and personality into seemingly dull household items like coffee mugs and shower curtains. We spoke with her about inspiration, the need for professionalism in small businesses, and balancing being an artist and businesswoman.
Learn more about Dana and Pardon My Fro below.
Designer Trina Turk has turned her talent into a brand that embraces prints, pops of color and a playful design sensibility. After twenty years her eponymous label still translates trends seamlessly into its aesthetic of california style.
Read more about Trina Turk below.
Essence has chosen to honor four chic individuals for their Second Annual Street Style awards. Sponsored by Chevy, Sheamoisture, and Home Depot and taking place immediately after the Essence Street Style Block Party these awards are intended to honor those are putting a fresh face on fashion.
Labeled this year’s “Style Disruptor” Jason Rembert has taken his bold perspective to the red carpets styling Rita Ora, Solange, Asap Rocky, Erykah Badu, Taraji P. Henson and more. At just twenty-seven years old he’s landed a spot on The Hollywood Reporter’s 25 Top Stylists list. Despite his success he’s determined never to disrupt the learning process advising new stylists to check their ego and “be a lifelong intern!”. We can’t wait to see what else this talent has in store.
Read more about this year’s honorees below.
Designer Kimberly Goldson balances structure and business savvy to create a clothing line that is delicately disciplined. From her signature KG pant to boldly patterned dresses she sees design through the lens of the millennial woman. We spoke with her about the need for inspiration, personal goals, and how we as a community can create the change we want to see in the clothing industry.
Name: Kimberly Goldson
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Personal Style in three words: Varied, Cosmopolitan, Luxury
Favorite Designer(s): Oscar De la Renta was one of my favorites, Cushnie Et Ochs, and Christian Dior. I like structured designers.
Must Have Accessories: Right now I’m obsessed with rings. I like stacking a lot of rings. Hats transform can outfit.
You have a degree in Fashion Merchandising Management, how does having a background behind the scenes inform your business decisions as a designer?
I’m so thankful for having a merchandising background. Starting in merchandising behind the scenes allowed me to look at the business of fashion differently than coming from a perspective of just making pretty clothes. I look at it from what women want to wear, what’s going to sell, what fits their body types so that gives me a different perspective and an advantage.
What about the millennium woman inspires you?
The millennium woman inspires me because she’s fearless. I think the millennials are definitely more risk takers. Sometimes in retail we get caught up in just buying and selling what we think most people would wear and we don’t give the risk takers enough credit. That’s what I love about designing for millennials. They like the bold colors they like the bold patterns.
What would you like to see the Kimberly Goldson brand accomplish?
I really want to inspire and transform lives. I want people to look at what I’ve been able to accomplish with the brand and see that they can do it as well- in terms of whatever their dream is. This is no small feat. I am just a humble girl from Brooklyn and I mean that in the sincerest way. You hear the phrase “if i can do it, you can do it”, I AM that phrase. That’s what I want people to see from the brand.
What do you think we can do as a community to help black designers?
We can support them. We don’t have enough African-American designers in mainstream fashion. There’s not enough. We can make great clothes as well. If we get behind our African-American designers and companies, us as a community, then we can start a new trend, we can start a new movement in the fashion industry, in the retailers, in what we see in the stores.
Learn more about Kimberly Goldson’s career below.
Written by Keyaira N. Boone
Plus. Extended. Womens. No matter what you call the section of a store that caters to size 12 and above, it’s separate.
And when I walk into the Mall at Short Hills with a slim friend I know I’m preparing for a separate but not so equal shopping experience. As we enter * insert the name of your favorite department store here* the escalator will foreshadow our fates as she is led to the area for “ladies” and I’m left to languish in the limited offerings of whatever is on the sales floor for the full-figured and fashionable.