OG Black Minimalists Interviews


Editor's Note: These interviews originally appeared on yolandavacree.com and portions are republished here with the full permission of Yolanda V Acree.

Charmaine Griffith

Charmaine is the founder of Kollective Koils

What propelled you into the minimalist lifestyle?

So minimalism kinda found me three years ago when I didn't even know there was a name for it. I started cleaning out my closet because at the time I was stressed, unhappy, and I felt like I needed to do something to start fresh. I started with my closet because I had a beautiful walk-in that I couldn't walk into! I had clothes and shoes literally busting out of the door, which was a clear indicator that it was time to let some things go. I bagged up clothes I hadn't worn in at least 6 months, took them to my favorite thrift store in Long Beach called Tattered, and after doing that I realized this was not the only area of my life I needed to "clean up". So my closet was just the beginning. My bedroom was a hot mess, my car, and then to get even bigger than that my finances needed desperate help. That year I made it a point to get things in order after literally just starting with my closet.

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Cicely Renee

Cicely is the founder of Bougie Black Blogger.

When and why did you start your minimalist journey? What are your goals in living simply?

I started my minimalist journey Summer 2015. I realized I was stressed and it wasn’t due to work. I noticed I would get less productive with too many things and people in my space. I realized it wasn’t just stuff but was thoughts, people and busyness that needed to be minimized in my life. My goal is to have quality over quantity in every aspect of my life so that peace remains constant despite the chaos I cannot control.

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Deedra Boodram

Deedra vlogs about her family's debt freedom and minimalist journey on her YouTube channel.

When and why did you start your minimalist journey?

I began my minimalist journey October of 2014. At that time, I was frustrated with all the stuff in my home. It seemed like no matter how much I cleaned and organized my family's belongings, within a few days my house would end up in it's previous untidy, cluttered state. It made me feel so bogged down and unhappy.

Additionally, I had a lot of obligations taking up my time. This included appointments, rehearsals, practices, play dates, school, work, home management, the list goes on. It was just too much! Then one faithful day I ran across an article about minimalism and simple living and it spoke to me. I decided I would give minimalism a try in every area of my life and I have never looked back! It changed my life!

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India Jackson

India is a photographer and makeup artist. You can learn more about her at indiajackson.com.

When and why did you start your minimalist journey?

In 2013, at the age of 26, my eight year relationship and engagement came to an end.  As the saying goes, "everything happens for a reason".  I was blessed to have that negative experience spark a mental, physical, and spiritual detox of nearly everything in my life.  

During that period I downsized my possessions, friends, makeup collection, and more.  I noticed I had more free time by having less junk, toxic friends, and stress cluttering up my thoughts and space.  I found new ways to fill my time including joining a gym, working more to pay off debt from college, and making new (also strengthening old) positive friendships.

Fast forward a couple years and I found myself enjoying being newly wed to a wonderful husband in the Virginia Beach area.  Away from the hustle and bustle of Washington, D.C.'s city life, I began wondering how could I take things a step further in my journey.  

I wanted to prepare healthier meals without as much time in the kitchen and also streamline our housework so that we could spend more time making great memories.  We were also working towards living a debt-free lifestyle via living simply and spending less so we could pay things off faster.

My curiosity and "simple living" blog search lead me to YouTube and then to discover the Minimalist Lifestyle movement.  I also discovered the Zero Waste and Tiny House movements around that time in addition to associated bloggers, TV shows, and books.  I haven't looked back since!

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Kelvin Belfon

Kelvin is a speaker, coach, and recruiter who blogs about simple living on his site Going Uncomplicated

When and why did you start your minimalist journey?

In 2013 our family relocated to the city of Denver, Colorado. We were excited to begin a new chapter in our lives. After completing the initial walk-through of the 2-bedroom rental, I knew our new home was too small.

I thought about renting a storage unit for our overflow; but it would be an added cost and something else to keep up with.

As we were unloading the moving truck, a garbage bag full of CDs one of our moving helpers was carrying broke. Then, he made this really random, but pretty convicting comment, “Dude, have you guys ever thought about not carrying all these CDs around? Why don’t you just go digital?”

We had actually gotten rid of a lot of stuff before our relocation. We knew we were moving from a medium-sized home in the suburbs to a small townhouse in the city. Still, our downsizing wasn’t enough.

That guy’s comment did a lot for me. It was embarrassing and made me feel like a hoarder. But it also forced me to interrogate my priorities, “Why am I keeping collections of things I no longer use on a regular basis?”

Once we got everything in the house and started to unpack over the next few weeks, that guy's remark kept playing over and over in my mind. Within a few months,  my wife and I started purging and our minimalism journey started.

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Maggi blogs about eco-friendly living at Clueless Curl.

When and why did you start your minimalist journey?

It started around the time I decided to go green.

What lessons have you learned since going minimalist?

Oh boy! Where do I start? I learned that the saying is true, I can do more with less. We live in a society that tells us we need bigger, more, shinier things/stuff to keep us happy. That wasn't the case for me. Like... Where am I going to put that bigger object? Who's going to give me money for more stuff? Why is that shiny object not attracting the kind of people I want in my life?

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Niambi Wilson

Niambi is a Spanish language teacher currently living in the Dominican Republic. She is featured in our ebook and you can follow her travels on her YouTube channel.

What drew you to minimalism and what are your goals in living simply?

I have always been drawn to minimalism, but I would have to say that my interest in minimalism peaked when I entered college. I would have to move everything that I owned in my tiny little Mazda that I had at the time. This forced me to only bring the things that I valued the most or the things that were of the most importance.

After a while the things that I left at home I totally forgot about and that showed I didn't really need them. At that point I began to get rid of anything that I could go without using for months at a time.

My goal for living simply is to utilize everything that I own. I never want to own something that is of no use. I do not like having excess when there are people who are in need and who are lacking the basic necessities of life. My goal for living simply is to use any excess funds, clothing or time I have to serve and enrich the lives of others.

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Nikki Terry

Nikki is a designer and visual artist and owner of Orange Custard Design Studio.

When and why did you start your minimalist journey?

I was born a minimalist. I also copied my Dad. His style: dress pants, white cotton V-neck t- shirt and thong toe sandals. Aside from a suit for church, this was his every day swag. I remember thinking how simple and sexy it all was. No, actually I thought it was all beautiful.

Being a minimalist is how I see things. It's a need to have a clutter-free mind. I’m a minimalist so I can understand the important things in my life. I come from a complicated childhood and often, things felt confusing and problematic. Moving out on my own, I had a difficult time navigating what my thoughts were, how to value my own time, or how to enjoy things without wavering back and forth between ‘not sure’ or ‘maybe so’. I suppose the minimalist GODS were waiting for me because moving into my first apartment, minimalism found me in the most organic way. I immediately and instinctively felt a need to have one of everything. Aside from my bed, I had one dinner tray, a small stereo, one chair, one set of flatware, and a few plates. I did have lots of bath towels ranging in hues of gray. My friends found it weird, but I thought my choices made my place ready for Elle Decor. Being a minimalist brought a lot of calm to a world that felt overwhelming.

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Pastaveia and Sean

Also known as the Eco-Conscious Minimalists, they have an informative and fun channel together. Pastaveia also vlogs about natural, eco-conscious beauty and wellness on her personal channel, Pastaveia Monique. They are featured in our ebook.

When and why did you start your minimalist journey?

Subconsciously we started our minimalist journey when we sold our home in Idaho and moved to California in the fall of 2008 - we were a dual military couple in the Air Force.

We didn’t realize there was a name for the concept of getting rid of things that had been “taking up space”, outside of decluttering and we were not very active on online at that time.

When packing up the house, we noticed boxes that had never been opened from we moved back to the states from the United Kingdom, in more than one closet and  there were items with tags on them.  In addition, the long list of kitchen gadgets that seemed to never end and it didn’t help that I was a huge Pampered Chef junkie at the time - you get the picture?

However when we moved to San Francisco to LA back to the Bay Area between 2011 and 2012, is when we had a huge wake up call.  Moving will do that to anyone, I think. The living space(s) were smaller than our house and there was no time to “accumulate stuff”, because there was literally no room.

Once we sold, gave away, donated and threw away items we noticed we didn’t really need to replace them and only kept things that brought value and had with multiple uses, plus it makes moving so easier.

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Sadiya Marie

Sadiya is a yoga instructor who vlogs about wellness and simple living.


About two years ago when I had my son. I was looking for ways to save money and cut my spending knowing that I wouldn’t be back to work for a few months. I randomly found the blog Zen Habits, and from there I was hooked. It was a whole new world.


I’ve learned that things don’t matter. To me, it's all about experiences. Friends, family, food and new adventures, beats a trip to the mall any day!

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Wilsar Johnson

Wilsar is the founder of Melanin Habits and Sugar Cane Podcast.

Tell us how your simple living journey began. What are your goals in living minimally?

My simple living began about two years ago. I was watching a TEDTalk and stumbled upon a talk from The Minimalists; I was intrigued.  I was intrigued because I’ve always tried my best to ignore this kind of living even though it appealed to me.  I used to run away from simple living/minimalism because I thought that my friends wouldn’t understand. I was insecure about living like that especially as a black/West African woman. We love things; we love nice things. The more clothes/shoes we own, the better (even though I was uncomfortable with that type of lifestyle) we’re supposed to feel; it showed status.

My goal is simple (pun intended haha), it’s to purchase purposely and spend intentionally. It started as a way to declutter my physical space, and then turned into reassessing my mental space, and now it’s about being more intentional about my finances because, well, I want to be a conscious millionaire one day haha.

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Yvonne Wallace

Yvonne is a travel hack blogger and coach

What drew you to minimalism and what are your goals in living simply?

I think the main thing that drew me to minimalism is having my daughter and realizing that everything (that's needed with a baby) was multiplying faster than ever.  Babies come with a lot of stuff so I realized that if I don’t do anything about it then sooner than later, clutter was going to take over my house and my mind.

This started my journey of minimalism.  I had a “free” garage sale when leaving my first house and never looked back.  The most important thing is to take one day at a time.  I do not beat myself up about NOT doing everything.  I take one day at a time and try to focus on one business task and one personal task each day.  Then I celebrate small victories of completing these two tasks along the way.

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Learn about other black minimalists around the web:

Black Minimalists on the Web

Black Minimalists on the Web Part 2