Chasity Cooper is a creative strategist, tech journalist, and entrepreneur. We love Chasity because she always has an encouraging word to offer or piece of advice to get you together – plus, she puts us on to great trap music on Tea and Trap Tuesday. Specializing in keeping it real and getting it done, Chasity is one of our favorite creatives. Get into her interview below and connect with her @chasityscooper on both Twitter & IG.
Tell us a little bit about your background. Who are you and where are you headed?
Growing up in Evanston, Illinois, a very diverse suburb outside of Chicago, I was always encouraged to pursue the things that brought me joy – even when they weren’t always easy. It was in high school that I was first introduced to the fields of marketing and communications (shout out to DECA – Distributive Education Clubs of America) and I knew then that it was a career path I wanted to take. After graduating from high school, I took my talents to Syracuse University where I majored in marketing and public relations and became very involved in a number of campus activities. Soon after graduating in 2011, I took an internship opportunity in Washington, D.C. and have been here ever since. I like to joke and say that this is the longest relationship I’ve been in to date, but after moving a few times throughout my adolescence, I’ve grown to love The District and attribute a lot of my growth as a young woman to living in this city. Where am I headed? I want to continue learning and enhancing my skills in marketing and communications in order to fuel my interests in tech, media, business and diversity and inclusion.
How did you get your start in tech, communications, and creative strategy, aka digital swaggering? Who inspired you?
I think the most important thing to note is that my love for writing laid the foundation for my interests in communications and creative strategy. I am a storyteller first and foremost, and I’ve been blessed with the ability to use words to connect and engage with others. The term ‘digital swaggerist’ was given to me by a friend about two years ago. We were sitting at a wine bar and she was like, “Chasity, you just embody pop culture, tech, entrepreneurship and you do it with your own authentic flavor. You’re like a digital swaggerist.” And it has stuck with me since then. I would have to say that my high school DECA advisor, Mr. Weber, inspired me to pursue a career in marcomms, but I’ve definitely been inspired by a number of teachers, professors and mentors over the course of my life. As of late though, I’m inspired by a number of incredible women and men in a number of different industries like Danyel Smith, Myleik Teele, Ellen McGirt, Paul C. Brunson, Tristan Walker, Gary Vaynerchuk and Marie Forleo – they are a just a few of the many mentors I have in my head. I also admire a number of my peers who are doing incredible work in the space and who have also become great friends and supporters of my endeavors. What I admire about all of them is their ability to share their truths authentically and to solve problems innovatively.
A firm believer that our greatest ideas are already inside us waiting to be manifested, how do you tap into your creativity? How do you remained disciplined enough to bring your greatest ideas to life? What are your thoughts on the Black renaissance of ideas and creativity we’re currently experiencing?
Tapping into my creativity can be pretty fluid at times. Like many, I absorb a LOT of media on a daily basis, so I’m inspired by articles I read, songs I listen to and (the few) television shows I watch. But anyone can be inspired – it takes discipline to put that inspiration into action. In the last year, I’ve become much more mindful of my time, so I rely heavily on my Google calendar to schedule everything from doctor’s appointments to brunches with friends to tasks that I know I need to get done. While I try not to live and die by the hands on the clock, I do make sure to take time to take care of my mind, body and spirit so that I am able to bring those creative dreams to life.
I firmly believe black people are the creators of cool – so this idea of a ‘current moment’ or ‘new wave’ of creativity by black artists, musicians, dancers, communicators, writers, public speakers entrepreneurs and technologists actually isn’t new. Now, we just have the adequate tools to promote our work (hey there, social media), meet others who are doing dope sh*t and hold ourselves accountable. The more we put our work out there, the bigger we are making the space for our younger brothers and sisters to come up and continue to embrace their unique points of view, too.
As a creative with a 9-5, how do you balance your work responsibilities and creative pursuits? What or where is the space for Black women to engage creatively in tech and how does that shape not only your work for others, but your work for yourself?
I love this question. I do my best to wake up early and spend my mornings creating a space for myself where I can be my most productive all day. That means taking a moment every morning to have prayer, meditation, journaling and read a devotional. (Everything must be in shaka before I walk out of the house and face the day, lol). I also use weekends (waking up early on a Saturday morning is one of my favorite things) to knock some things off my to-do list that I may not have been able to accomplish over the previous week. And I think there are a number of different spaces for us to connect and engage creatively in tech. From group chats and Facebook groups to personal friend groups, I do my best to surround myself with women (and men) who are not only doing the damn thing, but are also paying it forward. Supporting other women who are pursuing their dreams has never, ever stopped me from pursuing my own, and I think it’s important to know that in order to reach the fulfillment our dreams, we can’t work in isolation. Community and collective work is important, and that’s really the only way we can push the culture forward.
What opportunities do you see for women/women of color/girls like you in the digital swaggering space and how do you intend to positively influence them?
The opportunities are endless, quite frankly. From public speaking opportunities to writing books and essays to maybe even developing curriculum, I think there is something to be said about how black women engage and our positive influence on and within the digital space. My goal as a digital swaggerist is to continue to create dope sh*t, collaborate intentionally with my peers and tell my story in a compelling way. I also want to learn new skills and enhance the ones I have in order to achieve those goals.
You speak a lot about Hustling & Growing, what advice would you give a WOC trying to break into the tech space? What kind of hustle and penchant for growth does she need to demonstrate?
While the hustling and securing bags are major keys, I think it’s important to always remember your why and the greater impact you want to make on your community. My advice for any WOC who wants to break into the tech space: remember to stay true to yourself, ask all of the damn questions and lift as you climb. Find those individuals who are going to serve as your advocate and provide you with honest feedback when you need it most. Your hustle needs to embody both resiliency and flexibility — know that you’re going to have wins on this journey, but you’re also going to fail more than once. I love the old quote, “be stubborn about your goals, but flexible with your methods” because there will be times when you will have to pivot, stop and maybe even remix a few of your tactics in order to achieve the big goal — that’s really where the growth happens. Most importantly, be kind to yourself (and others) along this journey.
What can we expect from you moving forward and how can we be of support?
Great question! I’m looking forward to taking the rest of 2017 as an opportunity to challenge myself to do those things I’ve always wanted to, but I’ve gotten in my own damn way and prevented myself from bringing them to life. Moving forward, you can definitely expect more written content and public speaking from me. I also want to focus on creating opportunities for others to bring their dreams to fruition, too. Support in the form of a retweet, like or share is always nice, but I want us as a creative community to take that ‘support’ offline and build relationships, ideas and sustainable things that we can be proud of.
In the end, how do you want your story depicted? What legacy do you hope to leave behind?
I want my story to be depicted as honest, vulnerable and an expression of constant gratitude. It’s not always easy to express those three things (especially at once) but if there’s any legacy that I want to leave behind, it is that I did my best with the gifts and talents God blessed with. I want to be remembered as someone who created really dope sh*t and shared it authentically, whose curiosity led her to take risks and explore new, exciting places, and who loved hard, helped others and learned from everyone and everything around her.
Just for kicks:
Blog, Podcast, or Video Content?
While I love scrolling through a good blog, I would have to say podcasts are the wave for me right now. I can press play and listen while I’m on my commute, going for a run or even a bike ride to the National Mall.
Instagram or Twitter?
Twitter, for sure. Once they gave us the ability to thread our tweets without numbering them and retweet ourselves, the game completely changed.
ASATT, Lemonade, or 4:44?
A Seat At The Table speaks most to me in terms of where I am in my life at the current moment. However, I think both Lemonade and 4:44 are both great projects.