Keikoism: “Doin’ What I Do, When I Do It”
Keiko El is a beautiful soul who divides her time between Philadelphia and New Jersey as a blogger and creator. This 22-year-old creative has founded an empowering concept that she lives by called Keikoism. It is all about becoming comfortable in her own skin and taking her life into her own hands. Keiko El began her blog and journey to self-love five years ago when she was about to graduate from high school. She always knew working for herself would make her happiest, so her blog is an extension of that entrepreneurial passion and drive, plus she always had a desire to express herself freely. As Keiko El’s blog and brand continues to grow, we can all look forward to more creative projects from her that will tackle social and cultural issues. Read her full interview below.
How did you come up with that concept?
Keikoism is empowering yourself to be all that you are as well as inspiring others to do the same. The inspiration for Keikoism came from trying to find myself and be my own person. I’ve always struggled with self-worth and stepping out of my comfort zone so this was a way of me taking my life into my own hands.
What are some creative projects you’re currently working on?
As of right now I’m working on doing interviews, such as this, called Queen of the Week. I’ll feature kick-a** women, who have inspired me to keep pushing. I hope that this will motivate others who are struggling with themselves to do the same. I also want to start doing video segments with my friends, where we discuss social and cultural issues.
After stalking your twitter for a while, I saw you watched Steven Universe. I love that show, too. How did you find out about it? Who’s your favorite gem (and you can’t say Steven)?
I think I stumbled across the show watching Cartoon Network one day. I almost immediately fell in love. I thought crystals, gems and lead female roles? This is a dream come true! Well the gems are meant to be genderless, but I like to see a lil’ womYn in them, haha. Hm, my favorite gem is DEFINITELY Garnet. It’s a little bit because I love their geometric fro and curvy bod, and a little bit because the amazing Estelle voices them, but mostly because they’re a fusion between two of my favorite stones in real life, Ruby and Sapphire! Their pairing is so dynamic! If you’ve seen the episode “Jail Break” you know that fusion’s love is the real deal, it’s kinda admirable.
I sense that you’re all about black, especially black woman empowerment. What do you think is the main thing holding black women back from being united?
This may not be the “main” reason, but I feel like our cultural portrayal in the media plays a big part. Thanks to the media, black women suffer from a lack of self-worth and are regularly trying to break away from countless everyday stereotypes. The media is constantly feeding us this negative ideology that black women can’t get along with one another. To no surprise, it’s as if this outside influence was and still is, trying to put black women (black people in general) against each other. Over the years, I’ve noticed we’ve become jaded to lifting each other up, and instead we’re deemed as a “threat” to each other. When shown love, we’ll tend to get defensive and distant at first. Now, I’m not saying that goes for every black woman because I know some very loving and accepting souls, but this is one of the issues I’ve been starting to notice. I can at least vouch for myself, when saying I used to be this way. When I was younger, if a black girl and or woman, who I didn’t know, were to have approached me, I would’ve automatically assumed it was because she had something negative to say. Sometimes I think it’s because of the deep internalized hatred I had for myself as a black woman, which the media’s negative stereotypes played a part in. I recently approached another black woman on the street to compliment her on what she was wearing. As I started to mutter the words, “I love your outfit” you could see her facial expression go from “What the f*ck did you just say to me?” to “Oh… thank you?” I’ll be honest, it was pretty funny in the moment, but I had to think, why was that her first reaction? It was clear that I wasn’t the only one who had been suffering from this belief. When it comes to speaking our minds, the media always shows us as loud, violent, and confrontational. As I got older and began to realize that those notions were complete BULLSH*T, I started to see a glimmer of hope for the love in myself, as well as other black women. I’m the first to admit, there was a point in my life where I was low, and had no love for myself. I thought because I didn’t love myself as a black woman why would other black women? Don’t get me wrong; I’m thankful that the love in myself started to grow. But as it grew, I began to recognize that it wasn’t just a few black women that didn’t have this love for themselves. Yes, Black women have always been portrayed negatively in the media but on the flip side, we’re taught our whole lives that we’re strong and independent, which we are, but some can’t find that self-love as easily as others. So now we have the terrible two, the “Loud, Angry Black Woman” and the “Strong, Independent Black Woman.” Considering our history, which one do you think our parents or guardians tried to make sure we were? When it all boils down, the “strong, independent black woman” tagline follows you around your whole life. That’s a lot of pressure; I didn’t feel like I lived up. With that being said, you start to feel like a disappointment to yourself and to your peers. So instead of searching for that love and support in women who will directly relate, we shy away to ourselves, because god forbid we let an ounce of weakness show. Depression and anxiety are not widely discussed and advertised amongst the black community especially for black women, considering we’re supposed to be such strong figures.
Going with the idea of empowerment, how do you find ways to empower other women and their work, while also keeping yourself empowered?
I give credit when credit is due, if I peep another woman doing dope ish, I’ll shout her out! I’ve started saying there’s always room for love. I hope that once my blog gets enough traction, I’ll be able to host all of the talented women I’ve come in contact with. The simple fact that I’ve been able to do this much of what I love, keeps me going. I feel empowered knowing that what I’m doing is helping me grow and maybe helping someone else too.
How do you know when you’re ready to create? What does your creative process consist of?
When I’m ready to create, random ideas and images run through my head all day, it’s the best feeling. I may be looking at a plant that’s a certain shade of green that triggers an idea and I’ll just run with it. Once all of my ideas are floating around in my head, I start piecing them together. It happens all of the time but especially when I’m out with a low phone battery and no pen and paper, I guess I should start carrying about a notepad!
What is the one thing in life that frustrates you the most but you couldn’t live without?
Unfortunately, money… I hate being confined to a job that isn’t exactly what I want to do. I work best when I’m working for myself and doing what I love. But being twenty-something years old and full of ideas doesn’t necessarily pay the bills. Sometimes you need to struggle through that boring day job in order to pay for creative projects, and so forth until you can be self-sufficient. I honestly wish money wasn’t a factor at all. I’d love to be able to create freely without having to be restricted because of low funds. But considering I’ve been a resident of LaLa Land for a majority of my life, that might not be realistic haha.
You’re so aware of yourself to be only 22 years old - where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Oh jeeze, I really appreciate you saying that! Ten years is so far away, but time moves so fast. I can only imagine what’s in store for me. Well, in 10 ten years, I’ll be 32 so I hope to have my blog in full gear by then and to have some type of e-commerce or brick and mortar business, maybe both! All I can hope is to see myself even better than I am today. Regardless, I’m ready to let life happen as it may but I’m determined for the best!
What is one thing that feeds your soul, mind and body?
Laughter! I love to laugh. I find that I’m my best self when I’m around the people I love and we’re having a good time. They’re the ones that really keep me going.
Are you happy?
I’m happy with where I am and the progress I’ve made, especially looking back at where I was. It’s definitely hard to just say I’m outright happy because I have so much more growth to accomplish. But I guess I could confidently say, I’m happy as long as I am growing.
IG: @keikoel / Twitter: keiko_el
Interview - Bria (@briakiara_), Access Intern
Photos - Carolyn Valentin-Flores