Yeshi: The Boss From Boston
Yeshi a.k.a. Chantel is my longest social media friend! She's a first-generation West Indian owner who has a huge heart for dogs. Her business Boston Animal Experts (B.A.E.) specializes in making healthy treats for pups. She's sort of a dog whisperer! I was super excited when we finally got the chance to have a conversation. We talked about heritage, skin, traveling & more!
How old are you? Tell me about your life growing up in Boston. Describe your island heritage.
Yeshi: I am 28 years old. I was the first of my family born in America and raised in Boston. My dad is Black American and my mom is from the Island of St. Vincent. I was raised in the best of both worlds. My mother came stateside to attend Tuskegee HBCU on a full marching band scholarship. She later met my father at a hospital and at that time they lived in a historically black renaissance neighborhood. My parents taught me to be pro-black although I was the only black person in my classes. My dad taught me because he didn't want me to forget my heritage. My school was more focused on my behavior rather than challenging me. I would get in trouble for raising my hand too much.
I grew up and still stay in an all-black neighborhood with a black policeman. Growing up I participated in a program called METCO that bused us to a suburban neighborhood. Boston Public Schools are the worse and a product of systematic oppression. I was on the bus with the same people from kindergarten to high school and they all looked like me. There were only 15 black people out of the 386 in our senior class. I never felt less valuable because of my blackness and I didn't have problems growing up with a brown complexion.
You've traveled quite a bit. Why is that so significant to you?
Yeshi: When I was younger my family always took vacations during the summertime. It's important to see who I am wherever I go. In St. Vincent every person is black and it is a culture shock to come back to America. There are black faces everywhere and you don't question how you are being treated.
People abroad are curious about my black experience. In Italy, we are hyper-sexualized because a lot of women are there as sex workers. I had to turn many people down while visiting. People in London are prideful and try to differentiate themselves from America. During my experience, black people have a positive impact on most places.
Discuss the importance of maintaining the connection you have with your island heritage? How did it impact your upbringing?
Yeshi: It is a deeper vibe. The celebration of Carnival has so much community and unity. The black community in America should spend more time supporting small businesses and growing our food naturally because that's what we see on the islands.
Jab Jab, a celebration in Grenada started during the slave revolution. It is believed a slave owner drowned his slave in molasses. That slave then came back reincarnated and encouraged other slaves to rebel using inanimate objects which eventually ran off their slave masters.
Carnival also represents freedom, agricultural, and colors represent certain things as well. I feel the connection when I go there but lately, it has been over-saturated from tourism. Now that it's shut down the island is getting back to their roots and not importing things for their customs.
What are your thoughts on having darker skin representation?
Yeshi: I consider myself brown and have smooth, rich & deep dark skin grandmothers.
I don't want to be called anything that can be bought from the store such as mahogany, chocolate, or anything like that!
All my black friends would tell me I was beautiful. White people never really fucked with me because my pro blackness intimidated them. Dating outside my race has to be deeper than just being obsessed with my blackness. I need someone who relatable, a reflection of myself with similar features. I want my children to look like me. I noticed that there is an obsession with having mixed-raced children.
What was your skin like in your adolescence?
Yeshi: I have a skin condition that causes small freckle bumps on my body. I was told by a doctor that I need lotion to make the spots smaller. I also had dark spots but I had never noticed until he said something. My mom told me to leave it alone because I had gone so far without noticing. I grew up using shea and cocoa butter!
What are your current skincare regiments? Why is it so important?
Yeshi: I use natural products for my hair and skin. I insist on leaving things natural! I am not big on using manufactured products and feel my skin regiments must be organic. I want to moisturize without having that heavy feeling. I take my time when I do my skin regiment and like to oil up as soon as I get out of the shower. I want my skin to be glowing!
I am not a person that normally shaves. I want people to meet me the way I am. My organic and natural scent attracts certain types of people. I dated a guy who began thinking we weren't compatible because I switched up my soap. He was used to me having a certain type of scent.
Talk about your Black Forward Life Experience and product feedback.
Yeshi: My first experience was the scent. I smelled it through the package and loved it! The texture of the shea is really good and I love how smooth it feels. It melted the minute it touched my skin! Everyone comments on the smell.
The products are long-lasting and don't feel caked on. I don't look or feel dry and it's good quality. I compared it to other shea that I've used and can tell its organically made. It's not too yellow, oily, or overly lingering. I love the samples that were sent with my products as well.
Talk about your message to black women.
Yeshi: I don't want us to focus on being domesticated so much because we are needed on a larger scale. Black women are the backbones and strength behind so many movements. We are needed everywhere not just as one of the highest educated groups in America. Build yourself and the rest will follow. Do not doubt yourself and be okay with taking a risk. You are the prototype and a reflection of the first human being.
We are way bigger than having babies and being in the house. I hate seeing these reality shows representing us. These shows make me feel riled up, hostile, and angry without reason. Black women we DO need to smile. I don't like letting a bad day or unfortunate situation take away from my beauty. I smile!
Written and published by Queen Stoney
Interested in becoming a Black Forward Life Model?
E-mail Stoney: firstname.lastname@example.org
Shop and check out Yeshi modeling in our boutique.
Follow her Instagram: @carib_donddada