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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(Some of y’all) can hate on the Tubi app if you want to, but if there’s one thing that it’s gonna do (for free, I might add), it's bring up some memories of shows that you haven’t thought about for a hot minute. Take the Black indie seriesSexless and its spin-off,Chef Julian, for example. The realness of the writing, along with the way the shows overlap, is truly a — pardon the pun — chef’s kiss.
So much, in fact, that the character Wendy had me triggered all over again as I binge-watched both shows recently. I mean, c’mon — who dates best friends and then tries to play victim while doing so? Yeah, accountability is a lost art in both reality and fiction, in art and in life. SMDH.
As again, I watched her try and navigate through both relationships as she strived to figure out which man would truly be the best fit for her, I thought about a question that I get emailed on a semi-regular basis. When you’ve been with someone for a while, when you have deep and profound feelings for them, and when you’re not sure if you’re just being “extra” or something really is “off” in the relational dynamic — how do you know if it’s time to stay vs. when it’s time to go?
Before we get all up into this, let me just say that I’m addressing this particular topic from the angle of NOT being married. Because I personally think that the covenant of marriage is way more sacred and serious than a dating situation, I would be giving some different advice for husbands and wives. Also, I’m not including the topic of abuse (neglect included) because I’m hoping it goes without saying that if any type or level of that is transpiring, you definitely need to bring things to a swift and permanent end.
With all of that out of the way, today, we’re going to explore seven questions that you should ask yourself in the instance that you just can’t seem to “scratch the itch” on whether you should remain with your bae…because while nothing is actually “bad,” things are not as good as they used to be either. And since time is precious and you don’t want to waste it, you want to make sure that you’re right where you’re supposed to be.
Are you ready to (hopefully) gain more clarity than you had before clicking on this article? Let’s do this.
1. Do I Get That Even Relationships Have “Seasons”?Giphy
Ecclesiastes 3 starts out talking about the fact that there are times and seasons for everything. And you know what? Relationships are not exempt. The reason why I’ve written articles for the site like “The ‘Seasons Of Sex’ That Married People Go Through” is because everything in this life has seasons — you know, periods when things shift. When it comes to the weather, whether we like the season that we’re in or not, we simply adjust because…what choice do we have?
Oh, but when it comes to relationships, so many of us have been conditioned to think that things are supposed to remain one way (usually the way we want it to be), without fluctuating, the entire time, that when there is a season of distance, disconnect or misunderstanding, we automatically believe it’s our cue to bounce instead of taking some time to process if it’s simply a period for communicating, maturing and learning more about our partner.
Listen, there is no way that people can grow without it affecting those around them, especially the ones whom they are closest to. So, before you decide to end things with your significant other, talk to them about what’s going on so that both of you can figure out if you’re going through an unfamiliar or uncomfortable season or if things are transitioning in a way where the relational dynamic no longer serves one or both of you.
Because I’ll tell you what — the people who have mastered longevity in relationships know that just like the weather, sometimes there are things that you have to learn to be flexible about…because even if you’re not thrilled with how certain things are at the moment, just like the weather, oftentimes, those things will change. Just like summer isn’t forever and fall comes in due time.
Plus, if you’re someone who can adapt well, there are pros and cons with different seasons, too. For instance, if this is a season when your partner is working more hours or traveling more than usual, if the goal is to get promoted or stack bread, the extra time that you have for yourself could help you to create some more long-term or short-term goals, pick up a hobby or do some self-work. Then, by the time things level back out, you’ll both be better people because of the “season.” See what I mean?
2. Did I Go into This with Unrealistic or Unfair Expectations?Giphy
I’m gonna tell you, right out the gate, what an unrealistic or unfair expectation is: If you thought that things were always gonna go your way or you were gonna get what you want right when you want it. I can’t tell you how many people have pretty much worn me out in counseling sessions, and it’s all because they thought a relationship was a catering service — that them being happy all of the time was to be the top priority and non-negotiable goal.
Something that wisdom, maturing, and self-reflection will teach you is that one of the main purposes of a relationship is to be with someone you love, respect, enjoy, trust, and can rely on to help you become a better person as you do the same for them. And no, that is not always going to be a fairy tale. In fact, I have said on many occasions that I loathe fairy tales (for adults) because I know what they mean: a story told to children and/or an incredible and misleading account. And don’t even get me started on the women who profess that they are waiting on their Prince Charming. After all, the Bible tells us that “charm is deceitful” (Proverbs 31:30).
Does this mean that you shouldn’t expect to have your needs — and even some of your wants — met? Of course, you should. Yet your needs need to make (reachable) sense. And honestly, a lot of folks could stand to ask themselves if they are able to give their partner all of the things that they expect from them (because many cannot).
So, what are some examples of unrealistic/unfair expectations?
- Expecting your partner to think just like you do
- Expecting your partner to read your mind
- Expecting love to mean that you won’t have to compromise
- Expecting your partner to give above their means
- Expecting your partner to be the sole source of your happiness
- Expecting your partner to love you more or better than you love yourself
- Expecting your partner to put their own needs in jeopardy just to meet yours
- Expecting your partner to always agree with or concede to you
- Expecting your relationship to always have good times and no challenges
- Expecting your partner to be the only one to make sacrifices
- Expecting every expectation to be met
I really was on a roll while writing these out, yet I’m sure you get the gist. Being in a relationship with another human being means that they have their own opinions, perspectives, and expectations — and they aren’t always going to match yours. And so, if you think that the sign of a healthy relationship is that they should, you really should be alone instead of trying to be with someone else. Because that way of thinking is the most unrealistic of them all.
3. Are We Incompatible or Am I Just Impatient?Giphy
When you get a chance, please read, “If He's Right For You, He Will COMPLEMENT Your Life.” In another article, I’ll be addressing why love is not enough in relationships. For now, one of the reasons why that is the case is because you can LOVE a lot of people who you simply cannot DO LIFE with. That’s why it really is important to seriously ponder if you and he are compatible or not.
To be compatible means that you share similar values, have like-minded relational goals, want the same long-term things out of life, have at least some of the same interests, and complement each other well when it comes to things like communication and meeting each other’s needs.
Listen, I’ve loved a few men in my life where these boxes did not check off, and because of our feelings for each other, we stayed together far longer than we ever should’ve.
At the same time, what if you are compatible with someone, but you’re just impatient as hell? I’ve been watching the current season ofReady to Love, and there are some women on there who are mad pushy when it comes to the clock. Personally, I don’t even know how you can hop on a show where you just met some dudes and roll up on them talking about how you want to be married by the end of the year. Yeah, it’s another message for another time, the amount of people who are tied to a goal more than a person.
Anyway, sometimes your partner can be in the same chapter as you (love story-wise) yet still not necessarily on the same page. Meaning, say that you want to be married this year, and he wants to wait until this time next year — are you contemplating ending things without considering his frame of mind? Maybe he wants to save money. Maybe he’s trying to secure some things professionally first. Maybe he wants to give you the kind of wedding (and ring) you want without relying on credit to get it.
It's one thing to end a relationship because you both want different things out of life. Oh, but it’s completely different to bounce because you’re used to folks giving into your pressure, ultimatum, or time frames. I’m not the one who thinks that a good man is hard to come by; I know many. I do think finding YOUR FIT isn’t as easy as you might believe, though.
A Canadian writer by the name of Janette Oke once said, “Impatience can cause wise people to do foolish things,” and, to that, the Good Book says that “Loveis patient” (I Corinthians 13:4). If you’re gonna end something, make sure it’s because the puzzle pieces don’t fit; not because you’re too impatient to see how the pieces will create a beautiful picture…when the time is right.
4. Do I Still Love, Like and Respect Him?Giphy
The married couples whom I work with know that I live by a certain, I guess you can call it a motto: “If you still like each other, you can get back to love.” Liking someone is about enjoying their personality, wanting to spend time with them, and having feelings that are rooted in friendship, acceptance, and appreciation. When those things are present and accounted for, all of the butterflies, googly eyes, and sheer lust that the feelings of love may provide — they can usually get you through the seasons when those feelings seem to be missing.
And respect? Listen, a lot of women get triggered by the fact that the Bible instructs husbands to love their wives while telling wives to respect — respect, not love — their husbands (Ephesians 5:33), yet you know what? If you’re gonna be real with yourself, you know that it’s hard to love a man who you don’t respect — who you don’t esteem. We’re simply not wired to trust a man who we don’t think will be a good provider, protector, and leader on some level.
Confession time: I stayed in a relationship with someone who I really liked, kind of loved, and absolutely did not respect (as a man) for quite some time, once upon a time. And all it did was make me resentful and him insecure — and that was a form of mental and emotional torture for both of us.
You’re not doing a man any favors by staying with him if you don’t respect him. And it doesn’t make sense to try and build a future with someone who you don’t like a ton. As far as love goes, love is a beautiful thing — very. All I’m saying is, like, love and respect are a package deal when it comes to how we see a man. If one of those things is missing, ask yourself why and then be honest about if anything can be done to change how you’re feeling or…not.
5. What Would Improve About My Life If I Leave?Giphy
This right here. Although this article is for people who are dating and not married, I do think it would be beneficial to put on record that, on average, somewhere between 30-40 percent of people regret getting a divorce. I think one of the main reasons is because the person you were when going into a marriage isn’t the person you are leaving it. You’re older. Dating dynamics in society have changed (and are ever-changing). You probably have a different set of life circumstances that may make dating more challenging (for instance, you may have kids now, and it takes a very special person to be a good potential stepparent).
Unfortunately, a lot of people will leave a relationship without considering this, only to have the ice-cold water of reality hit them smack dab in the face.
Now listen, I will be the first person to say that one of the major perks of dating is you don’t have to try and put the same effort into your relationship as married folks do. In fact, all of these non-engaged folks who spend months and years in couples therapy to try and make things work? Unless you’re someone who is in a long-term relationship with no desire to ever get married (check out “12 Couples Reveal Why They're Happy With A Long-Term Commitment Instead Of Marriage”), I don’t even get why you’re going through all of the trouble (or is it drama?). Some people have acted married before marriage so often, they don’t take marriage seriously enough when it finally does happen for them. SMDH.
This is where this particular question comes in. When you’re just dating, you really don’t have to hold on for dear life. You’re not “failing” if you realize that someone really is awesome — just not the right or best fit for you. And the reason why you know this is because you can actually name more than three ways that your life would get better if you left them alone.
Maybe you’d feel less stressed out. Maybe you’d have more time to focus on some personal ambitions. Maybe you’re compromising some core values that you want to get back to. Maybe they have you questioning some things about yourself that you know you shouldn’t be. Sometimes it’s as simple as maybe you’re feeling like something/one is better for you, and you know you won’t find them while you’re still…where you’re at.
This particular question really is underrated on a lot of levels because, while a lot of people are out here ending relationships on an emotional impulse, when you know that you’re leaving because you have a literal list of how your life would improve if you did dip out, that makes grieving the relationship less painful and finding closure, on some levels, less necessary (as far as dragging things out are concerned).
6. What Would Be Beneficial If I Stay?Giphy
If something (or one) isn’t making you better, it’s either keeping you stagnant or making you worse, and you know what? Neither of those are good. So yeah, it’s also wise to ask yourself how you would benefit — mind, body, and spirit — to stay where you’re at. And honestly, one of the best ways to figure out the answer to this question is to fully take in a relationship-based quote that I have shared on the platform before:
“As soon as the love relationship does not lead me to me, as soon as I in a love relationship do not lead another person to himself, this love, even if it seems to be the most secure and ecstatic attachment I have ever experienced, is not true love. For real love is dedicated to continual becoming.” (Leo Buscaglia)
When something (or someone) benefits you, they are helpful, they are useful, they are constructive. No, this does not speak to transactional dating (which is oftentimes very self-centered and mercenary); what this means is they are improving your quality of life — prayerfully, on several levels. And no, this does not mean that everything is easy all of the time, either.
Sometimes, what helps you is constructive criticism. Sometimes what’s useful for you is being challenged in ways you’ve never been before. Sometimes what’s constructive is learning how to be more flexible, understanding, and forgiving (umm, like you would want your partner to be towards you…right?).
So, just like you should ask yourself how you would get better if you left, be real about how you are becoming better by staying. This is where a good old-fashioned pros and cons list comes in super handy. If the “improve” outweighs the “beneficial,” if you know that you are not becoming more of who you need to be thanks, in part, to the influence of the relationship…well…I’m sure you get what I’m about to say…about that.
7. Have I Been Here Before?Giphy
A wise person once said, “Everywhere you go, there you are” and boy, can it be a hard pill to swallow sometimes. Something else that I’m a firm believer in is that the universe will keep you in the same “life class” for decades if needed, until you learn whatever it is that a particular lesson is trying to teach you. So, one more question: Before you decide to call it quits, how many times have you been in this same spot — the same kind of relationship? The same type of guy? The same kind of issues? The same type of break-up?
Because there is absolutely no point in abruptly chalking it up to, “It was all his fault…again,” just so you can find another man to say this about in another six months or a year. If you’ve been here before, take some time out to do some serious self-pondering as to why.
Every action has a reaction; I’m pretty sure that you’ve heard that saying at least once before — and when it comes to ending a relationship, it is most definitely true. If you’re wondering if you should, honestly, that’s already a feeling that is trying to tell you something. However, now that you’ve read all of this, hopefully, you can take some actions that you will feel at peace about…and won’t regret.
Because if you’re gonna end something, it’s a good idea to know why, so you can feel truly at peace about doing it — and yes, I’m speaking from very up close and personal experience here. Get your internal answers. Move wisely from there, sis.
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Featured image by Lyndon Stratford/Getty Images