INTERVIEW WITH KIMBERLY FOMBY JEFFERSON

her·it·age: GEMS IN THE CITY

Starting our series is the fashion maven herself, Sucré Couture Founder and Creative Director, Kimberly Fomby Jefferson. In her interview, she details all the fashion, class, music, and more that she instinctively absorbed from her mother, grandmother, and aunt. 

The categories are plentiful as she speaks on vast jewelry collections, beauty regimen, holiday dinners, home décor, and what it means to work hard and look damned good while doing it. These women are a roadmap to Kimberly's core. 

Keep reading for a colorful telling of love, adoration, and legacy.

WHAT IS YOUR NAME AND WHERE ARE YOU FROM? 

Kimberly Fomby Jefferson. I’m from the San Francisco Bay Area.

 

WHO DO YOU DEDICATE THIS SEGMENT TO?

I dedicate this piece to my Mama Karen, Grandma Ruthie, and Great Aunt Louise, as well as so many other matriarchs who contributed to my growth as a Black woman over the years. Yeah, this one’s for them. 

I also dedicate this to a host of aunts that graced me with magic reflective of their Southern charm, out of this world humor, beauty, and power.

 

TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THEM? 

My mama. She’s a class act with fiery ways hailing from San Francisco proper. Aside from being a phenomenal mother, wife, grandmother, sister, and all of that, she’s a preacher’s wife, a business owner with impeccable style, and worked a full-time job. Back in the day, if she wasn’t working, she was getting dolled up in houndstooth wool pieces, pleated mini skirts, braided 18K gold herringbone chains, Via Spiga and her favorite throwback M.A.C. color palettes. At home, she was getting arts and craftsy with me, teaching me how to roller skate, or taking me on trips to the corner store to pick up packs of Pixie Sticks and Now Laters. 

My grandma. She was a hustling Capricorn woman. Stern yet hella funny. She owned a business with my grandfather and nearly worked it until the day she passed, all the while working as an in-home care nurse. Ruthie was gon’ get that money. On her downtime, she was sipping a can of Coca Cola by straw in her soft, plush bed, cooking, “getting the numbers” (playing Mega Lotto), or thrifting at her favorite consignment shops. 

My great Aunt Louise. One of the very first (if not the first) Black business owners with her husband predating the 60s. If she wasn’t bookkeeping for their lock and key business from their lavishly converted basement of their home in the Inner Sunset of San Francisco, Aunt Louise was keeping her red manicure on point and her caramel skin TIGHT. She was the supreme skincare queen in the family.

WHAT DID CULTURE LOOK LIKE IN YOUR FAMILY?

Culture always looked like good food, loud laughs, a whole lot of jazz and R&B, Sunday dinners after church, and an appreciation for the finer things in life— mainly beautiful home decor, and a whole lot of traditions rooted in our Southern origins. Culture also looks like tending to gardens, trimming hedges, cutting weeds, and picking Magnolias off the tree. Watching family barbecuing and gutting fish in our backyard patio. Picking plums and lemons in the heat of the California summertime. 

 

WHAT ARE/WERE THEIR HOBBIES THAT YOU’VE INTUITIVELY PICKED UP ON TODAY?

Cooking, skincare, and hustling for sure. 

My memories of all three in the kitchen are abundant. My grandma used to set up the most elaborate Thanksgiving and Christmas meals that would span two tables, including her oak dining room table that we would gather around. Her cooking legacy lives on, especially within me. Cooking (especially comfort meals rooted in our Southern origins) is my forté. No recipes, just a whole lot of love, memories, and soul guided by her spirit. 

Skincare is also a huge hobby of mine. It started during my adolescent years. I struggled with the woes of puberty and my Aunt Louise wouldn’t let up on getting my skin right. I’d be toning and masking at 14-years-old. Nothing has changed since. 

I can’t forget my nails and gold adornments. 

Nails started as a hobby turned to necessity. I'd ask my mom to purchase me press-ons from Thrifty's drug store and file and paint them to perfection in my youth. It wasn't until I entered high school that I could get them done professionally. 

Jewelry collecting and making were inevitable. No one I had known was as enthusiastic about the art of jewelry as my Aunt Louise. Buying up every dazzling piece she could from QVC or the Home Shopping Club was her most coveted pastime. Garnets, rubies, jade, smoky topaz, aquamarines, alexandrites, pearls, freshwater pearls, turquoise, diamonds, diamond cut gold bangles... You name it, she had it. Each piece was thoughtfully organized by color and stone or metal in multiple waist high jewelry boxes throughout her San Francisco home. 

Every time I departed her home, I left with a new China porcelain doll and precious jewelry to add to my collection. 

 

TELL US ABOUT THEIR HOME AND SOME OF THE FINE DETAILS THAT YOU REMEMBER?

Back then it was elaborate dark oak or cherry wood furniture — from the TVs to china cabinets. My grandmother Ruthie's butterscotch velvet sofa, matching chairs, and a floral Oriental area rug with fringes — cater-cornered from silver mirrored walls. I could still hear the crunch of plastic covers — because you wouldn't ruin her good furniture, honey. And I could never forget their obsession with Capodimonte Italian Porcelain their homes an ultra-feminine touch.

If the house didn’t smell like soul-warming food, it smelled like their powdery fragrances mixed with the smell of Perlier White Almond body butter. Family portraits and landscape paintings almost always graced my grandmother's and aunt’s walls. Their homes were exquisite experiences from the outside world. 

 

HOW DID THEY ADORN THEMSELVES?

Gold, rubies, garnets, pearls, as well as vintage and new designer— period.

 

DESCRIBE HOW YOUR HERITAGE AND MEMORIES OF THEM HAVE IMPACTED YOU TODAY? 

I mean my heritage is clearly who I am today. From head to toe and how I love and care for myself and those in my life. My heritage is in my home, my style, my grind, and my love.

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