It’s a gloomy Tuesday afternoon, but the other participant on my Zoom call is beaming with a youthful, bronzed radiance that’s almost overwhelming—it intensifies each time she flashes a smile. I’m speaking to none other than the Kelly Rowland, who’s helping me pick my next fall hair color. I decide on blue. “Blue? Well, when I was your age I had blue—and purple, and red, and every other color,” she recalls with a wide laugh. If you know anything about Rowland’s early days as one-third of pop supergroup Destiny’s Child, the hair chameleon never shied away from a color, texture, or style. On the red carpet, she adopts a similar approach, favoring dresses with intricate detailing and leg-baring slits in dark or jewel-tone shades. But at home, Rowland’s a sucker for a good knitted pant or any oversized sweater—no loud prints or colors. It’s exactly the type of piece you’ll find as part of her newest endeavor, a full apparel and shoe collection with JustFab.
The expansive lineup of knits and leathers arrives in soft, neutral colors that conjure images of piping hot pumpkin spice lattes and vanilla-and-caramel scented candles. It’s not lost on the singer that the muted tones offer comfort amidst the chaos boiling over in the world today.
“I always think about the fact that I’m given one more day,” she tells me. “When I wake up in the morning, I’m not done. I ask myself, What do I need to do today? I constantly remind myself to lead with kindness and in doing work and hustling and grinding, to have fun through it all. If that person can do it, I can damn sure do it. How do I make somebody feel seen or heard today?” A cozy, comfortable range that makes women feel polished and runway-ready, even if the only runway they’re walking is from the kitchen to a Zoom meeting, at an extremely accessible price point. That’s how.
Though it’s common for celebs to pivot to clothing or shoe collections, a line wasn’t top of mind for Rowland for a long time. When the offer was presented to the singer, she took herself out of the equation and prioritized other women’s needs. The goal was to take the guesswork out of getting dressed, because who has time a plan an entire outfit when we’re in the middle of a global pandemic and an ongoing state of political unrest?
“We figured every woman shared the same sentiment as me: If I still want to feel some sort of glam in this weird time, what would that look like?” the hitmaker and expecting mom says. “There are only so many pairs of big jeans and sweats we can wear. For the collection, we wanted people to feel some sort of luxury without having to spend a whole bunch of money, because we don’t know what’s going to happen with the economy,” she explains. “We want to do the job for her: Being effortless by wearing these comfortable knit sets or oversized sweaters or the cool leathers with fun t-shirts that might already exist in your closet. The JustFab woman deserves it.”
Rowland’s hands caress the brown Wrap Kimono sweater she’s snuggled up in, which she paired with the Sweater Knit pants for our chat. “Some days I want to look cool. Other days, I don’t want to see my waist,” she chuckles. Shoppers, too, can choose to cozy up in the Suiting Pocket Cardigan, which comes in a leopard or argyle print, or slip into the faux leather trousers for a “snatched” look.
Then, there’s the 11-piece shoe collection. Not that Rowland needs another pair. She stumbles before admitting she has far too many shoes to count, and had to clean out her closet to make space for the JustFab footwear collection. And if you’re wondering, the Wren boot is the shoe she’d gift Michelle Obama if given the chance. If she could walk a mile in anyone’s shoe, it would be our Forever First Lady’s.
“She’s just so graceful, but she could definitely tell you off in the way she is as a wife and mother,” Rowland gushes. “I’m in awe of her and intrigued because I find her so incredibly awesome.” Michelle Obama wearing Rowland’s collection is the Black Girl Magic moment waiting to happen, but Rowland has gifted Black women those moments her entire career—and especially this year. Take her sensual single “Coffee” and its accompanying visual, a gorgeous display of Blackness starring other brown-skinned beauties like herself.
Then, of course, there was her cameo in “Brown Skin Girl” from Beyonce’s Black Is King visual. In it, Rowland and Beyoncé face each other as they sing in unison, “I’ll never trade you for anybody else.” A meme of that moment quickly circulated as a symbol of not only their sisterhood, but of Black women celebrating each other at a time when we’re fighting to be seen, heard, and respected. Rowland’s comforting smile dissolves when I ask about the weight those three words—Brown Skin Girl—carry when set against our current state of turmoil.
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“Not protected enough, that’s what it means to be today,” she says. “But also strong and resilient. We’ve gone through so much and I don’t think we give each other enough credit. We’re living in this beautiful Brown skin [and] have to realize how truly golden it is; we don’t have to be watered down or shrink for anybody. Songs like ‘Brown Skin Girl’ are one part of the story, but we have to continue to rewrite the rest of our story. You have artists like my sister B, you have writers like [Lovecraft Country‘s] Misha Green and Lena Waithe who are telling these new stories. When we tell our own stories, they become this incredible quilt of legacy and hope.”
Black women are constantly fighting against stigmas and tropes. We’re the aggressor when we’re assertive and confident. We’re expected to save everyone even if no one comes to our defense (see Megan Thee Stallion’s “protect Black women” op-ed). Rowland’s celebrity has never insulated her from society’s prejudices, especially the constant comparisons to her Destiny’s Child counterparts. But she ends our conversation with a hopeful reminder. “People will try to pinpoint certain things to pit us against each other or plant a seed of doubt within us because we are so strong,” she says. “Women are the fiercest creatures on the planet.”
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