May 01, 2014
By Jessica Huie
Founder of Color blind Cards and JH Public Relations
Success inevitably follows action. I began my adult life as a pregnant seventeen year old with no qualifications and no prospects living temporarily in a hostel in a dingy part of London. I awoke one night about seven months pregnant to find cockroaches crawling along the wall just inches from my face. Last week I gave a speech just minutes from the hostel at the esteemed British Library, one of the most respected and celebrated buildings in England, and what I explained to the audience was that the reason my life is now light years from the place it seemed destined, is through a series of actions which changed my life, and that of the baby girl who has grown into a beautiful, ambitious fifteen year old.
Following Monet’s birth I applied to college with a vague dream of travelling the world interviewing superstars.
I had no media contacts, no insight into the entertainment industry, but I had imagination. A degree at university followed college, and I commuted 80 miles a day three times each week to complete my studies, combining unpaid internships at magazines and PR companies to get as much experience as possible. I’d often leave my two years old daughter crying at nursery as I drove down the freeway in tears. Guilty in that typical absent mother way and uncertain of whether my pipe dream would be realized or whether the petrol in my car tank would be adequate to get me to my destination – knowing full well that there was no more money in my bank account until the following week’ pay check. It was a time of huge action and even greater uncertainty, but I clung to hope and faith.
Three years after I left the hostel, I found myself sitting in a plush Manhattan studio at 3am, interviewing superstar Mariah Carey for the cover story of the very magazine I had interned for. Flown to the USA from London courtesy of Mariah’s management, all expenses paid. It was one of many moments in my life where I have experienced a surreal moment of the power of action, work ethic, vision and faith.
Today I am founder of JH Public Relations, a London based PR company which represents a plethora of inspiring entrepreneurs, and Color blind Cards, the black greeting card company credited with putting greeting cards depicting people of color on high-street shelves for the first time in British history. The success lead to me being invited to No.10 Downing street by the Prime Minister to contribute to a round-table on how we can create a more enterprising country, a National Diversity Award and an invitation to the residence of Her Royal Highness the Duchess of York and Prince Charles, Clarence House.
It was a normal lunch-break in 2007, from my glamorous career working for one of Britain’s biggest PR agencies where our clients included stars like Simon Cowell, when I went searching for a greeting card for my then seven year old daughter Monet. She was going through a phase of disliking her afro hair and beautiful brown skin, and I was looking for a card featuring the image of a brown skinned princess. I could not find one in the shop, in fact I could not find ONE card featuring the image of a black, Asian or mixed-heritage person in ANY of the shops on Britain’s busiest high-street. On a business level it seemed to be a huge commercial oversight, and on a social level I felt passionate about the importance of my daughter and every child having access to positive images, which represented their identity. How can we nurture a sense of self-love, pride in identity and self-esteem in our children if they are taught by society that they are not beautiful and enough just as they are?
In that moment Color blind Cards was born.
It has been a struggle. The buyers need convincing that there is a big enough demand for cards which feature black faces to justify giving them space on shelves, and running two businesses with two children is not easy, but the mission to put diversity into the high-street is worth the struggle.
We have now launched our USA version of www.colorblindcards.com and ship from the USA to the USA and our cards and gifts can be personalized online.
Numbers don’t lie and with the support of our community we can illustrate that we do deserve representation in the shops we support every day with our cash. I hope you’ll help us in our mission and enjoy the cards and gifts with your families as much as we enjoy creating them.