Kim and Keyondra Lockett are two sisters doing it for themselves. Born in Shreveport, Louisiana and Atlanta residents for the past nine years, these two ladies are not only siblings, but business partners, creative confidantes, fellow Believers, and roommates. They are shining examples of the adage that the family that prays together, stays together.
The two began working together when Keyondra was in the Gospel girl group Zie’l. Kim, a fashionista for as long as she can remember, stepped in to dress the group and created the signature Sunday morning slay that set Zie’l apart from its contemporaries. When Keyondra later went solo, Kim became her personal stylist, creating stunning, one-of-a-kind looks for her sister’s photo shoots and appearances.
Collaborating with others can be a delicate balance. When the “others” are family members, that balance can quickly topple over. Combine business, family and co-habitation and that is often a recipe for disaster.
Kim and Keyondra are a model duo, though. Their Christian faith oils each spoke in the wheel of their relationship – so there is truly always love between these two. These are sisters who don’t argue, thanks to their mom (who is also their business manager) raising them to always respect each other as family. “She didn’t allow any of that ‘we’re not speaking to each other’ stuff,” says Kim. “We were raised in a tight, close-knit family with strong Christian principles.” They enjoy all of the time they spend together – which is most of the hours of most of their days. Kim and Keyondra are as attentive to their faith work as they are to their business and creative work. This is the key to their marketplace success and to their harmonious co-existence.
The Lockett sisters live in Atlanta’s North Druid Hill neighborhood. Although there is no shortage of lively things to do in Hotlanta, the duo spends most of their time working – or shopping (hey Zara!). On Sunday mornings, they can be found worshipping at Changing A Generation Full Gospel Baptist Church, where Bishop Paul Morton is the senior pastor.
While it could be surmised that the opportunities and resources offered by the entertainment capital of the South led the ladies to Atlanta in 2011, their move from Shreveport was driven by something else: education. Kim earned a Master’s Degree in Community Counseling from Argosy University, and Keyondra studied advertising at The Art Institute of Atlanta. As they started to carve out their professional lanes and lives, Kim decided to fully pursue her creative calling instead of the eventual PhD and career in marriage and family counseling that she had planned. Keyondra set school aside to focus on music, but still benefits from her time at The Art Institute: “I have been able to appreciate that I went to school and learned what I did learn about advertising and marketing,” she says. “It is very helpful for our business.” Keyondra spearheads the social media and marketing initiatives for her personal brand as well as that of Jolie Noire, the venture she and Kim started together.
Jolie Noire, French for “Pretty Black”, is an athleisurewear line with Black women’s empowerment at its core: “we are building ourselves up so that we can go out into the environment and be confident in those spaces,” says Kim. “Even if someone doesn’t have respect for us, we can have our own respect.”
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Each Jolie Noire piece is made to order, and stylish Black women are placing orders in droves. Their top-seller is the “Girl with Hat” series. It was endorsed by Clair Sulmers of FashionBombDaily, and also seen in Essence Magazine thanks to one customer who felt so confident in her sweatshirt that she wore it for a feature story photo shoot – a true embodiment of what Kim and Keyondra hope to accomplish with the brand. Plans to expand Jolie Noire this year include launching outerwear and luggage pieces.
Keyondra and Kim Lockett are humble forces of nature. This Gospel Life talked to the dynamic duo about the ups (we discovered there are no downs!) of growing, living and working together, and what’s in store for 2020.
She’s the Stylist – Meet Kim Lockett
When did you discover your love for fashion and styling?
I always have to go back to when we were kids with our barbies. It’s funny because, who we are today was built way back then. I think about the times when we would dress our dolls; I was the one who would use anything I could find: socks, tissue, rubber bands, whatever it was to make a dress. My love for design started then.
By the time I was in high school, I had decided I wanted to get a PhD in psychology, but that is also when I wore all of my flashy clothes…I was the girl who wore jeans and sequins and I always wore heels. People talked about my style all the time – they either questioned it or they loved it.
I was always on the heavier side, and plus-sized fashion wasn’t what it is today. So I would have my mom give me my dad’s old clothes and I would make something out of them. I would turn his overalls into an overall dress, and things like that. That’s also how my love for fashion got started; I had to be creative because I wanted to wear something different.
I dibbled and dabbled in different things while in high school, and I started drafting sketches of clothing designs. Somewhere along the way I decided I wanted to have a fashion line that would be in all of the fashion capitals of the world. I started actually styling by just wanting to help people. At that time, being a stylist wasn’t so popular, it wasn’t a job that you knew you could have.
Who are your style influences?
One celebrity whose style I love beyond a shadow of a doubt is Solange. Her style has evolved to another level that is so clean and so sophisticated, but so fun at the same time. It has all of the things that I like and admire about style…she has whim with her colors and prints, but she has very clean lines. I’m attracted to clean lines and very tailored, neat styling.
I really admire Rachel Zoe from a business perspective because she has a fashion line and still has a stylist agency…I would like to eventually have something like that as well. She also has a subscription box where she picks everything for that. I admire what she’s built. I like her personal style too. It is rare, I’ve found, to see a great stylist who also has great style.
What do you love about your sister as an artist?
I love the fact that Keyondra is able to keep her discretion. She is not like every other artist. Some artists don’t have any mystery to them; a lot of artists actually. They overshare or they just do too much on social media. Not just about their personal lives, but they post things without any consideration for who they are impacting by what they post. I love that she is an independent artist and knows how to conduct herself in this social media world. She is setting a different standard.
What do you like the most about living and working together:
One, we can trust each other, two, we grew up together and three, we are in sync – because we can trust each other and we grew up together. People see our dynamic and they say ‘oh my God, I could never live with my sister’ – but this is how we were raised. We are in sync with each other, so most of the time when I am thinking about something, she’s thinking about it -or vice versa. Whatever lack I may have, she picks up and vice versa. That’s really good.
But the number one thing I will say, is that we trust each other. It’s disheartening when I hear people say they can’t trust their family. For us, you can always trust your family, especially your immediate family.
What are your goals for 2020?
Keyondra and I started this at the end of last year, so it’s not a complete 2020 goal. I’m not a big fan of resolutions…but it’s a good start. I started at the end of last year because I wanted to go into this year as a continuation. What I am focused on is my skin and hair and just being healthier from here on out.
What is your Scripture Mantra?
John 15:4. It says if we abide in Him and He abides in us, then we can ask for whatever we want and it will be given. It is about obedience, because abiding is being obedient. Over the past two or three years, we’ve stayed focused on obedience. Not just to get from the Lord, but because that’s what He requires of us.
She’s the Singer – Meet Keyondra Lockett
What are you working on, and what’s next for you?
I released The Heal Reloaded: The Journey Continues in September, 2019. It is a deluxe edition of my 2018 release The Heal, with three new songs. We are preparing to release one of the new songs to radio. I’m excited about that, and also about the beginning stages of a new EP. I am just starting to have meetings with my producer about new music.
What has been the most challenging about becoming a solo artist after being in a group?
Having the weight of everything on you. You have to carry everything when you are on your own. When I had three other girls who were there with me, they picked up some of the slack onstage. Offstage, I have my mom and Kim and everyone who comes on board to help with different things, but on stage it is totally different. I am all alone, and I have to make sure that I am the best artist that I can be when I’m on stage. I am always striving to represent on stage what I represent on social media. That’s the hardest part. I am getting into a good groove. If I have rehearsals and prayer before I go on stage, I’m good.
What has been most exciting about it?
I’ve always been excited about singing – with a group or by myself. I am excited when I produce great work and get results from it. None of us are working hard to not see the results and the fruit of our labor. When I have worked really hard in the studio to produce great music and people come back and say ‘Oh my God you sound amazing’ or ‘Keyondra really blessed me’ those are the results that keep me going. There are also the more material results. Having The Heal on the Grammy ballot for consideration last year, and this year being considered for two Stellar Awards, to be able to have those things is really great. It lets me know that my work is not in vain.
Do you have a favorite song that you perform solo?
“The Water.” A lot of people say they love how I have pulled that old school element or that hymn element of “Take Me To The Water” into a newer element. It is a laid back, 90’s R&B vibe. The fact that I am talking about salvation and being baptized – and people love it – that’s what makes me want to continue to sing it. It is cool and laid back, but I feel comfortable singing the song. It’s so relaxing to know I can sing that song and be laid back and not have to do all the squalling and extra tricks that people expect from Gospel singers – and people still love it. All ages like this song. Older people have said it takes them back to when they were baptized.
How would you describe Kim’s style, and what do you love about working with her?
I’ve always admired her for being different and daring. She mentioned how she dressed in high school. My look during high school was a t-shirt, some pants, a jacket and some sneakers. I was all about comfort. I was preparing to graduate when Kim started high school, so I was just making sure my grades were right. I wasn’t thinking about being cute.
Later, I saw my sister going to school and then going to college looking the part. Eventually I said, ‘I want to be cute too’. I stepped up because of my sister. She taught me a lot as it relates to not only styling yourself, but having a great look about yourself period and always being as presentable as you possibly can. I appreciate that about her.
What I appreciate most about her styling me is that she knows how to style my body. She can look at anyone’s body and give them the right shapewear, if they need it, and give them the right image for who they are. I like trends, so I will see something and say ‘I want to look like that’, and she will tell me that’s not a look for me and tell me why. It’s crazy how she knows how to do all of these things – and I don’t. You have to have a gift to be a stylist, and my sister is gifted with it.
Do either of you ever need alone time, and how do you achieve it?
We really never need alone time. About three years ago, a good friend told us that we really need to learn how to get in our own spaces and do our own thing. We still have not done that.
Our apartment is roommate style, so we each do have our own living spaces, our own bathrooms and things like that. There is so much space to do what we want, if we ever do need to spend time to alone.
What are your goals for 2020?
At the end of last year, I decided that all of 2020 I was going to work on my body, in every single way. I just want to be healthier…I lost a lot of weight a few years ago – and I have gained it all back. I have had trouble keeping weight off for the past four years. Life happened, and I decided to deal with life with food. I understand that’s not an outlet and not the way to handle things. So now, I just want to be more focused on being healthy in my body and in my heart. I want to be healthy all of 2020 and for the rest of my life, and I do want to lose weight.
What is Your Scripture Mantra?
A lot of people these days post on social media about what you should do to be successful, and how to be a better person and those types of things. Just speaking things doesn’t help you be a better person or be successful. We have even thought in these recent years that hard work alone is what gets you what you are trying to obtain and helps you accomplish goals, but it is your dedication to God and reading the scripture that makes you successful. So, my mantra, for my career and success, is Joshua 1:8. It says that if you study your Word both day and night and try your best to live the life that you are studying about, that you are meditating on, then you’ll be successful. Then you will get whatever it is you are trying to get. I find that the reason why I’ve not been as successful at living the life I want to live is because I’ve not always really studied and been consistent in my meditation time as it relates to scripture. I didn’t realize that scripture is the balm for our lives. It is a healing balm that has the answer for anything we may have a question about.
For the past five or six years, I’ve really noticed how many people we see accomplishing things in life, because of social media. It is easy to compare your accomplishments to others, and I would do that. But I found out that just because people are so called poppin’, it doesn’t mean that they are in right standing with God…You have to put that first, and allow God to build that faith in you…so when your opportunities do come you will appreciate them a lot more and you will know it is not because of something that you did but because of the God you serve.