In 2018, they decided to invest in themselves and start a family business. Due to their love of fashion, they chose to start Jolie Noire, an elevated women’s athleisure wear brand. Jolie Noire stands for Pretty Black in French.
Sisters Kimberly, (a celebrity stylist) and Keyondra, (an award-winning gospel artist) Lockett searched high and low to find cute and comfortable gear that displayed Black women as the art they are. They saw a need for clothing with faces that look like theirs, so they created graphics tees that really represent them.
After sharing their business model with their mother, Ronda Gray, a cardiovascular intensive care nurse, she decided to join her daughters as a business partner behind the scenes and the rest is history. It’s been a family affair ever since.
We spoke to Kimberly, Keyondra and their mother Ronda about their growing empire.
L.A. Sentinel: It is so refreshing to see more African American mothers and daughters building empires together. How did your journey begin?
Kimberly: Before Jolie Noire, we delved into eyewear, but found fashion created a broader avenue to help Black women recognize their beauty through a unique and beautiful lens. Jolie Noire represents a movement of empowerment among Black women.
LAS: How did you land upon the name, Jolie Noire?
Kimberly: When we were thinking of a name, we wanted it to be one of significance and truly mean something. We are native Louisianians, and the name encompasses a mixture of many things that represent us as Black women. I think it’s a rarity that you find people rooting for us, going to bat for us, even with ourselves. It’s important that we build our communities and be that support for each other so we can root each other on.
LAS: What challenges have you encountered as African American business owners?
Ronda: In the aftermath of the George Floyd killing and the subsequent protests, many Black-owned businesses began to see a wave of support of Black businesses supporting more Black businesses. We are truly blessed and grateful for the incredible support we receive from everyone.
LAS: What advice do you have for budding entrepreneurs on building a business empire?
Ronda: When you choose to start a business, there should be a demand for it. There is no point in starting something that won’t have any takers. When we started our business, we came out with a strong brand. When Jolie Noire was contacted by Target headquarters to be featured in their stores for Black History Month, they knew our brand was strong. Find something where there is a need for it.
When we asked the dynamic trio to each share one golden nugget about having a business their response was this:
Kimberly: Laugh whenever you can.
Ronda: Family always comes first.
Keyondra: Listen to each other.
They have been consistent with applying these gems to their business and they have continued to thrive throughout their entrepreneurial journey.
To learn more, visit Jolie Noire online or @joliexnoireapparel on Instagram or Facebook.