In celebration of Black History Month, NYLON is running a spotlight series called Black Girl Power... The Future Is Bright. Every day, phenomenal black women from different industries will be featured to tell their stories—revealing how they became who they are, showing what they have accomplished, and pinpointing how they navigated their careers. Black women deserve to be celebrated 365 days of the year, and we hope that this series will inspire everyone to believe in the power of #blackgirlmagic.
Cachee Livingston—better known as Kitty Cash, also known as Baby Khaled—is a DJ, creative, and culture and communications specialist. Born and raised in Brooklyn's Ditmas Park, Livingston attended the Fashion Institute of Technology and graduated with a B.A. in Advertising & Marketing Communications. During her time as an undergrad, she interned and freelanced for companies like for L'oreal and Sony. After landing her first full-time, post-grad job at Ralph Lauren, Livingston's side gig as a DJ started to take over. Now, she's constantly jet-setting across the world to perform at some of the coolest events.
"I carved out a space for myself as an artist after releasing my Love The Free projects where I was able to create a platform for emerging talents and showcase my love for new music and emerging talent," Livingston said in an email. "Through DJing I was able to merge all of the worlds that entice me. Music, fashion, and art all intersect and intertwine and as long as I have synergy with the artist involved it makes the navigation pretty easy."
When she's not setting the mood at functions, Livingston is in the studio collaborating with the likes of SZA, Willow Smith, Kilo Kish, Vic Mensa, and so many more amazing artists. (Oh yeah, and she's opened for Skrillex.) Learn more about how Livingston found her way in the interview, below!
How do you maneuver your respective industries as a black woman?
I maneuver my industry as an artist first. To be clear, yes I am a woman and yes I am black (undeniably), so I maneuver by embracing my femininity, my culture, and injecting all that has shaped me into my work. It's reflected in who I collaborate with, the interviews I do, the music I play, and the way I engage. It's about being aware and educating yourself first and then being able to educate others.
Could you describe a moment where you felt like you defied the odds or broke a barrier?
I'm going to bounce around between my career paths here. I was in college, and my career advisor told me that Chanel would most likely never hire me as an intern. She told me she didn't feel that I would "fit in." There was no reason outside of the fact that I was black (I remember it vividly because my mom went off). She was an older white woman from the upper west side. I remember being furious and saddened but I used it as fuel because above everything I had to prove her wrong. I ended up applying to about three internships: Chanel, Alessandra Del Acqua, and Van Cleef Arpels. I pumped into those interviews with a purpose. In the end, I got offered all three internships, printed out the emails and left them on her desk. It was my way of saying "f*@k you," with a smile.
In that moment it was more about me showing her that my blackness wasn't a barrier in any way shape or form...and it wasn't. In that moment, yes, I felt like I broke a barrier. There are so many times where I am "the only one" or one of two black women at an event or in a room and at many of my internships. Of course, I notice...and I know that I may have to work five times harder because I am helping to shift a perspective with ever opportunity that comes in front of me. I have come to learn that it is less about me and more about the bigger picture and the larger conversation.
Photographed by Hannah Sider in Valentino, Hair by Nikki Nelms, Makeup by Elena Thomopoulos, Styled by Corey Stokes.
How did you grow into your black identity and develop your sense of style? (Or, if you're multiracial, how did you grow into your identity as such?)
I have always battled with my complexion. My mother has a beautiful caramel complexion and my dad is chocolate (yummy). As we know "black" comes in a spectrum of colors and the shades are endless. I wanted to be caramel like my mom because I got chastised a lot for being so fair-skinned. My lips were naturally super pink and my nose would get red like like Rudolph in the winter, so the kids would call me "snowflake." I hated being so damn light with dark hair and then I had hairy arms and I'm like, "this is a mess." But then you grow up...and realize that we all are dealing with insecurities and our bodies and you learn to love YOU. I'm still learning to love every inch of me. It's a work in progress. I've learned to really love my complexion and when I need a little fix, it's a flight away with some oil.
My hair is a big part of my identity, it's thick and kinky and I love it! Black hair is a whole other topic that defines many black women. I understand that it can be a very interesting topic of discussion but we don't want YOU touching our hair because YOU are curious. It is very personal and sometimes takes hours to get in order. I've had just about every hairstyle in the book and still going. To me, hair is definitely a fun way to express how you feel at a point in time and it's helped to shape my identity. The girl with natural hair is not "more black" than a girl with a straight weave, it really comes down to preference. It's about expression and being able to switch it up from time to time... For me, having versatility with my hair shows a lot of my personality which is fun, wild, and free.
Growing up, where did you look for inspiration? Who or what inspires you now?
When I was younger I looked to a lot of artists for my inspiration. I was madly in love with Lauryn Hill and her effortless style. She was just a breath of fresh air to me. She had impeccable chocolate skin with beautiful dreadlocks and she taught me that sexy was what you made it. She didn't fit into your average idea of "sexy" but she killed every look. Janet Jackson was another one—do you remember that "Together Again" video? I was on a mission for auburn hair after that! And of course, there was Aaliyah. If you didn't have that side swoop you just wasn't it!
What are you hoping to accomplish as a creative?
I'm hoping to create change through my art. It's great to be "cool," but to me it's about having a vision and being able to push a conversation that makes a difference that results in change. It's important to shift perspectives and understand that you can be your truest self and make a difference on multiple scales. Even a small change is still a change and a step in the right direction.