BA Spotlight - Jora Enge
Meet Jora Enge, the creative face behind the inventive JoraCake Instagram page. Beauty Anthropology had the opportunity to learn all things about her life living as a vegan influencer in North Texas, caring for her gorgeous natural hair, and finding the thrifty pieces that will inspire anyone’s inner fashionista. Today, social media personalities come many a dozen. So how does one create autonomy in such a large digital space? Jora said authenticity is something that can’t be labeled.
“As long as you have your core personality, then you’re always going to be different.”
In high school, Jora said she was always interested in fashion. She said she often tried her hand at making her own clothes, a hobby she said helped her to build her personal style and save her coins.
“I’ve always been interested in budget fashion since high school and thrifting things and not speccing so much money,” said Jora. Jilted by an interest to work in fashion, Jora attended Parsons School of Design in New York. However, she decided to pursue photography over fashion design. “I still love it. I just decided I didn’t want to work in that industry.” Jora followed her new passion and taught herself digital photography over time. Currently, Jora co-owns a photography business, Nine Tails Photo Group, along with Francisco Robelo. In between being a business owner, there’s still JoraCake, her personal digital space that gives viewers an in-depth look at her beauty routine, fashion finds, and what makes Jora tick. “All this together is just all the extensions of the things that I love. I could never just be interested in one thing.”
Authenticity is something that can’t be labeled. – Jora Enge
On how she became a natural hair blogger:
“A couple of years ago is when I really started to pay attention to the natural hair movement. And I was never able to do it myself when I was younger. My mom, who was white, she couldn’t do my hair either [laughs] so I never learned how to do natural hair at all. The older I got I started straightening my own hair, but I started looking up to these influencers on Youtube that was teaching how to do natural hair and that was really exciting to me. I started learning how to do it and that’s how it got incorporated into another part of me. Some of my Instagram became this extension of all these other things that I‘m interested in. I just needed a platform for that.”
On growing up biracial in Texas and coming to love her natural tresses:
“I had my hair relaxed when I was 7 and it broke off. I had bald spots. We had to cut it all off. I tried to wear it curly for a little bit when I was switching from a black predominant school to a white predominant school. I think it hit me that my hair was a lot different then. At the time it was really frizzy and I really didn’t have the right products in it. So I was surrounded by long, straight, ‘normal’ hair and my hair never looked good no matter what I did with it. Then I started coloring it getting it bleached and it was getting so damaged. In my mind, my relationship with my hair was just to make it look nice. I got used to my hair being damaged and straight so it didn’t look a mess. No one even knew my hair was curly because I would wear it straight so much. I kind of shut my self off from that part of my identity. I kind of developed a new relationship with my hair where it doesn’t always look the best, but I just started accepting the flaws of myself. And my hair helped me do that [laughs].”
Jora’s wash and go routine:
“Until about 6 months ago, all I wore were twist outs for a whole year and a half. It’s funny now. If I try a twist out on my hair it’s doesn’t look as good for some reason. Right now, I’m switching it up. I still use the Calily Life Tea Tree Conditioner. It has good sea mineral in it. I finger detangle, and then I go back in with a leave-in conditioner. I try to find one with a heavy oil, such a Pure Oil by Silk Elements. When I started using heat on my deep conditioning every week, that is what really made my hair change. After that, I get out of the shower to rinse it out. I don’t towel dry it at all. I use either flax seed gel of Eco Styler and use a quicker version of the shingling method. I’m going to try to start using a diffuser to dry my hair. If I don’t dry it, it’ll be wet all day.”
On getting the confidence to share herself in front of the camera:
“I believe the decision I made with my mom to move out of private schools and move in me into Booker T in Dallas—which is an art school—that was very crucial. She was very nervous about doing so, but we made the decision together. I really think me being in an environment like that while I was important while going through the most crucial time of my young life. I was in this environment that responded so well to individuality. Everybody there wanted to be an individual. Everybody had their own things they were in love with. That really made an impression on me as I got older because I knew I was going to let who I am, come forward. In my early 20s, I went through a few bad relationships. They wanted me to be a traditional woman, and I’m not. There’s nothing about me that’s traditional. I’m a little bit crazy sometimes, I am overly creative times to the point where I can barely focus. I go through things very things deeply because I’m so hypercritical of myself. If I feel like I’m not good enough or something that I’m putting out isn’t good enough, it really digs into me. I have to have this really safe environment around me that will help me flourish. It was the same thing over and over again until finally I just started getting angry. A lot of things started coming up from my past like ‘you’re not black enough’. That’s when it clicked in my head. You’re not this traditional woman and you don’t need to be in this traditional situation. That’s always my motto. Even if I wanted to change it I couldn’t. If I have an idea, I either let it sit in the back of my head for the next 80 years or I just do it.”
On how her personal style has developed over the years:
“When I was younger, the goal was to dress as sexy as I could. I definitely went through a phase right before turning 21 when I thought I was the cutest thing and I could just wear whatever I wanted. Whenever I see another girl in her early twenties and one of them is dressed the way I was dressing, If anyone makes a comment about it, I go “I’m pretty sure that tons of girls who dress like that at that age aren’t like, “I’m really sexy, I’m really cute.” And then they have that moment. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. I finally got to a phase where I didn’t care about how sexy I looked, but I more so cared about how different the outfit was and how interesting it was as a fashion statement.”
On being a vegan:
“A couple of years ago, I noticed I was starting to gain some weight. I had actually planned to go vegetarian because every time I ate red meat it just killed my stomach. I felt heavy. I didn’t feel good. When I went vegetarian, I noticed my dairy consumption increased. It became a replacement for meat. I was eating grilled cheese all the time [laughs]. I was getting a lot of inflammation issues, my knees were swelling up really bad. I would get these aches and extra pains. I entered a contest to basically lose weight and everyone votes at the end of who they think achieved the most. I like to run myself into competition sometimes. Someone waves $100 bill in my face, I’m going to lose weight for that [laughs]. But I wasn’t changing my diet. That’s when my friend at a previous job convinced me to go vegan. She gave me all the basics. It’s like learning how to cook all over again. You have to rewire what you think about cooking to really master it. Literally within a week, I begin to feel better. I had these weird burst of energy. I got addicted to that feeling of feeling good with that diet. Even if the cheese tasted good I know how bad it’s going to hurt. I don’t even want it at this point.”
On finding a healthy relationship:
“Speaking of my other relationships, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Being in those relationships was terrible. They taught me how to stand up for myself because that was something that I never really understood. I usually was more concerned with everyone getting along and everyone liking me, especially in my teens and early 20s. Not necessarily like ‘I’m the most popular person’, but being grateful that I’m in their lives. I wanted to help everyone. I wanted everybody to feel like they could come talk to me. I still do, but then I was so wrapped up in being a Mother Theresa for everybody that I became a pushover. Finally, the relationships did teach me that enough is enough.
My mom and my dad worked so well together. At this time, it’s insulting that I’m allowing myself to be in these mediocre relationships. But I don’t think it would have happened any other way. I thought I knew what I wanted in a guy. I didn’t really understand until I met the one that I am with right now. When you are in the presence of somebody that is going to add to you and not going to take from you, you’ll feel it and you’ll understand it. There will be no question about it. Don’t beat yourself up because you picked the wrong first boyfriend or wrong man.”
Losing her mother at 15, she said that had an impact on her growing up and entering relationships.
“Growing up my dad told me that I had a lot of resemblance to my mom. He said I have that adamant personality. I tend to grab onto projects and just hold onto them. I’m a very creative person, and I want to say I got that from my mom.” Jora said she grew up watching her mom work on artwork in her studio along with her father. “I had this perfect example of what a marriage was supposed to look like, and every relationship I was in that wasn’t right. I also had that feeling of ‘You know this doesn’t look right. You know you don’t want this guy. You know this is not how it’s supposed to be. You have no business being with this dude’. I had that in the back of my head a lot of times, but it’s just more comfortable ignoring myself” Now she’s with Leno, and she says everything is easy. They are the exact opposite, but Jora said that’s exactly what she needs to balance everything out. “There’s nothing secret or shadiness. It’s much easier than the other ones. He’s a person that when he cares about someone, he dedicates his service to that person.”
On her future projects:
“For JoraCake, I definitely want to turn it into a written blog. I don’t want it to take away from the other things that I’m doing. I don’t want to turn into the commercialize blogger. I want to push myself. I want to get to that trendsetter level, rather than following the trends that are happening right now. I love Tracee Ellis Ross and her mom, they are amazing. I would hope that I have this amazing fashionista thing going on like Tracee Ellis Ross. That’s my dream. I also want to try doing more travel vlogs. San Francisco and thrift, Miami and thrift, London and thrift, Paris and thrift, Tennessee and thrift…I want to go around and try all these thrift stores. I would love to go to Canada and visit a thrift store. It’s only a matter of time before I get up there. I want to introduce veganism and what I ate in a day. It just really depends right now on which direction my focus is going”
On the future of her photography business:
“I would love for it to grow into a creative agency that would work with web developers, graphic designers, clothing designers, artists, hairstylists. It would have all those in-house, so that when I get a certain job I can serve them in other areas, such as online branding. My overall goal is to be able to outsource to people under her umbrella. It would be this powerhouse of creative individuals. I really would love to focus on high fashion type of photography. Lately, whenever I think of an idea before I even take action, somebody else does it [laughs]. The fact is there are so many people in the world right now who are creating, there’s a huge chance that at some point we’re all going to be doing the same thing. We’re going to learn from each other and pick up processes from there people and become inspired. And that’s fine. Even if what you’re doing is the same on paper as someone else, it’ll still be different. So don’t feel discouraged. If you care about it and your personality is in it, it’s going to be original.”
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