Effortlessly showcasing brains, beauty and an entrepreneurial spirit is Mikai, the perfect example of a renaissance woman who offers a unique point of view to digital conversations around race, identity and life in general. In addition to studying towards her degree, Mikai is using her own story to help other women, working to make it easier for underrepresented groups to enter Russell Group Universities and reminding us that makeup brushes are so 2017 – “your beauty blender is SERIOUSLY your best friend”! Keep reading to find out more about Mikai.
“I needed to use my story to help other young women get through their own struggles with love.”
Introduce yourself for those who don’t know you, who are you and what do you do?
My name is Mikai McDermott, I’m a lifestyle and sociopolitical blogger/YouTuber, a charity founder, a hair stylist and an Eng Lit Finalist student
What inspired you to start a YouTube channel and what gave you the confidence to speak on such topics such as feminism, representation, perception, depression…?
I get asked this a lot & honestly… I had (what I thought at the time) a bad break up and needed a creative outlet where I could share what happened to me, and use my story to help other young women get through their own struggles with love. Speaking on those issues didn’t really stem from confidence for me, speaking about them gave me confidence because I could see that I was helping people and they could relate to my experiences. I guess I started delving into those things because they were on my mind for a while and I just had to find a way to articulate them.
“I’ve never thought it was okay to climb the ladder and pull it up behind you.”
Talk to me about CariConnect, what’s the motivation behind the platform, how does it work and how can people get involved?
Okay so the short backstory: I study at a Russell group university and the Caribbean population is tiny, when I looked into it further, it became evident that statistically, Black Caribbean students were disproportionately underperforming in higher education. I’m an anomaly and that’s cool and everything but I’ve never thought it was okay to climb the ladder and pull it up behind you. Essentially CariConnect came about as a organisation that aims to provide support to students who want to pursue further study in these elite institutions, but don’t have the support at home or from school to get there, we’re trying to bridge the gap, you know?
Students and mentors can both get involved via our website cariconnect.co.uk by filling out a short application form and emailing it to email@example.com .
You’ve spoken so candidly about your university experience but what do you feel was the one thing that helped you get through tough times while in education?
Hmm this is a difficult question because I don’t think it was just one thing, in this entire experience my close friends have really shown immense support through my best and worst days and my mum is always on hand to give me no-nonsense advice, I’m lucky that she’s given me a good head between these shoulders.
Talk to me about future leaders and topping the magazines list, how did that come about?
Powerlist Magazine actually reached out to me letting me know that someone had nominated me to be a part of the magazine, and they invited me down for an interview. I 100% did not expect to even feature in the final print, let alone rank #2 so it was a really amazing thing for CariConnect, I see that award as the verification we needed to say “yeah we are here, we exist and it’s time to change some things up around here”.
In 5 years, where will Mikai be and what can we (the RONIEBOND community or anyone reading this) do to help you get there?
I was going to start this with “I hope” but let’s speak some good things into existence! I will be opening my first hair salon in Jamaica, creating thought-provoking content for my channel and for companies around the world and maybe even partaking in further study along the way. The best help comes in the form of support and sharing, so (as every YouTuber says) please like and share my content to everyone
What would you say your top 3 hair and beauty tips are?
My top 3 beauty tips would have to be: invest in one good high/mid range skincare product (there really is a difference between drugstore skincare and specialised boutique skin care), get a professional facial every 4-6 weeks if you can (Groupon always do amazing facials for less than £20) and your beauty blender is SERIOUSLY your best friend – brushes are so 2017.