There’s always been controversial commentary about women making money off of “just posting pretty pictures.” I’ve always paid particular attention to the flack many women, especially young Black women, have received just for taking advantage of a new space that, honestly, wasn’t created for us—social media.
Frowned upon as being opportunist and superficial, these young female influencers—and, really, entrepreneurs—are creating new lives for themselves, and have opened up opportunities they probably never even imagined through the avenues of social media. One of these women is the business-minded Instagram and YouTube star Jayda Cheaves. With over 5.5 million followers on IG, this entrepreneurial-focused spirit is doing her own damn thing.
It’s a Saturday morning around 11AM when Jayda Cheaves and I hop on Zoom. Jayda is effortlessly, fresh-faced: fluttery lashes, glowy skin and a gorgeous diamond choker. Her energy is calming and welcoming, and she’s firm in her confidence while still being very relatable.
I’ve actually watched Jayda’s career for a few years now, in awe of how she moves. From the age of 16, Jayda was creating her own hustle, utilizing social media to promote her hair and lifestyle enterprises while also branding herself as one of the go-to ambassadors on the gram. Simultaneously, Cheaves has proven to be authentic in her own lane, sharing her life as an entrepreneur, mother, and of course, moments of co-parenting with Atlanta’s hottest rap artist, Lil Baby.
She doesn’t have much time, but 25 minutes with Jayda Cheaves was enough to confirm what I’ve always felt about her: she’s smart, focused and is not giving up her bag for anyone.
EBONY: What has it been like building your journey, as a Black woman, at such a young age, on social media?
JAYDA CHEAVES: This journey has been a learning experience for me. I’ve been on social media and an entrepreneur for so long. Every time I release a new project or even just post a picture I learn something new.
EBONY: How has being in the limelight shifted you, or forced you to shift spiritually and mentally and maintain some normalcy?
JAYDA: Well, I learned a long time ago, the internet is the internet. What matters is when you close your phone and put it on the charger at night; that’s what matters. Social media, of course, is how we make our money. This is a platform for everyone to show off what they do, but I kind of don’t get too involved in it because it’s not real life. I could show you guys what I want y’all to see, but y’all don’t see what goes on behind closed doors. You know what I’m saying? So I just do it for what it’s worth, and I don’t let the good or the bad get to me.
EBONY: I see that. I see you’re really good at having a sense of humor online, too. Do you ever feel the pressure of trying to remind your fans and people that follow you that this is just social media?
JAYDA: Honestly, I used to try to get on [there] and please people; and when you try to do that, it’s just not organic. So, once I fell back—I [was] like, “I’m posting what I like to post. I don’t care about what y’all want to see.” I just literally had to stop thinking about what they wanted to see and just post what I wanted to post. I’ll get online and show them myself without makeup, or get on live with a braid down on my head or a wig cap on. Y’all might see the glitz and the glam, but behind closed doors I’m normal as hell. Sometimes I post a little bit too much realness that people are like, “Okay, girl, you do not have to post that.”
EBONY: How has it been like as a mother in the social media limelight raising a young, talented and intelligent Black boy? Sometimes we can look at women sharing their motherhood experience on social media and think it’s easy.
JAYDA: Yeah, it is not easy at all. One thing I am happy about is that I’m blessed with a son that is just super smart, who is really understanding of me. He understands that sometimes I have to go to work, or that sometimes he’s going to have to be held by one of my friends because I have to take pictures. He makes it easy for me—but it is not easy being a mother. I literally cry when I have to be gone [from him] for more than five days because I have something to do out of town.
EBONY: Do you have new opportunities or new ideas that you’re thinking about expanding that came from quarantine?
JAYDA: So honestly, quarantine really got me in my bag. It gave me time to just focus on Instagram—being able to do shoots once a week and produce more content. That’s when I also came up with [the idea] that I was going to launch my merch line. I took quarantine as a time to just reinvent myself and my brand. At first, I was down and out. I was tripping hard because the world was shut down. And then, I thought to myself, “OK, it’s time to get a bag. Start a business. Figure something out that you could do once quarantine is over so you can just take over.” I met with a factory and I started getting my samples made. And now that quarantine is kind of coming to an end, I’m about to release my merchandise. I actually just got the keys to my warehouse last week and I’ve been way more focused now than ever before.
EBONY: What business realm do you want to go into next that you haven’t yet?
JAYDA: I have a lot of collabs with different brands, but one collaboration that I don’t have, or a business of my own that I do want, is makeup. People love my makeup beats because they’re real natural and subtle—so yeah, I need a makeup brand.
EBONY: I can totally see that. I also could see jewelry.
JAYDA: Yes, jewelry would be good. But makeup is one that I know would be super good. I like the jewelry idea. So thank you!
EBONY: There’s a conversation happening on Twitter about Black women and building a lifestyle of luxury—and we’re not talking just about materialistic things. Luxury now is also making sure you’re happy, making sure you’re pampered, making sure you’re well-rested, and so on. What advice can you give to others on building their own luxury lifestyle?
JAYDA: Honestly, you have to set goals. A lot of people have visions and dreams for themselves, but they don’t want to put in the work. I used to be that girl. I used to sit around saying, “I want this, this and this.” You have to get out and put in the work.
EBONY: Do you feel that as a younger Black woman that you’ve had to work harder to be taken seriously?
JAYDA: Oh, for sure. A lot of these [white] influencers get paid way more than Black influencers do. And it’s kind of like, “Dang, that’s harsh!” But once you put in the work over time and [brands] see your influence, they look at you differently and the respect is different and they address you differently. I feel that I kind of handled that part in the industry because people know when they come to me with a deal now, they have to come correct. But before, it was nothing like how they approach me now. I definitely had to work a little bit harder and make a name for myself—and I’ve been doing this for a long time.
EBONY: Yeah, you have.
JAYDA: I’ve been working with lot of these companies since they first started. So it’s funny now to see how they treat me now from how they treated me back then; it is a little bit different and we do got to put in way more work. That’s how I feel, and I can honestly stand on that because I have been through it plenty of times.
EBONY: What businesses do you have planned for your son, Loyal?
JAYDA: Loyal has his book, which is called A Day with Baby LA. He has sold over 15,000 copies of it so far. I have a whole line of books coming out for him. We’re going to start his YouTube channel, with his own toys and everything. That’s something I’ve been working on really since he was six months old. And of course, I want my merch line to be big—that’s the whole reason for me building a warehouse. I just want to just be a huge entrepreneur!