Updated: Mar 29, 2019
Welcome! Please introduce yourself
Hiya! I’m Serena, a creative director and stylist in London. I’m black British with a mixed Caribbean heritage (St. Vincent, Barbados and Antigua). My Caribbean culture is very important to me the food, soca, the importance of family, the food… I could go on. I really love music, art and fashion I’m very passionate about them. Religion and spirituality are also important aspects of my life as I was raised Adventist and identify as Christian. I think that spirituality (connecting with yourself and with God) is very important. Prioritising and investing in spirituality has informed many of my decisions and brought me to where I am today. The combination of my Caribbean culture, spirituality and my love for the arts is a massive part of my identity.
I can relate on so many levels!
I'm definitely intrigued, Creative Director? Enlighten us...
It is interesting! It’s something I kinda fell into by accident. Essentially I work to create visuals for clients to help bring their mission/idea to life. The last job I did was for a tech company who needed more images for their social media profiles to promote themselves. So my job is to find photographers, models, locations, themes, clothes and present these options to the client. Once we agree a plan, I then make all of that happen, as well as directing the shoot.
"I am my own biggest challenge lol. I find it difficult to put my work out there, because it’s often not matching up to the perfection standards in my head."
I'm always drawn to powerful visuals and your work is absolutely stunning, so inspiring. Speaking of inspiration, what inspires you?
Everything and anything!! I have a vivid visual imagination so anything that stimulates thought will stimulate an image. Often (particularly with my personal projects) it is a feeling and the visuals that come with that feeling that directs what I do. Music definitely is something that inspires feelings and visuals. Clothing and colour is a very important form of communication for me, it’s definitely how I express myself.
As a fellow creative I know exactly what you mean. The best of projects for me come from the randomest places. I was looking at your latest project, levitate, it was the thing that drew me to you, how did that come about?
Levitate was a lot of fun to do, I spent a lot of time falling over lol! We did this project last minute, and with very little planning. I’d been feeling brown/neutral/tan/sand tones, I think because I wanted to express me feeling at one with my human form and self. Like these are not colours to hide behind, they represent the ground, skin, mud, dust, bark, stones - universal natural basic essential things. We played with angles and movement - I wanted to capture both falling and rising - hence the falling over, jumping and running. The culmination of these factors was to say that as humans we are on a journey through life, and on this journey we fall, we sit, we rise, we run. I know when I fall, its easy to get wrapped up in the moment of the fall and to forget that this is momentary and simply part of the journey. So it was a reminder to myself and others who need it that the fall is not permanent and after the fall comes the rise.
"it was a reminder to myself and others who need it that the fall is not permanent and after the fall comes the rise."
That quote needed to be said again, this year I am living proof of it. What would you say is your greatest achievement to date?
This is a big question… there’s so much I’ve been blessed with. I recently passed my driving test and flipping heck that was difficult. I’m ecstatic that it finally happened. On a more serious note, I think I’m most proud of the fact that I’m doing projects and creating art regularly. That wasn’t something that was always easy for me, I was raised believing that materialism is sinful and bad - and I associated my love for fashion and art as materialism. I now know that it is my gift, and that it can be used to help so many people. So the fact I’m able to do that is pretty dope.
This response reminded me of my last blog post #smallwins, just recognising that a change of mindset is so freeing. Being a young, black, female creative, have you faced any challenges in your industry?
I am my own biggest challenge lol. I find it difficult to put my work out there, because it’s often not matching up to the perfection standards in my head. I’m lucky I have such a large honest and supportive family, as they help me debunk the myths I speak to myself and will tell me when something is actually bad versus when I’ve decided it is not good enough. Also my DOPE creative colleagues (Tam Cader @tamcader & Apphia Felix @apphiadfelix) without them I’d be struggling to do this by myself. Definitely though, my main challenge is myself.
Use any photos you need to promote, I’m easy. For photo credits I usually put me for creative direction and stylist, @tamcader is the photographer and @apphiadfelix photographer’s assistant (applies to all photos I’ve sent).
Thanks again, genuinely would be happy to do more work with you if you need more content in the future!
Thanks for being honest with us. I agree that especially in creative settings when there's no right or wrong answer it can be hard to believe that you are enough and having that support from others is so very important.
You speak with such eloquence, I was wondering, do you have favourite quote?
There’s so many! I am most moved by quotes that remind me to love, to dream and to think positively. So two that I have enjoyed recently are
“It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen”
- Muhammad Ali
“What you radiate outward in your thoughts, feelings, mental pictures and words, you attract into your life”
- Catherine Ponder
Powerful, i'm actually speechless. I've been inspired.
We've spoken a lot about what you do, so the next question is where are you heading? What does 2019 hold for you?
I try to have a general theme for each year and a few specific goals, for example 2018 was about improving spiritual and mental health. So 2019 is about financial freedom, consistency and maintenance. So I need to up my sources of income, actually learn about money and how it works etc. As well as maintaining my physical, mental and spiritual health that I worked on in previous years.
Creatively I would like to be working on at least one creative project a month and launch my men’s jewellery line at some point this year.
Very interesting, jack of all trades it seems. I like the idea of having a theme and I will definitely be looking out for those projects. My signature question, tell us one thing about yourself that we will be surprised to hear.
You ask great questions 😂😂 maybe that I work as a respiratory physiologist, and am a scientist by day? I don’t know, I’m usually surprised at the things that people find surprising about me.
I was not ready! That's crazy! I now have so many other questions, this needs a part two. Thank you so much for your answers, this is definitely one of my favourite interviews to date. Before I let you go, please leave us with a thought for today.
Start with love, like in everything. One of the core beliefs of Christianity is that you should love God with everything and love others as you love yourself. Everyone knows the golden rule of treating others as you’d like to be treated. However, I misinterpreted this for years and took this to mean dedicating everything to other people. Then one day it dawned on me - if I haven’t loved myself, how can I love others as I love myself? I think we live in a society where black women often remain unseen, and all women are underrepresented. We have to remind each other to love ourselves.
So I live by; love God first, then love yourself, for you cannot truly and sustainably love anyone else until you’ve done this, then love everyone else in the same way you love yourself. Learn to love you.
Serena, thank you so much for spreading some serious sauce on the blog today, how can we keep in touch with you?
Twitter (@serenajarha), although I really just have this account to laugh at memes. Hit me up on these for sure, I’d love to connect with any interested readers 😊
Creative Director & Stylist - @SerenaJarha
Photographer - @TamCader
Photography Assistant - @apphiadfelix