Born and raised in Harare, Zimbabwe, Jo Jackson has spent the last few years studying and working in Europe. She became bilingual in French and has been lucky enough to develop her skills in various exciting places, such as Goldsmiths University of London, where she graduated with an MA in Creative and Life Writing. She now lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa. She is passionate about stories, no matter what shape or form they’re told in. “Making stuff is what gets me up in the morning. If I’m not busy writing, I’m designing stuff on Photoshop, snapping pictures or editing a short movie.”
1) What makes you an African Inspired Creative?
I was born and raised in Zimbabwe. Between the ages of 14 and 26, I lived in Europe (mainly in France). During that time, I really struggled with a sense of belonging, and often found myself dreaming of being back in Southern Africa. Its history, struggles, issues, and energy are mine, and I wanted to be immersed in them and engaging with them, but couldn’t from afar.
I’ve finally managed to bring myself back, and since moving to Cape Town a year ago, I have tapped into my “flow zone”. I am finally immersed in the right place, and I’m surrounded by an incredible array of creative individuals. This is where I’m inspired.
2) What is the biggest challenge you have faced developing your brand? What steps are you taking to overcome them?
In August 2015 I started a blog called Koeksisters. It’s “a digital space for badass women in Cape Town”. While the content and the women who feature on the website are not exclusively queer, it is queer-centric.
I’ve considered myself “out” for years, but when I began Koeksisters, I realised how cautious I was about being digitally “out”. My biggest challenge has been fighting the urge to compartmentalise and hide aspects of myself. I want to move towards being the same person in every context.
Right now, the best way to overcome those old, semi-closeted reflexes is to continue along the creative path that Koeksisters is opening up for me.
3) If you could go back in time a year, what advice would you give yourself about this strange thing we call life?
I would tell myself to not believe in miracle fixes.
Being able to overcome the worst and transform it into the best can lull you into thinking nothing bad will happen again. But it’s not because you’ve overcome the greatest of struggles that others won’t arise. And more importantly, that’s OK!
Resilience is better than perfection.
4) Besides Koeksisters, what other moves are you taking to further develop your brand?
A part of me spurns the idea of being “a brand”, but I suppose, in all honesty, we are all branding ourselves every day through the way we curate our social media and the things we create.
I did an MA in Creative and Life Writing. I’ve been able to use my graphic design skills in the workplace. I’d now like to work on my photography and video-making. I’m working on an exciting mini-doc web series as part of a collaboration with Tres Nu Wave, a fresh hub for African creatives. I’ve also found myself exploring the world of fashion photography for the first time.
I’m really excited to see where 2016 takes me! Stay tuned…
5) Describe your dream photography shoot with African Inspired Creatives.
Photography: Kyle Jones-Phillipson