She’s Debonnaire is an informative and empowering website created by Muhlenberg student, Kaci Gregory.
Kaci is a senior, double majoring in Media & Communications and French & Francophone studies. Kaci’s interests include: women’s studies, diversity, cosmetics and fashion. This is what ultimately inspired her to create her site. Kaci explained to me why her website is called She’s Debonnaire. “Debonnaire” in English is spelled Debonair, which means “sophisticated and cultured,” but is used to describe men. The origin of the world is actually French. In the French language, like other romance languages, there’s a masculine and feminine to every word. The feminine version is spelt debonnaire. She always thought it was weird the “female” word doesn’t exist in English. She wanted to expand people’s perspective.
I had an interview with Kaci to understand the behind the scenes details of her amazing website:
When did the idea for your website, She’s Debonnaire, come to you?
It came to me about a year ago. It was actually through my “Global Media” class here at Muhlenberg where we had to create websites as our final project. I loved the original project I had to do, so I decided to expand the subject matter and follow my passion. Also, my “Media Theory and Methods” class inspired me to create the website, so I kind of used that for the content I included on my website.
Why did you create the website?
I wanted there to be a platform for women to talk about important issues like race, gender issues, even makeup – I love cosmetics! I’ve always wanted to work in the beauty industry so that’s why that element is on my site.
What were your goals in making the website?
Initially, I thought it was gonna be a site purely about cosmetic products, but, once I did more research on cosmetics, I wanted to expand further on issues that come up in the industry. I wanted to touch on the substance, the messy stuff, in the industry that companies are sued for. You can find those juicy articles on my site. Ultimately, that’s how I came up with the tagline for my site “beauty with substance.”
Who helped you develop your website and who is working with you on it now?
Just me. When I was working in admissions over the summer, I would go to the technology department to learn how to do coding. I also watched Lynda videos on how to do graphic design or use certain software. I met with Tim Clarke a lot in the tech department, and he gave me mini lessons on how to do a lot of stuff. I went to Barnes & Nobles everyday and read books like WordPress for Dummies or How to Create Your Own Website. I’m still learning a lot to this day because my site is always advancing and I have my own template and domain name to maintain.
Who is your target audience?
Women. I want anyone and everyone to click on my post. The point though is to attract all types of women. That’s why I have different tabs on my website for every woman to find what they’re interested in.
Where do you hope She’s Debonnaire will go in the future?
I’m hoping that it expands and becomes a household name. I would like to make it my own brand. It’s not just a site to me, it’s a brand. I want to get the name out there. I want it to be a platform for people to express important and relevant topics.
What’s the latest piece you’re working on?
I have a really big article that I already wrote and did an interview for, but I’m waiting to post it because I submitted to a bunch of magazines.
I interviewed a high fashion model who was on the cover of Vogue last month. Her name is Aube Joli Coeur (her name means pretty heart in french). I talked to her about her background, her success story (she recently had a breakout performance for Marc Jacobs this year), and her interpretation of representation of black women on the runway. I asked Aube what beauty with substance means to her and she said, “beauty with substance is the power to influence for generations.” I thought that was really powerful.
Is intersectionality an important topic to you?
Yes. I think it’s necessary to cover that topic because it allows many different aspects to come into play.
What is your stance on feminism and the impact powerful women are making in society today, especially in the media?
I don’t like using that word because it has a really bad stigma. Feminism to me is about embracing females and other genders as well. I feel like the problem with feminism is the unilateral perspective. People think feminism only pertains to white women. There’s a social, cultural element to it. Feminism means different things in different countries. In Senegal, for example, the meaning of feminism, which I learned in one of my classes, is very different from how we view it here.
I’m super inspired by powerful women in the cosmetic and fashion industry. Seeing how they take their brand and balance a busy life (kids, household), is cool to me because it shows women can do it all.
Do you think She’s Debonnaire will have an effect on positive representation for WOC?
I think it will. I feel a personal responsibility, as a woman of color, to provide a voice. I feel like the site is a great platform for WOC and a way to address important issues. Makeup is not diverse for black women and its important to have the visibility.
An example of this: I went into a Lancome store at a busy airport and they had so much foundation, but none for dark complexion women. The woman helping me was a black woman and she shrugged it off as they told me to go across the hall to a MAC store.
Make sure to check out Kaci’s website! We can’t wait to see what is to come for She’s Debonnaire.