Jacque Aye is a super nerd, serial e-commerce entrepreneur, comic writer, and Head Magical Girl at nerdy lifestyle brand Adorned by Chi! Since launching in late 2015, Adorned by Chi has been featured on Buzzfeed, Nylon, Revelist, and more. In 2018 the company was able to raise over $18,000 via Kickstarter to create their own original magical girl manga set in Nigeria. Black Girls Create spoke with Jacque about the brand.
Black Girls Create: What do you create?
My name is Jacque and I’m the creator of anime & manga-inspired lifestyle brand Adorned by Chi. Basically, we’re an original comic series with cute merch for nerdy girls!
BGC: Why do you create?
I create to see what I, and many others, didn’t get a chance to growing up. There’s nothing like turning on a TV or flipping through a book and seeing characters that actually look like you.
BGC: Who is your audience?
Our audience is full of magical people! But mostly Black women interested in anime, manga, and cutesy things.
BGC: Who/what inspired you to do what you do? Who/what continues to inspire you?
I started Adorned by Chi to honor God (Chi means God in Igbo) and also to showcase Black women looking soft, cutesy, and super feminine—something we’re not always “allowed” to be. When I started the brand we sold flower crowns and had dreamy shoots with Black models. Over time we’ve evolved into more, like cutesy nerdy t-shirts, but the core is still the same. I’ve always been inspired by Janelle Monae. When I saw a nerdy, android loving Black woman singing and dancing on my screen I lost my mind. Actually, I feel like I found something that opened up a world of possibilities for me. I grew up in Kansas too, and before her I tried to tuck away my weirdness and hide my interests because I didn’t want to be judged. After her I stopped caring and Adorned by Chi is the result of that representation. I hope one day that the brand can inspire a young woman in the same way.
BGC: Tell us about what made you create Adorned by Chi.
I just started it as a fun project after quitting my job. I was broke, I was depressed, but creating this world made me feel so much better. Being able to loudly and proudly share those interests that I used to hide made me much more confident, and I’ve been able to build the sweetest community around it. I’m so happy.
BGC: What was missing from the market that you think Adorned By Chi filled?
For me personally, I hadn’t seen anything catering to Black women who were into certain interests and aesthetics. I’m emotional, I’m nerdy, and I’m girly as heck. When I’d shop online all I’d see were light models and never anyone who looked like me. When I read my fave books, the characters I resonated with most never looked like me. We’re providing representation and diversity, not just on a surface level, but also showcasing the diversity of Black women.
BGC: Now you are switching to creating original content. Tell us what made you decide to switch from fandom to original comics?
I was tired of taking known IPs and “reimagining them as Black.” I think we deserve our own fandom with original characters that already look like us.
BGC: What is the Adorned by Chi comic about?
It’s an immersive magical girl series about 5 Nigerian college students who find they’ve been chosen by Igbo Goddesses to defeat a mysterious beast. You can read issues 1-4 for free & purchase issue 5 at www.adornedbychi.com!
BGC: It was recently announced you are going to have a development deal. Is there anything you can share about that or how it has made you feel to reach that next level?
Nope! I share a lot but I kind of like keeping this part a bit of a mystery ha! I will say our new partners are super cool!
BGC: Why is it important as a Black person to create?
Being able to create has helped me deal with depression, manage my emotions, and escape from the harsh realities of the world. Black people go through a lot. We deserve outlets of expression.
BGC: How do you balance creating with the rest of your life?
I don’t have a life, ha! But I did get a puppy and she creates balance by getting me up 3 times a day to take her on walks.
BGC: Any advice for new creators?
Just make stuff! Don’t worry about how you’ll be seen or if people are judging you. You’ve got something special and the world needs to see it 🙂
BGC: Any future projects?
Possibly! But nothing share-worthy…yet!