When you’ve been at the top of the YouTube beauty game for 11 years, your name starts to ring bells. But very few names reverberate through the industry like Jackie (Jackie, Jackie, Jackie) Aina. Before the Too Faced and Anastasia Beverly Hills collaborations—both designed to cater to Black skin; before winning NAACP’s YouTuber of the Year Award in 2018; before boldly holding brands accountable for their past faults and calling out the disparities still very present in the beauty industry in her videos, it was just a young Aina and her camera with some MAC Cosmetic pigments posting step-by-step guides on how to achieve a turquoise and green smokey eye. But, as she tells me over the phone, “my interests and responsibilities are shifting.” Aina isn’t clocking out of YouTube, per se, she’s just added another hyphen to her name that has an even better ring to it: founder.
Enter: Forvr Mood. Aina's new lifestyle brand with her co-founder and fiancé Dennis Asamoah. Forvr Mood's goal is to provide comfort amid chaos. "The most important thing to do right now is to take care of yourself, physically, emotionally, and spiritually." she says. "You can't be your best self if you're not stopping to take breaks and taking the time to put yourself first. When you do, it feels good, and candles play a huge part in providing that sense of stillness."
The collection, available today, includes four different "moods" to choose from: Cuffing Season, Matcha Business, Left on Read, and Caked Up, all priced at $35 a pop ($125 for the set).
Below, Aina chats with me about her move away from beauty YouTube, her approach to content creation, and the ultimate playlist to listen to while you burn each candle.
With the launch of Forvr Mood, will YouTube be taking a backseat?
To be honest with you, this year would be my 11th year on YouTube. I love creating content, I absolutely do, and I foresee myself doing that for years to come. I will do this until I get sick of it. I also feel like I want to shift some of where my main career focuses are. I genuinely feel like I've accomplished so much in the social media space that I want to think bigger. I want to think more long-term. I'm just shifting my responsibilities. To me, that looks like fewer uploads, less frequency in uploads, and I know people have seen it because they're always cussing me out on Twitter, like, "We need content." That's the sacrifice that you make when you start a brand. People have been asking me to start a brand for years. Well, you guys aren't going to get the same consistency and the same energy from both. I have to make some sacrifices, and in the phase of the career that I'm in now, I ultimately feel like it's time. It's time for me to put myself in the shoes of a brand owner.
I want to go back to creating content that I can do what I feel like it. The hustle of having to be the first to upload when a new product launch is fun, but that's not the only thing that I want to commit to anymore. I want to be able to upload freely. Hopefully, Forvr Mood will allow me to do that better so that I don't have to keep running on the social media wheel just to maintain. I wanted to find a different way to express myself so that I can go back to just organically creating content that I enjoy.
When did you first imagine Forvr Mood?
We thought about doing these candles back in 2018, and that was when we started to talk with manufacturers. We began getting samples, and it was not where I needed it to be. The candles were first developed without a name, and we didn't even have branding ideas yet.
We just wanted to find a product that I loved. Then, the candles that were produced weren't on par with my standard. I am a candle lover. I require a certain standard. So, we put it on hold until 2019, fast forward to late last year, things started to pick up again. Then, boom, we get stuck with this pandemic. I started thinking that we should just kick it into high gear even more now because I don't know about y'all, but I'm burning candles now more than I ever have.
Is it safe to call Forvr Mood a home goods line?
I wouldn't call it home goods. I would consider it more lifestyle because we're launching with the candles and the candle fragrance will be our main hero product. Along with the candles, we have silk headbands and silk pillowcases because it is all about the lifestyle. It's all about things that make my life easier, something that will make other people's lives easier in general. These are just must-haves for me. Whenever I travel, I always bring a piece of home with me, and that's a silk pillowcase to protect my hair and my skin and a candle. The headband the silk pillowcases are great for those with natural or curly hair because the silk in them helps protect your hair while you're doing your skincare. They're really cute, very functional, and make people's lives easier.
When people think about Forvr Mood, what are the feelings and associations you want them to have with the candles?
I want it to be a vibe. I want them to feel flirty. I want them to feel relaxed. I want them to feel beautiful. Taken care of, at-home, maybe nostalgic, comforted. Those are the things that I feel when I light a candle, I feel comforted. The first word that comes to mind when I'm burning my candles is comfort, because it reminds me of my home. I literally feel like I breathe my soul into every candle. When people walk into my home, I want them to leave being like, "Damn, I remember feeling really good in her home." For me, that's what fragrance does and I want everybody else to experience that too.
When thinking of the creative process behind the candles, how does it differ from how you create and develop a makeup palette or a foundation collection?
There are similarities in everything that I create. I always think, "How is it going to make people feel?" If it doesn't make people feel very good, then I can't put that out there. Whatever I do has to make people feel positive, it has to make you laugh or remind you of something pleasant. Or it has to educate you. With Forvr Mood, I was constantly thinking, "Are they're going to be empowered when they use the products?" "Are they going to be inspired by this product?" When it comes to makeup, you've got to create different shades to make sure that the shades are wearable. You have to make sure that the product is safe to put on the skin; it's tested for compatibility in the packaging. The candle creation process is faster, but not easier.
Similar to the names in your ABH palette, the entire collection has fun, punny names like Caked Up, Matcha Business, Left on Read and Cuffing Season. How'd you land on those?
The inspiration behind the names was both how they looked and who the candle should speak to. For example, when I was getting feedback about Cuffing Season, I noticed that Cuffing Season was the one that seemed to be the most gender-neutral, it's not too masculine or feminine. I noticed that everyone that tested this candle liked it universally. That made me feel like this is a candle that you can burn as a couple, so it's the candle you and your SO can enjoy together. It burns so well and lights up a room incredibly.
Matcha Business is based on the color of the candle. The candle smells more like hazelnut coffee. There's a hint of lavender in there, and a little bit of matcha inspiration, but it was more a visual thing. Then Caked Up is one that reminds me of a bakery cake pop. It's very sticky and sweet. Caked Up is one that I would burn with my girlfriends because it's the more flirty one. Left on Read is the one that I was truly blown away by. The scent leans towards the nuttier, coconut milk side. It's kind of tropical.
As a big music lover, if you were to pick a song for each candle to set the mood, what song would you pick for each candle?
I would probably want some Sade. When my fiance proposed to me, we were in Greece, and he had hired a saxophonist to play one of my favorite Sade songs. I'd probably put on Sade's "Nothing Can Come Between Us" because that song plus the candle is just really romantic. You want to play something that makes you feel good. For me, it's a lot of Sade or Jill Scott "Golden."
Left on Read:
You know what? Left on Read is probably my Afrobeats candle. I'm into a lot of Afrobeats music and because the candle is kind of tropical and sweet at the same time, I'm going to say this candle needs a Tiwa Savage moment. Tiwa Savage "Attention" for sure.
There's honestly a Drake song for all of these candles. But I'm going to pick a song off of Scorpion, "Mob Ties." Matcha Business is the candle for when you're running up on somebody like, "Mind ya business. Matcha Business." You know what I mean? Mob Ties is kind of the same song.
Caked Up is definitely probably a City Girl candle, because when we were coming up with a name, I thought Caked Up meant somebody that had a big butt. Like, "Oh, you're caked up. Like you got all that cake right there." Everyone else said that Caked Up means you have a lot of money. I was like, "Okay, well, I mean, two things can exist at the same time." When I think of Caked Up, I think of the feel good candle, the turn up candle, just walking into a club with a wad of cash knowing you're that girl. City Girl's "Pussy Talk" is that song.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.