Joi Desiree Berry: September 2020 Creator of the Month

“Don’t waste your potential. The problem with people I come across, they often have so much to offer, but they’re too scared.. Get uncomfortable. Normalize it.”

Photo by Alexa Harkness

Joi Desiree Berry is a young and talented artist, born and raised in Tallahassee, Florida. She currently resides in Brooklyn, New York, where she is a student in Communications Design AAS at the Fashion Institute of Technology. A creative at heart – Joi seamlessly combines her artistic capabilities in photography, digital art, and graphic design – with her business skills in project management, event coordination, digital marketing, and social media. Joi serves in a variety of roles for multiple media organizations: Young Designers Coordinator & Fashion Producer at Fashion Week Brooklyn/BK Style Foundation, Founder & Committee Chair of Take A Stand Tally.

Joi is a go-getter who never backs down from a challenge, fighting back with a fierce spirit of resilience and determination to make her mark on this world and impact needed change. She gave us the inside scoop on her journey, her aspirations to explore career opportunities in the fashion industry and beyond, and offers her advice for others who aspire to chase after their dreams. The central message to take away from this creative: “Don’t let fear shut you down.” Read below to learn more about the amazing Joi Desiree Berry.

Photo by Alexa Harkness

Tell us more about yourself. Who are you? What are some of your interests? What are a few causes and/or organizations that you’re passionate about?

My name is Joi Desiree Berry. I like photography, videography, fashion, music, and anything I can do to be creative, but also help other creatives flourish.

At the moment, I am really an advocate for young designers and artists (specifically, people of color with the BLM movement and other oppressed groups being affected at the moment) showing their work and giving them a platform to do so. I feel like a lot of artists, especially in this generation, always get their work stolen from them from other people in the industry and they don’t ever get to flourish or shine. It’s especially difficult now because the job market is really challenging.

I also started TakeAStandTally with a group of friends to make a change and advocate for the Black Lives Matter movement and push for education reform. I have a huge problem with the K-12 system not teaching history correctly and they sugarcoat the true American History full of stealing, colonization, and gentrification.

We’re living in history with the current events of the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement. Everyone’s lives have been turned upside down. How have you been holding up with everything that is going on in our world right now? How have you been staying productive during quarantine?

As for Black Lives Matter I’ve been holding up pretty well. There are some days that I have to get off the Internet. Social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook – it’s very overwhelming; especially when people insert their opinions on things that they don’t really have a say in commenting on, or people just being straight-up racist.

During quarantine, I found a whole lot of things to do in the industry remotely with my job (shout-out to Fashion Week Brooklyn for keeping me busy and engaged) and then doing internships as well.

You’re currently studying design in New York at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Please tell us more about your journey. How did you get to where you are today? What are you currently involved in? What do your studies involve at the Fashion Institute?

It all started with the commercial photography class that I was dual-enrolled in throughout high school. I found that I was actually very creative, and I wanted to make strides with photography. But I also wanted to go outside of my comfort zone and see what I could achieve creatively. Originally, I was going to go to an HBCU (Historically Black College/University), but I realized that I needed to be in a place where I could definitely obtain good industry experience because a college degree is something that everyone has nowadays. Just because you have a degree to your name, that fact doesn’t mean that you’re automatically going to get hired for a role. So that’s why internships and jobs are so important to me. I felt that I could achieve that dream at the Fashion Institute of Technology, so I made the decision to move to New York.

I will be honest in saying that my transition in the first semester was a bit difficult. But by the second semester, I was ready to jump straight into what I was originally put here to do. The adjustment period of the first semester taught me a lot about myself. I think I needed to learn more about myself before I could start truly doing what I was put on this earth to do, which is make a change in some way in whatever industry I chose to pursue; I decided to go after the fashion industry… and maybe even more to come.

Now, I work for Fashion Week Brooklyn as a Fashion Producer and a startup media company called Dazzo Beauty, in the efforts to expand as many skills as possible.

Prior to your college studies, you were enrolled in Commercial Photography Technology at your local vocational college. What inspired you to pursue photography?

I’ve always had a creative mind and I wanted to find a way to express it. Photography seems like a great way to do it. The Dual Enrollment program at my high school was just launched, so I decided to take the opportunity that presented itself.

You’re a founding member of the organization Take A Stand Tally. Please tell us more about Take A Stand: how did this group form and what is its purpose? What do you hope to achieve with Take A Stand Tally? How do you plan to manage it from your main residence in Brooklyn, NY?

The purpose of Take A Stand Tally is to unite youth in Tallahassee to stand up for the Black Lives Matter movement and any other oppressed groups being affected right now. We are also advocating for education reform. The ultimate goal of everything is to unite young people and make a change; by not only pressing the Tallahassee Police Department to release tapes of past people they’ve gunned down and advocating for black lives instead of taking them, but also requiring the local and state level to initiate a mandatory Black History class. We take European History and white-history focused classes, but barely learn any TRUE black history…

At the moment, I take on the role of social media management for Take A Stand Tally (@takeastandtally) on our Instagram and Facebook accounts. I also help organize the different committees and communicate with everyone through GroupMe.

Photo by Alexa Harkness

Was it a culture shock moving to New York? How does the New York experience compare to your home state of Florida?

Everyone is very diverse and inclusive here, no matter what. Something new that I had to adjust to was everyone asking for your pronouns whenever they first meet you. If you’re being a bigot or racist on the train or in public, people will call you out on it. There are so many different things but those are the main two that came to mind. (Also the food at the restaurants is so much better, to be honest *laughs*!)

Your vast experience includes social media, brand management, public relations, fashion curation, graphic design, and photography. You even host your own YouTube channel where you share vlogs, hauls, and discuss a variety of topics including college life and New York. How did you get your foot in the door with these opportunities?

The biggest advice that I give to people whenever they ask me questions like this and inquire “what I do to get opportunities,” I just tell them to talk to people. It’s kind of simple really. Before, I was kind of standoffish and introverted because I didn’t really know anyone. But honestly, people really have to get over that if you want to get anywhere in any industry. When you start talking to a person, you never know who you’re talking to. Depending on how the conversation goes, they could potentially see the amount of drive you have and decide to offer you an opportunity. And those opportunities can lead to more opportunities, and so on.

Let’s talk about time management. How do you effectively manage your time and balance everything on your heavy workload?

Honestly, when I learned to stop stressing about everything and just do it because it needs to get done regardless. My life has gotten way easier when it comes to time management. All I do is use my Google Calendar, set reminders, and focus on the tasks that need to be completed. Stop procrastinating and figure out what you really have to set out to accomplish. Determine what’s needed for that day, but also which tasks you can rearrange to tackle on other days. Also, definitely take time to treat yourself to some good food, or a nice date, or even take yourself out on a date. Not everything needs to be work, work, work.

What excites you to create? What helps you in the moments whenever you are feeling uninspired and stagnant?

I just take time to myself and do what I want to do that day. Even if it doesn’t include art or painting itself. When you have enough off time, burnout isn’t too much of an issue anymore.

Who inspires you? What pushes you to keep moving forward in the dark periods of life and times when you feel discouraged?

My parents definitely keep me motivated to keep going. They’ve been through their fair share of things, and I just use that as inspiration to keep going because if they can do it, then I can do it too.

Describe your biggest dream.

I don’t really look at things as big dreams. I look at things as goals that are attainable. The goal for me at the moment is to be versatile in multiple industries, and work as much in production and advertising as I can in my 20’s, so I can do what I want in my 30’s, and so on. This goal is for the moment; it changes all the time.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Stop stressing. Just do it. The more time you spend stressing, the less time you’re getting it done.

What are your accomplishments in 2020 so far? What are some of your goals for 2021?

I moved back into an apartment in Brooklyn, which was a huge opportunity and achievement for me. In 2021, I hope to produce an in-person fashion show (since it’s all virtual at the moment) and learn more about the music industry.

What advice would you offer to others who want to follow in your footsteps and chase after their dreams?

Don’t waste your potential. The problem with people I come across, they have so much to offer, but they’re too scared… What happens when you’re comfortable for the rest of your life? Then someone who isn’t as good as you, obtains the opportunity, time, and money. Get uncomfortable. Normalize it.

If you had to share one last thing with the readers of For The Punks it would be…

Drink water, take care of your skin, and don’t let anybody tell you no without a valid reason or constructive criticism.

Photo by Alexa Harkness

You can follow Joi on her journey and show your support on these social platforms:

Joi’s Instagram

Joi’s YouTube Channel

Take A Stand Tally’s Instagram

Fashion Week Brooklyn