via the LA Times
I recently had the opportunity to chat with the LA Times about Mae Jones. Why did I start it? Who is it named after? What's the purpose? How does Mae Jones plan to change the fashion industry? I answered all those questions below!
The second I graduated from college, I packed up my Jetta and made the drive West from Texas to California. I wanted to work in fashion but not in the classic sophistication of the New York scene. I wanted the celebrity-driven, red-carpet glitz and glam Hollywood had to offer. Upon my arrival in Los Angeles, I started an assistant job at a well-known fashion PR agency. There I began what has been a 15-year career in the fashion industry.
I had worked in a PR office for a few years before realizing I was better suited for the excitement of “set life.” I soon became an assistant to celebrity wardrobe stylists. I was usually the only Black girl on set, the only Black girl at fittings and the only Black girl on the styling team. I had always been aware of race. Growing up Black in this country, how could you not be?
I knew a few Black and brown faces at PR agencies. Generally they were the most helpful when I needed something loaned for a special project. It was like an unspoken, underground support system within the industry that was essential for a girl like me to survive.
During downtime on set, I was often excluded from the conversations on fashion and style (although I was a wardrobe stylist). That’s unless we were talking about streetwear, sneakers or a clothing company started by a hip-hop artist. Then all of a sudden I became the expert in that category. The only sneakers I owned were used for workouts. Oh, the irony.
The fashion industry often kept me feeling alienated and overlooked. They’d say, “Jerry Hall.” I’d say, “Pat Cleveland.” They’d say, “Anna Wintour.” I’d say, “Eunice Johnson.
I felt the weight of needing to educate white people and provide visibility to Black glamour in fashion. That’s when the thought first crossed my mind about creating a luxury Black magazine: “Like Vogue but Black.”
I carried that idea around in my heart for years.
My last living grandparent died last September in Texas. Both of my grandmothers heavily influenced my life, including my relationship with fashion and style. My maternal grandmother, an educator, was the epitome of classic chic: a kitten heel, a sheath dress and never without a bold red lip. My paternal grandmother, a nurse, was the queen of camp: leopard-print caftans, costume jewelry and her shoulder-length natural hair always braided up under her perfectly styled wig.
Both of them used fashion as a form of self-expression. It was a way to speak to the world about their experiences even if society had muted their voices. I wanted to honor that fearless energy. Thus, the vision for Mae Jones was born.
Mae Jones, a combination of my grandmothers’ names, is a magazine that believes in the beauty of Black representation and is dedicated to redefining the look of luxury in the fashion and beauty industries.
Mae Jones launched February in a digital form. I was honored that so many of my creative friends wanted to help me create content for the magazine. We all knew the importance of visibility — the importance of aspirational imagery featuring Black women.
Click here to read the rest of my chat with the LA Times.