Exclusive | Feature Spotlight | Fashion
The controversial conversation surrounding gender pronouns has been very present lately—whether it's via social media, tv/film, or in our everyday lives. Though gender pronouns aren’t new, the use of them to describe oneself has become more prevalent—which, at times can inadvertently confuse and cause mistaken misgendering from the general public. When someone identifies themselves, we must refer to them as such, as a sign of respect and acknowledgment. Using preferred pronouns also communicates and promotes acceptance, inclusivity and diversity.
Talented designer, actor, and brand ambassador, Kahlique Quartell has recently launched his fashion brand with the mission of doing just that. Not only is the brand trendy and fun, but in an effort to reduce confusion and misgendering; Kahlique has released pronoun nose cuffs. Gaye Magazine had the pleasure of speaking with Kahlique to discuss his background, the launch of his accessory line, his fashion inspo, and more!
Use the promo code: GayePride to get a 20% discount.
Thank you for meeting with us! First and foremost—Happy Pride! How are you feeling today?
Kahlique: "Happy Pride! I’m feeling good, I had my cup of coffee and I’m ready!"
How has Pride Month been for you so far?
"Pride has been so much fun, I’ve been out and about as I should."
That’s good to hear! Tell us a little bit about yourself. Who is Kahlique Quartell?
"I’m from Jamaica, Queens, New York. I’m an actor and a fashion designer. When I was 17, I went to film school in California and graduated with a film degree.
How did you like LA? How was that vibe?
"LA is so beautiful! And now I’m back in New York because of Covid, so I get to spend time with my family—but now, I don’t know where I wanna go! I’m looking to go to LA again or maybe even Atlanta, it looks so fun!"
What was the motivation behind starting your fashion brand?
So, Kahlique Quartell represents a lifestyle for people living authentic lives that genuinely make them happy. We accept everybody for who they are. We want you to just be yourself—whatever you identify as. It’s just so important to be comfortable with who you are.
I started playing around in fashion in 7th grade. I would wear whatever I was feeling—mostly things that were not socially acceptable for boys to wear. My family would look at me as a “risk-taker” and although they were supportive, I never liked feeling like the risk-taker. I felt like you should just be able to be who you are, that should be the social norm. So when I was creating Kahlique Quartell, I definitely wanted to highlight that. For example with my swimsuit collection, I want people to wear whatever they like, despite their size. I want people to feel comfortable with their pronouns and how they identify.
Absolutely! I received the message of diversity and inclusivity by looking at the models you used for your swimsuit collection. I love that!
"Yes honey we love them all!"
With it being pride month—how important was it for you to launch your accessory line this month? Was that always the goal or did it just happen that way?
"I definitely wanted to drop around Pride Month. I feel like it was perfect timing. I feel like it’s so important right now. I don’t like seeing people not being respected for their pronouns. It’s so sad to see it being ignored, the jokes—its just sad. All you have to do is respect it. When people assume a person’s pronouns, it sends an unintended message that you have to look a certain way to be a certain pronoun. It’s offensive and not true at all. So that’s why it was so important for me to incorporate the pronouns into the nose cuffs."
So as we know, the LBGTQ community is often criticized and frowned upon. What keeps you going when faced with adversity or negativity? How do you respond to it?
"I ignore it and I pray for them. I r encourage people to be who they are because that’s where it starts. It’s so hard to try to change people’s minds and it’s frustrating sometimes. It’s so easy for me to be accepting and loving but it’s just not for everybody. I just pray for them and don’t accept that negative energy. Hang around people that accept you for who you are. When your time is filled with people who love and accept you, you don’t have time to worry about the people who don’t accept you!
Did you have any naysayers who tried to stop you from starting your brand?
"I had full-on support with Kahlique Quartell. Growing up, it wasn’t always the easiest—like with my dad, it's very hit or miss with him. He accepts the fact that I’m gay, but he doesn’t accept what comes along with being gay. He accepts that I like guys but when it comes time to express myself, it’s a different story. I would say he’s the most unsupportive when it comes to my brand, so I keep him at a distance. I’m very comfortable with my circle and who I choose to surround myself with. So it makes it easier to have support.
I definitely understand that. It’s so important to protect your energy.
Do you feel like the LGBTQ community supports you?
I do. I really do. I do it for my community. Just to see how they’re reacting to the nose cuffs, it makes me feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to do. I’m doing it for a good cause. It means something to me. I get a lot of messages saying “thank you for shining a light on this”.
So, I know you have the swimwear and the nose cuffs, what’s next? Do you want to branch off into apparel?
"So this release is a 1 out of 3 collections. The next part is going to be pronoun bags for the fall time. I really want to start sweat suits too. Definitely for the winter. Maybe a crop sweat suit top with the sweatpants. I think that would be so cute!"
I took a look at your Instagram page & let me just say—you’re so stylish, and I may need to get some lessons from you! Who is your fashion inspiration?"
"Oh my gosh, I honestly don’t know (laughs). I really just put stuff together. I get this and that and just do it! My fashion is so random, it’s honestly based on how I feel for the day."
You’re also an ambassador for Reebok. How did that collaboration come about? Are there any other brands you’re interested in working with?
"Oh yes, I am! They contacted me about two years ago and I was like why not? I’m a long-time partner, so every two months they send me a pair of sneakers and I just have to post."
Do you have any aspirations to do more acting? Maybe for the big screen one day?
"I would love to be on the big screen! My first line was in "Shameless" fresh out of school and I was also able to do a couple of commercials. But, I see that the audition process is very hard for someone who is gay and black. It’s hard just in general. So, I’ve gotten into writing scripts. Me and a close friend wrote a gay film and we are working on that. I’m really into creating true stories. My friend and I were just like, 'let’s create something true to us'. A lot of people don’t know our stories, being a part of the LGBT community. We rarely have the opportunity to share it."
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
"I’m coming! I just want to keep creating. I find a lot of my motivation from a lot of gay black brands. And it’s crazy because growing up, I never saw a gay, black successful fashion designer. But now? My family has tons of Telfar and Brandon Blackwood bags and it's just so beautiful to see. And it makes me feel like, 'Kahlique, there’s a space for you.' I’m motivated and I can’t wait to bring everything to the table."
I love that. I think about how maybe a few years ago, we weren’t seeing Black gay rappers have mainstream success. But now the door has been broken down and they’re here!
"Yes! I think that’s so true, they’re killing it! I love seeing Santana, give him his Grammy! And it's so crazy because we’ve been here the whole time! It just shows that the world is changing. And I hope that when my kids grow up, they can see that and this can be a normal thing for them."
I’m excited to see the growth of your brand—thank you so much for speaking with us, it's been such a pleasure!
"Thank you for taking the time out to ask me these questions. It was great!"
Kahlique Quartell’s Pronoun Nose Cuffs and swimwear collection are available now at kahliquequartell.com. Use the promo code: GayePride to get a 20% discount. You can also stay up to date with all things Kahlique Quartell via Instagram: @kahliquequartell and @iamkahlique