Please could you tell our community a bit about yourself?
I’m Chi a 31 year old fashion brand consultant, sometime writer and the creator and co-host of the Unpretty Podcast.
Could you tell us about the Unpretty Podcast?
It’s a podcast dedicated to exploring perceptions of beauty through the lens of Black and non-black people of colour, through conversations with beauty experts and people of lived experience. Essentially it’s a platform to showcase the stories and experiences of people of colour and how beauty comes into play with that – the kind of conversations that happen in more “safe spaces” and behind closed doors in the community.
When did you begin Unpretty Podcast and what was the motivation behind it?
The idea was born out of a conversation with five black girls – we all wore our hair in braids at the time but each had a different preference of style and also reason why they chose to wear their hair in braids but we could all relate to the same awkward questions and interactions we’d had with people outside of the community – whether it was at work or just random strangers out in public.
Our now producer, Ayo and I looked at each other and said “Wouldn’t it be great if this conversation was recorded and we could play it back to people so we don’t have to keep responding?” That was October 2019 and then 6 months later, we launched.
What has the feedback been like since you started your podcast?
The feedback has been so positive – everything from people of similar lived experiences to ourselves or our guests saying that they completely relate but haven’t heard people discussing things so openly, to people outside of the community being grateful to have a platform to help them find some understanding.
When we set out to create Unpretty with such a wide audience in mind, we really want it to be an inclusive space – we’re not serving one singular community with the episodes we put out. It’s about creating community out of both shared experiences and mutual respect and understanding.
Could you share some of your favourite guests you’ve had on your podcast?
I don’t think I can have favourites! We’ve been so lucky to have such amazing array of guests from the beginning, from award winning hair stylist Charlotte Mensah to Joy Crookes and internet famous Munya Chawawa. If I had to pick one it would be my friend Josh Smith (also a podcast host!) because he has always shown a brilliant example of allyship, even before the word was trending and was incredibly supportive of Unpretty from the start.
What is one of the most important things you feel you’ve learnt through doing your podcast?
The importance of honesty and authenticity. The power of conversation and sharing. Before launching Unpretty I wasn’t someone who would share so many personal things on a public platform but I’ve seen the positive impact that can have, so no turning back I guess.
What is, in your option, one of the most important topics you have discussed on your podcast?
The episode about fetishization in dating resonated so well with our listeners and was a springboard to so many conversations I have had personally. SPF was important from a health and safety point of view – the amount of people that admitted to not knowing that they needed to wear sunscreen because of the colour of their skin was pretty astounding. Our recent episode about menstrual health sparked a lot of messages from our listeners
The most important episode, was the one we recorded in June 2020 following the civil unrest and resurgence of the global Black Lives Matter movement. The four of us behind the podcast, Basma, Ayo, Kaydine and I just had a very open and honest conversation about our feelings and experiences in that moment. It’s almost painful to even think about that episode and the highly emotional weeks surrounding our recording but it was important for us to do.
Are you environmentally conscious?
Definitely. I struggle with the label because nobody is perfect but it’s important to continue learning and taking the steps that you can to reduce your impact on the planet.
Do you try and be more sustainable when it comes to fashion?
It might be odd to say as someone who works in fashion – I really do not shop that much. My habits changed pretty quickly into working in fashion, I would much prefer to invest in something high quality that will last for years – decades even. If I like something, I might sit with it for a few days, or weeks before actually making the purchase so I know that I definitely want it.
I’m also one for circularity – I tend to give away or resell any pieces in my wardrobe that I no longer want and I try to buy second hand, particularly more luxury items.
Have you made any significant changes to your shopping habits during lockdown?
Not really when it comes to fashion – I suppose I have been shopping even less than before. But more generally, I’ve actually been embracing the slower pace of things. I haven’t used Amazon Prime for over 6 months now and trying to support smaller independent businesses which means that sometimes it can take up to two weeks for something to arrive. It’s completely removed the urgency from any of my purchases and also makes me appreciate things more because I’ve waited for them.
Do you buy vintage and pre-owned pieces?
Yes! I tend to remember a product two seasons after it’s come out and spend time trawling through Vestiare Collective or eBay trying to find it.
Do you have a favourite antique or vintage piece?
I’m going to say something that I don’t actually own but I forever regret not buying – a red suede Gucci skirt from the 1960s. I spotted it in my local vintage store three years ago, let it live rent free in my head for a couple of days and when I returned it was gone and now it lives rent free in my mind. There are definitely some drawbacks to non-impulsive shopping.
What is your favourite PI London piece?
I’m a proud Scorpio, so I’m going to say the Scorpio pendant. It’s so hard to find zodiac jewellery that doesn’t look too novelty but this one is very elegant.
Favourite inspirational quote?
Nolite te bastardes carborundorum (Don’t let the bastards grind you down)
Your jewellery icon?
Alicia Keys or Sade – both keep it simple with a hoop earring.