culture

April Kae On Self-Care, Social Justice and Falling For Pricy Skincare

April Kae

Like many young professionals in New York, April Kae’s career isn’t confined to just one job or art form. During the day she runs a digital publication about social justice issues for public schools, then outside of her 9 to 5 she’s in a band with her sister, Imanigold and publishing her own blog covering self-care and social issues. Oh, and she does all these things while looking fly and modeling for skincare brands like La Mer and being featured in the pages of magazines like Cosmopolitan. I caught up with Kae to discuss everything from falling in love with expensive beauty brands to the current state of political affairs in the United States.

You talk about self-care on your blog, what exactly does self-care mean to you?
April Kae: Self-care isn’t always bath bombs and bubble baths, for me real self-care is things like cleaning my apartment. Sometimes you need to take a minute to sweep your apartment and reset after the busy work week! Self-care is going to the dermatologist, going into the psychiatrist, going to group or individual therapy, or even just feeding yourself. I struggle to eat three healthy meals a day. Nevertheless, skincare is also a part of self-care for me, in particular when it comes to moisturizer. If I don’t put on moisturizer my skin really, really hurts. Also growing up in Texas and being black, you just can’t be ashy. I love Cetaphil and St Ives lotion, as well as of course some luxury products which I’ve mostly been sent through PR. I love this Dr. Jart ceramide serum because it’s really hydrating with hyaluronic acid. It also has great value so I can use one for almost a year. I also love Tatcha, they have great oil cleansers and exfoliators which are granules in a jar — you can just add them to your regular cleansers. Definitely on the pricy side but I love them. I also love SKII which is annoying because it’s not like I’m f*cking Cate Blanchett! I got a sample once from an Ipsy bag and fell in love with the product, then I saw the price and was like “oh my God.” I bought a half used one on Poshmark. After that, I really had to take a step back and now I use a rosewater spray that’s $12 because I can use it often. I’ll splurge on the SKII maybe once a year.

You have a really great sense of style. What clothing makes you feel good when you’re wearing it?
I love vintage clothing because I’m really not into fast fashion. We all know it’s bad for the environment but I’m not condemning folks who buy it. I still like fast fashion but usually only for underwear. For clothing, I like vintage dresses, like big black band T-shirts and vintage jeans. I work from home so I’ll wear that a lot. I’ve also had the same pair of Doc Martens since I was in college, so going on ten years. Every time I wear them I’m like, I don’t know when I’m going to stop wearing these same ass shoes. Hey, I guess I like well-made leather goods!

I like Poshmark because it’s a marketplace for women. I like buying something off of another woman on the Internet because it makes me feel like I’m giving money to a person rather than a corporation. That’s one of the cool things about shopping for second-hand online, you can actually find the exact same thing you’re looking for just cheaper and from someone who’s like recycling it, which is cool.

April Kae

What’s it like working with your sister? Positives and negatives?
We have so much love and respect for each other! We really don’t want to hurt each other and we know that, which makes it really easy to give and receive feedback. We often find ourselves being like “stop sugarcoating it, just say it.” We just have so much trust and we both know it’s coming from a good place. Our band practices are always an inside joke and giggle fest in between songs.

The other thing is that I can make these very specific references. I’m like, “make this sound like that one Blink182 song, but actually not like that but Stevie Wonder.” She’ll understand. I can just make these very strange mishmash requests because we have so many shared experiences

The hardest thing is that it can be easy for us to kind of like slip into just being sisters and take a day off to chill. We’ll be like “yeah, let’s get some prosecco and practice” but then we don’t end up practicing as much. Sometimes we encourage each other’s bad behavior.

You guys make quirky pop, what does that mean?
I consider our music somewhere in between Teagan and Sara, and Odetta. That would be the best descriptor of it. Indie pop with a punky soul but also, since we’re Texas so a little bit of a country.

You wrote on social media “Sometimes it’s easier to express the words you can’t say in the lyrics you play.” What are some examples of lyrics that reflect that statement?
I studied a lot of poetry in an effort to get better at songwriting. What I liked about poetry is that it’s not always about the words themselves. It’s all kind of a metaphor, even if it’s not as explicitly stated to be a metaphor. A good example is my song “Ride On.” On paper you would interpret it as ride, R-I-D-E, when you hear it you would hear it as write on, so to write, as in scribe. And you can also hear it as right, right as in correct. All three of these meanings are expressed because of the way that it’s shared in the song. It’s kind of like reading between the lines. I think I’m asking everybody to take in what I create in ways that work for them and through their own filter. I encourage that, I’m not personally like, “oh you heard this wrong.” I ask people what was the song about? I ask them to tell me what it’s about. I have my own ideas and then I’m interested in what other people think.

A lot of your work is in social justice what do you think about recent political events in the U.S.?
I think it’s amazing to see so many young marginalized people getting elected in the midterms, that’s huge. I think that politics don’t always serve us. So just to see us having more options like a Muslim woman or an LGBT person, just to have more examples that kids can see to represent them is big. It just matters so much to me. As far as the political climate, I just remain hopeful but with very low expectations as far as what’s going to actually change. It doesn’t seem like the government’s really set up to make positive changes.

Do you think it’s hard for people of color who live in the U.S. continue to thrive in a country that seems chooses white supremacy on a regular basis?
I actually really love this country and I don’t think f*cking white supremacists should be the only people who get to say that they love this country. I love this country because I’m so f•cking proud of all the things that black people have built. Considering how we came here, it’s so incredible and I’m really proud.

April Kae

Do you think some strides have been made in accepting queerness in the U.S.? Where would you like to see things go?
I think that answer to that as a lot to do with intersectionality. Sexual orientation is relatively easy to hide. I don’t think people should hide it, but a lot of people, myself included, can do that. The fact is that trans women are the demographic that’s most likely to have hate crimes committed against them. That experience is very different compared to a white male CEO who happens to be gay, for example, Tim Cook. I think the way different queer people experience life can be so wildly different.

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