Born in Los Angeles, California, Christina Cooper could see the Hollywood hills from her South Central neighbourhood. Stardom in her sights, Cooper would create a path for her vision navigating a modelling career, evolving into a film director and actress, and bringing her Jamaican roots to the forefront of her creativity in her Island Gal women’s wear collection.
Influenced by the food, films, and fashion of the Caribbean, Cooper translates her fondest memories of Jamaica into her fashion styles. She does this in all her creative endeavours. She depicts the life of her upbringing in Los Angeles in her films, like “South Central Love” recently aired on BET network.
Cooper made “South Central Love” convey a message to end gun violence as she dealt with the issue while living in South Central. Raised by her Chinese mother, May Cooper, and Jamaican father, Ashton Cooper, Christina would have experiences that would shape her to become a businesswoman.
Cooper was scouted in Fox Hills mall in Culver City, Los Angeles, and got signed to a modelling deal. She was fortunate enough to expand her career and was signed to a New York agency and headed to New York Fashion Week. A German-based agency would sign her during that time, and she would attend the Mercedes Benz Berlin Fashion Week. Following that, Cooper found her way to Milan Fashion Week in Italy.
Cooper states, “It was a great experience and taught me a lot about independence.” She recalls an incident during her first visit to Milan Fashion Week. “I got my wallet stolen by pick-pocketers at the train station near the airport. I was stuck in Milan with no money. My modelling agency had to give me what they call ‘pocket-money.’ [This] was roughly about 50 Euros a week. The situation taught me how to manage my money wisely and how to budget.”
Cooper lives through this independence and a positive attitude and shares that with the Island Gal Collection. “I remember trips to Jamaica to visit family,” she says. “I always admired their fashion sense on the island, the materials they used, even the land and clear blue oceans. [These] were an inspiration to me. It fueled my creativity.”
She also was inspired by none other than, Jamaican-English model Naomi Campbell. “She [is] also Jamaican, and to see her reach the heights she has, inspired me, even more, to get into the modelling and fashion industry,” Cooper explains.
The Island Gal collection intends to empower women through the Caribbean-inspired motifs and confident style of Caribbean people. She has also expanded into beauty products for everyday use. “I want my clothing, organic skincare, and vegan beauty products to bring out that natural inner-confidence. No matter your race, size, height, you feel confident [in] Island Gal,” Cooper mentions.
Cooper continues, “I have extremely sensitive skin, so I wanted to create skincare products suitable for all skin types, especially skin types as sensitive as mine. The easiest answer was to go clean, organic & vegan with my skincare products. My Jamaican culture is very strong on home remedies, keeping things natural, and from the earth.”
“I think becoming a model helped me a lot with my sense of fashion. I was able to travel the world and I witnessed firsthand what [styles] hit the runways. What was new, what was fresh,” Cooper states. “I utilize that when I go out, especially events or premieres I love to keep things sophisticated but with an edge. I enjoy unique, daring looks that are different. But when I’m on set, I’m normally in some Island Gal tracksuits, sweatpants or jeans,” she explains.
She also shares her experience with others seeking to start businesses. “I offer online courses through my CCPLA University on how to start an e-commerce brand. In this day & age, especially during COVID – the online market is growing.” Cooper mentions.
She goes on to say, “Whatever I create in film or fashion, I want it to be inspirational, inspire a positive change, or to showcase inclusivity within the human race.” Cooper and the Island Gal collection share part of her vision as a creative, not just a businesswoman in fashion.