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Mercy Alumna Designs a Path for Designers of Color

Mercy College alumna Dominique Jones

Since she was a child, Dominique Jones ’18 knew whatever path her career took, it would be in something creative. While in high school, she discovered she loved playing with Photoshop, and at Mercy College she directed that burgeoning love of design into her studies in Fine Arts. “At Mercy they helped me understand composition, how to use color and how to use typography. They just opened doors for me in understanding what design was,” said Jones. As she sharpened her graphic design skills over four years, she readily admits she was hooked.

During her senior year, a Penguin Random House staffer spotted her work at a Mercy showcase and invited her to apply for an internship. That internship led to her first post-graduation position as a junior designer. It was an extremely exciting time for Jones, albeit with one caveat as she realized something was missing. “Everyone there was so welcoming and made me feel at home,” said Jones, “But after a while I realized I didn’t see any designers on my team who looked like me.”

Jones’ workplace discovery is tied to an industrywide statistic that only 3% of designers across all industries are Black, according to an AIGA 2019 Design Census. Black staff members only represent 3 to 5% of those employed across all positions in publishing, according to another survey by Publisher’s Weekly Lee & Low. These figures inspired Jones to do something.

This past summer, armed with a little social media savvy, Jones set out to create a missing piece she sought: an online community for other designers of color. Perhaps, she thought, there were others looking for the same. Her hunch proved correct and after setting up a social media page the response was almost immediate. Her small social media page rapidly developed into a small community as a website. Blk + Brwn Book Designers (BBBD) has become a networking hub geared to showcase the work and stories of other designers of color and even provides an ongoing list of job opportunities.  

Jones says she never set out to be a trailblazer, she just simply wanted to help others. “I felt like I was the only one, and I thought maybe there was someone else out there like me that also thinks they’re alone,” said Jones. Since launching first as a social media page, BBD has garnered a national spotlight even prompting a recent article in Publisher’s Weekly.

Though the media attention has been exciting, Jones is clear on her objective: to connect and unite designers of color and help others to be confident in their field. Jones feels her own confidence to set about making a difference by innovating was boosted while at Mercy: “I would say Mercy prepared me to not be afraid, to take that leap and just go for it.”

To view an interview with Dominique Jones, please click here.

Dominique’s story is just one of many Mercy alumni we are showcasing this month during Black History Month. Don’t miss Mercy’s virtual Black History Month reception with President Tim Hall taking place on Thursday, February 18. To register for the virtual reception, please click here.