I had the pleasure of interviewing Victory Jones & Tori Elizabeth, founders of The Colored Girl.
VICTORY JONES is an American born, Jamaican bred recording artist and songwriter from New York. Victory is a creative powerhouse with a flair for the eccentric. Unafraid to be disruptive and honest, she is constantly challenging herself and others around her by pushing the boundaries or her art, by being bold and speaking truth. She sees her art as not only as a means of expression, but as a tool of empowerment and change.
TORI ELIZABETH is an American born, Caymanian bred wardrobe stylist from Houston, TX. Tori is a visionary, who is able to see the beauty in the simplest of things. A true artisan who draws outside of the lines. She has a passion for bringing awareness to the masses; by merging her conscious and creative sides.
The Colored Girl is a unique creative agency making waves of positive tangible change, by using creative outlets & specially curated experiences to represent, empower and unite women of color, across the globe. Since the launch in 2016, our company has gained an incredible and reputable status as the “go to” agency for diversity, inclusion and female empowerment; by being beautifully disruptive, both in the digital world and in real life.
Since the first wildly successful, viral campaign featured by ESSENCE magazine; the movement turned brand has become a champion beacon for WOC from all over, regardless of age, ethnicity, social or professional status, religion or race. Our goal is to not only to uplift WOC, but to also connect them in an organic, authentic way; so that they can also be better agents of change, together.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
We met on Instagram 4 years ago, become fast friends (Tori was living in Texas, Victory in NYC). Then when Tori moved to NYC we became even better friends and started The Colored Girl 2 years later as a way to represent, empower, unite WOC and also address issues in communities of color from a female perspective. The has since grown into a powerful movement, galvanizing community around our mission to “curate change, empower others and also disrupt the status quo.”
Why did you found your company?
To unite, empower, represent WOC across the globe… and also be agents of positive change for and with WOC within our communities. But also to breed awareness. To help people realize that we are more powerful than we realize, and that we all deserve the same opportunities, to represented fairly and treated equally.
What is it about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
In an age of being told that what a person lacks, is also what helps define them; teaching people to love, respect, accept, empower themselves and one another is absolutely revolutionary and highly disruptive!
We do not subscribe to the lack mentality and rather, act from a place of abundance… and we are unafraid to say the things that we feel need to be said, show things that people normally shy away from (like colorism amongst POC) and actually be a voice for the voiceless.
Also, our creative prowess to use everyday things (like beauty & fashion) as tools of change to help further amplify our message… well, we think that is quite disruptive as well.
We stand for something: empowerment, inclusion, equality & LOVE… true values that work for the benefit of all involved, and are unwilling to compromise on those values. They dictate everything we do. Being the spearhead of a Love and Inclusion movement during these times is awesomely disruptive, in our opinions.
We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors?
Wow, well we have a few (collectively): Terri Matthews, Livingstone Brown, Sybil Amuti, Christina Jones, Koshie Mills
How are you going to shake things up next?
We already have! Our first campaign to get the world’s attention did just that: it went viral and got tons of pres which then opened the door for us to start having real conversations about things that we felt mattered, but weren’t being talked about in the mainstream public media.
That has then segued into us push the conversation and boundaries further to helping brands champion diversity and inclusion, and now onto uniting and connecting thousands of women of color, worldwide as a sisterhood, and true global TRIBE.
A community of women actively going after what they want, standing up for themselves and others, while also acting as agents of positive change to leave things better than they currently are. And we will continue to build things for women to help them amplify their voices, champion one another and also make a difference in this world. One idea, one campaign, one event and one woman at a time!
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey?
To thine ownself be true — My father was the first person to always tell me this. Before i had even read Shakespeare (which its a quote from). I took it as always be myself and not being afraid to show up as such. And I find that this has been a running theme in my life to reaming as authentically me as possible, because whenever I wasn’t and tried to “fit in” things always went awry. The best results and most fruitful & fulfilling parts of my life are a result of me simply being true to myself… because no one is ME, and that is my gift.
Value relationships as currency — relationships (timing and attitude) are everything. But cultivating amazing, organic, authentic relationships… really connecting with others is the best form of currency/resource that we can have. Including the relationship with self! (see previous words of advice). Having these strong, true relationships will take us further. Case in point, our relationship birthed this beautiful and powerful movement and its now growing as we build relationships with other amazing women!
Faith without works is dead — An old adage, yes, but it’s true! You can believe all you want, but if you don’t get up and do something about it you won’t manifest it fully. Had we just sat around and said “Wouldn’t it be cool if….” and never actually worked towards it, everyday, we wouldn’t have build TCG or be on the road to any of the other amazing things we are currently working on either, both individually and collectively.
No matter what you do be the best at it– My mother always told me to take pride in all that you do, “if you are a broom sweeper be the best darn broom sweeper you can be.”
Be Kind– The way you treat yourself is the way you will treat others…kindness will take you far in life.
There are no shortcuts in life- joining my sorority Delta Sigma Theta taught me to not look for the shortcuts in life. Taking the stairs versus the elevator is just an example of doing the necessary work to get the outcome desired. This has helped my patience as well taught me to appreciate the process versus focusing on the end result.
What’s a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking?
VICTORY: The Alchemist changed my life! I read it in 3 hours on a flight to London years ago and I cried. It was that deep for me. The allegory of manifestation, really resonated with me. I was ready to receive it I guess and so it hit home, hard. It was in that moment that i realized i can literally manifest anything!
TORI: Built to Sell! It’s also an allegory based on real life events, focused on business and also changed the way I view how we run our business at The Colored Girl. It was very insightful to me and really insightful for both of us.
BOTH: Also, our first women’s retreat IMARA changed our life too. The entire experience from beginning to end, impacted us so deeply…. For the better. We honestly have never experienced anything like that before. All these women, communing, being transparent, pouring into one another and all with so much love! It was insanely incredible to experience. And a magical and proud moment for us honestly.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
VICTORY: Wow, thats a hard one! So many to choose from… I recently read about Aileen Lee from All Raise VC and I think what she’s founded to help women entrepreneurs is brilliant, revolutionary, impactful and needed. We need more women supporting women in business. Especially in regards to business education & financial resources. It would be great to connected to help grow our business, so we can then pay it forward by helping other female entrepreneurs within our community.
TORI: Elon Musk, he is innovative and ahead of his time. I would love to sit with him and pick his brain…I’m convinced I would walk out of our meeting forever changed. I truly admire all that he has done…a kid born in South Africa who taught himself computer programming at the age of 10 is a mentor in my head.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
We are on Instagram for the most part…
Our brand page is @the.coloredgirl on Instagram and twitter (@thecgirlinc on Facebook)
Victory Jones @srvj
Tori Elizabeth @sabaliwanderer
And our website is www.thecoloredgirl.com
Originally published at medium.com