Afrohunting: Katherine Theobalds

Leticia Sánchez Garris
Jul 19 · 7 min read

When I was interviewed by Into the Gloss and Katherine saw that it was a “black girl in Buenos Aires” we automatically started talking. I must admit that in this portal there are interviews that I read first, and those are those of people who looks like me AKA black and brown people. Let’s be honest, it’s much easier for me to be attracted to the skin and hair care information of someone with characteristics similar to mine. Although I must admit that this is one of those portals where I always find something to lose myself reading and surfing the web, you know, what happens while you read something and that takes you to a link, and then to another more and you end up with 18343086 tabs open from one moment to the next.

With Katherine, our relationship began in a beautiful virtual way. Katherine is another one who went from being my cyber-friend to my real friend. Like goes, like comes, reaction goes, reaction comes … you know, how are the interactions with people now … (Coño!!). Until one day we decided to meet for a coffee. There I was, in a cafeteria in the neighborhood of Villa Crespo, sitting reading a book while drinking my classic Latte with almond milk (notice that I only take this in case you want to invite me to #afrohunting;)) And then there she was… impossible that she goes unnoticed in Buenos Aires. Katherine is my friend The Queen, and she knows it. A queen who arrived with her black skin shining full of hydration, her lips moisturized and a hair that says HERE I AM!. She was wearing a gray full body coat and obviously some beautiful animal print boots that was the first thing I noticed as soon as she came in, because i already knew that she was the founder of an incredible brand of shoes called Zou Xou. When we started talking and I saw her elegance in the way she expressed herself, the way she was sitting, how she walked, how she to touched things , how she simply was her, I realized that i was really right, Katherine is a queen and today she is my friend who has already entered the new club #Afrohunting.

Whats your zodiac sign? Do you know your rising sign and your moon?
Taurus, scorpio rising and moon in Aries.

*As an scorpio, you know i love you more now, right?

Place of birth.

Washington, DC EEUU

Where do you live now?

Buenos Aires, Argentina

*And now we are neighboors!

How was your childhood?

I grew up in a typical American suburb with my mom and dad just outside of Washington D.C. I was artsy and athletic. My dad was a doctor and kept crazy hours, and my two older sisters were already away at University, so it was mostly me and mom. My parents grew up somewhat poor, but worked hard to achieve the “American Dream”. The area I grew up in was multicultural but between school, my neighborhood, church, sports teams, summer camp, and Girl Scouts I wasn’t surrounded by many Black people growing up, so I always felt like a bit of an outsider. My parents lived in Brooklyn NY before I was born, so we had my Grandma and a lot of extended family members living in NYC who we would go to visit several times a year. Around the age of 12, New York City started to speak to me. It seemed to me like a place where anyone could belong, and I started to spend a lot of time imagining what it would be like to live there as an adult.

Why you wanted to be a shoe designer?

It was a mix of timing, opportunity and — — I feel — -destiny. I really feel like this path chose me. After University in my mid-twenties, I went back to school to train as a clothing designer. I finally moved to NYC to attend the program of my dreams but it left me disillusioned and underprepared for the real world of fashion. I began to realize that the types of jobs I fantasized about paid very little, and the types of jobs I would need to have aren’t creatively satisfying. I really struggled with my choice to go to fashion school — — plus I discovered that I detested sewing fabric. So I took a few courses in technical drawing, accessories and footwear design to improve my odds of getting a job that paid well. Around the same time, I took my first trip to Argentina (for love) and discovered that shoemaking is part of the culture. I met a designer whose work I admired and she told me where I could take some shoemaking courses. So the next summer I returned to Buenos Aires and took a shoemaking workshop. When I returned to NYC after my summer learning how to make shoes, I started looking for any job I could get in the fashion industry. The jobs I began to get were freelance shoe design gigs at large companies — and they paid well, so I never looked back. A few years later, after going through a bit of an existential crisis, I started my own shoe business, thanks to my connection to Argentina.

  • Easy bebecita, we all been through that crisis!

Zouxou, what a special name! Where did that came from?

Zou Xou was inspired by a character by the name of ‘Zouzou’ played by the actress Josephine Baker in the 1920s. At the time, it was the first major film to star a Black actress in a leading role. Josephine Baker was such a fascinating woman. Not only was she a brilliant entertainer, but also an activist who boycotted anti-Black segregation in the US, and a spy who used her access to fight fascism during WWII. She was a trailblazer who was ahead of her time, so I named my company after her to channel her strength, creativity, and conviction.

*Watch the movie here

How did you end up living in Buenos Aires?

My partner in life and the reason I came to Buenos Aires in the first place is from here. We lived together in NYC for a while before eventually deciding that living in Buenos Aires would give us more creative and economic freedom than NYC ever could.

Whats the difference between your life in New York and now in Buenos Aires?

Now I have a dog, health insurance and live in a space that is big enough for two people to live in without killing each other — which are three things that I considered luxuries in NYC.

*When i went to New York last year she took me to Harlem! Watch it here!

What do you miss the most from New York when you are here in Buenos Aires and viceversa?

It took me a long time to get used to the instability around the value of the peso and how ‘analog’ a lot of things are here. In NYC, there is a lot of access to products and services — most of which can be obtained quickly and cheaply — — which aren’t available here. Sometimes I miss that convenience. When I’m in NYC, sometimes I miss Buenos Aires’ authenticity. I think NYC has become a little bland and tiring with most businesses and people trying to create an illusion of success in order to sell you something.

How is the african-american community here in Buenos Aires?

We’re each very different and are here for many reasons, but we find a sense of belonging with each other. Whenever we have get-togethers, they feel a bit like family reunions — -we share food, we laugh a lot, trade stories and exchange information.

What do you wanted to be when you were a child?

A fashion designer and an actress.

What do you want to be now?

I’m very content with what I do now. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be a journalist or writer.

Pick a black woman who inspire/represent or you admire.

Josephine Baker, of course! I am also inspired by Kara Walker the artist, my sister Mimi, my girlfriends….

Whats your biggest dream?

I don’t have one big specific dream. Success to me is to give a lot of love and be loved; to have robust health and financial security; to travel to all of the places on Earth that speak to me, and to create something brings beauty/healing into the lives of others.

What message would you give to your past self.

I would tell younger me to be more present and stop worrying about the future.

And to yourself now?

I would tell current me to put down the phone and be more present.

To know more about Katherines lovely shoes, click on her web: www.zouxou.com

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