“You need to be confident in telling your story and that’s what I want women, especially Black women to do,” says Caresse Hickman, owner of Lucy Jane Scarves. “I grew up with a lot of darker skinned Black women and I know the stories. I know the difficulties that they had to go through.” The North Little Rock, Arkansas native passionately discusses the importance of representation as it pertains to her brand. Not only is Caresse keen on the essence of Blackness, but she also infuses the memories and legacy of her late grandmother, Lucy Jane into all facets of her business.
When speaking on becoming an entrepreneur she says, “I knew I didn’t want to work for a corporation for the rest of my life, so I just had to figure out that next step.” Her experience working in retail—from working the sales floor to management—set her up for success when she decided to drop out of college to launch a business.
Caresse’s confidence is contagious, as she is a motivator and truly wants to see others win. Her willingness to reflect on her journey by highlighting her successes and setbacks offers young entrepreneurs a sense of hope and connectedness. She explains that one of her biggest lessons was surrendering to divine timing, “especially right now in this time because being an entrepreneur is kind of a trend right now,” she continues, “a lot of people are being entrepreneurs and I wanted people to take my brand serious. I wanted people to know that this is not something that I just started to get a quick buck.” Entrepreneurship comes with great risk, but on the other side of risk is reward.
Give us a quick rundown of your background! So, where you’re from, your interests when you were younger—it’ll flow!
Thanks for having me, first and foremost. I am super honored to be on here and I am 25—I am from North Little Rock, Arkansas—currently live in Little Rock, Arkansas. I love to do cooking, I love nature—I love to try challenging things! So, anything that challenges me—I love to do it. Like, escape rooms and stuff. I love trying to figure that stuff out because I’m like dang, how do you do this? [laughing] That’s just a little bit about me.
Cool, so you’re from Arkansas. You’re making boss moves! That’s how I perceive it anyways. And to be 25 doing it, it’s just amazing. So, that shifts into my next question—what inspired the creation of Lucy Jane Scarves?
The creation of Lucy Jane Scarves started in 2017, but I didn’t pursue it until 2018. My grandmother passed away of breast cancer in 2008 and that was my first real time experiencing death with someone that was super close to me. If anyone knows, grandmother’s love is a different relationship. When she was going through chemotherapy, I noticed she was always smiling, for one, and she always had these scarves on. They would be bandanas or just regular scarves she could find around the house during her chemotherapy to make her feel beautiful. But you would never know that—as a preteen I did not know that. I just thought she wore them to be pretty.
When she passed it was really hard for me to get that understanding. I struggled with a lot of depression and acting out a lot in school and things like that. I always knew I wanted to run a business; I just never knew what I wanted it to be. I just worked in retail and became a manager at 18. I was going to college and I was like I don’t know about this. I don’t like it. I’m making a lot of money right now. I decided to drop out—I was like you know, I’m just going to drop out and actually take a risk and if this works then great. If it doesn’t work then I’ll go back to school.
I was sitting at home and—I wore scarves naturally, you know it’s a part of our culture. Naturally, you just wear them to bed or anything like that. I wore them and I was like dang, this really reminds me of my granny, you know Lucy Jane, and I was just like ding! What if I start a business with scarves? Didn’t know what the heck I was doing, for one. I didn’t know anything about running a business, but I took what I learned in retail, applied that, and went my own way with it. Basically did that, and that filled a hole. Running this business, it honestly brings me so much joy because people don’t even know Lucy Jane—people don’t know my grandmother or anything like that, but they love Lucy Jane. It brings me so much happiness and I know she’s so proud of me and I know it’s something that she would love for me to do. I just hope that I’m making her proud doing it. She inspires me every day.
That’s really beautiful because in the beginning you said that you like to do things that challenge you. You were working in management and retail. So it’s just like going through the motions trying to figure out like, okay why am I here? What is my purpose? But still working. It’s really beautiful to see that someone so impactful in your life—you found that inspiration, but you weren’t out searching for it. It just kind of found you, actually. It found you and it brought you joy and you were able to turn that into a business, which—that’s a challenge, but you said you like challenges. Now, it’s like your grandmother is also living through your business and what you’re doing.
It’s honestly so crazy. I did not think it would go this way. I honestly thought I would be where I am now five years from now because I work so much and I’m just like I’m just going to test it out and see how it works. I had a conversation with God and was like you know, God if this is the right path then we’re going to do it. If it’s not then I’m just going to have to go back to school. My mom was upset when I told her I dropped out of college. She was like what?!
That’s a testament to all of the individuals who went to college and found out like, you know what this is not for me, I have a bigger purpose. And college is not for everyone. People feel the pressures of family, friends, and things like that. There’re so many things that come with it, but that’s a major step that you took to say “bye college”. I’m going to follow this path that I’m not really sure what’s about to happen, but I’m going to figure it out.
It was such a big risk! It was so big and I was so terrified. I actually have lost relationships. I sacrificed a lot, but if you ask me would I do it all over again…a hundred percent yes. Like, one thousand percent.
And my next question actually was what were you doing prior to becoming a business owner and you said that you were working in retail and whatnot.
I actually snuck and got a job. I was 16 and my mom—we went to the mall. It was me, her, and my sister—I got so tired of this little allowance that she was giving me. I was like, I can’t do anything with this forty dollars a week—I can’t do nothing with this! And so, basically I snuck and got a job—she didn’t want me to get a job. I was at American Eagle and got hired on the spot. That was probably the hardest job I have ever worked in my life to this day. Being so young and having so much responsibility and that is where my love for marketing came. I really got to understand what marketing does and how to put pieces together and how to use your imagination. It was another challenge and so I was like dang, this is really cool.
I’ve been in retail since 16, became a manager at 18 at The Limited—it was a store for lawyers, doctors—just a really suit and tie store. Then, worked at Sunglass Hut, then became a manager at New Balance and just constantly worked my way up. And so now, I’m a store manager. I became a store manager at 22. That’s what I was doing before and I was just working, trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I knew I didn’t want to work for a corporation for the rest of my life, so I just had to figure out that next step.
And it’s great that your background tied into what you’re doing now. A perfect segue into what you’re doing now.
It’s so crazy when I think about it, I’m like dang, I really am where I’m supposed to be. Because you know you have those times where you’re like am I doing what I’m supposed to do in this life? Life doesn’t come with a rule book, it’s really trial and error. So, when you think about it, I’m like dang well maybe I am in the right spot. It all worked out.
Everything happens for a reason. Whenever you step back and look at it, you’re like wow, that lined up.
You’re like wait a minute! [laughing]
With my brand, every Black woman—I don’t care what shade you are—especially dark-skinned women are going to be celebrated in my brand and that will never change. We’re so beautiful.
You just have to appreciate it. That’s really awesome! One thing that stood out to me—aside from your beautiful scarves and things that you sell—are the various shades of melanated Black women featured in the content that you share. So, what is the importance of representation?
It’s everything to me. I’m a Black woman, my grandmother was a Black woman, my mom is a Black woman—I’ve been surrounded by Black women. It’s honestly everything. Growing up I didn’t really have a—I wouldn’t say role model, but you didn’t see a lot of Black women doing a lot of things—of course you see them in entertainment, like singers and of course Beyoncé and stuff, but I never really seen someone do what I do. I love makeup and growing up I used to see Queen Latifah on Covergirl and I used to be so inspired by that. Then, when Rihanna came out with all of these shades, it was so beautiful to me because Rihanna is a Black woman and she’s someone that I look up to and inspires me as well. She has so many different shades of Black and I just thought it was so beautiful.
That brought into it as well, but I also believe that every Black woman has a story. That’s really what Lucy Jane is about. It’s about telling your story collectively and confidently. You need to be confident in telling your story and that’s what I want women, especially Black women to do simply because I grew up with a lot of darker skinned Black women and I know the stories. I know the difficulties that they had to go through. With my brand, every Black woman—I don’t care what shade you are—especially dark-skinned women are going to be celebrated in my brand and that will never change. We’re so beautiful. If you honestly look at us, it’s like our art is so beautiful from our cheekbones, to our lips, to every single thing about us. I study all of that before picking models. The face, the eyes—everything tells a story and that’s exactly what I am trying to portray. Who can tell a story better than Black women? Plus, we’re gorgeous… what you mean?
[snapping] Yes! Again, tying that back to your brand. You’re telling your grandmother’s story and her story has the power to touch so many others. Everything that you’re doing it’s like you said, every Black woman has a story.
And the crazy thing is I did not know her story was so similar to others. You have no idea how many DM’s I get, how many emails I get of thank you, my grandmother or my grandfather passed away and these scarves they just remind me of how beautiful they were when they were here. That even inspires me because I didn’t even think of that. It’s honestly crazy.
Over the course of the three years that you’ve been established, what have you learned in regards to entrepreneurship? I know you said earlier that you enjoy marketing.
I love marking. What I was going to school for was marketing. I wanted to be a Chief Marketing Officer. I’ve always loved marketing, but what haven’t I learned. I’m not going to lie, it’s pretty hard. But like I said, I love challenges. Probably the most that I have learned is to not rush things, especially right now in this time because being an entrepreneur is kind of a trend right now. A lot of people are being entrepreneurs and I wanted people to take my brand serious. I wanted people to know that this is not something that I just started to get a quick buck. Like no, I’ve lost more money than I’ve made. This is something I’ve put my time into.
In the beginning I definitely rushed. I was rushing trying to get this done. I was looking at other people’s brands and other people’s journeys. I did that for a solid eight months and I had a conversation with God and was like, why am I rushing? I have all of the time in the world. And this is my journey. This isn’t anyone else’s journey. This is something that God has put into me and I am the only person who can do it the way that I can do it, so why am I rushing? That was when I seen a dramatic change. I slowed down, I looked at things more carefully, and I really looked into my brand. I wasn’t in such a rush to put things out. I looked at it from a customer’s point of view and just slowed down. I would definitely say don’t rush things and take it day-by-day. It’s your brand. That’s probably the biggest lesson that I’ve learned.
That’s so relatable. That resonated!
Yes, because you notice how we are in our generation right now. It’s like this person has this.
It’s so simple. If someone said can you give me advice on what I—just don’t rush it.
Don’t rush it! [laughing]
Like out of all the advice you could give me? That is so powerful. Like, seriously. Don’t rush it. But I did want to bring up—you said that you were spending eight months looking at other brands and I feel like in that stage whenever you’re establishing a brand or a platform, we look at other brands and see what other people are doing, which is fine if you’re looking for a source of inspiration—just trying to figure out what’s working for them. But I feel like some people get stuck in focusing on what other people are doing and they don’t realize they’re hindering their growth. You really have to be your own brand. Be your own person. Find inspiration, but don’t get so stuck on exactly what they’re doing and trying to replicate that because you won’t really get anywhere.
No, you won’t because God doesn’t bless who we pretend to be. He blesses who we truly are. If you just be who you truly are then everything will—if you are doing your work, everything else falls into place, I promise you. A lot of things that have happened with Lucy Jane I cannot explain—I can’t. I’m just like you know, you put the work in. And it’s also about self-awareness. You have to be self-aware. You have to be honest with yourself. Of course I’m going to be a millionaire before this and I’m going to do that—that’s great. What are you doing now? You have to be self-aware of that. What can you work on now to make yourself better? To make your brand better? And I think that is a very, very important part, too because you want to have high self-esteem. You want to have that confidence, but you also need to be self-aware to know, okay let me take a step back to see what I need to work on to grow my brand. It’s a big thing.
It’s important to reflect on the challenges and successes because that’s what sparks growth. That is, if you’re being one hundred percent honest with yourself—just like you said, focusing on self—looking inward as well. When you’re faced with adversity how do you work through it?
It’s a couple of things I do. I rest, for one. I think we’re in a get up and grind, get up and do this, get up and do that—that sometimes we don’t take the time to rest. Scientifically our body needs rest in order to function. So, I rest whenever I’m faced with difficult things and things that I just can’t wrap my head around. Normally, that’s a sign to me that I’m tired or that I’m beating myself up a little too much. Give yourself some grace. If you’re working six days and you have worked on your business an hour that day, give yourself some grace and know that you’re doing the best that you can with what you have right now. Lastly, God. God is all that I need. If I’m feeling down or anything I automatically put on a sermon, put on some worship music, or I go in a quiet space. Sometimes I just sit there and I’m like okay, God I don’t know what to do. So, I’m just going to sit here and whenever you say something—and sometimes it may be thirty minutes, could be an hour and I don’t get nothing and then I get something at the last minute and I just be like you know what, that’s exactly what I needed.
It’s honestly crazy that you said that because I was just feeling discouraged about a week ago and I had this pop up shop Saturday. The crazy thing is, my grandmother growing up she used to play all these old songs—Al Green or Earth, Wind, & Fire whenever she would make breakfast in the morning. I kid you not, I haven’t heard those songs since she was alive—it’ll be thirteen years in March. At the pop-up shop that’s all they played and it was just like, what? It’s just little things like that. It just gives you the courage and you’re like you know what, I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be and I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to do. That’s the important thing. Definitely those.
I just felt that. That energy. Your grandmother was with you in that moment for sure.
Literally, and it’s like girl what you doing? You knew?
But like you said, you have to be still. Rest, unplug, if you’re religious—whatever form of spirituality that you have, tap into that and really just trust in divine timing. So, yeah you have to be still and rest. Everything that you were saying I was just soaking it up.
That’s how you have to do it. If you just take a moment to be like—meditate! Some of y’all need to meditate. If you meditate, you’ll be good.
I’d love to hear your take on support—just support as a whole. Have you felt supported as a young entrepreneur?
Ha, no! In the beginning. Now, absolutely—one hundred percent. In the beginning, no, because that was one I dealt with the hardest. There were a lot of times where I wanted to quit because I did not have support, especially from certain family members. Because this is a family member, my grandmother—she held the family together. So, when she passed it was just like—we’re all still close, but not as close as we used to be. That side was the main side that did not support me. I won’t go into too many details about it, but I didn’t have a lot of family support in the beginning. My sister was really the only person. That girl would support me if I wanted to open up a strip club.
Of course, I have amazing supportive friends and my customers—oh my gosh, my customers are amazing. I had all of that and I was still focused on the family that was not supporting me. So, that took some time to get over and that took some time to understand that I have people who don’t know me from a can of paint supporting me. Why am I focused on the ones who don’t? Does it hurt? Yes, but will I be okay? Yes. And now, all of the family supports me and I think times like that—they are an older generation and entrepreneurship is a risk. They were brought up on going to school, get a job, work for someone for sixty years, retire at sixty, and I just wasn’t with that. I’m like that doesn’t sound like life, it doesn’t make sense, that’s not going to be me.
I think a lot of people have to see consistency, too before supporting. I’ve also learned that just because someone doesn’t support or doesn’t see your vision doesn’t mean that they do not love you. Sometimes people can only see what’s in front of them. Some people can’t see three, four, five, ten years from now like I can, so I had to learn that was well. But support is such a big thing to me. I support every Black person doing whatever, especially if they’re Black. I support every person that’s doing whatever they’re supposed to be doing, whatever you find is your calling, whatever you love to do—if you love to do it I one hundred percent support you—as long as it’s not hurting you, I one hundred percent support you.
And I feel like the word support—granted, if you have a business then you do want financial support. But support is so much more than money. You can do so many things. Spread the word, attend my event, share my post.
Yes, free support! You don’t have to buy anything.
I think a lot of—just anybody that’s out here doing something that’s considered risky or just not the norm can relate to everything that you just said.
Do you know how big you have to be to do that? To not know if you’re going to get a positive outcome. That is a big thing to do! It’s scary, too.
Yes, it is! Now, I want to talk about your collection. Super excited! What’s your process when it comes to selecting what you want to add to your inventory?
Oh my gosh! Such a long process. Now that I’m more experienced it’s probably not as long, but I still consider it a long process because like I said earlier, I look at everything from a customer’s point of view. I’ve been in retail forever and when you’re dealing with marketing—I think a lot of people have to understand it’s the little details that matter.
We’ll talk about the newest collection since it’s the most recent one. If you look at the way the colors are or the little earrings that they have. It didn’t have too big of an earring because you want to focus on the scarf and you want to focus on the color of the scarf. The way the darker shade of woman goes to the lighter shade and then you mix it up and intertwine. You have to think about the small details. Yes, you have these beautiful colors, but why do you have those colors? What’s specific about those colors? What story are you trying to tell? And that’s really all marketing is—it’s what story you’re trying to tell. What are you trying to get the customers to feel—it’s an experience.
I look at color, I look at detail, I look at material, I look at names. Names take me forever to come up with because I always want them to have a significance to them. Every name has a meaning, of course. I intertwine me and my grandmother, so the names are kind of like Coffee—this one is Chocolate. It’s named Chocolate because my grandmother always used to give my sister chocolate. She was obsessed with it, but she wasn’t supposed to have it, but she would always give it to her. Then I have another one named Coffee because my grandmother is the one who put me on to coffee. I still drink coffee to this day. I think I was like nine or ten. I wasn’t supposed to have any, but she put us on to coffee and it’s those type of things.
People want to know why, so when I put out a collection, I have to answer every why before I put it out. My launching has to be the way it needs to be. The leading up to the launch has to be the way it’s supposed to be. If it’s not how I want it in my head I will not put it out. I sat on the newest collection for a year before putting it out because everything was not together. I refuse to put out anything that will tarnish my name, my grandmother’s name, my brand, and also my customers. Marketing is a story. That’s all it is—a story.
I notice on Instagram that you share style tips as well and I think that’s super amazing. It’s like an addition to the products that you sell and it shows your versatility—and the versatility in wearing scarves and turbans. What’s your favorite way to wear each of those?
It’s so many and I’m still learning! Still learning so many ways to wear them. Every now and then I’ll get on YouTube and I’m like dang I didn’t know you could tie this in so many different ways. Definitely the one I have on. This is my favorite right now because it’s super easy and like two steps. I wear this around the house all the time—when my hair needs to be washed or whenever I don’t feel like doing anything, I just put this on and keep it pushing. I can go to the grocery store like this—wherever I want to go and it still looks presentable. This one is a turban and then the silk scarves—recently, I used to wear it kind of like a bandana, but recently I have been loving them around my neck for some reason. I don’t know why. Maybe because we’re about to get into summer time. I’m feeling a little zesty, a little fancy! But that’s normally what I like. The silk ones, I like those as tops, around the neck and of course these—the turban, definitely more convenient. Especially when you don’t feel like doing your hair. You just pop that on and out the door.
The cultural relevance of head wraps and scarves in our culture is so beautiful.
And I tell people that all the time and they’re like well can I wear this as a scarf? And I’m like you can wear it however you want to wear it. Our scarves, we use it to clean up, we use it to lay our edges, we use it to go to bed, we use it to protect our hair. We use scarves every day without even realizing it, so wear it however you want to wear it.
But I also noticed too, though—kind of like, I don’t know if they have this stigma or like if you wear head wraps and scarves you’re like this super conscious Black woman or there’s a certain association like you’re natural—no, that’s one little facet of wearing scarves. And I do notice that they’re making a comeback into our culture and people are really tapping in. They are very versatile!
That is one thing that I’m loving. You see everybody wearing it now.
I am certain Lucy Jane will be everywhere inspiring people—inspiring young Black women and inspiring anybody to just do whatever you want to do and to be confident in that—set the standard. Whenever you walk into that room, you hold your head high and you own it, seriously.
What are your hopes for the future with Lucy Jane Scarves?
I normally don’t say hopes, I say certainties. So, I am certain that Lucy Jane will be everywhere very soon—on billboards, on every celebrity, it will be everywhere. We can actually mark this date, so whenever it happens y’all can come back to this interview and you can see. But I am certain Lucy Jane will be everywhere inspiring people—inspiring young Black women and inspiring anybody to just do whatever you want to do and to be confident in that—set the standard. Whenever you walk into that room, you hold your head high and you own it, seriously.
The way I see it, growing up I’ve always been told I had to work ten times harder to get half of what people get, so I own that. Whenever I do walk in a room and you see me with a scarf on, know that I own this entire room—and you do, too. Whenever you see Lucy Jane that’s exactly how you’re going to feel. In a couple of years you’ll see it on billboards everywhere!
Yes, and I love how you just affirmed that! Like, no hopes—we’re speaking this into existence. I love your confidence—it’s radiant. Now I feel like I’m about to—look, now I need to go make some moves—
[laughing] And that’s another thing! So often we get women that are like, oh I want to be better than this woman. No, we all can be great! I think I am the best. You should think you’re the best. We can be the best together. Own it, seriously.
We definitely have to see more of that in the Black community—Black women celebrating one another. We’re doing this now! It starts with us. My final question for you is how can we stay connected with you?
You can stay connected with me—I have Lucy Jane on Facebook. We have Instagram—my personal Instagram. Lucy Jane is going to be everywhere! Wherever you see Lucy Jane just know that it’s me, so feel free to DM me, email me, whatever. I respond back to everything. My team and I, we make sure that our customer service is top tier, so you will always get a quick response back.