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Sarai Thompson & Jodi-Ann Scott Are Making Safe Space for Black Fashion Professionals

Sarai Thompson & Jodi-Ann Scott Are Making Safe Space for Black Fashion Professionals

We’re exiting our  Miranda Priestly aka Devil Wears Prada era, and the AFTERPARTY has made sure of it. No more gatekeeping, or unnecessary exclusivity – this intentionally curated event was made for fashion-forward artists and creatives alike to intentionally network with other Black women and men. And the women didn’t come to play. 

Two women, Sarai Thompson and Jodi-Ann Scott, crafted this space after noticing that there wasn’t enough Black women representation in the field of fashion. “I think a lot of young women go into certain spaces, even in the entrepreneurial and fashion world, and have absolutely no mentors, and they need Black women as their guiding light,” Sarai said.  

She added that there needs to be more Black women in the fashion industry lifting each other up, and encouraging each other to go after every opportunity. “If you want to be in fashion, you can be in fashion, and there are women here that are waiting for you, at the finish line, to support you.”


Photos by Gloria Benton


With years of experience in the fashion industry, it was inevitable for the two bosses to link. And after their time working at Harlem’s Fashion Row, they naturally came together to form a unique sisterhood. Their ideas came from the purest of friendships,  just getting to know each other, playing about how they could be cousins, because of their Jamaican-American background. 

In line with their respective entrepreneurial spirits, they both built event planning companies called Curated by Jodi and Luxe & Chic Company, to later build the AFTERPARTY, which had over 200 attendees last February. 

 To make sure that guests create meaningful connections and bring authenticity to their events, they ask guests to submit a questionnaire beforehand. “Within that questionnaire, we asked a couple of questions like; what does it mean to be black in fashion? And why do you want to attend THE AFTERPARTY?” Sarai said. 

In the February AFTERPARTY, which had over 200 attendees, they also asked for their social media platform to create a slideshow broadcast throughout the event space. So they could give a little shout-out, and so others would be able to add their social media for future connections.

The Founders don’t intend to increase the number of attendees, for the sake of making true connections. “We want to keep cultivating a community where if you can’t get in this time, you’ll get it next time. We want to make it a space where people feel comfortable” Sarai said. 

She also mentioned that it is for the entire community, regardless of whether or not you are in fashion. Instead, they welcome those outside fashion, and welcome other creatives to be a part of the networking event. 

“I think fashion has this negative connotation sometimes, of it being something where your nose is in the air, and stuffy and although that is true, that’s not what we’re about. We’re very down-to-earth girls. And again, we rep our culture very heavily,” Sarai said.  


The most recent one was held in late July at Café Balearica in Brooklyn. As you walk in, you’re immediately greeted by many beautiful Black women, smiling in their vibrant dresses, and two piece outfits. The theme was ‘Resort’, which gave Black luxury; they were giving I’m sipping chilled tequila on a yacht, and also I don’t have to go to work all next week, because they were  RELAXING. 

There were sisters dressed in all white, others had colors of green, pink, and blue wrapped around them. And the fellas didn’t come to play either. But what was most amazing about this entire event, was that you could be yourself. “We’re here for the intentional moments. So we’re here for the extroverts and introverts. And it’s totally okay to let your hair down and just dance, because that’s the vibe we want to carry,” Jodi-Ann said.  

To get to know one another better, and to get away from looking down at our phones…. the host of the event asked each attendee to meet with someone they’ve never met before, who had an opposite season of their birthday. I met with an attendee named Kareem and Sarai, and the first prompt was,  “What is one of your goals, and what do you want to discover about yourself.”

Kareem told me how he grew up in Oregon, and there was a small Black community there, so moving to New York City was sort of a culture shock. He wanted to be around Black spaces that felt comforting and safe, which is why he decided to attend this event.

As the night went on, people laughed, drank, and danced. I was approached by so many beautiful Black men and women who were working in the fashion industry, some had their own brands, others were finding the courage to take a leap of faith. But either way it gave a sense of community, as we were all there for the same purpose. Trying to learn and grow from others, but also use the space and the new connections to build our own individual dreams. 

Photos by Gloria Benton

Sarai said that she hopes that every attendee feels a sense of pride after leaving the event. “I want them to be reminded that being Black is beautiful, you are beautiful regardless of what you wear. Your self-confidence should skyrocket after attending the event.”

Both Jodi-Ann and Sarai believe strongly that every attendee should feel like they are doing enough. “100% feeling good enough, that sense of fulfillment and belonging 100%,” Jodi-Ann said. 


Interview with the Co-Founders

Below is the GROWN interview with both Sarai and Jodi-Ann before the AFTERPARTY event. This interview has been slightly edited for our readers.

Why do you think it’s important to have Black women in these fashion spaces? Why do you think in the past, and now Black women continue to be shut out from these conversations or being in these rooms?

Jodi-Ann:  It’s important for us to just see ourselves. Growing up we were never the standard of beauty for the rest of the world, or the ones that people kind of looked towards when you think about the icons. When I grew up, it wasn’t always people that looked like me. And it wasn’t until like, I honestly grew up and I understood how important it was that I see people that look like me that are doing the things that I want to do.

Being a little kid, walking down the block with my parents, and like you ever have those moments where you see that cool group of kids. And you think, that girl looks amazing. I wanna look like her one day. I want to give that effect to the next generation. And it’s not just because I look amazing, but it’s the work that I’m doing and the things that we’re bringing forth. I want to be able to make a true impact. 

Sarai: I think the reason a lot of Black women get shut out or not included is really fear because, I can’t even think of the adjective to describe how amazing we are. And when we take something we dominate. And a lot of people are intimidated by Black women to be completely honest because of our passion or drive. We are built to work 10 times harder.  If I put my mind to it I can figure it out. And so I think that’s the same with a lot of black women. You can give this to me, it doesn’t make any sense. But I’m gonna make something out of this. 

I think because of that a lot of people that are not black, even some black men to be completely honest, as well as some others, find our grit intimidating. So because of that, we get pushed down underpaid, or not hired for the roles that we rightfully deserve.

Photos by Gloria Benton

What would you say to a Black woman who is struggling to find her way in the fashion industry or who is trying to make those first steps?  What advice would you give her?

Jodi-Ann: Move past the fear. Don’t let the fear of what you think you may lose, or may not get keep you from trying to keep you from being out there. I know that there’s a saying that it’s like success sometimes is on the other side of fear, you got to move past that and really give yourself a chance to succeed. 

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I’m definitely a person that’s tried a bunch of different things within the fashion space. And I’m so grateful that I have, because I’ve learned maybe I like this, and maybe I like that. 

All of the things that I’ve learned along the way, have brought me to where I am today. And I may not do those things specifically, but they kind of all come together. I’ve been able to take those skills and move them forward into my different roles, and been able to foster something amazing like the AFTERPARTY. Taking a chance on yourself is really the main thing. 

Sarai: I would say take that leap. And don’t go alone. Like, create that community because you’re going to need support. I jumped [in] with barely any money. And it’s not like I came from a whole bunch of money or something, but I took a huge leap. I lost my mom when I was 19, from cancer. And so making this move was big for me, leaving my brothers and my dad and jumping and moving to New York City, or moving to upstate New York first to go to grad school, to see if that pushes me and launches my career was nerve-racking and so scary. 

It was literally me and God. Then I developed my own community in New York. I’ve gone from journalism to becoming a head of social media, to event planning. I was always the person planning events on the side and re-mixing that into serving creatives in the fashion and beauty space; that evolved into something even more, which is the AFTERPARTY. And that would have never happened, if I didn’t take a jump and try something new, get scared, and just look at fear in the face. Dream about what exactly it is that you want, and start to create that and cultivate that.


In the fashion industry, sometimes they have their nose up, or they’re looking at you from a place of judgment,  basing who you are on your outfit. So where do you see the industry growing? As it relates to inclusivity in the next 20 years?

Jodi-Ann: My philosophy is what you do and what I do, there’s no reason for competition.  If you’re meant to succeed in that place, I’m not going to stand in your way. I cannot stand in your way because what is meant for you is going to happen. And if I’m meant to connect you then that’s great. I think we often forget, we like to network going up, but it’s something that we work horizontally. Who am I to try to stop your bag when the next time I’m at the next company, and I need a PR contact and I’m calling so and so? And it’s like oh, well hello to the girl who didn’t want to give me a shot.

And it doesn’t it doesn’t take anything to just be kind. And to just be open. We already got it hard enough. Why on earth would I make it any more difficult? Black people have it hard enough, LGBTQ people have it hard enough, and Black women have it hard enough. We gotta be really like sticking up for each other and just holding it down when we can. So that being said, if there are more spaces like the AfterParty and more events, as we’ve seen in New York, a lot of events are popping up that are really heavy on the fellowship, the community, and just the love that they’re spreading. I think that within the next 20 years, we’re gonna see some amazing things happen. Just the creativity alone, and the way that things are being shifted, but really essentially the sense of community.

Sarai: I think people are getting tired of gatekeeping. I truly feel like it is starting to get called out again, and people are just tired of it. Like we’re all tired of the fight that you have, to get just to get a little type of recognition. I think the narrative is starting to change, and I don’t have to work for a blank name in order to get some type of recognition. Also, the younger generation is cutthroat and isn’t about nonsense. And so because of that, I really feel like the fashion industry is going to be something very innovative.

I think once the Anna Wintour’s of the world starts to move on, the fashion industry is going to be so different. Because those older like that vibe of “the mean girl” that’s changing that where it’s more of a different narrative.  I think in the next 20 years, I really do and I really am hopeful of the fashion industry and what’s gonna happen. 


What are some of your favorite fashion trends right now as it relates to like Black Women?

Sarai: Black women are taking on some great trends. And I love the miniskirt trend that’s happening right now. Loving this cool girl vibe, the skort is coming back and making it look like streetwear. That’s something I think is the number one thing that I’m loving to see. Aside from the sheer dresses, I feel like a lot of the girls are wearing the sheer pattern colorful dresses and summer with the mules in color and I feel like black women in color period just look at me.

Jodi-Ann: I am really loving the alternative Black Girl trend that’s really hitting like the Aliyahcore, the crazy wild fuzzy boots, and like the miniskirt and the fishnet and ribs and everything like that. And just dramatic different types of makeup. Because of that type of look, we never saw ourselves with that in those movies, on TV, and in music videos. 

It’s like the ability to claim that and just have this energy of I’m killing it and still being authentically black. I feel like in the past, you used to have to kind of whitewash yourself to fit that mold. I just love that Black women are just showing up as they are, I just love the vibe. 

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