(This is the 28th installment in a weekly series with people who don’t work in journalism commenting on the news. Photography by Kevin Fiscus. If you’d like to participate, message or tweet me.)
Meet Kachet Jackson-Henderson.
She’s 28, grew up in the central city, graduated from San Jose State, lives in midtown and works as a social media strategist and style consultant.
You may have heard her fashion tips on Good Day Sacramento or FOX40, read her contributions to Comstock’s and Girls on the Grid or followed her writing at The Lipstick Giraffe. The blog, the product of “trial and error” since 2012, was a Best of Sacramento 2015 winner and landed her the cover of the Sacramento News & Review.
“I’m a hustler by nature,” she says. “I can’t stay still.”
We met for the first time at The Red Rabbit Kitchen & Bar in December to talk about the city of Sacramento, media consumption and her thoughts on the news.
The start of her story feels very familiar to anyone who grew up in Sacramento. Hard worker. Couldn’t wait to leave. Strong connection to family. Renewed love of home.
Kachet stayed in-state for college to be close to her grandmother and returned to figure out what to do next. In Sacramento, after four years away, she found a city that “got cooler” and “less drab.”
In a manner of months, however, she experienced a mix of success and tragedy. Soon after landing her first, post-college job, her grandmother — her cheerleader, her motivator — passed away.
“She was my world for many years and from then until her death, I made decisions for myself and for her,” she wrote in a blog post last year. “… Her death propelled me to grow up even faster and while I miss her every single day, I am so happy that I had her for as long as I did and happy that she is now ‘asleep,’ as she would call it.”
She’s channeled the lessons of her grandmother (kindness and determination, to name a few) into a career in public relations. While she considers herself blessed with “doors opened for me,” she says she believes that the majority of success is “the fruits of your labor.” An unexpected layoff in 2015 made her think more about what she wanted to do. She’s now working with a couple clients on an independent basis.
“I fell into my solo-preneurness,” she says. “This is my chance to do it, to pursue it more. … I wouldn’t have had the guts to take the leap.”
Her blog provides a little income on the side. She’s as focused on improving as any social media editor at a traditional media organization. She watches what others in her field are doing and she’s always searching for the right time to post and share.
When you’re consistent, readers know they can rely on you, and when you’re authentic, readers can trust you.
“I’m always analyzing the lay of the land,” she says. “Fashion is always going to be the root of it because I like to get dressed up.”
And, yet, she’s looking to the future. Many of her readers are thirtysomething, professional woman. What does that woman want? What is she lacking? Who does she look to? Maybe the blog can be more, maybe she can say more.
“People crave connection and relatability,” she wrote in a December post about the lessons she’s learned along the way. “Sharing a personal point of view on a topic like personal finance, traveling, and etiquette can be appreciated by readers.”
In our chat, it was easy to see how her past and present shape how she views the media.
Kachet can remember watching television news as a child and looking up to anchors. They felt unreachable and distant, special in a way a celebrity is special. As an adult, and with the help of social media, she feels like she has a connection with them. Cambi Brown, Courtney Dempsey and Bethany Crouch, she says, will listen to your pitches.
Her role as a creator has enabled to her to see how her habits have changed. She relies on the summaries on social media to determine whether the story is worth a click, admits to a short attention span and says it’s “all about the thumb and scroll.”
I credit her willingness to say media could do a better job covering race and guiding the conversation. She says we must tbe open to asking each other uncomfortable questions and we need forums to facilitate complicated dialogue across groups.
“The problem with race is no one is talking about it,” she says.
Kachet answered the following questions by email about how she gets the news. Text submitted December 11.
How do you get your news?
It starts on social media. It’s the first thing I check in the morning and being that I’m a social media strategist, I am on it numerous times a day. I also get my news from my boyfriend as he checks The Huffington Post every morning and we often discuss what we both read. If I can stay put long enough, I love to catch the Today Show and sometimes there is some hard news on it. Sometimes I get caught up watching CNN, or MSNBC, but then I just have to change the channel.
What’s the first news event you remember?
I remember the World Trade Center bombing in 1993. My mother and I were watching News 10 (she was always a News 10 viewer) and I remember she saw coverage of it and her friend who was traveling for work was sharing her experience at the bombing. My mother exclaimed and started crying and it scared the crap out of me, especially when I realized it was my “birth buddy’s” mother! She was covered in dust and lost a shoe. I wasn’t sure what to make of it at the time. I didn’t know what terrorism was. I was 5 years old.
What content do you pay for?
Very little. I have cable, but other than that, zero.
What’s the last great thing you ate?
Chicken and Waffles at Lowbrau. HOLY WOW that was good! The chicken sausage was an amazing change from the usual breaded chicken you get at other places, plus the presentation was great. I don’t go there as often as I did when they first opened and once I saw them on the Requested app, I decided to go there for brunch. The timing just lined up. Yes, I do think food encounters sometimes require some divine intervention.
Who’s doing it right in news?
This is a little bit hard to answer because I truly feel that no one is doing it right.
Name the three most important issues facing Sacramento.
(1) Housing — This sounds very flippant but I don’t know why they keep building all of these expensive houses and communities targeting millennials. Who is going to buy them? The majority of people I know are single and are fighting to make more money to be able to live comfortably and these are people who work hard and hold some very visible positions in our community. Without factoring in first-time home buyer loans and other incentives, to buy a Sacramento starter home for just under $300,000, a mortgage payment could be as high as $1,700 a month once you factor in taxes and insurance. They tell you don’t spend more than a quarter of your gross income on housing, so by that math, you need to earn $6,800 a month (or $81,000 annually). It’s too bad that millennials and creatives are just getting priced out of the central city.
(2) Young professional retention — If there aren’t jobs, or there are jobs with limited mobility and non-competitive salaries, young professionals are not going to stay here long-term. The millennials in this town are driven, passionate and creative. The departure of some creative minds that aren’t tied here by family, or other major obligations, will be a big loss for this town. I will stay here as long as I can.
(3) Homelessness — In a way, I’d like to say I grew up downtown because my grandmother took care of me while my mom was at work, so seeing homeless people was part of my daily routine and it made me sad. As funny is this is to admit, I wrote a letter to President Clinton about it, asking for assistance. Sometimes I would split my allowance among the people I encountered on the walks my grandmother and I would take. If not money, I’d give whoever we encountered whatever snack I had on me, but it was never enough and now it really isn’t enough. Things have gotten much more dismal since the ’90s and the stigma about homeless people being lazy not wanting to work gains more momentum. Well, first off, how are they going to work? You have to learn a skill to get a job. There aren’t enough resources. Many homeless in our community have mental issues that are being left untreated. They wind up in jail only to be let out hours later and back on the street. Sacramento Steps Forward is doing an awesome job, as well as some other groups in the city, but it takes so much more, more funding, more time, and generally more faith and sensitivity from the people of Sacramento.
What do you absolutely hate about the news?
I hate that the majority of the news I consume is not positive. I also feel that the mainstream news tends to talk about what’s sexy, and the perfect example of this is the recent terrorist attacks in Paris. I am in NO WAY undermining what happened. It’s absolutely terrible. But terrible things happened other places at the same time and I didn’t even see half the amount of coverage. It’s not right.
What’s the most important issue to you that’s not being covered well enough?
I wish there was more constructive dialogue on the issue of race relations, especially in the Sacramento community. People still live in a bubble.
If you could be anywhere, an-hour-and-a-half drive away, where would you be?
At this moment, at the top of a mountain in wine country – either hiking or sitting drinking some sparkling wine.
Follow Kachet (@LipstickGiraffe) on Twitter and connect with her on LinkedIn.