Sisters Kim and Keyondra Lockett share 3 tips for aspiring fashion designers

The CEOs share inspiration behind their athleisure brand Jolie Noire

Entrepreneurs Kim and Keyondra Lockett are the founders of the fashion athleisure brand Jolie Noire. The French phrase, meaning ‘pretty black’ in English to encourage women of color to be powerful in their femininity. The entrepreneurs wish to shine a light on Black women everywhere through their company.

The Lockett sisters spoke with rolling out about the inspiration behind the brand and three tips for aspiring designers.

What is the inspiration behind the brand?

Kim: So, Keyondra and I had a business before Jolie Noire and we really couldn’t figure out how to market our business because it was called The Red Glasses Sisters. It was just so limiting. The name and the actual product that we had, couldn’t expand to men or clothing. We always wanted to do a clothing line, so the name came around the time of Trayvon Martin’s death. What we realized is, Jolie Noire means pretty black in French, and what we realized is that there was a time and moment [where it seemed like] racial injustice would go on at one time, and then would go down to a little standstill, if you will.

As I was in school, getting my master’s, I also saw a lot of statistics that seem to put Black women as an afterthought. And of course, being a wardrobe stylist too, seeing how there are not many options that fit Black women’s sizes, representation, color-wise, and just across the board. … we decided to settle on JolieNoire, so that we could have something that meant something. Something that could expand anywhere, and mean something to our community. We want to serve our community. So, that’s how we got started.

Any tips for aspiring designers?

Kim: So, I would say just never be married to anything that you do. Just kind of put it out there and tease it out there for your customers. Your customers are going to kind of guide you and tell you a little bit about what they want from you. So, just be willing to test different designs. I always used to hate hearing that when we were first starting, but it’s true. You just have to put it out there and see what’s going to take. Not just throw everything at the wall and see what takes, but consciously put it out there and not be afraid. Not being afraid of people mocking it, saying no to it, or whatever. There’s a customer for everything. I truly believe that there’s an audience for everything, so you just test it out there.

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