Lolo’s Kloset: an interview by Kesha Tabitha

Lauree St-Elien speaks to owning a business as a Black woman

St-Elien established her online shop during the pandemic.
Credit: 
Supplied by Lauree St-Elien

What does mental health mean to the Black community today?

For decades, our cause has been in a great effort to gain recognition, respect, and success among the Black population of our society. However, running towards these goals has also cost us.

The biggest cost is to our collective and individual mental health.

To understand how the subject of mental health has evolved among Black youth, I spoke to Lauree St-Elien, ArtSci ’23, the founder of Lolo’s Kloset.

St-Elien launched her business at the beginning of the pandemic. As a 19-year-old with a passion for fashion, she aspired to own her own business one day—there wasn’t a better time than the first COVID-19 lockdown.  

St-Elien began her journey by purchasing necessary materials and planning her new business venture.

Today, her online store is up and running and has many supporters. St-Elien has been able to juggle school, her personal life, and her work life with a few bumps on the road.

In the fifty-minute interview we had, what stood out to me the most was an understanding of the pressure she felt during this period.

As a young Black woman—St-Elien juggled many goals, carried a heavy load of constant societal pressure, and struggled with the high expectations she put on herself.

 “I’m not just representing my family. I represent my friends, the people that I’ve met in my life—I do feel a lot of pressure,” she said in an interview with The Journal.

But how did she overcome the adversity?

Unfortunately, like St-Elien, most Black folks have dreams intertwined with the expectation that they must prove themselves, step out of anti-Black stereotypes, and carry the weight of their whole community in working towards the collective good.

St-Elien approached her dreams in part by using social media.

She felt empowered by the fact that she isn’t the face of her brand. An advantage she’s obtained in running a store via her computer screen is how her business speaks for itself.

What this means is, when a customer clicks on her website, they don’t know her because they haven’t seen her. They purchase her items because they like them and, in doing so, unknowingly support a Black-owned business.

Though the online world breeds an openness to hate and critique, it’s favored St-Elien in defining her power not only as a Black youth but as a business owner.

After my talk with St-Elien, I concluded that if the Black community aims to uplift its people, specifically their mental health, it needs to address societal pressure and create solutions.

It’s possible to grow if we learn to turn our barriers into advantages.

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