Supported by Converse
For British-Sierra Leonean journalist Twiggy Jalloh, the past year of endless lockdowns has given her the opportunity to reflect and implement a much-needed wellness routine in her busy work schedule at British Vogue.
Being a beauty and lifestyle associate at the magazine allows her to use her platform to talk about the benefits of self-care, as well as how that intersects with her more personal experiences as a queer Black woman. “It is important to speak about the things that are personal to me,” she tells gal-dem. “That also includes the beauty products that are part of my self-care routine and are part of my existence.”
Twiggy’s important work in the wellness space has not only gained her a loyal crowd of followers who regularly tune in, but has also impressed Converse too. Earlier this year, she was spotlighted by the brand and joined their network of its All Star programme in London; a network launched by the brand to support emerging creatives from underrepresented groups in London, who are supported by with mentorship and funding. As we move into Pride month, Converse and Twiggy are putting on an event to highlight the importance of self-care and wellness in the LGBTQI+ community.
“Pride is a time for us to be even more bold, celebrate, and for us to learn about each other”Twiggy Jalloh
When we connect via Zoom, Twiggy is at her home in London and is just as warm and genuine in person as she is online. She explains that her passion for self-care naturally progressed – or as she claims, “accidentally” – into a podcast series called Take Ten With Twiggy.
The short and snappy episodes take the listeners through the writer’s guided meditation – a practice she says has been just as useful for her as it has been for them. “I always thought I simply lived life going with the flow of things, but the podcast has taught me that I’m in fact a very introspective person and increasingly in tune with my emotions,” she says. “I’m becoming more self-aware by the day!”
Here, she discusses the importance of self-care, her advice for great storytelling, and what to expect from her Pride event with Converse:
gal-dem: What can people expect from the event you’re hosting with Converse for Pride this month?
Twiggy Jalloh: I’m very excited for Pride month and the event will be celebrating the fact that I’m part of the LGBTQI+ community and mainly focus on self-care and wellness practices and how to balance yourself. I think these things are important no matter what age or gender you are, we all need to look after ourselves and recognise our importance. I’m so happy that Converse invited me because these topics are so important to talk about and they’re helping put self-care on the map.
Why do you think wellness and self-care are so important right now, especially after the year we’ve had?
I feel like my wellness has saved my mental health from deteriorating during this time because I found the lockdown very hard at first – there was no work-life balance. My wellness routine gave me that break that I didn’t know I needed and it broke up the day for me.
I used to wake up, check my emails, and go straight to work, but since I established a routine, I wake up and say: ‘God thank you so much for today, I’m so grateful for life.’ I give myself five things a day to say that I’m grateful for. I read a daily devotional on greatday.com. In the evening, I put on a face mask or do some meditation. Having the routine has given me a break, it really helps break up the day, and brings so much joy and peace.
Your Vogue features often explore personal topics from your heritage to your experiences as a queer Black woman, why is it important for you to explore this through your work?
I love beauty so much, but I feel like there are a lot of other, more important things to talk about, especially being a Black woman. I think it’s very important to give a platform to people who don’t necessarily imagine themselves telling their story in a luxury space. I feel a responsibility to amplify those voices and help people in any way I can, whether it is encouraging people to support a new Black-owned beauty business or spotlighting the LGBTQI+ community.
Last year, you launched your podcast Take Ten With Twiggy, how did it come about?
I didn’t know I was going to launch it. I can’t believe it even became a podcast because I came up with it after a nap. I woke up and had a few things on my mind and I thought that it would help to record and then I might post to Instagram. My first episode was about managing seasonal depression and how to make lemonade from life’s sour lemons.
It was always a great way of expressing myself and it was cathartic being able to speak about my struggles. Now, I’m on episode 30-something and every week I talk about my feelings, findings for the week, and end with a meditation. It started off organically but I really enjoyed creating it and people seem to be receptive and say that it makes a difference in their lives!
What advice would you give to somebody interested in storytelling, whether it’s written or via a podcast series?
Be authentic about the stories that you want to tell. There are lots of stories out there that you might want to publish because you think they perform well, but just do what you’re passionate about. I’m very passionate about beauty, wellness, self-development, and lifestyle bits and that’s what I stick to. I don’t really write about current affairs because it’s not really my avenue, so I’d much rather give it to somebody else. So, I’d say stick to what you know and as your skills develop, you can explore different avenues.
How does it feel to be spotlighted as part of Converse’s London community and what do you think about the work the brand is doing?
It feels amazing to be part of it because I’m quite new to the game. They brought me in and I’ve had time to learn what they do. They do work for the Prince’s Trust and they work with a lot of LGBTQI+ people. I appreciate that they are giving a voice to the marginalised and they aren’t like other brands who just use the Pride flag.
I recently found out that Converse also supports smaller businesses and I think that’s so important too. They help them get staff and hire people, this is what Black people need! We need monetary support and business contacts and I appreciate that Converse are actually doing the work and can’t wait to see more of it.
Why do you think it’s still so important for LGBTQI+ people to be able to celebrate Pride?
Pride is very important for LGBTQI+ people because it’s a time to reflect on the work that people have done in the past that allows us to express ourselves freely now – even though things can still be better, of course. Pride is a time for us to be even more bold, celebrate, and for us to learn about each other as well. Whether you’re part of the community or not, we can all learn from each other’s experiences. Things also change every year. We weren’t talking about pronouns years ago, but now we’re speaking about it all the time and developing new identities and different ways of expressing ourselves. It often comes out of Pride month because we’re speaking about it so much and people are more open to listening.
Converse have partnered with schuh and The Princes Trust to create the DO YOU event series, which will nurture self development for young people through creative workshops and inspirational panel discussions.
On June 16th, Twiggy will join All Star Kei of AZ mag and Donnie Sunshine to discuss their experiences around using creativity as a form of self-expression, and how this has helped them to reach their full potential within their creative fields. So if you’re looking to pick up more tips and tricks from Twiggy on how to advance yourself creatively and pursue your dream career, you can sign up here