By: Noemie Serieux
In April of 2020, the contents of a secret Pinterest board became a flourishing community of ten thousand black creatives. This is the story of how Cottagecore Black Folks was founded by one young woman.
When the Cottagecore trend took off during the pandemic of 2020, it felt like the cusp of a revolution. The capitalist world came to a screeching halt, almost overnight and many were stuck at home with nothing but time. Cottagecore was an alluring romanticization of domestic life. It’s not a reach to say that many people found themselves during the height of the cottagecore trend.
But for Noemie Serieux, to whom cottagecore felt more like nostalgia than a trend, something was missing. “There’s a message in never seeing people who look like you living the life you envision… the message is you don’t belong.” The cottagecore aesthetic was overwhelmingly white, thin, cis and able bodied and Serieux couldn’t understand this. As a St. Lucian she grew up surrounded by cottagecore culture. Growing food, raising animals, drying clothes on a line, racing the rain home. What could be more cottagecore than the Caribbean?
But she didn’t see any Caribbeans. In fact she didn’t see any people of color, any setting that wasn’t a European landscape, any clothes that weren’t European in fashion. The trend had been white washed before it could even start. So disappointed but never surprised she quietly continued her collection of images of black people in the cottagecore aesthetic.
But it wasn’t enough. “Pinterest is great mainly because it's social media without the social,” Serieux says. “But with the pandemic even someone as introverted as me longed for connection. So I posted all the pictures on my board to Instagram and named it Cottagecore Black Girls.” The hope was to meet more black girls who loved the soft, delicate aesthetic that cottagecore provided. The response was immediate and negative.
Slavecore. A phrase born in the black community to describe how it felt to see black people engaging in the cottagecore aesthetic. After 400+ years of genocide and torture many couldn’t imagine black people in a historical context other than slavery and/or exploitive servitude. “Of course it bothered me,” Serieux laughed. “But you have to understand I grew up drawing during recess, crocheting on the MTA and making Tumblr references in casual conversation. I was never very popular among my peers and after a childhood of their rejection it does very little to me now. So I kept posting and eventually I got a DM from a black cottagecore girl asking if I could post her photo. That is what I consider the start of this whole crazy journey.”
It was only a few weeks later when Serieux hit her first 1,000 followers. “It was overwhelming to be honest. I could handle the criticism well because most of it was based in ignorance but the support… floored me.” As someone with imposter syndrome, Serieux struggled to keep going once the account started getting big and was open and honest about it with her followers.
“We were, you know, a really tight community when we were small,” Serieux reminisces. “Whenever things felt too much mentally I’d just tell my followers. I’d put out a story apologizing and promising to get back when I was better and they never got upset. A lot of them would DM me right afterwards and tell me to take as much time as I needed. I genuinely felt supported by everyone, it was an amazing feeling. It reminds me of that Maya Angelou quote where she says something along the lines of “Everyone longs for a place where they can be themselves and not be questioned.”
It was that feeling of complete and total understanding and belonging that set the stage for a new era of CCBGs. During Trans Remembrance Week Serieux was chatting with a trans member of the community who expressed their frustration with everything being so gendered. They were afraid that after they transitioned they wouldn’t feel as connected or welcomed in the community.
“At the time I had already announced our Cottagecore Black Boys page. It was set up and even had a few features already,” Serieux says. “But when I heard our member’s frustration I could emphasize as a black woman who struggles to find spaces for people like me. But emphasizing isn’t enough so I made the decision to delete the Cottagecore Black Boys account and change Cottagecore Black Girls into Cottagecore Black Folks. It felt like the perfect compromise to make everyone happy. And it did!”
With that compromise, Cottagecore Black Folks was officially born and experienced an explosion of success. CCBF was interviewed by Glamour, Architectural Digest, Financial Times and dozens of smaller journalists. Cottagecore Black Folks quickly went from a small tight knit community to a large and thriving network of black creators. A few days shy of its one year anniversary CCBF hit an unbelievable milestone of 10,000 members.
“I’m beyond grateful that CCBF was still able to keep its sense of community as we got bigger. Lacking a community of my own was the whole reason I started this. I was so unbearably lonely in 2020 after losing my housing, job, friends and sometimes sanity. To think all I wanted was to reach out for a hand to hold that looked like mine, but instead I was uplifted by ten thousand… I feel very blessed and endlessly grateful."