South Central Los Angeles; a 16-square mile multicultural hub of art, food, fashion and music may come as a shock to most LA-implants like myself, but for natives like Orixa Jones, it’s simply home. Being a true LA-native, Jones is not easily impressed by flashy possessions or the “hype”, and that pragmatic demeanor is evident in her brand, Bad Girl Good Human. Jones currently resides in LA, but, like many artists, leads a bi-coastal lifestyle. I recently caught up with her while she was in New York City hosting her first pop-up shop for B.G.G.H.
Raven Moran: ‘Bad Girl Good Human’, what a cool name and concept. How did you come up with it?
Orixa Jones: It actually came about in a conversation. I was talking to my girl about this idea I had. I’m the goody two-shoes in our friend group; I don’t smoke, I don’t go out, I barely drink but, like, I have my nipples pierced and stuff.
Oh I see, so it’s more about lifestyle?
Yeah, exactly. ‘Bad Girl Good Human’ has always been within me even when I was younger. You don’t always have the tools, knowledge or experience to articulate how you feel. So yeah, me and my friend were just talking and I kept saying that I was a ‘bad girl but a good citizen’ and my girl was like ‘nah, good human’, and that just stuck with me.
That’s awesome. So the idea grew from that conversation?
Yeah, I sat on the idea for eight months. I didn’t talk about it, I didn’t announce anything. My girl came up with the graphics for it. I didn’t know this was gonna be something big that could grow, and I didn’t wanna just put it out without knowing what I was talking about. I didn’t expect anything, so I was surprised at the response it got.
Your Instagram posts and website seem to be about more than just fashion. Would you call it a lifestyle blog?
It’s more than just words on a t-shirt. I love fashion and travel but I tried blogging and I didn’t like it.
Really? You seem very comfortable in front of the camera.
I am. I like to evoke emotion in my pictures. Not everyone is as emotionally intelligent as you would expect them to be. I’ve been modeling since I was 14 but I’m not gonna get dressed everyday for some pictures. Some days I don’t even want to get dressed.
I hear you. So modeling was what started your interest in fashion?
Yeah, when I was a teenager. I was still living in Rialto, and when I started getting more into modeling, I’d travel back and forth to LA. Most of my family is in South Central.
Got it, so you were pretty serious about it even at a young age?
Definitely. I always knew I wanted more than modeling. I wanted something that would outlive myself, longevity. There was just more opportunity in LA.
Yeah I would imagine so. What was it like modeling in LA for you?
Well, I started off using craigslist. I would just hit up so many people. It was back when craigslist was still kinda new so I would send what I’d like to call ‘emails’ in response to all these casting notices I’d see. And then, from there, I connected with so many artists.
Sounds like you’ve always been savvy with using social media for promotional purposes?
Oh, yeah. It gave me the platform I needed to get the work I wanted. Being a black model in LA kinda took a toll on my self-esteem.
What was that experience like for you?
A lot of casting directors saying “you’re just not what we’re looking for.” Like, what does that even mean? I’d see some fashion brands with a variety of predominantly white models and only a couple of black models. They’ve filled their ‘quota’ you could say. It’s well known in the industry that things can be that way. They would tell me to try NYC, which is bogus because I’m not six-foot tall – New York is very high-fashion and, at the time, even less inclusive than LA was. It was those kinds of experiences that led me to take charge of my own personal brand and artistry. That’s when I got more into photography.
I’m glad you didn’t let rejection stop you.
Never. I was couch-hopping when I first started BGGH. I learned that if I wanted to achieve my goals with the circumstances I was given, I had to shove my pride to the ground. I was struggling to live off of my art but I couldn’t just give up and go back home. I knew that would be taking way too many steps back. I stopped modeling when I was about 22 and everyone was like ‘wait, what are you doing, why?’. But I knew I wanted to focus on this brand. I wanted to be original.
Artists of colour face rejection on so many levels. Because of this, I think that it’s easier for us to be original; we are excluded so we are forced to come up with new, different ideas.
Exactly. And I’ve connected with a lot of different artists through this brand and clothing.
I wanted to talk more about any fashion houses or brands that influenced you?
I’m not really influenced by any major fashion brands. After I stopped modeling, I was watching fashion shows all the time; black designers and models weren’t truly thought of when a lot of these labels were originally presented, and I don’t really look to fashion like that.
What about non-fashion influences?
I love Tumblr. I’m a big Tumblr-head. I save and archive any pics I see on there or Pinterest. Also music is a big influence for me. Musicians like Michael Jackson, Kanye West and Solange.
That’s an interesting mix. Why those three?
Well, with Michael, when I was a kid, I couldn’t articulate why I liked him or why I loved him. It wasn’t the fame, it was the impact of his artistry, the way he makes people feel when they turn on his song; that’s what I want for my artistry. Solange just has this vibe and her visuals are insane. They all have great visuals though. Kanye is straightforward, no games.
Just like you?
You said you are attracted to an artist’s impact and, surely, each of these artists have influenced entire generations. With that said, what’s your creative process like?
It just happens. I can’t be creative when there’s chaos around my house, so I’ll clean up and give myself a fresh shave.
You mean like shaving your head?
Yep. When I first cut off my hair, everyone went crazy. Asking me what was going on and why did I do it…as if there was a problem or something. Why can’t I just shave my head? I kinda thought I was Rihanna. It was during her Rated-R phase and I was like ‘yo that’s dope’! So I just did it and showed up like it was nothing. Shaving my head was the first time I could really see myself. I just don’t see myself with hair.
Wow, that’s awesome.
I honestly don’t see myself with hair. It wasn’t a big deal. But yeah, I’ll do that and then I’ll light candles all throughout my house and run a bath. I’ll give myself a facial and go to bed. The next day I’m ready to create.
That sounds incredibly relaxing.
Yeah, I have to work from the outside-in. Traveling helps, too.
One last thing, what/who is your biggest motivator? What keeps you going?
My little bro. I do everything so that I can be inspiring for him. He’s going to be seven soon. I wish he would just stay a baby. My family is always first. ■