Fadia Kader is part of Oxygen’s digital series In Progress 52. In 2016, Oxygen's Very Real digital hub is featuring 52 of these outstanding women: that's one woman a week, for 52 weeks. Check out the series here!
For Fadia Kader, protecting her magic meant quitting her first full-time job and walking away from an unhealthy relationship. Of course the magic wasn't in the walking away, but the walking towards something new and challenging: a new job in the hip hop realm, and a new relationship founded on communication and emotional stability. It was at that time that she realized that others could benefit from finding and protecting their magic, too.
When you walk the streets of New York -- or even certain cities worldwide in places such as Greece, Japan, Italy, Canada, Brazil, and Jordan to name a few -- you may come across stenciled graffiti art that reads "Protect Your Magic." It's the trademarked slogan Kader not only popularized on social media -- garnering tens of thousands of followers -- but she catapulted the slogan into a full-on inspirational brand.
"It actually all kind of started in New Mexico," Kader says. "I made my own pilgrimage to [Frida Kahlo's] house in Mexico City, and I just kept saying to myself, ‘Wow, this trip is so magical!’...I had this amazing time. But when I came back, even though I loved my job, I didn’t necessarily care for the environment. I was in pursuit of this magic and I felt like I was getting close and then when I came back, I felt depleted. So, I kept saying to myself ‘You have to protect yourself, protect yourself.’"
But it wasn't until the following trip to India that 'Protect Your Magic' came into fruition. In India, upon experiencing the same magic she had felt in Mexico, Kader returned and made the decision to leave Complex Media. "Within a month and a half, I was out. I was like, 'maybe this work environment is not where I need to be, I already used up all my magic here.'"
Kader quit her job at Complex, got a new one at Def Jam, and fell in love with the phrase "Protect Your Magic." With a sharpie on her keychain, she started writing the slogan "all over the place - on post-its, leaving it on trains, on walls, wherever." Then one day, she came across it on Instagram in a hashtag. "[I was like] ‘woah, okay,’ and the person who [posted it] it at the time wrote something so moving about how it made their day. From then on, I just felt like it was my duty to keep running this positive vandalism."
With stencils and spray cans, she may or may not have done just that across New York City late in the midnight hours (which may or may not be legal). Once the slogan began to spread, she had 500 stencils distributed around the globe so that people could disseminate the uplifting message in their own cities worldwide.
"[A fan] wrote something so moving about how it made their day. From then on, I just felt like it was my duty to keep running this positive vandalism."
And the movement just kept building from there. Now, with popular items for sale such as 'Protect Your Black Girl Magic,' 'Protect Your Brown Girl Magic,' and Frida Kahlo pins - it's about much more than just finding your inner voice, but remembering you have one when the world says otherwise.
"It’s been such a crazy couple of years for people of color— as a whole. Being Latinxs, Arabs, black women and men, I mean, across the board it’s just been insane the things that we’ve all been privy to and exposed to or what-not."
Kader, born in Kuwait and raised on-and-off in the states and Middle East during her young childhood, identifies as a brown woman. She developed a career in hip hop working as a stylist, manager, and booker among the likes of Bow Wow, Janelle Monae and J. Cole, eventually working in marketing at Complex Media and Def Jam.
"Now, I’m around all black women. I was raised in a small town and it was black or white. So naturally as a woman of color, I gravitated towards people of color...And just respecting other brown women such as myself and other black women that are my peers— I was like, I need to just have a special edition that reminds them specifically, 'protect your brown and black girl' magic. I’ve been telling you to protect your magic overall, but now let’s talk about ethnicity and protecting the things that make you, you know, magical black women or brown women."
Today, Kader's story is about more than just switching jobs and environments, it's about listening to your inner magic and exploring all that it has to offer-- and now she's using her magic to get others to use theirs as well.
"I’ve been telling you to protect your magic overall, but now let’s talk about ethnicity and protecting the things that make you magical black women or brown women."
"It’s all about being intuitive and listening to your gut," says Kader. "Especially as women, I just feel like we have a sixth sense. And we often know what’s right, we know what’s wrong, we know what to do. But we let that - either society or insecurities - get in the way, and that’s just like learning how to trust your inner voice. That’s really really important."
Fadia Kader is currently working on expanding the brand with workshops, more merchandise, and even a traveling group. While she is no longer at Def Jam and has moved on to newer territory, she's brewing ideas of revealing even more of her magic in the coming years.
"I went from the fashion industry to the music industry to publishing in the media to the label system -- and now I’m in the tech world. Nothing to me is sacred in that sense where it’s like ‘oh I have to find security.’ No, I want to learn skillsets. And I’m not ever scared of starting over, so I consider that to be my magic and that’s my pursuit."
So what's up next? A chef's hat, she says.