We had the good fortune of connecting with Derrionn Anderson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Derrionn, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
My brand, Proud Chocolate Girl, was started because there has always been an issue of colorism in the world. As a child, I was taunted and teased for having dark skin. My mother tried to teach me self love at this age, by calling me her “little chocolate girl,” but it only made it worse. It wasn’t until college, where I attended school down south, when I was surrounded with other beautiful dark skinned girls who embraced their skin, that made me embrace mine. From there, I decided to share my story in the form of a children’s book and I entitled it, “Oh, Little Chocolate Girl…”. From there, my business, Proud Chocolate Girl was born. We now sell affirmation t-shirts, mugs and masks, along with the children’s book. Although it might be a brand NOW, it will forever be a lifestyle for us chocolate girls!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My form of art is creative writing. I believe that my writing is unique, because I write books for children from 3rd through 8th grade. The vocabulary and language used is a little more advanced, but is still very descriptive and relatable. I am most proud of the sell of my first children’s book, and the response I received from my audience, which has fueled me to write my second book!
I believe that I got to where I am to where I am today, professionally, by being my authentic and genuine self. Every inch of my company is really what I believe and stand for. Because of this, I have been able to reach people and relate to them on a deeper level. Of course it has not been easy. Many people question why my brand solely focuses on girls and women of darker skin tones, because they don’t understand. But it is not my job to make them understand, only to represent for myself and others that look like me. Those that want to support the movement will, and those that don’t, aren’t my audience!
Along the way, I’ve learned so much! Becoming an entrepreneur is literally the hardest thing I’ve ever done in life. Learning who your audience is, what types of products people best respond to, how to cut costs, and don’t even get me started on social media! The main thing to remember is to stay focused and consistent. If your brand is seen, your products will sell! Stay passionate and you’ll see results.
The main thing I want the world to know about my brand is simply that chocolate skin is beautiful and we won’t stop shouting that until the world gets it! Stop saying “you’re beautiful for a dark skinned girl,” that’s not a compliment!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Jacksonville, Florida is such an interesting city because it’s a part of the Sunshine State, but not quite the home of Mickey Mouse or the land of Spring breakers. Although that’s not the case, we still have so much to offer here. Jacksonville beach is a good attraction for those who are visiting from inland cities or states. We have great Brunch spots, including Copelands, Another Broken Egg, and the Brick. During the week, the social scene is growing. There’s adult skating on Sundays, SMKN Word on Mondays, RNBingo on Tuesdays, and the list goes on. My absolute favorite places to check out are blue Fish for dinner, Riverside bars and the beach bars for a good time, St. Johns Town Center for great shopping, and any of our many seafood restaurants for seafood!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
First, I would have to give a HUGE shout out to my mother, because without her, the name “Little Chocolate Girl” wouldn’t be. She named me this in order to help me embrace my beautiful dark skin, but I don’t think that she ever thought it would get me to where it has today. Thank you mom for always loving me even when I didn’t know how to love myself! You’re the best!
I also have to give a shout out to all of my dark skinned girls out there! You fuel my fire and inspire me every day to do what I do, whether it be reading my books at elementary schools or coming out with new products for you. You are beautiful…PERIOD! NOT FOR A DARK SKINNED GIRL! Don’t ever let anyone make you feel inferior or less than your light skinned or fair skinned counterparts. I love you!
Facebook: Proud Chocolate Girl
Photographers: Victoria Rose Adrian Bracy