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Meet C. Nicole Jones and Madeline Scales-Taylor of Mico Hairbows in Jacksonville

Today we’d like to introduce you to C. Nicole Jones and Madeline Scales-Taylor.

C. Nicole Jones and Madeline, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Grandmother and Granddaughter duo Mimi and Nicole (Coco). We wanted a fun way to celebrate the black culture with little future HBCU grads and those of all ages who want a little extra school spirit. I received my bachelor’s degree from Clark Atlanta University in 2017 where I majored in advertising graphic design. I later took a year off to really hone my skills while working on my portfolio to better position myself for graduate school. I was thrilled to get into the #3 graphic design school in the United States; Maryland Institute College of Art. After an intensive year long program, I received my master’s degree.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I would say no. I was raised by my grandparents, (my father’s parents). My father, who had me at 21 knew that I would have more opportunities if his parents provided for me. That turned into 18 years, and I grateful for them all. I grew up in an upper middle-class neighborhood in a predominately conservative area. I knew I was different, so much that I can remember being bullied all throughout high school. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I would have another black student in one of my classes. I was the kid that that needed extra time on test because I was really bad at taking test. I had absolutely no friends at any schools I went too and being black didn’t help my situation. Thankfully, my grandma (Mimi) and my grandpa (Poppy) who raised me joined Jack and Jill of America Inc. to combat that while being able to attend the best school in that district. I met my best friends through Jack and Jill and I consider the Jacksonville Chapter family today. Being the minority for so much of my life made me realize I have to go to an Historically Black University or Institution. I only applied to them because that’s how passionate I am about sending our youth to schools created for them.

Shortly after grad school I accepted a designer position at a studio in the Baltimore Area. Upon starting the job, I was enthusiastic about the position however I found myself wishing I had a mentor. I found environmental graphic design was quite different from traditional graphic design. It was challenging in that I felt like I wasn’t getting all the information on clients because I was rarely included in on initial meetings, presentations and that I wasn’t getting a variety of work. In my head I knew this would stunt my performance so I continued to job search even once I got the job. I was the most junior person on the team, the last hire, black, female and working in a small studio. With the pandemic not on my side either, I was laid off, with little surprise there. I know that only 3% of designers are black but I did not think I would be laid off from my first job. I do believe I was racially profiled because I was not laid off because of my performance. However, I did not let that discourage me and the very next day, Mico Hairbows was born.

Mico Hairbows – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Mico Hairbows was a way for myself and my grandma to get little people interested in our Historically Black College and Universities and other black culture. My target audience are mothers who attended HBCU’s, current cheerleaders at HBCU’s, and mother’s in Jack and Jill of America. The bows are handmade, with custom ribbon designed by me. 

I’m proud of myself for not letting outside factors like the pandemic stopping us from moving forward with this idea. I think it keeping us busy and it’s allowing us to bond. It also allowed us to form a partnership to ultimately get more customers. We actually partnered with HBCU Pride and Joy and our hairbows will be featured on that site along with other children’s HBCU paraphernalia.

I think what sets Mico Hairbows apart is that fact that many HBCU school bookstores campus do not sell them. We also feel they make great gifts because they are customizable. For example, if you have an infant, we can make bows with head bands. Or if you simply want bows without printed ribbon, we can so that as well.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My ultimate role model would be my Mimi. I say that because she’s has this selfless love that make you feel good about yourself. She is someone that knows all my fears and flaws. Madeline Scales-Taylor is busiest retired woman you’ll ever meet. She retired from Mayo Clinic as an executive administrator in community affairs; a department which she started. She’s loved so deeply by the Jacksonville community for her outreach and that’s what I think what makes her so special. Today, she’s serving on the boards of many organizations including Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc Jacksonville Alumnae Chapter., The Moles and Links. I often look to her to be the voice of reason in uncertainty. She’s never been one to tell me what to do but simply give her opinion; which I greatly value. She’s Mimi to everyone and Its always great to hear how much people tell me how much they love my grandma.

My time at THEE Clark Atlanta University were the very best years of my life. I meet people who changed my life and perspective on many things. For example, I did not expect to have a white professor because I was at an HBCU. If you ask me today who my favorite professor is, was, and will be forevermore that’s Professor Christopher Hickey. I and other close students of his call him “father.” He is the department chair of Art and Fashion, and he also teaches many classes within the department. He taught many of my core classes and that’s how we got to know each other so well. He saw me as someone who could be molded into the best designer I could be and I believed him. He would do just about anything for me and all his students, even today. In a place of education, where there are so many different backgrounds, I think he did the best of meeting his students where they were. Whether or not you were talented he wants the best for you. I think he did the best of showing that he cares. Today, I still video chat and occasionally surprise him at the office when I’m in Atlanta. He reminds me of how proud he is of me but also pushes me to keep exceeding those expectations.

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