Staff Spotlight: Jada Alleyne
This week Jada tells Angelica about her background in teaching and cosmetology,
her soapmaking, and the musicians that keep her going.
A: Tell us about yourself and your role at Community Art Center.
J: I am the School Age Manager. I’ve been at the Art Center since October. I have a background in Cosmetology and Early Childhood Development. I was a hairstylist and later, a pre-K teacher. I have a daughter. I always enjoyed doing arts and crafts and I loved teaching it to kids. Seeing their faces when they’ve created something that they didn’t think they could is great. It[craftiness] has always been in me. My sister used to say things like: “she’s so crafty.” I’ve always liked doing stuff with my hands since I was little. I used to do my doll’s hair and just loved arts and crafts. I got into Early Childhood Development when I was raising my daughter. I wanted to work with kids and doing hair was still a passion of mine, but I also had an infant to raise, so I had to choose.
A: How do you exercise creativity in and outside of Community Art Center?
J: At one point, I was teaching at a girls’ camp and got really into teaching kids how to make body scrubs and balms from things you can find around the house. Soapmaking is my hobby outside of the Art Center. It’s part of my wellness. It doesn’t really feel like work. I know that the things I made are adding to my wellness or someone else’s.
As a manager, I like to do things based on themes, and doing activities around each theme. Maybe the theme is Fall. I would do research, go to the library, find crafts and activities related to the theme. When I took over the Jewelry class, we explored the jewelry of the Harlem Renaissance and the history of the jewelry during that time. We looked into how it was made back in the ‘20s by bringing in books and asking the kids what they knew about the topic.
A: What is your favorite part of working with youth and at the Community Art Center?
J: It brings me joy to know that I’m there for kids or help kids thrive. I am happy to be a role model for people who may not have one.
A:Where can people find your soaps since that is your creative practice?
A: What have you been up to in quarantine?
J: I listen to music. Everyday. It’s a necessity like eating. I like all genres. I listen to gospel and then the next moment I might be listening to rap, jazz, or ambient music. I’ve been listening to Nas, Jhene Aiko, Masego, Mary J. Blige, Alicia Keys, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu. The list is too long. I’ve also been making soaps. Recently, I made a watermelon soap for summer, what I call “You’re the Balm” lip balm, Black Girl Magic soap to celebrate Black and Brown girls, and a lavender soap, because lavender helps to keep me cool, calm, and collected.
A: Thanks for taking your time to tell me about yourself!
J: Thank you!