Today we’d like to introduce you to Kamille Harris.
Hi Kamille, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers?
Interestingly, Black Girls and Oysters is something I came up with on the fly at the end of August 2021. I remember my girlfriend Jasmine and I going out for date night in downtown Memphis (shoutout to 117 Prime), and when the oysters came out I wanted to share them on Instagram, but then I realized that there was no online space for that. I thought, “where is my community? Where is my tribe?!”
Our first time having raw oysters was actually not that long ago, so as much as we’d like to claim we’re pros, we’re still learning. Our first raw oygasm happened in April 2021 in Charleston, SC. Jasmine and I were living together in Virginia at the time and Charleston was close enough for a birthday getaway. We’d spent most of the pandemic binging Top Chef, so obviously, we were like, “let’s experiment!” For full transparency, Jasmine absolutely convinced me to try them – it was not my idea. I’d had chargrilled oysters in NOLA a few years prior, but I was totally new to raw doggin’.
I remember us asking the waitress a million questions because we were so nervous about the texture and taste. I thought it would be slimy or I would choke, which would certainly ruin my birthday weekend. While our first raw oyster experience wasn’t our best, it was damn sure good enough for us to decide we needed to try more. After creating Black Girls and Oysters, we see oysters everywhere. It’s like every time I open Instagram, there’s someone I know having oysters. I wonder all the time if we’ve inspired people to try them or if folks have always been fans and I just never noticed.
Despite the name, Black Girls and Oysters are really about representing Black people in an industry/space where we’ve struggled to get a seat at the table. The growth and engagement speak for themselves – it’s not that Black people don’t eat oysters, there’s just very little representation online or in the media. As soon as the page launched, Jasmine and I received an influx of messages saying, “this is the page I never knew I needed!”
The messages haven’t stopped either, and I’m so overwhelmed with gratitude for how people have responded to us and the outpour of positivity. We’re taking Black Girls and Oysters all the way up to the Food and Wine classic, for real! Just wait and see.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Content planning is so hard! While I have a creative spirit, I really have to be in the mood to produce quality content as well as have the time to spare. I’ve noticed that when I throw content together it doesn’t perform as well, so I try to be intentional about what we post and where we post it (TikTok, Instagram story vs. reel, etc.).
I never saw myself in this position, as far as being a digital creator/food blogger/content producer. Prior to launching Black Girls and Oysters, I had an online blog where I would write about graduate school and beauty products; makeup was my first love. Eventually, life happened and I discontinued the blog because I wanted to do something different, and to be honest I didn’t want to pay for a domain that I wasn’t actually using.
I’d say running Black Girls and Oysters has been smooth sailing so far because we’re not biting off more than we can chew. I develop the content schedule based on what works for me and what fits the aesthetic. We’re looking forward to partnering with local restaurants, food bloggers, aquaculture organizations, and so many more folks in the future.
As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
First, Black Girls and Oysters is the only online community highlighting Black womxn and oysters, and the owners of the page, us, are in a serious, committed, queer relationship. I think who we are and what we’re doing sets us apart. We post oyster education, restaurant reviews, and recipes which our community/target audience in mind. We showcase Black women chefs, content creators, etc. to further increase representation within this very unique community online, and I’m so proud of that.
I make sure our personalities shine through our posts as well because that’s how you keep engagement strong and keep people interested. I’ve been reviewing restaurants for years on Google Maps and at this point, I’ve got about 2.3M views on my photos and reviews combined. I realized people like hearing (or reading I suppose) my thoughts and shifted my attention to Yelp. I was invited to join the Yelp Elite squad in Memphis after a few months. I worked in a sports bar as a hostess during undergrad, so my expectations for service at any restaurant are shaped by that experience.
I remember my boss telling the servers it was imperative to greet new guests within 5 minutes of seating; if we wait longer than that, I start taking away points (I’m much more flexible given the pandemic). Outside of Black Girls and Oysters, I’m a psychology trainee working on my PsyD in Counseling Psychology. I just submitted the first full draft of my dissertation and I’ve already accepted a postdoc in Atlanta. I guess I’m known for that? I’m “the therapist friend.”
We recently posted some information about how nutrients in oysters have been associated with the prevention and treatment of depressive disorders, so it was cool to integrate these two important aspects of my life. Jasmine’s work is completely different than mine, she’s a producer, writer, content strategist, and overall visionary.
She’s worked in entertainment, news, music, reality TV, and everything else you could imagine. Collectively, I think we’re “the oyster girls.”
In terms of your work and the industry, what are some of the changes you are expecting to see over the next five to ten years?
Does it sound crazy to say Black Girls and Oysters is changing the world low-key?
Sure, we don’t have a million followers right now, but people send messages saying, “y’all are the reason I eat oysters now,” and my heart feels so warm and fuzzy. I love to post reaction videos of people trying them for the first time because it’s the same every time.
Regarding the seafood industry, I think sustainability is key in aquaculture right now and I imagine it’ll continue to be the priority.
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/blackgirlsnoysters
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/user_details?userid=_F-PhmHPosdnSooc9f4GrQ
- Other: https://www.tiktok.com/@blackgirlsnoysters
Kamille Harris and Jasmine Hardy