What started as a career in retail buying has turned into the professional life that Jasmin Foster used to dream about. Just a few years after leaving Target, she is now the founder of the stationery brand Be Rooted—and has landed her own products on the shelves of the very same company she once worked for.
Not bad for a woman who put pen to paper (literally) at the start of 2020 to begin her -inclusivity-focused line of journals, planners, and other writing tools. Foster created Be Rooted—named to Time’s list of Most Influential Companies of 2022—to provide a space for women of color to see themselves in ways they hadn’t been portrayed. Drawing on her own background and experiences, she has made radical inclusivity her mission, weaving culture into every design and message, and inspiring customers to explore their inner muse and celebrate themselves. The -company’s main message? To say to Black women “You are seen, and you belong here.”
Foster’s passion for inclusion is reflected in her efforts to ensure that her team represents the community she is trying to serve. Behind her journals is a group of Black artists who have created designs that highlight a range of Black skin tones, protective hairstylings, and personal affirmations, like “Act Up, Sis,” “Guard Your Heart” and “Hustle Harder.” Here, Foster, shares lessons in life, leadership, and purpose.
Caroline Wanga: Who is Jasmin Foster?
Jasmin Foster: I am a lot of people. I am a daughter. I am a friend. I am an advocate of Black women. I am certain that I was put here on this Earth to celebrate and uplift women of color. And, most importantly, I am a woman walking in purpose and passion. It took me a minute to get here, but I am so thankful for the journey that I’m on right now.
WANGA: You mentioned a journey that brought you to where you are right now. Where did that start? What seasons have represented Jasmin getting to this point?
FOSTER: My mom always said that I came out of her womb with my eyes open. She said that she knew I was not someone to be played with because I came in very curious. So I’ve always been this young girl who has been super curious about things, challenging the norms. But I’ve also been trying to figure out how to structure that in a corporate setting, in which my value systems and my personality were sometimes perceived as too strong. Or maybe I was too much of the “loud voice” in the room. So I’ve now stepped into a season in which I get to cultivate all of those things that I truly think are true to my soul. And I get to bring that into a company that I believe in, and not be afraid to be that loud voice in the room—because it’s -actually heard, believed, and seen in this space, even though it maybe wasn’t always celebrated in other spaces.
WANGA: How did the passion for contributing to our community manifest at Target? What happened when you encountered the system that produced the reason why you wanted to be where you are now?
FOSTER: I actually started my career in fashion at Target. I remember -early on in my career, having friends and family come to me and say, “So when is Target going to make clothes that I can actually fit?“ It started off with people assuming I could move all the mountains. And then it moved to the dolls conversations: Why did Christmastime come up and I don’t have any dolls to buy my little girls? And that -really hit home with me, because as a little girl, I lived in Europe. I had a lot of non-Black dolls. So I thought, these are good questions. I started asking the questions internally, and I didn’t get answers that I loved. And then I was like, “So why aren’t we offering this?” And they asked, “Do you want to do it?”
WANGA: “If not me, then who” actually has become an obligation. How would you advise people to think about that moment, where they’re like, “Why do I have to do it?”
FOSTER: I don’t think it’s a torch that everyone should have to carry. I think it’s something that you should -really sit with and decide. Yes, it’s an obligation, but do you want to step up to the plate and do it? For me, it became a journey of me feeling comfortable with saying that I was put on this Earth to uplift and celebrate women of color—Black women specifically. It took me a lot of time, through coaching, through having therapy sessions, to being okay with saying I will be the “Black expert,” or I will do the “Black things.” That’s what I’m here for, and I know I have a specific perspective that I can bring to the table. But on the flip side, the conversation became, “If this doesn’t work, it’s on you.”
WANGA: So you’re working a full-time job, and you’ve started this business that is very tied to your personal purpose and relevant to our community and culture. At some point, you left your job. How? Why? And what did it feel like?
FOSTER: I gave myself all these goals. And what I realized was that I kept hitting these milestones, but I wasn’t ready. What I learned through that is that entrepreneurship is not always about tangibles. It’s a mindset. To want to feel like you can step out on faith and say, “I’m going to bet on myself.” I took a weekend. I had to sit with myself and say, “If this is your purpose, and this is your passion, and you believe in God and you think He’s got you, then what are you waiting on?” You can do it now—and do it scared. And if you’re not going to do it scared, you probably shouldn’t do it at all—because it’s never going to feel comfortable.
Photo credits: Hair (foster) by Monae Everett for Epiphany Artist Group, Inc. Makeup (WANGA and Foster) by Keys Rebelle, Stylist on Set: Miracles Espinal, location: The Beekman, A Thompson Hotel