If you know Got Beauty, you know that our northwest feature window is extremely close to our heart. More than just visual merchandising, we view our shop window as our opportunity to outwardly represent Got Beauty’s personality, core values, and unequivocal love and support for our community. For our summer 2022 display we’ve teamed up with local artists, activists and creative geniuses, Essie Shaw and CJ Anderson and we’re bursting with pride over it!
Designed to celebrate our very favorite month of the year – Pride Month, they have created an entryway straight out of a rainbow-colored butterfly dream. The duo was kind enough to meet us at the Got Beauty headquarters and chat about the process.
Got Beauty: June is hands down our favorite month at Got Beauty because it’s Pride – an opportunity to show our community our love and support of equality for all. We are seriously so excited to collaborate with you both on this project! Tell us, what does Pride month mean to you?
ES: Pride month in Utah is about community and creating safe spaces for marginalized folks that don’t always feel like they can exist as their true selves in their everyday life. People that don’t live here are always so surprised when I talk to them about the SLC pride celebrations. In such a conservative state and city they don’t expect there to be such a huge LGBTQ+ presence. We have a very vibrant and proud queer community here. I show up for pride every year because I feel it’s so important for others that look like me, especially younger people that are in a space of exploration to know that being queer can look a lot of different ways. You are valid and there is no right or wrong way to celebrate pride. At the end of the day it’s about self-affirmation, and coming together with other folks that will accept you for who you are.
CJ Anderson: Pride month is a time of self-expression and love! To me, I’m reminded of how important it is to love and accept one another.
GB: Being a female-owned and operated business, we are always here to celebrate our fellow boss babes and entrepreneurs. Can you tell us a bit about your entrepreneurial work in the arts?
ES: My art is loud and large, unapologetic and unrefined. I create, to take up space, and represent others like me. I believe that art is more than a creative outlet. It is a form of activism. Being an artist is a tool. I approach art as a way to visually tell a story. If I can succeed in capturing your attention, my hope is that it will cause you to stop and think, then learn and do.
CA: Sweet Jade is all things style, staging, and design. Everything from photoshoot staging, wardrobe consulting, visual art displays, live show choreography, and more! If it requires a visual eye to make everything come together and look cohesive and interesting, I’m on it!
GB: You two are quite the dynamic duo! How did you meet?
ES: Cj and I met a few years ago at a retail shop that we worked at and she was my manager! We became friends and even though we no longer work together at Blue, we collaborate often because we make a great team.
CA: We met at a previous place of employment where I was Essie’s manager. The first time I spoke to her was in an interview for the job. I remember thinking ” This woman is a powerhouse, she’s in this world to make a difference. What is she doing interviewing for retail? She should be famous.” I’m so glad I got to work so closely with her. It leads to a wonderful friendship and great partnership in our art.
GB: Did you grow up practicing art?
ES: When I was a kid I was always experimenting and I had a lot of fun making art out of founding items. I started creating with more intention in high school. Making art was a hobby for me for a long time, but I didn’t consider myself an artist or believe I could make it a career until the last few years. Imposter syndrome probably had a lot to do with that. Now, looking back I recognize that being an artist has always been part of my identity.
CA: As a kid, I often tried to find different forms of art to best let my creativity out. Drawing, writing, music… Nothing stuck until I found interior design. That’s when I realized I had a passion for visual display and staging.
GB: What are your favorite mediums?
ES: Most of the pieces I create are acrylic on canvas with 3D elements incorporated into each painting. I love working with silk flowers and other materials like moss, stones, wood, fabric, and paper.
CA: I like to refer to myself as a “Hobby Hopper”. I try different forms of mediums often, just to experience new things. I love to get crafty and create art with my hands. But so far, my favorite seems to be setting up scenes for photo shoots. Everything from finding a location, selecting and arranging props and wardrobe, and choreographing the shots and poses with the photographer/models. Can you classify that as a medium? I’d like to think so.
GB: What can we catch you doing when you’re away from your artistry?
ES: I love reading, writing, camping, and being outdoors. Right now I’m having fun learning how to play again. I recently bought roller skates. I loved skating when I was a kid, and re-learning it has been a fun way to de-stress from adulting.
CA: I always seem to have a home renovation project or plan to redecorate something, which keeps me pretty busy. I also love the outdoors: hiking, kayaking, and taking my 2 dogs up to the mountain trails. Utah is the BEST for exploring.
GB: Do you have a favorite project or series that you’ve worked on?
ES: I’m really proud of the art shows I’ve curated. The most recent show was “The Beat of Our Blood” which was an exhibit featuring only BIPOC artists. I created a mixed media painting for the show titled “She Becomes”. The subject of the painting is a panther woman and it’s my current favorite.
CA: The Got Beauty Summer Pride window is my new favorite! It was so fun to collaborate with Essie and the amazing women of Got Beauty to create something with so much meaning and purpose, but that’s also just so pretty to look at. Love is love!
GB: So, what’s next for each of you?
ES: I am currently working on a solo exhibit titled “The fire in her eyes.” This exhibit as a whole is meant to be a commentary about the ways in which colorism, texturism, and internalized racism in the black community have been heavily influenced by Eurocentric standards of beauty. Some pieces will be visual translations of my lived experiences as a Black woman in the United States. Other pieces will highlight the strength, and sensuality of the black female form while exploring themes of sexuality, gender expression, and self-acceptance. The show is tentatively set for November 2022.
CA: I’m dying to go bigger and bolder with photo shoot staging! I have so many ideas in my head of what I’d love to do. Elopement shoots, stylized bridal, lifestyle shots… And eventually, the dream is to create visual works of art for businesses to use in displays and advertising. Thank you, Got Beauty, for bringing me closer to that dream!
To Essie and CJ: We thank you for taking the time to speak with us and shed some light on the love and vision that our community has to offer. Our world is more beautiful because of each of you. We can’t wait to see your upcoming art!
Visit us in-store at 900 E. 2100 S. in Salt Lake City to view our 2022 Pride display.