Imagine waking up to an email from one of the biggest stores in the world stating they are interested in carrying your brand.
That’s what happened to Kimberly and Keyondra Lockett last year, founders of athleisure brand Jolie Noire. Who sent the email? Target, yes that Target.
“We received a message in our business email,” explained Keyondra, who is also an award-nominated gospel singer. “And then they also emailed Kim. That’s how bad they were looking for us,” she said, pointing to how incredibly humbled they were to see the huge brand actively seeking out their company for partnership.
But the road to success wasn’t always easy. Ever entrepreneurial, Jolie Noire isn’t the sisters’ first brand. In 2012 they launched an apparel line called Red Glasses Sisters, entirely supported by their own funds. Although it was well received, they found the brand’s name to be limiting and decided to pivot. That’s when Jolie Noire was born years later in 2018.
Meaning ‘pretty black’ in French, the sisters said they are aiming to use the brand as a vehicle to diversify the fashion industry and represent the beauty of black women worldwide. They were inspired to launch the line after failing to find what they wanted to purchase in stores.
“We wanted to create a safe space for Black women after realizing in our adult years that nobody is going to support and provide refuge like you and sisters,” said Kimberly.
Starting out with graphic and illustrated tees, they’ve been an almost immediate hit, with celebrities like Naturi Naughton and Tabitha Brown showing support. The idea was sparked from recognizing a need, like most great endeavors.
“When we were sourcing designs, we found some shirts with really nice illustrations, but there were hardly any Black women featured in the design,” Kimberly shared. “We knew we had to shift that significantly in our own brand’s approach.”
The sisters are also intentional about being size inclusive.
“That was one of the first orders of business because we are servicing Black women, and our bodies come in all shapes and sizes,” Kimberly explained, pointing out the brand carries size offerings from S to 5XL. “We’ve been plus sized most of our lives, so we know the difficulty that it is to find, even in today’s time, to find things that are just really good. Plus size fashion has evolved, but in my opinion, it has some more growing to do. We are excited about having the opportunity to shift the way inclusive fashion looks.”
Jolie Noire can be found in Target stores nationwide and online at JolieNoire.com