When #AerieREAL ambassador Kendra Jackson noticed a lack of representation for women of color in the influencer space she and her friends decided to do something about it. Their organization, The Orange Collab, was created to provide resources and a community in order to support women of color and their work as influencers and professionals within the social media space. We connected with Kendra and two other Orange Collab cofounders, JayJay and Mallory, to learn more about how they got started and why they say this community is so important to them.
What was the idea behind creating The Orange Collab? Why did you think it was important to create it?
Kendra: Initially we realized the lack of representation for women of color within the influencer space. The Orange Collab was created to be a community of support and resources for women of color in the social media space. It was important to us that we create a space where women could encourage one another, find that support they needed with business ventures, and be able to have that line of open communication with like minded individuals.
How does The Orange Collab work to empower other women?
Kendra: We truly just provide the space and opportunity for women to empower each other. During our meetups we encourage women to share anything from struggles they may be experiencing to their wins big or small. The OC community acts as a sounding board for its members. Whether it be at one of our events or on in our Facebook Group The Orange Slices (members) know that they have a community behind them ready to help them with whatever they need.
Why do you feel that it’s important to lift up others around you?
JayJay: I love helping others and I truly believe that we are stronger together. No one should have to do it alone. As much as we would love to be able to do all of the things, all of the time, it’s impossible. By lifting someone else up, I’m helping them achieve a dream or a goal. In personal relationships, I get to see loved ones happier and I get to see them grow! In professional relationships, I get to support clients as they start and maintain the business they’ve dreamed of. I get to lift them up, as they lift up others. When we all play a part, it builds a stronger more successful community. It’s really rewarding.
What has starting this project taught you?
JayJay: Over the last few years, while working with The Orange Collab, I’ve learned that sometimes simple is better. There have been times that we felt we couldn’t hold an event because we couldn’t do it on the larger scale we wanted to. We’ve got big dreams! But with the goal in mind, we pressed forward on a very basic level. And the event was a success! Sure, we would have loved for it to match our big dreams, and one day it will. But we all have to start somewhere. The most important thing is to start. The website doesn’t need to be fancy. The photos can be taken on a phone. The budget doesn’t need to be large. We just need to start and remember that it’s okay to start simple. Done is always better than perfect!
What advice do you have for someone who wants to start their own project?
Mallory: Starting any project can feel overwhelming, especially when it’s a passion project. That is why it’s important to adopt an attitude of less is more and done is better than perfect. Many times, when starting a project you will want your first effort to be over the top but truly just taking one step forward can provide huge momentum.
When we first started The Orange Collab we wanted our community to be over the top. But we quickly realized that building this community to what it is today and what it will be tomorrow takes time. We don’t necessarily have to do everything right now. If you are starting your own project, understand that you can phase out the things you want to execute, and you do not have to do everything all at once. Additionally, while you may want everything to be perfect it’s typically impossible. Create realistic milestones so that you know where you are headed towards, push through to do the work and make sure it gets done. And once you do, relish in what you’ve done and then move on to next step. And as you move forward you will see real results.
How has this project helped to empower you in other areas of your life?
Mallory: The Orange Collab has helped find my voice as a coach for social media entrepreneurs, bloggers and influencers as well as for my podcast A Life by You. It has inspired me to create content and services specifically to help black and women of color navigate their social media journeys. Additionally, I have personally met some amazing women from this community that have transformed my mindset towards my 9 to 5, my family as well as my personal goals. I feel deep-rooted connections with these women and know I can reach out to them to push through any mental challenge related to this social media space. I certainly knew creating this community would be powerful but truly had no clue how empowering it would be to my life and I am eternally thankful for this amazing organization.
Kendra: The environment I grew up in was predominately white. I didn’t have very many black female friends. When I met these amazing women, it changed me. I found a tribe that not only understood what I was going through but that wanted to see me thrive and succeed in whatever I was doing. Thanks to The Orange Collab I was provided the tools to build my brand. When I started blogging, I didn’t have a clue as to how to go about it. Thanks to this phenomenal group I was able to create a stream of income from blogging and influencing as well as turn my 9-5 into a career in Social Media Management. The community that is The Orange Collab was my source of support which gave me the confidence to go after what I wanted.