Keyondra Lockett is a current Billboard charting artist with her single, Trouble Won’t Last, which is now #12 on the Gospel charts. Since her days as one of the original members of the Gospel group Ziel, the two-time Stellar nominee has collaborated with celebrity stylist and sister Kimberly Lockett to bring fans her new athleisure apparel line, Jolie Noire.
HelloBeautiful caught up with Lockett to chat about the inspiration behind Jolie Noire, how it represents unity inclusive to both light and dark skinned women, and how colorism continues to run rampant in the Black community. Check out what she had to say below!
On the inspiration behind Jolie Noire:
“Before Jolie Noire we were The Red Glasses Sisters, an online boutique that specialized in eyewear and accessories. We’ve always wanted to branch out into clothing but we needed a name that was more marketable and we wanted it to mean something to us. We saw there was a need to encourage black women because we’re often overlooked. Jolie Noire means Pretty Black in French and encourages the narrative that black women are pretty period.
When creating our brand, there was no other option as to whether this brand would be for either or light skinned or dark skinned women, because we’re all black. When an injustice happens to one, it happens to all of us because people who are not black don’t see the nuance differences that we as black people see. We create our designs with all black women in mind and try to make sure that each shade is represented.”
On her interest and eye for fashion:
“I’ve not always had an eye for fashion. It was my sister who put me on to stylists like Rachel Zoe and June Ambrose and anything style for that matter. Lol My sister styles me and still directs me as it relates to current fashion and beauty trends. I definitely know what I like and what suits me but my well polished looks are my sister/stylist, Kim.”
On using her platform to promote conversation around colorism:
“In my newest music video for my latest single, ‘Trouble Won’t Last,’ there is a scene where I’m with my girls. I purposely casted women of diverse shades to highlight the fact that we can come together and interact with each other with no focus on skin tone or competition. Now, the world gets to see that in action and hopefully replicate it. One of my goals is to maintain the importance of going beyond the stage and microphone to address the issues of colorism. Currently, a couple of ways I do this is through fashion by becoming a walking billboard with Jolie Noire and my social media platforms.”
On colorism in her personal life and music career:
“I’m a brown girl. The music industry is about what sells and since the mid 2000s, light-skinned women or ‘exotic’ looking women have taken first place in entertainment. Because this is the sought after look, women of my complexion often have to work a little bit harder to show our talent is just as worthy. One personal experience that I can recall, was when a makeup artist tried to pay me a compliment by saying that I had gotten ‘lighter’ over time in my career and implied that I was using skin lightening cream to bleach my skin.
The truth is, I was not bleaching my skin. He also made the statement that, ‘you’re not that dark.’ This intended compliment actually hurt because it was at that moment that I realized there are still people who live with these thoughts. Being dark is not negative or less beautiful. ”
On the impact of colorism on Black and brown women’s self-esteem:
“Darker women tend to feel that they’re not accepted or valued. By the same token, light skinned women suffer low self esteem and also practice minimizing self love. Because they want to feel accepted, light skinned women have watered themselves down in order to fit in or be valued as a black woman. When we should all, as black women, value ourselves and be valued by others because we’re human beings.”
On how to continue to push for having difficult conversations about colorism:
“Just by simply having the hard conversations. Also, by accepting that each skin tone suffers hardships related to cultural stereotypes but also have something positive to contribute to who we are as a culture. Also, the conversations about race and colorism have to be ongoing no matter how difficult they are. We’ve gotta stop over glorifying our preferences and challenge the verbiage, challenge the harsh jokes, and challenge the insecurities. We need to stop using the words exotic, or soft because sometimes these words have been used as a tool to attack, hurt, insult and damage many communities. Our preferences should not devalue another race, culture, or skin tone. Our compliments for one should not insult another. My prayer is that we can all heal and find the beauty in one another.”