Interview: Ajay Woolery Photography: Campbell Grace / Jada Hunter Reese
Adding to our ongoing brand spotlight series this week we meet model, creative and designer Jada Hunter Reese. Inspired by the notion of staying true to yourself and being present in the moment, Jada’s new project Afromatcha launches today (11/19/21). We get into what she’s learned throughout the process of launching this project and what we can expect to see from Afromatcha in the future.
I’ll start out with the usual question but, kindly give us an introduction of yourself and what you do…
JHR: I'm Jada. My full name is Jada Hunter Reese, but I often go by Jada Hunter. Besides clothing design, I'm a model and I’m really working to make modeling and designing kind of like my full time job. I really enjoy hanging out with my friends and also helping them — a lot of my friends are very creative as well, and so we’re often working together to kind of compile our crazy ideas and make them work. Whenever we're together — We're always like, okay, we can do this, we can do that and It's always so fun. But yeah, I'd say in general, my main things are I guess, a model, designer and a creative person.
What’s the inspiration behind Afromatcha?
JHR: Back in 2020, I launched a brand called “Cause over Applause” and that sounds so corny, now it makes me want to cringe so bad. That was my senior year of high school, and it was right before the pandemic. I had three launches of different items but the brand itself really wasn't true to me so it felt like I was only kind of enabling the passion I had for designing but more so looking at people I thought were really cool. And I would think like, okay, they did that so I'm going to kind of do my own spin on that but it really wasn't me. So for Afromatcha, I was pushing this off for so long. I've been designing random things or drawing up random shoot concepts or video ideas for the past year and just kind of tossing them away because I didn't have a lot of the logistics figured out whether that be the name, the purpose of the name, whether or not I was gonna, do clothing design, just like accessories or hat? I just found any reason to kind of put it off but specifically, it was the name. And so one day I was in my room and I wrote down in my journal random words that I really liked and I paired them together to see which stuck out to me. So Afro was on there and Matcha was on there. I was like, Okay, this is kind of random. I feel the name if I heard it, I'd be like what!? Like, automatically hooked and intrigued. So that's where the name came from.
The inspiration for the brand itself, I'd say is just really just my passion for creating. There's a lot of people I look up to like Demetrius Harmon, he created the brand You Matter. He's someone I really look up to in terms of clothing design. Sean Brown, he doesn’t currently design clothing but he's a creative. A lot of like, those bigger creatives are people I look up to. Another big inspiration is just the younger version of myself. I feel like when I was a kid, I was really passionate. There was literally nothing that anyone could say that would get in the way of me doing what I wanted to do, whether that be making a huge mess in the backyard, or designing a play for me and my sister even if my mom was like, You guys need to go to bed. I just was extremely passionate as a kid and watching videos of myself [ from that time] really was like, okay, like what happened to that? I feel like when you grow up, you try to suppress yourself in order to fit in. I was like, Okay, let me try and find that again to really tap into my inner child so that I'm able to create what's true to me and create something that I think people will enjoy.
Image By: Campbell Grace
What would you say are some of the values behind Afromatcha?
JHR: I'd say encouraging people to remain present is a key one. And then, as I said previously, tapping into your inner child. For me, remaining present is so difficult, especially right now, I feel like I'm at a place where I want to think about the future. And I want to keep going but I'm also simultaneously missing out on the present in doing so. We just shot all weekend for the launch and I was trying to tap into that because I want it [remaining present] to be a core value. And it was just so nice to look around and realize this is the moment we're living in. It sounds so corny, and I don't mean it to sound corny, but it's true. Like, this is the moment we're in right now. And we're gonna look back and be like, “That was so fun”. I might as well live in the moment rather than looking back and being like, I was thinking so far ahead that I didn't even realize and wasn't even savoring what was going on then. So I'd say, remaining present. Again, tapping into your inner child and not suppressing that unique side of yourself. And rather than putting it away, really let it loose because that's oftentimes what makes others attracted to people, when people are truly the most real version of themselves. — You're making me think, I probably need to write these down. These are so cliche and corny but they're just so good to be remembered. However, another is just going for it. I'd say, I was pushing this off for so long over random things and now that I look back, it was probably out of fear. So just go while you have the creative mindset. If you're in a slump the easiest way to get out of it is to just keep creating, so I'd say just go even though that's not really like a core value the phrase “just go” is one of Afro Matcha’s values.
Image By: Campbell Grace
What can we expect to see from Afro Matcha?
JHR: The first launch is just a small capsule, mainly graphic tees and a few accessories. I also have plans to turn this brand into a wider creative space
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far throughout the process of starting your own brand?
JHR: Probably that I'm hard on myself for no reason. I'd say like, the whole premise of this first launch is about taking care of yourself. And remembering that especially in the times that we're in right now, like, we're in a global pandemic stuff is just crazy. Nobody knows what's going on. Basically, don't forget yourself — you can't disregard your own needs. Eventually, you'll burn out. And while I was working on this, I was really like, this has to be this way, this has to be perfect, I can't have it like this, and I was staying up too late. I'm still working right now part-time and I was working overtime, taking on extra shifts so that I can have money for the brand and to drive two hours to LA to pick up shirts. I just was overrunning myself. I was driving home one of those nights and I was sitting and thinking, how are you promoting a brand that's focus is taking care of yourself when you're running yourself so thin right now. So the biggest lesson was definitely remembering that I matter, I need to take care of myself, even though I want to provide for everyone else all the time. You have to tap into yourself before you keep overdoing it.
Image By: Jada Hunter Reese
Produced by: Jackson
Where do you hope to see the brand in the future?
JHR: I want to turn Afro Matcha into a creative space where I can put everything, maybe working and collaborating with other brands that aren't necessarily clothing design brands, like someone who does something like Sean Brown or something music-wise. I don't know wherever it takes me. I'm cool with it. I enjoy all areas of the creative world. Maybe, collaborating with someone who's crazy creative and we can put something together that's cool. Honestly, anything that's fun and helps progress my thoughts into a creative direction. I hate using this word so much, but it fits because you're the creative kids. I'm cool with whatever I love meeting new people who have cool brains and love talking to them about stuff because eventually, we can make something cool.
Do you believe Afromatcha has aided your creativity? If so, how?
JHR: Oh, so much, bro. So I “finished” high school, I put that in quotes because the pandemic came in March of my senior year. Then I graduated but I started college my senior year so I did two years of college and then I dropped out and I was cramming school I'd say from My sophomore year of high school, literally until my sophomore year of college, it was just so bad. And this really pushed away any creative thoughts that I had, mind you, I had a little break in my senior year where I was able to put some clothes out and stuff but that was very short. I'd say that period was max four months where I was really zoned into creating stuff. And then eventually I had to go back to think about school. But school, specifically college put me in a place where it was like, I am not doing well mentally, I'm not doing what I enjoy, I don't know what I want to do in terms of the fact that I was studying to be a lawyer and I didn't think I really wanted to do that. School for me was really just not treating my creative side very well. So by redirecting all of the energy that I was really focusing on school I’ve been able to just lock in, and take what I've learned from modeling the past year and apply that to a shoot, or what I've learned from messing around with graphic designs and teaching myself stuff through YouTube and apply that to this [Afromatcha]. It felt like everything that I've been dabbling in the past eight months or six months was really able to go into full effect. I can be like, Okay, I learned how to use that camera through a film class that I found on YouTube. I learned how to set up a setlist for a shoot through a casting director that I met last month. Everything that I was learning was able to be applied. And that was really cool. So yeah.
You can purchase from Afromatcha’s first collection titled “Eat Your Greens” now!!