Interviews

A Conversaton with Jamaican Fashion Blogger, James Black

Written by Denise Lee

This week we speak to  Jamaican Fashion Blogger  James Black. JB, as she is fondly known , blogs what’s hot in fashion in Jamaica and abroad at the JB Style Zone. She is also the Co-Director of a Jamaican female clothing line called ‘Yahdie Conscious’ and also has a a line of headpieces called ‘GlamHEAD’. 

Is James your real first name?
-My first name is actually Jami…So James comes from that, my friends started calling me that in high school..Black is also not my real last name;)

What inspired you to create JBSTYLEZONE?
I saw blogging as a way to promote my line further and reach a new audience.. My sister was actually the one that told me I should do it cause she thought my sense of style was something people might appreciate.

When did you first fall in love with fashion?
I fell in love with fashion kind of late in comparison to other designers. I was a tomboy growing up and definitely not into dressing up or make-up..In high school my friends and I used to love transforming old pieces and making them new by cutting them with scissors and dressing different from the norm when we went out, so that was my first sign that I was into fashion but my love for it grows everyday, especially since I started blogging and I have to get a bit deeper into the fashion world.

How would you describe your own personal style?
My personal style is definitely relaxed and edgy. I’m not high maintenance when it comes to my style, I like relaxed, unique pieces but that also might have that element of sexy.

Describe your fashion mission?
My fashion mission is definitely to be seen as one of the great fashion bloggers not just in Jamaica but abroad as well…I’ve also done a few styling jobs so I’d love to get more into that and of course I want my clothing line, ‘YC’, to be as successful as is possible, no boundaries.

Your blog is incredibly successful and was recently nominated for a Jamaica Blog Award. Has its popularity taken you by surprise?
YES! Definitely. I’m always surprised when someone messages me on twitter or facebook just to say they love my blog…At the blog awards couple of my readers came out to support me, I lost but I was just happy that I made it to the top 5 in my category…And at parties I have gotten people coming up to me saying they read it and its always a great feeling. The blog is less than a year old and it has a strong following so I’m happy.

What’s your take on Jamaican style?
I think Jamaican style has improved over the years as we’ve gotten new stores selling more trendy and unique pieces that you would see in stores abroad. So people are more aware of what’s fashionable now. But I still see a lot of women thinking that because its tight and short its sexy and in most cases it isn’t right for their body type and it just looks cheap. I see a lot of women here squeezing into dresses, shorts, tops etc. that are too small.

Which designers do you love right now?
I am loving Marchesa, Alexander Wang,and brands like Boxing Kitten and Topshop.

What item of clothing (if any) do you wish that more of us wore?
I don’t think there’s any item I wish people wore more of cause that’s boring if everybody was more or less wearing a lot of the same thing. But I wish in Jamaica people would take more fashion risks, both male and female. I have a male friend that went out and bought a male brooch after I blogged about it and he rocks it so well and I’ve never seen another man with it. He always stands out because he isn’t afraid to try different things. I love to see people like that.

Tell us about ‘Yahdie Conscious’?
YC is a brand I started with my best friend,Jaye-Ann O’Connor in 2004 when we just entered University. We aimed for it just to be a T-shirt line with phrases that we thought were cool and inspirational but after about 4 years we started to get into dresses, cardigans and more recently accessories. We consider the brand to be funky and edgy which represents our personal style. Its a relaxed brand with casual pieces but they always have that unique flair.

Any plans to start a male line?
Actually when we started out with T-shirts we did both male and female shirts. We discontinued the male line around the same time we began to expand the female line. We have a lot of males still complaining about that but I think personally we didn’t think we could go any further with the male line creatively. We got so excited about expanding the female line we almost got bored with the male stuff.

How you headpiece line GlamHEAD going?
GlamHEAD has been doing surprisingly well because it started off more as me just wanting to make my own personal headbands last summer and when I showed my mother one she said you should sell it so I put up a picture of it on blackberry messenger and twitter and I got it sold the same day. I started doing more but I didn’t expect people to love it as much as I know some do. And I’ve only just begun, I have lots more in store for GlamHEAD including a new collection for April and the promo shoot for that will be happening at the end of March. I also recently got an extremely large order so I’m very happy about that.

Anything we should look out for from you in the coming weeks/months/year?
Well look out for the new GlamHEAD collection. The YC online store went up in December 2010 so people can shop if they’re in the US (www.yahdieconscious.com) so look out for more new unique pieces from Yahdie Conscious.

You seen to be a natural in front of the camera. Are you venturing more into modeling?
No lol, every time I do a shoot or a music video its someone who kinda wants a favor or I’ll be contacted on a work basis by others so its not something I would say I seek out doing. I do love dressing up and putting on make-up and seeing the final product but I definitely would not try to take it more seriously.

A phrase you use far too often?
“I am loving that…”. and my favorite word is “definitely” lol.

What food brings your comfort when you are disappointed?
Hahaha all food!! I’m a foodie! But I love kfc, everybody knows that even if you don’t know me very well. I tweet about KFC all the time. When I’m disappointed, kfc helps

What other fashion blogs would you recommend?
I really like fashionbombdaily.com its an American urban fashion blog. They featured me as fashion bombshell of the day in January and that gave my blog and the YC website a lot of hits that day.

In a nutshell, your philosophy is?
My philosophy is definitely to have faith in yourself and faith in God. I think no matter what you’re passion is in life you can’t go about it without having lots of faith, cause doing your own thing can come with a lot of disappoint and self doubt because you’re putting yourself out to the world and just hoping that they like it. With faith comes a lot of positive energy which is needed when pursuing your dreams.

The only closing thoughts?
BUY YC, buy Jamaican!  And check out my blog;) 

About the author

Denise Lee