I’m ambivalent about the whole “New Year, New You” mantra. Usually, this statement is accompanied with lackluster and undisciplined vows of change. However, who am I to deny someone a wardrobe update, if that will help them be the best new them they can be? New clothes can give you a boost of confidence, because when you look good, you feel fantastic. Confidence explodes through your veins and you just know you can take on the world. I feel this way when I rock a new crop top, or when my cute sweatshirts match my scarves. Aesthetics encourage my creativity which in turn produces a more productive environment. Lucky for me, 2018 seems to be the year where many are hoping that themselves and others are able to create even more magic that inspires self-assurance and self-love, AND I AM ALL ABOUT IT.
You’ve definitely seen this entrepreneur’s products floating all over the internet. Her colorful and bold apparel light my Instagram feed on fire, and I look forward to seeing all of her Story updates about new projects in the works. These words say very little about how much I admire Adorned by Chi, but I can do my best to spotlight them in a way that emphasizes their creativity, their pledge for inclusiveness, and their vibrant creations. As a guilty collector of anime and geeky clothing, I have been IN LOVE with this Texas-based company for a long ass time. Pastels, WOC centered, and anime-themes? Sign me up!!! Make sure to take a peek at their No-Face designs as well.
Much of their clothing speak to People of Color, more specifically to Black folks navigating in nerd spaces. Her statements on crop tops and sweatshirts are fun and concise, but also uplifting. It is inspiring and sheds hope on an otherwise tumultuous plane that is the geek community: Black nerds are here and proud. You cannot imagine how excited I was when my editor told me I had the opportunity to interview CEO and creator of AoC Jacque (shout-out to you Leslie!), and I was so grateful and happy to be able to pick her brain a bit. Please enjoy!
Black Nerd Problems: First things first, who would win in a fight; Sailor Uranus from Sailor Moon or “Twilight” Suzuka from Outlaw Star?
Adorned by Chi: I’ve never seen Outlaw Star, so I’m gonna have to ride with Sailor Uranus!
BNP: Please tell me a bit about yourself! What is your everyday life like? Where did you grow up?
Adorned by Chi: My name is Jacque, I’m a Nigerian nerd raised in Kansas, now residing in Dallas, TX! I usually spend my days packing orders, designing new products, answering customer emails, editing photos/videos, and watching cartoons. I’m at my desk a lot. I should probably get out more!
BNP: Your unique pieces range from enamel pins to bold crop tops to tasteful and cozy sweatshirts. How do you come up with your designs?
Adorned by Chi: My designs are definitely a reflection of my life as a sort of nerdy, socially awkward Black woman into cute stuff so it’s really easy for me to come up with new pieces. I just create things that I wish existed or designs that are a reflection of how I, and many others, feel inside.
BNP: Do you incorporate any social or political messages in your work?
Adorned by Chi: I love creating designs that empower Black women and make them feel beautiful and represented. That’s why you’ll see tees that say “Black & Proud”, “Magic Melanin” & “Respect my feminine energy” in the shop.
I love creating designs that empower Black women and make them feel beautiful and represented.
BNP: What does geek culture mean to your brand and does it influence how you engage with your audience?
Adorned by Chi: My brand is definitely influenced by my love of the magical girl aesthetic, so in terms of geekiness that’s where it would fit! But personally I’m more of a multifaceted geek, ha! Since I’m a nerd and so are most of my customers, I really just chat with them like they’re my friends because, to me, they are!
BNP: What was most surprising for you when you entered into this business?
Adorned by Chi: Because I have had experience with e-commerce in the past nothing in the beginning surprised me, because I had done it all before. However I will say there have been a few growing pains along the way that have tripped me up, like getting a huge spike in orders suddenly. They are always welcome and appreciated but always a challenge when running a business on your own.
BNP: What is one thing about opening your own store that you wish you could change?
Adorned by Chi: I wish there was more of a support system for new business owners when it comes to the nitty gritty stuff like tracking expenses and profit and sales forecasting. That’s the hard part, and that’s the part that can make or break your business if you don’t have proper training.
BNP: Do you have a fun or insightful anecdote about when you first started Adorned by Chi that helped encourage you or influenced you?
Adorned by Chi: I’m not sure if this is fun or insightful but something that helped motivate me was the lack of Black women wearing the cutesy fashion that I loved. I definitely want to fill that void and showcase us being fun, free, cutesy and multifaceted.
I definitely want to fill that void and showcase us being fun, free, cutesy and multifaceted.
BNP: What are your goals for the future?
Adorned by Chi: My goal is to be in the position to hire Black women who may not have gotten a chance elsewhere. As someone who fumbles during interviews but does really good work, and has experienced microaggressions in the workplace, I want to be able to create a fun safe haven for my future employees.
If you’re stuck on what to get your loved ones this new year, or just want to indulge a bit to make your 2018 a whole lot cuter for yourself, head on over to Adorned by Chi’s website. We just know you’ll walk away with something cozy and unique!
All Photos supplied by Adorned by Chi with the exception of the last which has been provided by the interviewer.