Jamé Jackson is a style and beauty journalist and content creator based in Brooklyn, New York. Her work — which has appeared in Refinery29, XoNecole, BuzzFeed, HuffPo, Fashionista, and countless others — centers around body positivity, identity, and the narrative of black and brown people in fashion and beauty. I caught up with Jamé as we discussed what it takes to create great content, the power of branding, and what to do to expand your brand.
What inspired you to start blogging?
Jame: “I’ve always been a writer, even when I was younger. I would sit down and write out plays and stories in my notebook on Saturday mornings. I always opted for the written essay in school because I really loved articulating my thoughts on paper. I liked the challenge of making sense of the 80 million things that run through my head at the same time and putting it down in digestible words for other people to read. When I was about to graduate from Howard, I knew that I wanted to pursue journalism, but I hadn’t done any big women’s magazine internships while in school, and consequently, no real writing clips. I had heard of people having blogs, or Tumblrs, to showcase their creativity, so I decided to set up a blog and write. Then, I could send those stories and clips to editors and potential employers to show them that I could write and articulate myself. So that’s really how the start happened — it just felt like the right solution to a problem. Over the years, I’ve turned blogging more into a platform to show myself as a creative, an entrepreneur, and an advocate for intersectionality of race and gender in the fashion and beauty industry.”
What are the most important lessons you’ve learned so far in running a creative business?
Jame: “Wow. There are so many lessons I deem important in running a creative business. First, I think it’s so important that you stay hungry and resourceful and scrappy. I am still the girl who will stay up until the wee hours to proofread an article, to photoshop the right photo, to curate the right set of questions for an interview. I’m the same girl with the same work ethic that I had five years ago when I first started in the game. I’ve just slowed down because I’m doing more now than I was five years ago, lol. So definitely staying hungry, because there are many times and many days you will put out dope shit and nobody says thank you. Nobody cheers you on. But you have to love what you do so much you can pat yourself on the back and keep pushing, regardless of the numbers or the praise.
Another lesson is really figuring out what space you take up in the world and how you want to showcase that. Everyone wants to be a blogger. Everyone calls themselves a photographer now because they have an iPhone. How do YOU stand out from everyone else? What impact are you bringing and how is your voice different than the people next to you? I think that’s an important lesson because it’s so easy to sound like everyone else, to just join in with the choir. But at the end of the day, you have to see your work and feel good about what you’ve presented to the world. I’d much rather stay true to myself and climb slow than climb up fast and not recognize myself and my voice. I guess you can say the lesson is authenticity.“
Describe your personal style.
Jame: “I never know what to say when people ask me this, ugh. Definitely colorful. I feel like I don’t take as many fashion risks as I’d like to, but that’s because I’m really over wearing one outfit on the train and completely changing into designer when I get into the office, haha. Definitely bohemian with a splash of designer. All I know is that my favorite hoop earrings (which I wear almost every day) were $1 at the beauty supply store!”
Name the biggest overall lesson you’ve learned in running a brand.
Jame: “Patience. There are many, many days I look up and feel like I’m not progressing or I’m not moving. Then I have to take a step back and say, “Why do you think you’re not getting anywhere?”, and usually it comes down to comparing myself to someone else’s journey and seeing they got the deal in five months and it’s taken me five years. Then I look and see what I have done — I’ve been on air, I’ve been featured in magazines, I get put in story roundups, I’ve been on the radio, and so much more. So why, then, should I say I’m not doing a lot when the Jamé five years ago would be so proud? Comparison really will rob you of enjoying the present and what you HAVE done, and I’ve really had to learn to just lean on God and practice stillness internally and gratitude externally. Your journey is your own, and there is no formula or notion of how long it’ll take you to get to where you’re trying to go.”
What’s the best advice you have for bloggers trying to expand their brand?
Jame: “Other than the lessons I’ve mentioned above, my advice would be to really hone in on your craft and work on it tirelessly. And be a student. I get a lot of emails from young ladies who want to be a fashion writer, but then when I ask them to send me some of their writing clips, they don’t have anything. Or they don’t know the big players in the game who are extremely foundational to the craft. I’m not saying you have to be able to name every Editor-in-Chief of your favorite magazine to be worthy, but you should actually know something of the industry you want to be part of. Study your craft and learn, learn, learn. And then write! I write every day. Literally, every day. If you want to be a writer, write. Use writing prompts to get you inspired or just pick topics and write on that. It’s a tool that, like anything else, requires constant usage so you don’t lose it. Work your writing muscle and really be meticulous with your work, then diversify your learning potential and tap into new areas.”
What are the key strategies when it comes to creating great content?
Jame: “I think you need to know what people are talking about and what they may be looking to learn. My site does center around showcasing what’s already been done or said by a campaign or brand, but I still do product reviews or quick write ups when a release happens, because I know people are probably searching the internet on information for that topic. So really staying on the pulse of what your industry is talking about and where you can go to find it. Then, really ensuring you take your time with your work. Some stories I labor on for weeks before putting it out, because I know it’s just me — I want the graphics to be great, the words to match, the right fonts, the right questions. If it’s a trending story, that’s one thing, but if you can afford to take an extra moment to look things over, then do that.”
What does success mean to you? Has a mistake ever led you to success?
Jame: “Success to me really means happiness and joy. If I see that my work is educating people while also sprinkling God into their lives, then I find that to be success. I don’t have everything in the world I’d like, but I have everything I need and most of what I want. I’m fortunate and blessed to do what I do and for it to touch people.
I don’t know if a singular mistake has led to success, but I do believe that everything is working for my good (that’s biblical), so if that’s the case, even my mistakes make me better. Everything is pushing me into greatness.”
What do you do when you’re in a creative rut?
Jame: “Honeyyy, those days come ALL the time. Usually when I get in a rut, I just take a break. Watch TV, go to the museums, go to a spoken word open mic night, just something to re-stimulate my senses. I play instruments, I draw, I paint, I dance. I volunteer. My style inspirations come from culture, so when I feel stuck, I just resubmit myself back into culture and get filled back up. It’s not always easy, and obviously when I’m working with brands or there’s money involved, I have to push myself out. But if I just have time on my hands and know I’m beating myself up for nothing, I’ll just take a few days to regroup. Mental health is very important to me, and I don’t force myself to just work and numb my feelings like I did years ago. I give myself grace to be stuck and need a moment.”
If you were give $2 million, would you run your blog platform differently? How so?
Jame: “OMG yes. Well, first of all $200,000 of that would be going into tithes, haha. I really do believe in honoring God with my money because it ultimately belongs to Him. With the rest of the money, I’d hire freelancers to write different pieces and people who could help with the technical aspects of running a site or editing a video for my YouTube channel. I would outsource a lot of things, because then I could focus more on the face of the brand and building it up. I’m always going to be someone who has her hand on everything, that’s just my nature. But with money, I could definitely create more opportunities that puts more money in other black creators. Prayerfully, I’ll get there one day, so check back in on me in a few years.”
What does the world need more of? Less of?
Jame: “I think these two things go hand in hand, because I would say the world needs more God and less group mentality. When I get into creative ruts or just don’t feel like I’m really doing anything important, I have to speak over my life and remind myself what God has said about me. That my gifts will make room for me, that He will do exceedingly and abundantly more than I can ask, that I can do all things through Him, that I’m of a royal priesthood. When you remind yourself of who you are and who God says you are, you know what you are NOT. So many bloggers run off group mentality — everyone has the same photos, the same captions, the same skills, the same push to be an influencer. But when you embrace the person God has made you to be, you will move in your own lane and not move with the herd. You’ll walk different, you’ll talk different. Things won’t always be great and rainy days will come, but I am proud to know that I can go to bed at night knowing I’ve never sold out. I haven’t lost myself in this mess of the world. I really hope we get back to a place where authenticity becomes the motivating factor in creating content because content heals. Content brings people together. Content makes sense out of things. That’s the goal and vision for this world, so any way I’m able to help in that, I’m always down.”
About The Blonde Misfit
Ms. Jamé Jackson has been a past honoree on Google’s “Women to Watch” list, spoken at SxSW and Columbia University (to name a few), and been the recipient of countless awards, one of her favorites being the Heir PR “Penned” award for her site, TheBlondeMisfit.com. At the end of the day, Jamé hopes to inspire women and men to fearlessly pursue their dreams and passion, while always striving to be a blessing unto others.