How We Move Forward

Black Lives Matter

I was chatting with a friend a few days ago and she said “this is the wake up call I didn’t know I needed.” All I can say is, I agree. As a woman who prides herself on being a feminist, the last week has opened my eyes to how I’ve proudly touted that label in a way that was convenient for me, as a white woman. While my goal has, and always will be to create an inclusive space for all women, I’ve realized that I have a lot of work to do, and quite a lot to learn.

Black Lives Matter

First, I want to say unequivocally that Black Lives Matter. I have much to learn about my own unconscious biases and a responsibility to better understand not only how my privilege has shaped my life, but how I’ve played a role in upholding the racist systems built into every level of our society. In my personal life, I have a lot of work to do. In how I raise my daughter, in how I hold myself and the people around me accountable, and in how I show up for the Black community. I understand this is not something that will be fixed by reading a few books, donating some money, and watching a few documentaries.

So how do we move forward specifically on this blog and within this community? This is something I have thought about constantly for the last week. The introduction to my about page says: “a lifestyle, travel and wellness blog to encourage meaningful conversation, create confidence, and celebrate women.” If I’m being honest, I was not being inclusive. I could try to explain it away but there’s no excuse. Period. When I looked at our content, at the people who were showing up in my feed and in the links we share, it’s mostly women that look like me, brands that cater to women who look like me. I’ve learned a lot about the importance of looking at what a brand does, not just what they say (ahem Reformation-among others).

Moving forward I want to be clear that this blog is here to celebrate ALL women.

Caylin and I have discussed at length how we can do better to highlight more Black women and women of color in the content we create for this space. Our goal is to do this in a thoughtful and intentional way that is ongoing, fully acknowledging that we have had blind spots and we are working to change that.


Here is how we plan to move forward:

diversity in the brands we partner with and feature

As I mentioned in this post, I will be paying closer attention to my brand partners. Not only the influencers they partner with but their own internal talent and leadership. We will also be working to include and feature more Black-owned businesses and brands, particularly women-owned.

diversity in our featured experts

We often look to experts in their respective fields to provide insights and advice for content we create on this blog. We will be focused on ensuring we include more diverse experts, particularly Black women and women of color.

More diverse content in our weekly series Click. Read. Love.

This weekly series is some of our most popular content on the blog. Moving forward we’ll be paying attention to the links we include and making sure we are featuring content from a diverse group of women (this means authors, creators, influencers, photographers, writers, cooks, business owners, etc.). We also use Click. Read. Love to highlight issues we care about, and plan to use this as a tool moving forward to call attention to important social justice issues.

Mentorship/Connections

It’s no secret that networks and connections play a huge role in the opportunities we get. After 6 years in this industry and 4 years working in the corporate world I want to serve as a resource (thank you for the idea Grace). Caylin and I will each be offering 10 one hour phone calls in June and July for Black content creators (whether that’s photographer, blogger, small business owner etc.). We will serve as a resource to answer questions about social media, blogging, pitching to brands, PR, pitching yourself as an expert to media outlets, etc. We are also happy to provide connections to brands where we have them. If you are interested please send me an email jess(at)jessannkirby.com (we will have to do a lottery and randomly choose to be fair).

In addition, a personal friend who works in the Emerging Brand group at an Investment Bank has offered her time to get on calls with Black founders who have had trouble getting funding and/or are looking for advice or information. She spends most of her time in the following sectors: health & wellness – beauty, personal care, baby; home & auto – household product, cleaning, furnishing and traditional food & beverages. Please email me jess(at)jessannkirby.com if you’d like an introduction.  


To all the white women reading this

We hope you’ll join us on this journey of education, self-reflection and showing up. This is a lifelong commitment, one we are ready to make. For us this has no expiration date, this is a new path forward. For the Black women, and women of color reading this, we hope you will feel included AND celebrated as a part of this community. We can’t change the past but we will change the future.

We always want to hear from you. If there’s a business or brand you want us to highlight, a creator, blogger, writer, author, educator you want us to know about or anything else you want to share please do so in the comments, send me an email or feel free to message me on Instagram. Thanks for being here. We appreciate you.

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9 Comments

  1. M wrote:

    Hi Jess! Thanks for your transparency and your actionable steps. I’m not sure if you have considered this and don’t want to make any assumptions, but I felt like it is important to mention regarding mentorship, especially because this idea has popped up with other influencers I follow. Oftentimes, Black creators and professionals may have just as much knowledge and experience as you (or more!), but are not considered by the same brands/outlets, etc. Therefore, what may be more supportive/less hierarchical than providing help or guidance, is to directly connect Black creators with the people you know at brands they are interested in working with and being transparent about how that brand compensated you so that they can be compensated equally.

    6.8.20 | Reply
    • Jess wrote:

      That’s a really good point Meg. I guess I was initially assuming these would be people with smaller followings because that’s typically the type of influencer, creator etc that reaches out to me looking for guidance but you’re totally right I need to re-think/re-frame that idea and make it work for whatever the person is looking for, whether that’s brand connections, rates, etc.

      6.8.20 | Reply
      • Jen wrote:

        Love this exchange.

        6.11.20 | Reply
  2. Sharon wrote:

    I think it is great that so many bloggers/influencers are taking action right now. I however fear that for some, this is just in response to this being the “trendy” topic right now or they feel like they have to do it since everyone else is. I would love to see you and others give updates ( quarterly?) on what you have done to really put this into play. And, not just for one quarter but just as many do the “top purchases from my blog’ on a monthly basis. We really all need to do better than just use words.

    6.8.20 | Reply
    • Jess wrote:

      Yeah I see your point. I think it could be a little tedious to track some of that (for example keeping track of every time I include a link, feature a business or brand, respond to a brand campaign asking for diversity, etc). I totally see your point and it’s valid, but I am also a team of one for the most part and have to be realistic about what I can do and where/how I spend my time. I’ll think this through for sure, it’s not something I am taking lightly.

      6.8.20 | Reply
  3. Kelly wrote:

    Love this post! While the energy of the last couple weeks has been amazing, you’re so right that it has to be something we carry with us moving forward. It can’t just be a moment in time.

    xoxo – Kelly
    http://www.dreaminlace.com

    6.8.20 | Reply
  4. L wrote:

    I think it’s important through all of this to understand multiple sides of the story. I’ve been watching/reading so many other things and someone shared this with me. It’s a different perspective, may be controversial, but I believe it’s worth watching. This shouldn’t change your plans on being inclusive, it’s just another side to the story…
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=-2N2w4d0N0w&feature=youtu.be

    6.8.20 | Reply
  5. Danielle Morvan wrote:

    Wow, as a black woman it is so heartwarming to read this reflection from you. As painful as these recent police shootings and videos showing how mainly white liberal women have used the police as a way to harass black people, I’m grateful that it has lead to such blatant and unequivocal allyship. I love your work and I hope your 10 hours of mentoring to creators of color is something that you offer on a somewhat continuous basis as I would love to have the chance to receive some of your guidance once my business is a bit more established. Thank you dearly.

    6.9.20 | Reply
    • Jess wrote:

      Thanks Danielle, appreciate you being here. Please never hesitate to reach out, I’m always available via email.

      6.9.20 | Reply