There's a certain energy that exudes from a creative woman with a clear vision and energy you feel as soon as you interact with her. It’s contagious and fills up the space with elements of empowerment, honesty, and confidence.
As soon as I sat down to chat with jewelry founder Kimberly Fomby Jefferson, there was an energy takeover, seeming new yet very familiar. It wasn’t but a few moments later that I recognized where I felt that feeling before; it’s the same one I experienced when I came in contact with Sucré Couture, the proactive and nostalgic jewelry brand founded by Kimberly. Over the past year alone, Sucré Couture has been featured in ESSENCE, British Vogue, and New York Magazine, to name a few.
It was my pleasure to sit down with Kimberly during one of her busiest seasons to chat with her about the why behind her brand, her key tips for successful marketing in today’s saturated world, and a few tips for others who battle with imposter syndrome. If you’re unfamiliar with this powerhouse, here’s your chance to find out more! You can also shop this amazing brand in our ElevateHer xoNecole shop here!
Kimberly Fomby Jefferson
Credit: Valley In Film
xoNecole: For our readers who aren't familiar, can you give a bit of backstory on your journey to becoming a jewelry designer?
Kimberly Fomby Jefferson: My journey to becoming a jewelry designer humbly began in 2011 with $79 worth of jewelry supplies and wholesale jewelry, a Wix website, and a camera phone to take photos in a DIY lightbox made from cardboard. Between being a mom, getting an MBA, and going to a part-time marketing job, I'd be pulling together collections, promoting on social media, and selling a few trunk shows here and there.
Year after year, I'd keep at it, meeting people who eventually became amazing friends and mentors who encouraged me to continue growing Sucré Couture in the most authentic way possible.
The more I grew and gained an appreciation for my gifts, culture, style, and upbringing, the more I evolved as a jewelry designer.
xoN: What was the motivation behind launching Sucré Couture in 2011?
KFJ: Jewelry has been an integral part of my life for as long as I can remember. As young as six or seven years old. My mother always told me to keep a pair of earrings on, or my grandmother and great-aunt would gift me dainty gold and white gold necklaces and rings as keepsakes. Even the men in my family, my father, and grandfather, were really keen on thick gold chains, heavy rings, watches, and nugget bracelets.
Naturally, my exposure and affinity for jewelry followed me throughout my life, including when I decided to launch the brand at the tail end of my residency in New Orleans. I was fresh out of college, expecting a child with my now husband, and wanting to do something creatively fulfilling. I also come from an entrepreneurial family. It's no surprise to many that I followed suit.
xoN: From the jewelry to the social media content to the editorial shoots, the Sucré Couture vibe exudes effortlessly across the board. In a world where marketing is key to any e-commerce success, what are the three strategies you've implemented to ensure seamless branding?
KFJ: Know your brand and whom you're creating it for. While, at the same time, remaining authentic to the brand and why you launched it. Because truthfully, the right people will fall in love with your brand anyway.
Be as organized as possible. Keep all of your assets and content in one place for your team. Make it easy for yourself or anyone to grab what they need to produce good content.
Lead with a campaign strategy that sets clear creative expectations at the very beginning and keep everyone informed on it.
Credit: Valley In Film
xoN: What does success look like to you?
KFJ: I love this question. Especially since it's come up so much for me within the last few months. Success looks like a beautiful community of heavily engaged people, a brand legacy that continues well into the future, and Sucré Couture editorial jewelry and other items that people have coveted as souvenirs of our collections for decades.
xoN: What has been your biggest challenge as a Black woman entrepreneur?
KFJ: Hmmm, my biggest challenge, and win at the same time, as a Black woman entrepreneur, has been the journey. It's no secret that Black-owned businesses, and even more so those of Black women, do not have the same access to resources as others. So I've had to get creative and roll up my sleeves to make things pop off and shine. With my knowledge bank, talents, and with the support of my team and community, Sucré Couture has managed to navigate challenges gracefully.
xoN: What has your biggest failure in this industry taught you? Please give us a brief scenario of the failure and how you found the lessons within that.
KFJ: Fortunately, through the support of a fantastic community of other entrepreneurs, friends, and family, I do not perceive anything I have encountered in the industry as failures — only lessons. A wise woman once told me, "Write off failures as professional development." As an entrepreneur, you must be willing to fall and get scraped and bruised up, only to get back up and try your best not to make the same missteps.
On this note, my biggest lesson has been checking all the facts and not skipping steps. Check your contracts and plan, plan, plan because, baby, the devil is in the details.
xoN: What is the #1 piece of advice for anyone who wants to start and launch a successful jewelry brand?
KFJ: My number one piece of advice for anyone wanting to start and launch a successful jewelry brand is to do it from the heart. Make wearable art with the same love you have for the brand. Get personal and vulnerable by how you engage with building it. Sit with it. Pick it apart. Don't be afraid to start anew and rebrand. Be genuine, and the rest will flow through your product and storytelling.
My second piece of advice is to get your feet wet in every single part of your business. From digital marketing to operations to photography to web design and development, good business owners, in general, should be able to roll their sleeves to pitch hit to keep the momentum going, if necessary.
A third piece of advice is to be coachable. Don't be afraid of constructive criticism—especially from a qualified source. If you have some good business advice that makes sense, I'll surely listen. In adjunct to this, you can't take everyone's advice either. Chew up the meat and spit out the bones. Trust your gut. You know your business better than anyone else.
Credit: Valley In Film
xoN: As someone who has been in the industry for over a decade, I'm sure you've had times when you felt stagnant, complacent, or overlooked in regard to your brand. What is the #1 piece of advice for anyone who feels like potentially giving up because they haven't reached 'success' yet?
KFJ: Girl! Keep pushing. My great Uncle Jimmy and Aunt Jean, more than a decade ago, told me that it would take a minimum of 5 years to see a business bloom into its full potential and to keep chipping away at the brand. That's a gem that I always hear in the back of my mind. I'm glad I listened. Paying it forward to whoever is reading that needs to hear the same thing.
xoN: Why was it essential for you to have an all-woman team behind Sucré Couture?
KFJ: Women naturally possess an innate sense of eros, which must be reflected within the brand. Sucré Couture is deeply rooted in a love of self and love of Black culture, and our all-women home team got that down to the core. It's been tilled and nurtured by gifted hands.
xoN: What's the future look like for Sucré Couture? Any new exciting projects our readers should know about?
KFJ: The future for Sucré Couture is about to get more experiential and profound than ever. While I can't share all the details, provocative, nostalgic, and raw art is central to the experience. And more Sucré jewelry, of course!
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Feature image by Valley In Film
Courtney is a contributing writer, based in Puerto Rico by way of Tennessee. Interested in the intersection of fashion and culture, she has an affinity for fashion, empowerment, and really good tacos. Keep up with her on Instagram (@hautecourtxo).
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September is National Self-Care Awareness Month, so for my girlies who have been putting off self-care, here’s your opportunity to start. Self-care means exactly what it says: taking care of self. Why is it important? Well, many of us have busy lives that may include careers, family, and activities that consume us daily. Taking some time for self regularly can help prevent depression, stress, anxiety, and burnout.
In February 2023, Future Forum polled 10,243 people in six countries, including the U.S., and 40% said they are experiencing burnout, and 46% of that number are women. According to CNBC, many factors contributing to burnout include companies demanding employees return to the office, hiring freezes, and layoffs.
Psychologist Debbie Sorensen explained to CNBC why women and millennials are experiencing burnout in higher numbers. “We haven’t had time to recover from the trauma of what we’ve been through the last few years,” she said. “Women and young people, in particular, are putting an immense amount of pressure on themselves to keep going, keep working, no matter the cost.”
As women, particularly Black women, we tend to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. Other people's problems become our problems, and then we are expected to show up to work and show up for our family and friends with a smile on our faces. Whew, chile! What if we are having a bad day? How are we supposed to cope if we have to be everything to everyone? Well, here’s your sign to make time for yourself, especially on the days when you are feeling down.
Below is a list of self-care ideas for when you are having a bad day.
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Spend time in nature
Sometimes something as simple as surrounding yourself with trees, grass, and/ or water can improve your mood exponentially. The American Psychological Association’s (APA) research shows that spending time in nature can improve attention, lower stress, and reduce the risk of psychiatric disorders.
Got to a Spa
There’s nothing like going to a spa. You can relax in a sauna, get a massage, and just be. According to research, massages help release serotonin and dopamine, which are often referred to as “feel good” hormones, that will instantly perk you up and have you going about your day with a smile on your face.
When was the last time you did arts and crafts? Drawing a picture, painting, or even coloring can help you discover your inner child, thus boosting your mood. Purchase an adult coloring book, or go to a paint-and-sip class by yourself, or you can make it a group activity and bring your besties.
Look your best
The old saying, “When you look good, you feel good,” didn’t just come out of thin air. There’s some truth to it. The Kentucky Counseling Center shared a link between self-care and feeling good. “Self-care regimens are extremely important not just to stabilize your day but to make you feel great. Simple things like getting a facial, taking care of your hair done, or exercising can make you confident because when you look good, you also feel good,” according to its website.
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There’s a reason why it is suggested that you breathe when you begin feeling overwhelmed and stressed out. Breathing brings oxygen back into your body, and WebMD reports that it can decrease the fight or flight response that happens when you are stressed.
Spend time with babies
I don’t know about you, but nothing makes me smile quicker than a baby, especially a smiling baby. If you’re the same way, then spending time with a baby or babies may help put you in a better mood, too.
Last but certainly not least, do nothing. There’s nothing like laying in your bed and not being forced to do anything. Stay in this moment and use this time to relax and replenish your energy.
Feature image by Catherine Falls Commercial/ Getty Images