The world of anime is a colorful and magical place. It allows many of us to escape into a world similar to ours but just taken up a notch or two…hundred. I should know, I also write for Funimation. Anime, once seeming like a secret club only cool kids knew about, has become a part of mainstream pop culture. Big stars like Michael B. Jordan, Megan Thee Stallion, Zac Efron, and even Keanu Reeves have come out as big lovers of anime.
However, as anime continues to grow in popularity, the medium itself often doesn’t reflect the people who support it. Kansas-born Jacque Aye decided to do something about by creating Adorned by Chi. Adorned by Chi is a colorful fashion line and comic series with a goal in mind, “Creating our OWN fandom.” Everything about Adorned by Chi feels as lively and magical as its creator.
Fandom Spotlite was able to interview Jacque Aye and talk to her about the origin story of Adorned by Chi, working with Hello Kitty, creating her own fandom, and the magical girls in her life.
Can you tell me the origin story of Adorned by Chi?
Adorned by Chi is an original magical girl series and lifestyle brand centered around anime, manga, food, and feelings! We launched in 2015 as a one-woman show selling flower crowns and have grown and evolved since then but the mission has always been the same- expand the representation of Black women. Black women should be allowed to be nerdy and weird and soft and feminine.
What were some of the challenges of creating Adorned by Chi?
Well, I was broke and depressed for one (and two, ha!). Other than the monetary and emotional struggles I’ve pretty much operated under a heavy helmet of delusion (or some may call it faith) that propels me forward with blinders on.
Adorned by Chi has a mass following; did you anticipate that your brand would become “viral?”
Kind of! It’s that delusion I speak of. I believe that anything is possible!
You recently revealed your collaboration with Hello Kitty, can you tell the readers about the experience?
I love the Sanrio team, they’re cool, colorful, and creative people! It’s been a blast working with them.
Is there another franchise you would like to collab with?
My next dream collab would be with Mattel actually. Would love to see our characters as dolls!
On Adorned by Chi’s Instagram bio it says, “Creating our OWN fandom.” That really struck me, can you explain why that is so important?
Because we often have to imagine characters as Black or Black adjacent to connect with our favorite series. I want to provide characters that we don’t have to imagine as Black..because they already are.
Why do you think that there is a stigma associated with “female nerds,” “nerds of color” and “LGBTQ nerds”? How can we combat that stigma?
People look down on anything that’s not white and male honestly. I say we continue to create our own spaces and carve our own lanes!
What are some of your favorite fandoms that would surprise people?
I own several volumes of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic comics…which may not actually surprise anyone haha! I just love how wholesome, magical, girl-powered they are.
You are an amazing magical girl; who are some of the magical girls in your life that inspire you?
Thank you so much! I know they’re not in my life, but Janelle Monae and Solange Knowles inspired me SO much. When I was younger seeing them thrive as weird, android loving, head shaving Black girls really inspired me to be my whole self.
What advice would you give young people interested in wanting to take their love of anime/manga and turn it into a career?
Punch fear in the face and put your work out there and never shut up about it!
What’s next for Adorned by Chi? Anything you can reveal to our readers?
We’re working on a lot of things and I’m not sure if I can share so I’ll leave this on a cliffhanger! haha