The Ones Who Lift You Up: Found Family

The Ones Who Lift You Up: Found Family

This holiday season, JBW's campaign takes an intimate turn by exploring Found Family - a theme that resonates deeply with Creative Director Jessi Jacq. Through a personal interview, Jessi gives insight into the extraordinary bonds she's formed outside her biological family. She shares what these relationships mean in the context of her bustling New York life, highlighting a group that has become akin to family. Comprised of talented creatives from various fields, they form a vibrant, eclectic circle that uplifts both her professional and personal journeys.

As Jessi reveals, these individuals offer a profound sense of belonging, mutual understanding, and unwavering support. During poignant moments, whether triumphs, tribulations, or everyday stresses, they have filled irreplaceable roles. Through this insight into her own rich experience with found family, JBW's holiday campaign hopes to celebrate the beauty and significance of the families we choose, spotlighting relationships anchored in understanding and shared purpose rather than mere proximity or lineage.

Can you introduce us to your Found Family and how you met them?

Marion is a stylist and creative director.

I met Marion through his boyfriend at the time. He thought we would hit it off and we did and found out we had so much in common. He was the first friend I met from the south just like me. We come from similar backgrounds and we both have a deep bond for music and creativity.


Mimi is a stylist and creative director.

Mimi and I used to work in the fashion closet at Interview Magazine. Mimi exudes a confidence that can own a room. Mimi was new to America and her English wasn’t that good at the time so, people were being mean to her because it took time to understand her. That’s not me so, I took Mimi under my wing and caught her up to speed to do the job. We formed an unbreakable bond.

Chasidy is a stylist and creative director.

I met Chasidy when I worked at the Wall Street Journal. We ended up bonding over life, music, and creative endeavors, and she was also from the south. Chasidy is that one friend that I can sit on Facetime with all day and multitask our daily schedule lol.

Jiraurd is a photographer and model.

Jiraurd and I have a conversation about our origin story at least once a month. I’m just gonna say it was one of those NYC nights at some fashion event turned after-party. Those types of connections can be hit or miss but we kept in touch! That’s my Libra twin. We are the same person but from the male POV. We can talk about anything and everything as well. He is always there for me at any time I call him.

Kemi is a photographer, filmmaker, and community engagement specialist.

I met Kemi through the DM's. We have a lot of mutual friends and have always kept in touch that way. We finally met in person on Juneteenth last year at a friend's gathering and hit it off! We ended up conversing in a corner for half of the time, just getting to know one other. Kemi is a go-getter, and I admire her for it. She's so young and already getting to where she wants to be. She is constantly encouraging me and providing me with the motivation I need to keep going.

In what ways has your Found Family helped you in your career, other than letting you photograph them for this campaign, of course?

We are a group of people who look out for one another. We help each other find work and opportunities. Aside from that, we've been safe havens for one another. They constantly notice the fruit I bear when I don't, and vice versa. They never go hungry, and neither do I. I consider myself blessed to have a great support network.


Can you talk about a moment you felt homesick only to find a home in the company of friends?

The Fourth of July is my favorite holiday. Not because of the historical background, but because it reminds me of happy memories I had with my father. So, for the Fourth of July, I'd grill out by the river, where the fireworks display was. I wasn't expecting many people to turn up the first time I did it. All of my buddies were present. Even some of my out-of-town friends surprised me. The entire day was filled with so much joy and love that I cried. The annual BBQs that followed possessed the same joy.

How has this found family enriched your life in NYC?

Like I mentioned. I am never hungry when it comes to my friends. They have in many ways contributed to my career by putting me on opportunities and people to help advance my career, my mental health by being able to pray with and for me and talk through challenges in my life, and my financial well-being by helping my money grow through investments. I never go hungry. They always feed and pour into me.


What’s a standout memory where you felt the love from your found family?

They threw me a surprise birthday party during the pandemic in 2021. There were so many people there who were celebrating me amid a dark and difficult time for everyone. Even out-of-town friends flew in. That made me feel valuable and special. That was a deep loving moment for me.


What do you love doing together as a found family? Any special traditions?

Our monthly spades games are in the fall and winter. Once a month we get together and play spades. Some of my friends spectate because they can’t play lol but that’s my favorite group thing.


What have you learned from each other and how have you grown together?

Respectfully, we all began in NYC as young and dumb. The majority of my friends have been here for 7 to 10 years. What we have all gone through here has made us into the people we are today. Intertwined in that are the lessons we've taught each other through observations and actions. Also, while we all struggled to find our way through this city and the fashion industry, we established a relationship that allowed us to share and learn from one another.


What makes your bond feel just as strong, if not stronger than your biological family?

I've always considered my friends to be family because my brothers were much older than me while I was growing up, so our time together in the house was limited. My brothers were all grown up and out of the house by the time I was 12. So, ever since, I've considered my friendships as strong, sisterly, or brotherly relationships. Those who have remained in this connection with me serve a greater purpose. Most of them have met my family and vice versa, and we speak in the first person when referring to relatives, "How is Mama Vi doing?" as they refer to my mom Viola.


If you could use one word to describe each member and what they bring to this found family, what would it be?

Marion, joy.
Mimi, insight.
Jiraurd, perspective.
Chasidy, laughter.
Kemi, upliftment.


What is your hope for where this found family relationship goes in the future?

It’s growing into what I want it to be right now. My friends are getting married and having babies. I'm a Godmother to a few of my friend’s kids. We are growing old together and I love it. To see where we were years ago to now, I am so thankful to grow with them.


What JBW timepiece best represents the personalities of your Found Family?

Marion, the Gold Coast with gold face.
Mimi, most definitely the double-wrapped silver crystalized Arc.
Chasidy, Solid Gold Mink Petite.
Jiraurd, The Silver Coast.
Kemi, Crystalized Gold Mink Petite.


We know that your Found Family will be reading this, is there anything you’d like to say to them?

Thank you for helping to shape me into the person I am today. You've been there for me every step of the way. I am grateful to you and consider myself so blessed to have such a strong support system. my heart is filled with immense gratitude for the treasure that is your friendships. I find it essential to express just how much your presence means to me. You are not just my friends but a vital part of my chosen family, my tribe. I love you so deeply.

We hope this intimate interview reminds you of meaningful bonds beyond blood relations - your own Found Family that uplifts and nourishes the soul. Let this be a reminder to tell these special people what they mean to you not just during the holidays, but every day.

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