Model and Community Builder: Meet The Woman Behind Melanin Banc
Some wise advice about work, love and life.
Nichelle Bancey is a model, a Black advocate, a trendsetter, a History lover, a proud Capricorn, a wonderful cook—and so much more. This Jamaican-born creator moved to New York City to study fashion, cosmetics, fragrance and ended up launching her career as a lifestyle blogger with her site, melaninbanc.com. Her infectious positivity and stunning pictures are just what your Instagram feed needs. We chatted with her about her philosophy and what we can expect from her content-wise in the future.
You model for Stetts, whose ethos is inclusivity, diversity, and community. Tell us how you got there and why you picked an agency with such strong values.
I've always been in love with fashion. My mother always says that I have loved being in front of the camera since a very young age. Later on, at school, when I was asked what I wanted to do when I grew up, my answer always was: "A model." The classroom laughed at me for saying it, but I fully believed in making it in fashion, whether as a designer or model.
However, I didn't see much representation in the industry. All the models were super thin, really tall, and they were all white for the majority. I moved to New York City to study, and when an opportunity arose with Stetts, I remained wary because I wasn't familiar with them at the time. But I went ahead and did my research, reached out to a few of the models who signed with them already, and heard nothing but good things. They are very inclusive and want to make sure that everyone is represented in a natural, authentic way, which is so important, especially to me. I also see it as a way to create community—I can hang out with a group of Black girls from this agency, where I can spend time and exchange ideas for content.
Your site, MelaninBanc.com, is the place where you blog and encourage other creators to start their own platform. What would you say to young women who'd like to follow in your footsteps?
I always tell people to stay authentic within themselves. If you're only posting about what you think people want to see, it's not going to be very relatable because people will know it's not coming from a place of honesty. If you create a community based on authenticity, you'll know the people who decide to follow you will relate to you on a deeper level. For example, if you want to review products, don't overthink about the cool collaborations you could eventually get, but start by reviewing the products you use daily. That's how you gain your audience's trust because they'll be able to tell you're talking from experience. Put in the hard work to see the seeds you've planted fully grow and flourish into a beautiful flower!
Nichelle’s Birthday shoot where she showed the world that she’s a real life princess. Source.
In this video, you share your current state of mind and some wisdom about having a healthy mindset in life. How do you keep positive when you’re having a bad day?
First off, I like to frame it by saying that there are never any "bad days." Every day is just a day. Some days are good, some days are bad, but it's just a day. If I'm feeling down, I'll turn off social media. I probably won't even touch my phone at all—you can't call or text me. I'll drink a cup of tea and then meditate. If it's a really tough, stressful time, I'll meditate three times throughout the day to keep myself fully balanced and grounded in who I am. I also like journaling my thoughts. I'll write down whatever comes to mind: feelings, emotions, or projects I'd like to work on. At the end of the day, what's most important is my relationship with myself in real life. I can't allow the negativity on social media to disturb the inner peace and calmness that I already have in myself.
You often post affirmations in the captions of your Instagram posts. How long have affirmations been a part of your life and how have they helped you?
I've been using affirmations for about three years. It has become a habit ever since I've been going to therapy regularly. That's how I learned that I have a serious lack of self-acceptance, and it's essential that I self-affirm every day. Sentences like "Believe in yourself," "You have all that you need to be successful," "You deserve all that you have," and "Be grateful for all that you have." For me, saying those affirmations every day is a reminder of where I've been, where I am, and where I see myself going.
New York State of Mind. Source.
You grew up in Jamaica and moved to New York City to study and eventually build your career. What do you miss most about your home country?
My family, and the beach! When I first moved to the United States, I used to go back home every three months, and it was almost like a cleansing or a refresher because you're by the Caribbean Sea, and you breathe in this amazing saltwater. It just cleanses your spirit and washes away all the negative energy. I always came back feeling so refreshed, and I haven't had that in so long—I'm craving it!
You often talk about your love for history, and you even created a network, Black Girl Hang Out, to celebrate Black achievements, past and present. What does Black History Month mean to you?
It's a toss-up. On the one hand, of course, I love it as a time to support Black businesses—that's what I look forward to the most during Black History Month. And on the other hand, that's just something that I already do daily. Of course, I celebrate Black people, and I celebrate them every day. I don't necessarily see Black History tied to a specific time; it's a celebration I observe all year.
Your perfect skin would make anyone jealous. Do you have skincare tips to share with our community?
Everyone's skin is very different, so you never know what will work for other people, but moisture does wonders for my skin in particular! I guess that's because I come from a humid country. I grew up by the sea, where it gets pretty humid, and I need a lot of moisture. Now that I'm in a colder climate, I need this extra nourishment, and my skincare routine consists of 5 or 6 steps.
Nichelle doing step 5 of her skincare routine… or step 6—who’s counting anyway? Source.
You recently got engaged and posted the video of the proposal on TikTok. Will you document the wedding itself on your platform?
Yes, all of that content will be coming, mainly to YouTube. Many new things are happening, and I want to share all of that so that everyone can experience it with us. It's going to be a lot of fun vlogs.
What else is next for Nichelle Bancey? Tell us about your plans for 2022.
I'm starting a podcast for my online community; Black Girl Hang Out! It'll be interview-style episodes focusing on dating for Black women. That has been a hot topic, especially in my friends' circle, because everyone has the same struggle—having a tough time finding someone they like. I feel like the podcast will give some advice from a variety of people, saying: "I was there, these are the things that I did, and these are the things that changed my perspectives and led me to where I am now."
Nichelle’s favorite Black-owned brands.
Nichelle loves brands focused on products for melanated skin such as Hyper Skin and Plantkos. To care for her hair, she likes Naturally Drenched. For makeup, she told us Danessa Myricks is her current go-to.
Fashion-wise, she likes TELFAR which is a brand created by another New York bound model, Telfar Clemens. She also shouted out Jamaican designer Brandon Blackwood who creates stunning handbags. Hanifa also made it onto her list, whose designs have been seen on celebs such as Lizzo—good as hell, isn’t it?
Her kitchen cupboard is also full of Golde products, a superfood brand created by Brooklyn-based entrepreneur Trinity Wofford.
Do you also have daily affirmations like Nichelle?
Tell us about them below!