Rumor Alert: T.I. and Tiny Expecting Third Child?
When a 2016 Allure video segment on beauty and aging with grace hit the internet, one of the three subjects immediately held the attention of the masses hostage. It was hard not to quickly fawn over the 60-something woman’s sleek, mature looks, palpable wisdom, gripping gaze, and grounded sense of self. Three years later, that same model, JoAni Johnson, continues to display her elegance for video campaigns, strut down the runways of the designer elite, and stare down cameras for high-stakes fashion photoshoots.
But JoAni Johnson the person barely even likes photos. The 5’4” model with more-salt-than-pepper hip-length tresses waves off compliments about her edgy portfolio. So far, she has photographed for Vogue, ELLE and Essence magazine shoots and campaigns like Pyer Moss, Ozwald Boateng, and most recently, the debut of Rihanna’s Fenty luxury line. However, for the Caribbean American woman—while born in Harlem, her family hails from St. Elizabeth, Jamaica—gratitude and humility run richly through her veins.
In fact, she considers herself to be a tea blender and specialist before the shinier profession that kicked off in her 60s. That, and a mother, which makes her role as a spokesperson for Vaseline’s #ListenToYourMoms campaign all the more fitting. “#ListenToYourMoms speaks to me because as a proud mom, continuing to keep traditions alive and passing it onto the next generation of beautiful and strong women in my family, is important," Johnson said. "Throughout my life, my beauty regime has remained simple and the knowledge of the versatility coupled with the healing powers of Vaseline Jelly, has always been a trusted 'go-to' for generations of women in my own life.”
Her successful modeling career has admittedly been a whirlwind of excitement, nerves, glamour, risks, and stepping way outside of her comfort zone. However, above all her main goal is to stay present and take in each and every moment as it comes. While taking a break from overseeing a New York photoshoot, Johnson opened up about the art of living in the now, how beauty and self-care are intertwined, and all the lessons she’s learned from motherhood.
VIBE: You’ve been the face of so many notable campaigns this year, like Fenty and Pyer Moss. Would you describe your modeling journey as something that you've planned or more serendipitous? JoAni Johnson: Totally serendipitous, I did not plan this. If you would've asked me two and a half years ago or told me that this would be my life, I would have told you are insane. It happened by chance. The universe has been very, very good to me and I'm just very grateful.
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Enormous thanks and love to @Badgalriri (a true visionary!) and @LVMH for choosing me to be on the right side of history with you, as unapologetic fashion game-changers. Representation matters. It always has and this @Fenty campaign is so excellent and so important for multiple reasons in 2019. The marathon certainly continues. #DisruptAllFashionRules #greyhairdontcare #Fenty Shot by @_glen_luchford
In terms of the serendipitous journey to modeling, what was that opportunity that you seized and said, "This could be right, this could not be but let me take it?" I didn't even really think about it. I did not get involved in this of my own. My husband encouraged because I just didn't think it was for me. I come from old-school [train of thought] that said you had to be a certain something in order to be successful. When he encouraged me to—it's so funny, I'm not very fond of photographs of myself. It's gotten a lot better in this new world but in the past with the limitations even in cameras, that industry has expanded. We're getting much more quality photographers. Everything has changed and it's all happening at once, so in the past I've never been very happy with photographs of myself.
How did you, looks of photos aside, to be in front of the camera takes a certain confidence just the presence of being there, how did you I guess? Who's confident? (Laughs) Whenever I do something, it's about being in the moment. This is what the universe has presented me with, I am blessed. I am doing the best that I can in that moment. What is the artist, photographer, make-up artist, hair [stylist], what are they looking for? I am just the muse or the conduit. What is the designer looking for? I shared with someone earlier, I don't look at the photographs, I'm not that person. It's your vision, I am just here to carry out your vision.
What things have you learned about yourself in terms of personal style? My idea of me is different than I am. I grew up in a world where I read Ebony fashion for the glamour in them, but on the real side I fight with myself because I will get things that are really glamorous but it's hard for me to wear them because it attracts people’s attention. It's not that I don't care for it, but it's hard. I'm me. I want people to know the human not the outside, the human. It's more important because we're all beautiful. We all have certain gifts that the universe has bestowed on us, it's for us to find it and to share it.
Let’s talk lineage and the things that we pass on to each other, whether it's our friends, our families. What things have you taken from your mother figures that molded who you are, and that you would in turn pass to those who see you as a mother figure? The biggest influences on me as a child were my grand aunts. They were hardworking beautiful women who had such a sense of style and I'm from Jamaican background, so there's a certain expectation that you were taught. You would call it refinement or whatever but it was the English way, that's where it came from. Good, bad or ugly, that's where it emanated from and they were always very stylish. I watched them as my image of beauty and how they cared for themselves, whether it was using Vaseline on their skin or their nightly rituals of taking it off and washing and I was fascinated. It also showed me their doing it was an expression of their love for themselves and also a relaxation, like they were treating themselves. They worked so hard but it was their time with themselves that they chose to carve out because they didn't have to do it. They carved out in their day to really reward themselves with the hard work that they had endured.
So then how do you carve time out for yourself? What is your relaxation look like? I have passed that on to my daughters as well and my mother was also part of that because she learned from them. She taught me and then I passed it on. How do I do it now? I am a tea specialist, tea consultant, tea blender. Taking that time to sit down and make yourself a cup of tea takes time. Just taking that time, that special time for you to stop and just relax.
Whether I am doing a face mask—and I do a lot of them with tea as a base. I do that once a month with tea as a base and then use the Vaseline to moisturize. I love face massages and I can't afford to pay for them. I have to do it myself and I think Tracee Ellis Ross was showing the [jade] roller that she used, I got one. The simplistic things in life, moisturizing my skin with Vaseline and then using the roller, that's relaxing.
For me it's what I owe myself because nobody is going to do it for me. We would like to think that we got it that way and you know people look at me in this role and think it's so glamorous, and it is. There's parts of it that are absolutely glamorous—when I get to wear a Prada suit, just to see the workmanship and admire the thought that they put into creating something like that and I get to put it on. There's the other times when I'm not in that world, what am I doing to take care of me?
What do you learn from now your children? With Vaseline’s campaign, the idea is to listen to your mothers and your mother figures and take what they've put into your life, but what have you taken from them? It's a two-way street, learning is both ways. What have you learned from your children? My daughters teach me that no matter what we have a responsibility in this world that we're in. I came up in the age of the late ‘60s/early ‘70s, there was a struggle there was I was in, there's stories about that but you'll read it in my memos. My girls have another journey and they teach me it's got to be done daily.
My oldest and I were walking down the street and she's got like this vision, peripheral vision and she sees this elderly woman—and I say elderly only because it's a way to describe [her physically]—and she was waiting for the bus. She had packages and was trying to hail a cab and they wouldn't stop. My daughter out of the corner of her eye saw it and she walks over to her and she says, do you need a cab? The woman said yes. I did not see that. Because I am in my life, I don't have that. I wasn't gifted with that kind of vision so she teaches me to be more observant with what is going on around.
When I was growing up, we closed off. I lived in a really tough neighborhood at the time and you just closed off. You just kept it moving from one space to another. My daughter is not like that and she has taught me to be more observant and to be more generous with showing the humane qualities.
The summer isn’t even over yet but it’s already been a whirlwind year for Cassie. In an interview with L’official, the “Don’t Let Go” singer shared how working with a team made up predominately of black women changed her “creative process,” and shared what she hopes to teach her daughter.
The 32-year-old mom-to-be who is expecting her first child, a baby girl with her boyfriend, Alex Fine, hopes to one day make their daughter proud.
“My priorities have absolutely changed, not just for creating an amazing future and life for my daughter, but because I want her to be proud of me,” Cassie shared. “I’ve heard people say that they’re nervous to raise females in today’s world, but I’m excited! I can’t wait to see her grow, learn and challenge the world right back!”
When asked about working with a crew of black female creatives, Cassie explained how the new squad has helped her confidence. “When it comes to me choosing to work with certain people I have to go off of an organic connection. I love the fact that everyone that I work with now communicates fully on every aspect, we are not in competition, we work as a team and they actually understand who I am and who I want to mold myself to become. As a group, we work as a collective.
“For me, this is the first time that I feel that I actually have a strong team in place that has my best interests at heart and the added bonus is that the majority of the team are creative black females. To me, it means we see each other,” she continued. “The energy I feel when we’re in a room together is unmatchable. We all have our own levels of experience and we bring our best to the table. We support each other and balance each other out all at the same time. It just works.”
Working with the new team has changed her creatively because she feels fully supported and makes decisions based on “what’s best” for her.
“I’m just a woman coming into my own learning to trust myself. It’s empowering.”
Click here for the full interview.
When you think about the evolution of natural hair products in the modern area, Miss Jessie's Hair Care easily comes to mind. Officially launched in 2004 by Miko and Titi Branch, the sisters helped set the precedent for products that work for every kind of kink, coil and curl.
As a pioneer in the natural hair care movement, Miko has seen it all. The wins, the losses and the stories of how Miss Jessie's products have changed the lives of young girls who learned to love and care for their natural hair. It's an aspect she's heard before but needed to hear again as we chat over the phone. In a calm and poised manner, the businesswoman and proud mother allows me to take her 2009 when I had my first encounter with Curly Pudding. With Dominican salons killing my curls with blistering heat and reliable family members miles away from my college dorm, Curly Pudding arrived right on time. My curls could breathe and my esteem rose a degree or two with the presence of what became their signature product.
"Titi and I thought we were coming up with hair solutions but what we quickly realized was we were helping to build back esteem; many of us were told that our hair was bad and 'not good,'" Miko tells VIBE Vixen. With over 20 years in the hair game (Miko and her late sister began in their Brooklyn brownstone as hair salon in 1997), the brand continues to find new ways to shake the table.
Their latest rollout is all about moisture and control–a la edge control. Favorites like Curls So Fresh and Honey Curls are dedicated to luscious and soft curls while Hold Me Down's coconut and argon oils give baby hairs new (and non-sticky) life.
Check out our interview below with Miko as she shares the importance of taking risks in the natural hair care market and how Miss Jessie's continues to thrive above the rest.
The new products are once again, ahead of the game. What goes into creating new mixes, especially with other brands invading the natural hair care market?
Miko Branch: We try to do one thing at a time. Over skewing is not something that we practice, particularly during a time when we have plenty of competitors where there's a lot of product from the shelf. We really feel like coming out with products that are really needed that perform well, that were developed well, make the difference. I believe Miss Jessie's continues to be a leader in this business because we truly are not coming up with a product just to compete.
Performance is particularly important to us. 'Hold Me Down' is not just an edge control that you can put on and it's going to flake or be crunchy, or maybe it stinks, the list goes on. It's something that really, really does exactly what it says it's going to do in the right way. I think with that approach to new products I think that Miss. Jessie's can continue to win.
Speaking of the new products, how would you pair the following: The one who doesn't like products, the one who is new to the natural hair movement and lastly, the one who loves a good luxury brand?
There's so many to choose from because you put a nice mix and blend in here. The product that's sticking out to me for everyone would be Multicultural Curl. It's great for someone who has a tighter coil texture, it's definitely going to bring the softness. It may not be as defined as some of the products that are a bit heavier but you certainly can't go wrong with it. Multicultural Curl also takes less expertise to use a lotion type consistency in the styling product.
Then for the woman who's really about a brand, and maybe she doesn't realize performance is really important, she's really a brand whore. We really rely on word of mouth, the efficacy of it and then also we have wonderful packaging. We're known to really front on our brand in that 'This looks like this is for this kind of person or this product is not a good enough or packaged enough for me.'
Miss Jessie's is good looking, a product like Multicultural Curl or any of our products next to any person who's really about brand names, I think Ms. Jessie's really adds something nice to the mix. It's very clean, it's nicely designed so I think just on a visual tip, I think that person would be drawn and attracted to it.
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Have you tried the best curly products? Drop a 🙌🏾 below 📸: @jeanicewebb #missjessies #multiculturalcurls #honeycurls #holdmedownedges #curlypudding #jellysoftcurls #multiculturalclear #curlymeringue #quickcurls
What are some of your favorites from the latest release?
Curl So Fresh is great because it works for tighter coils that need a burst of moisture. There's also Gloss So Good. It's so good because of all of the ingredients. It has avocado oil and jojoba oil, some many good ones. There's also Honey Curls. Our partners like Target, Walmart and Walgreens, they love it and it's our new product to market. We lose sight that we need to keep our scalped nourished and clean, and just as moisturized. Take some time out and use your fingertips to spread it around. What's great about the hair oil is the size. You're able to put it into your bag and doubles also as like a daily moisturizer.
Sonically, if you could curate a decade themed playlist for Miss Jessie's what are some of your song choices?
Growing up, my dad played a lot of soul music in our house so I'm going to take it to Donny Hathaway, I'll start with "Love, Love, Love." Our product is made with love, love, love. And then maybe I'll bring it to Stevie. I love Stevie Wonder, we were raised on Stevie. I think "As" would be my second choice.
My sister and I [Titi Branch] grew up in the 80s so next, I have to go with Eric B and Rakim's "Eric B For President." Like that song, Miss Jessie's was a real, innovated game changer in the hair industry. Titi and I were pioneers, we're trailblazers, within an industry. There were already existing haircare companies, some of them which are black. I think when I and Tiki put it down and really came to market, our twists and presentation for our buyers made us stand out.
For the 90s, I think about Brooklyn. The borough was very instrumental in who we were and what our brand was all about. Brooklyn was a melting pot so, I'm going to take it to Biggie. I love "10 Crack Commandments" because everything that he says in the song are really solid, teachable moments for many people whether it's in your personal life or whether it's in your business. We also have to add India. Aire's "I Am Not My Hair." It's so fitting.
When I think about Miss Jessie's, business and family come to mind. How did you find balance in maintaining motherhood while building the brand?
There would be no Miss Jessie's had there not been the birth of my son. I was a single parent and I understood all of the responsibilities I was taking on and being able to provide for him was really important, it was top of my list. Luckily, I was raised by a dad who thought it was important that my sister Tiki and I be in a position of choice and freedom. So with that, he thought us being an entrepreneur was the best way to express that and to demonstrate that.
That really prompted us to think outside of the box and come up with solutions and products like Curly Pudding, Baby ButterCreme, Curly ButterCream. Those things happened out of necessity, it wasn't actually a master plan or a big plan. Those were the things that we were responding to that were happening in our lives and luckily we were able to share those creations with you all where everyone was able to benefit. So, that's kind of the beginning of it. The creation of Miss Jessie's actually was a result of us trying to balance failure and wanting to succeed and being helpful and all those things. You found all of that in the end product in the jar of magic and Curly Pudding.
I remember brands like Miss Jessie's and Carol's Daughter being met with backlash for working with major retailers. Now that we see how lucrative the move was for both the consumer and independent companies like yours, how do reflect on those moments?
I think that it's very important that your generation and the next generation like my son's to understand the sacrifices that were made from the people before us. At one time we couldn't do a lot of things and there was a lot of sacrifices, a lot of people paved the way for us to be able to be in a position of choice. The first thing is being free and being able to do what you want to do when you want to do it. In 2013 my sister and I had lunch in New York and she thought our work wasn't finished.
I was like 'Well, what more do we need to do, we're really busy with everything that we're doing, we're really tired, blah, blah,' and she said "You know Miko we're influencers, we encourage many people, primarily women, to embrace their natural texture and they've done it and as a result we've been able to make a living. Our work is not done because we need to share our story and how we built our business from scratch.'
I believe particularly in this country that's important. Ownership is key and if we own more we'll be able to do more. Many of us are the first generation in our businesses. We're just now learning to set up shop, so when we have our first generation of unsophisticated business people because I believe we are, we have these knee jerk reactions to businesses that are black-owned. The decision to go into Target, and how that was "selling out" is puzzling– but that's a move for growth.
That's a distribution move that actually makes it more accessible to our customers all around the nation. The good news is that my sister took the time out before she passed away to share our story so people can unpack and learn how someone like Titi and I with no money and no capital built something from scratch. With more information, the next person will be more informed and have more appropriate reactions to business moves.
We're proud to say that we're still privately owned. Being an entrepreneur certainly extends out to be able to make the best decisions for your company.
Where do you see Miss Jessie's going and how do you view the evolution of natural hair care?
Seeing more hair products from Miss Jessie's is definitely next but exploring different areas of the beauty business like make-up and skin care. It would be uncommon for me to come to market with something like that sooner than later. I'm also working on my second book. My views and ideas of business have changed from five to ten years ago. Like the product, I've evolved as well.
With natural hair, it continues to be on the rise and the preferred style that someone actually feels more attractive in. That's a good thing but I think you know in terms of practicality, it makes sense as a daughter sees her mother wear her hair natural. She's creating a beauty standard that is normal to her daughter growing up.
Check out all of Miss Jessie's latest products here.