We had the pleasure of meeting the talented (and gorgeous!) Chérmelle outside of our office space while she was photographing a coffee event for one of her friends - what are the odds! We immediately connected, fell in love with her vibe and knew we had to do an interview. Read along to get a peek into the life of this inspiring creative woman.
Tell us whatever you want to share with our readers about yourself.
This question had me stumped. I don’t get stumped often. I guess I’ll share with your readers some things in the nature of beauty.
One summer on a road trip with my family to Las Vegas for a family reunion, it was quite hot. I remember windows rolled all the way down, a continuous breeze that felt so good but rough to the point of chafing my face at the same time. And, I remember my face often tingling along the ride. Somehow on that trip I developed freckles, a few on my left and right cheeks. I didn’t know how they exactly came, I kind of thought it was cool but then didn’t. Little did I know, the girl who said she wanted to face the world as a natural girl and not one fully faced with makeup would one day become a girl, a woman who felt she needed makeup.
I’m a brown girl who after embracing my freckles in my early teen years, developed another skin challenge, vitiligo. I’ve had vitiligo for almost ten years. It came in my adult years while working a corporate job that I hated and in need of dropping a toxic friendship that didn’t serve me. While at home and in doors I feel the safest, and the barest because I don’t feel the need to cover up or protect my face.
My sister calls my vitiligo reverse freckles. Each time I have a challenge with how I choose to still cover up these vitiligo moments I remember this, I remember how cool freckles became for me and hope to one day feel the same about my vitiligo.
I feel beauty is so multilayered and it really does come from within. And, it is self-defined if we allow it, I allow it. By day, I am the founder of The Coffeetographer, a webzine documenting coffee as a culture through the arts. And, I also run a micro-agency called Once Upon a You helping small to medium sized businesses understand the psychology of their story, their why for social media and digital platforms. I help them to share from the inside out by creating strategic storytelling programs matched with culture so that they share natively and authentically from why they are.
Additionally, I am a writer, photographer and storyteller.
What inspired your love for coffee?
First, my parents. They both are coffee drinkers and diametrically different. Then, becoming a regular in coffee shops in my college years. Third, discovering that coffee comes from Ethiopia and realizing like woah, this is my cultural heritage and the worlds.
What are you currently watching or reading?
I am currently watching This Is Us, The Crown, Survivor, I’m a super fan, The Final Season of Scandal, Two Dope Queens, Atlanta Season 2 and The Bachelor, I have no shame regarding the latter nor will I defend it when my friends gasp with “You, I can’t believe it.” Yes, believe it.
I am reading Feel Free the latest collection of essays by Zadie Smith, the fiction book, Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste NG, The Power of Broke by Daymond John and for magazines, The New Yorker, Elle, Interview and I-D always. Rest in Peace, Nylon Print.
You are a talented photographer and also a writer for your own web magazine, total goals! Tell us a bit about your creative process.
Thank you. My creative process once I have the creation, i.e. the content, the photography, the story, is to follow my heart, follow the feeling associated with what drew me to the subject in the first place. I draft my feelings for my story notes on my phone almost always. I then often do a circle of gratitude if I need to about what is most important about this experience, this story, this contribution to culture. Once I’m supremely dialed in then I can birth it.
Specifically, when I’m writing, it’s to music, with a pair of Marshall Headphones in.
I often like to be in a confined space to write, on a New York subway, in a library, in a room with the door closed and the curtains open, on an airplane – if I could fly once a week just so I could write specifically I would.
For photography, it’s all feeling. I don’t pick the people, I feel like their energy picks me. So, I endeavor to remain one within so that I may align with the moving images – the people when I go out into the field. This way I don’t look for them, I’m always aligning.
For clients and creative strategies, I often find myself honing in on their industry for days at a time – through readings, articles, studies etc. And then I’ll disengage consciously for days knowing that my subconscious is mapping all the connections inside while I’m no longer concerned with it. And when it’s time for me to revisit and deliver the strategy, I return, as a vessel with ideas flowing through me. It’s a pretty intense yet magical process, one I’ve learn to specifically hone in pursuit of fulfilling my purpose in helping businesses tell their stories natively.
What is the meaning of beauty to you?
Self-acceptance. Thank you for accepting me for this interview.