The Value of the Black Aesthetic
Valuing our culture, and not our lives is the plight of being Black in America. Shifting spending from major corporations to black-owned businesses is essential; and Nicole Banks' team is committed to "changing the narrative and no longer allowing our culture to be exploited."
Sparking change begins within your personal ecosystem. This Stylist and owner of Pretty Pieces Boutique challenges customers to be intentional with their spending habits, and increases her visibility in an effort to show black-owned, quality alternatives in Fashion. Pretty Pieces is comparable to trendy fashion brands such as Fashion Nova and a conscious alternative.
In a Q&A, Nicole Banks, stylist and owner of Pretty Pieces Boutique, questions our thought patterns in an effort to not only convey our purchase power, but also dismantle a prejudice system that the world continues to subscribe to.
W4TC: How do you empower Women of Color through fashion?
NICOLE: I allow a front row seat to my journey and I show up every day whether I feel like it or not. I’m transparent with my messaging also. I give women of color that look like me motivation. If I can achieve success as an independent retailer in a climate that supports non African American owned fashion brands, they can too. I’m proof that it can be done and that is transparency in itself. I hope I empower women of color to say hey if she can do it so can I. That’s why it’s important for me to be present and not hide behind my brand.
W4TC: Why should images of black beauty in all different shapes and sizes be celebrated more?
NICOLE: We’re not cookie cutter. We are a blend of shapes, colors, shades, and sizes. It’s important that every little brown girl see images that she can relate to so that she has something to aspire to. From Jasmine Guy, to Gabby Sidobe, we all need to be represented in main stream imagery to create a healthy balance of inspiration. It’s hard to become something you never see.
W4TC: How can fashion brands support the culture they benefit from?
NICOLE: I’d honestly feel better about brands being more authentic in their approach to support versus the bandwagon that I’m feeling now. It doesn’t feel genuine in most respects. Instead of stealing from us and using our culture and likeness for profit, allow us a seat at your table! Authentic inclusion would be amazing!
W4TC: Do you believe brands should hire black creatives to help them?
NICOLE: Black People possess a certain creativity that is genius and produces magic. It comes from our ancestral ingenuity! When our people didn’t have a way they created one and it’s the same with us now. It’s innate. We are the flavor and once big brands understand that power they’ll understand the need to have black creatives at the table! And not to appropriate the culture but to embrace it authentically.
W4TC: What's the current climate for retail as we journey a post-covid life?
NICOLE: Online shopping is really going to be the new norm. Online, curbside and delivery will not just be reserved for food but for our everyday products to include clothing.
W4TC: What's the current climate for entrepreneurs/small business owners during this time?
NICOLE: I think we're the strongest we’ve been in a very long time from a solidarity and supportive perspective. We are opening businesses at a very fast rate and we’re providing our community with the essentials we need in order to buy black.
W4TC: How fierce is Black spending power and why is it important that we shift spending towards Black-Owned Businesses?
NICOLE: Black people are an economic stimulus package all by ourselves! Our spending power is in the trillions and if it weren’t for us, many of the major fashion providers wouldn’t see the success they’ve been afforded! But, once the dollar leaves our hand it fails to produce any benefits to our community beyond a fleeting tangible purchase. We don’t circulate our money in our community and it impacts our ownership! We need to circulate our dollar amongst ourselves so that our ownership can be strengthened.
Nicole Banks is the Chief Pretty Chick in Charge at Shop Pretty Pieces. As a third generation seamstress, Nicole creates individual statement pieces that women mix and match to define their own personal look. Nicole brings a comprehensive background in technology, data assessment and process management as fuel to strengthen her strategy in the fashion industry.