At the age of 8-year old, a time when potential dreams and ambitions begin weaving themselves together as a glance into the future, Shardae Jefferson had transitioned into the likelihood of a new reality, from desiring a career as a judge to wanting to work in the fashion industry.
"When I originally saw the Devil Wears Prada, I didn’t know those two worlds could coexist, so I liked the fact that I could write something and not be seen," Jefferson said. "I had never seen the fashion world like that, so that was definitely insight into it." Shortly after watching the movie, she went to the library to read more about fashion, stumbling upon a book containing a photo of Beyonce. "Of course I know who Beyonce is, but why is she in this fashion book?" It was there that she had her revelation: "And I learned that rich people can just buy fashion," she said. "They can just buy these designer dresses and I was pissed. But obviously no one else at 8-years old cared about that."
This was the beginning of Jefferson's journey into the world of fashion and journalism.
Jefferson's blog, titled Shardaisy, launched in summer of 2016. There, she creates bi-weekly posts that combine photos of her clean-cut, slightly edgy outfits, alongside excerpts of her thoughts that read like short, reflective memoirs. While many of her posts serve to address passing impressions of her outlook on life, some occasionally serve as social commentary to issues she simply cannot ignore, such as being a woman of color, which pervades her everyday life.
"I feel like being black effects everything I do," Jefferson says. "I don't know a lot of famous black people that blog. Even with YouTube, the amount of black bloggers that get recognition and have a million subscribers is like, two. It's few and far between, so I hate that whole 'being black you have to be twice as good,' but to an extent, you do have to be twice as good." She makes a bold, honest statement to follow up: "Working in fashion and being black is obviously a hard thing to do because you also have to get into this industry that's hard to get into."
In one of her blog posts, she quotes writer Ta-nihesi Coates, who says, "I am not asking you as a white person to see yourself as an enslaver. I’m asking you as an American to see all of the freedoms that you enjoy and see how they are rooted in things that the country you belong to condoned or actively participated in the past." She brings attention to the relationship between her and her white friend, and how the dynamic between the two has been a learning experience.
"I understand some people are gonna look at that quote and be like, 'Shut up, you’re just a fashion blogger; you don’t know shit,' but I’m trying to be more political with the stuff I write about and wake some people."
"So yes, I’m going to post pictures of my outfit, but I’m also going to write about some real shit, because people have these concepts of people in fashion," Jefferson says, "that they’re just these pretty people that dress themselves well all the time, which is whatever, but there’s also smart people in fashion, and I think that’s what keeps me inspired and going."
However, being black doesn't overshadow her pursuit toward a career in fashion. In part, it's a result of her organic love for it, and other's lack of understanding for the type of effort that goes into it.
"The other day when I was in class, I was talking to my other friends that are studying fashion," Jefferson says, "and they didn’t know that Christian Louboutin and Louie Vuitton were two separate things."
She even notices a disconnect between her professors and how the contemporary world of fashion is evolving. She retells an incident from one class, where she was required to bring in a pair of jeans to recreate on Adobe Illustrator.
"I was trying to explain to my professor that these were boyfriend jeans and she was like, 'No they’re not, you made those like that,' and I was like, 'No, these are an actual style of jeans stores sell."
Ideally, Jefferson imagines herself writing runway collection reviews for the New York Times or Vogue Magazine as an end goal in her life's ambition, but in the meantime, would enjoy being a men's stylist for someone like A$AP Rocky.
How would you describe the concept of art?
Of all the things, art is inspiring. No matter what it is, it’s inspiring, even if you don’t like it. It still triggers something in you to say I don’t like this. I think fashion is art, just because that’s what I’m studying. Geared more towards that, I think art should be used in a way to wake people up and make them more aware of things. I love Basquiat. A lot of his stuff was critiqued in a weird way until after he was dead; they were more like, 'He’s just some black guy drawing on walls,' but no, these are messages that he’s trying to put out into the world in his way. And I feel like with me and my blog, these are messages I’m trying to put out to the world in my way, with my outfits and the stuff I write about.