Meet Fatima Jones

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If there is anyone who knows and understands the culture of art and music in New York City, it’s Fatima Jones. Working in communications, many of the campaigns for popular productions around the city has started with Fatima. From being at BAM to the Brooklyn Museum and now the Apollo Theater, her range of knowledge in the arts has provided herself a career in media relations while also staying creatively fulfilled. Fatima also shares her duties as a mother and how her daughter will always come first.
 
Dress,   Martine's Dream

ON HER MORNING ROUTINE

Mornings are important. I try to be the first one up, and I set the mood for my family. I light an incense, take a sip of water, pause, take some quiet time to stretch, and meditate. We are all tea drinkers. I like English Breakfast with a little coconut milk and honey. I take Women's One Multivitamin, 365's Daily Probiotic and I swear by these Vitamin B “Stress” formula with vitamin C supplements by Solgar. As my daughter gets older, I do less prep. She chooses her own clothes, can pick out her own fro, and soon will start making her own lunch.

on her background and interest in communications

My parents have Southern/African-American roots. They were members of the Nation of Islam when I was born. My father was inspired by Malcolm X and joined X’s mosque in Harlem. After my parents left the Nation of Islam and subsequently split, my mother remarried and raised me in Brooklyn.

My father worked for the New York State Council for the Arts for almost 40 years where he helped organizations get funding and support. I was lucky to attend shows, visit museums, and attend theater productions at a young age. While in high school, I got placed in the communications department at a historical museum, and then Central Park Summerstage the following summer. I got a chance to write, meet working artists, get backstage, and meet interesting folks from all over the world. Then I attended SUNY Albany for communications, but I was always dancing, working on the yearbook, school paper, doing promotions for my sorority. 

on the process in developing campaigns

Not every project is the same. I understand the project by interviewing the artist, curator, or project manager. I do a lot of  research. Seeing a production at another venue or in rehearsal is always best. I work with my team to find the target audience, and then work creatively to think of campaigns that will get those people in the door. My work is more about digital and mobile campaigns. I write press releases and curate visuals to give a snapshot of the project. Then I strategize campaigns, ads, events, and other projects to amplify the production.

Trench, Yang Li Men ; T-Shirt, Vintage ; Choker, Vintage YSL ; Pants, Sonia Rykiel
Internships were my pathway. I was lucky to land paid internships, but sometimes you have to volunteer to get your foot in the door and work a second job to pay for it. It’s easier to hear about a job opening if you are already there. If you are a hard worker, any manager would rather have someone who is familiar with the organization or job than to recreate the wheel.
— on getting her foot in the door

on working at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and brooklyn museum

I worked at BAM for almost nine years in the communications department. It was a pivotal time because it was during pre-gentrified Fort Greene, Brooklyn. People were still getting bussed in from Manhattan! I helped promote shows featuring William Forsythe, La La La Human Steps, and Dance Africa. The stakes were always high to do a good job. I wrapped up four years of similar work at Brooklyn Museum. We sometimes worked on projects by artists who are no longer with us so we worked closely with a curator and their vision, rather than hearing from the artists themselves. Working collaboratively is key, and translating that vision in a way that is creative, intentional, and will galvanize people to check out the project is the endgame.

I am most proud of my work with Marilyn Minter, Kehinde Wiley, and my last project, the final stop of "David Bowie is." I am a huge Bowie fan, and to see our ideas come to life and people appreciating the exhibition was very rewarding.

on working at The Apollo theater

It has been a true honor to join the Apollo Theater at such a pivotal time. Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, Sammy Davis Jr., and James Brown all began their careers on the Apollo stage. It was one of the first integrated theaters in the city, and it celebrates its 85th Anniversary next year. The goal now is to continue to present, produce, and curate forward-looking, contemporary work while building on the legacy and history. We produce festivals, including the Women of the World Festival in March, theater productions, and musical events like the celebration of the 50th anniversary of James Brown’s "Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud." I am helping to fortify the marketing and communications team to pump up our messaging, build more partnerships, and invite more people uptown. It’s an exciting time to be a part of this organization. The icing on the cake is that the President and Artistic Director are women of color. I also hope to lift up the amazing education and internship programs we have that give high school students experience in stage management and behind-the-scenes. 

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My daughter comes first. Always. Jobs come and go, but the time with my daughter is very precious. I can’t reclaim that time. I have a supportive co-parent, a loving partner, and good friends who I call on when needed. I make sure to stay connected with other parents at my daughter’s school so that if I need assistance with pick-up, I have people to call on. Planning out in advance is helpful. I cook in advance and prepare my clothes in advance. Google Calendar is my jam!
— on learning to keep a balance
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on collecting art

The first artwork I purchased is by an artist named Karine Falleni. It's the big beautiful work in my living room. I work my home decor around it. It's a conversation starter. Some people see a fist. Others see a man holding a baby. Karine has her explanation, but I have my own thoughts that I keep to myself.

on navigating the brooklyn school system

Finding a school is like finding an apartment. It's painstaking and research-based. Unfortunately, where you live will be a strong factor in whether your child will get into a good school. So check the school district, or go the private school route like we did. We are very happy with our decision.

on raising a daughter with a co-parent

It sounds banal, but putting the child first and keeping her needs on top will help push through any miscommunication or disagreement with a co-parent. The co-parent has the child’s best interest in mind too, even if you don’t agree with how they do things. I remind myself not to sweat the small stuff. Meditation helps too!

on her self-care routines

I dance. When time permits and the right DJ is on, I will go to an after-hours club. I take classes with my friend Ron Brown or Afro Cuban at Cumbe. I do yoga even though I have no flexibility, but I love focusing inward, turning my phone off, and having time for myself. I live near Heal Hause and I like their classes. I also sing in the car, I even did a little duet with my daughter at her school’s talent show.

on her personal style and shopping habits

I like Anthropologie but I prefer to support local designers like Martine’s Dream and Wow Wow by Wunmi. I go to fairs and buy all the earrings I can. I’m 45 years old, I can't wear cheaply made things anymore! On top of that, they have a limited shelf life.

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on her nightly routine

We'll eat together at the dinner table (I read that kids who eat dinner with their families are smarter.) then we play games like Uno and Trouble. Right before bed, I braid my daughter's hair so she can have a big afro in the morning. After she’s in bed, my partner and I catch up on TV. I like dramas like Queen Sugar, but also silly stuff like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Sometimes we sit outside on our tiny deck with a glass of red wine or rose. We have a membership to Bed-Vyne. They're cool folks. I take a shower or bath to get a leg up on the next day. I also have been into overnight oats these days. I'll put rolled oats (not instant), chia seeds, almond milk, peanut butter, and maple syrup in a mason jar. That's it!

on her beauty routine

I learned how to put on eyeliner just a few years ago, so I don't wear makeup outside of lipstick and eyeliner. I wear a special lip color from BFF Makeup Studio Lipstick called “Decision Maker”, and I wear Mac lipstick too. My skin likes CetaphilIt's gentle and non-drying. I wash morning and night and then use Lubriderm for face lotion. No frills. This past winter I started using Trader Joes’ cleansing oil and coconut body oil because my skin gets extra dry when it's cold. As long as I lay off sugar and continue drinking water, then I am usually good to go. Starbucks is the devil. When I drink it, I break out, so I gave up coffee in January. In the summer I use shea butter on my body. It's the only thing that guarantees no ash. I get it from Nicholas’s in Bed-Stuy or from the West African brothers selling at outdoor stands on 125th Ave. 

on her haircare

It's important that my daughter sees me feeling confident without additions, extensions, or major processing. I find my hair grows like a weed when left alone. My hair is hard to keep moisturized so I am often looking for leave-in conditioners. I have been using Camilla Rose leave-in conditioner, as well as Jane Carter and Taliah Wajid products. I go to Sophisticated Locs in Bed-Stuy for color and styles. I twist my own hair with African Formula Super Grow Hair Gel and spritz them every day with water and a drop of rose oil for scent. I like that I can do any style I want with locs like buns, french rolls, faux hawk, braids, and curls. It's very versatile. 

Jumpsuit,    Moshood

Jumpsuit, Moshood

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fatima's favorite records

I started buying records when I was 11. My tastes are all over the place. My first album was by the Sugar Hill Gang. I was inspired by music from the 70s and 80s. Both my dad and stepdad loved the 60s groups like The Temptations. I inherited a killer record collection from my father, and in high school, I became a fan of Euro pop and rock. As an adult, I like house and jazz. I like Tidal. I like the various playlists and find new music that way. My sister Karin has amazing taste in music, and I follow my friend Jodine DorceNothing Like The Sun is so important to me. Sting’s writing skills are underrated, and he has a varied taste in musical styles. Believe it or not, I started to appreciate jazz through this album. Donny Hathaway had an amazing voice and there are a few songs on Extension of a Man that will bring me to tears. “Lord Help Me” gets me up in my feelings every time. Fela is sometimes called the Black James Brown. If you have a party and put on Fela, you will have lift off! Finally, Prince’s Around the World in a Day is a psychedelic, funkified trip.

fatima's favorite books

Opening to Spirit is an amazing book by Caroline Arewa Shola. It combines Yoruba, an African spiritual tradition, with yoga and gives tips on meditation, explains chakras, and contains drawings of a black woman doing yoga, which you cannot find in most books on yoga. She finds synergy between Yoruba, Ancient Egyptian, and Indian culture. When I need to come back to myself I open up any chapter and find tools to focus and realign. I also love Another Country by James Baldwin, Weary Kingdom: Poems by DéLana R. A. Dameron, and The Corner Office by Adam Bryant.

fatima's favorite places IN new york city

Good, affordable massage: Eden Day Spa. My eyebrows are waxed by Sony at Honey Nail Salon on Vanderbilt Ave. Good jollof rice from a family run, local restaurant: Joloff’s Senegalese Restaurant on Nostrand Ave. Dancing: Follow Club Shelter. If Timmy Regisford is DJing, then I am there. Drinks: Margaritas at Burrito Bar, but just the drinks and nachos. They have $5 drinks during Happy Hour. Hair: Khamit Kinks, Sophisticated Locs, or my good friend Mishon, a legend in the loc and natural hair world who is now working with private clients. One of my favorite places in the summer is Long Beach. You have to pay, but the beach and bathrooms are clean. It’s just a 45-min drive from Brooklyn. I also love Storm King. It’s a nice 2-hour drive but it’s worth it. We pack a lunch, rent bikes, picnic, and enjoy the sculptures. I see shows locally at the Billie Holiday Theater at Restoration, as well as The Joyce Theater, BAM, and BRIC. Of course Brooklyn Museum is still home, and of course the Apollo Theater for music.