In Conversation with Jocelyn McCall of The Soulhaus

Dec 19, 2022, written by Dennis Shirshikov

The Soulhaus was founded by husband-and-wife team Donald and Jocelyn McCall in September 2022. Raised in multicultural Black households with Jamaican and Southern roots, the two quickly realized their shared passion for Black culture, history and the untold stories of Black creatives. Over the course of several years, their passion morphed into building a platform to house these stories– the digital outlet now known as The Soulhaus.

We chatted with Jocelyn McCall, who uses her background in hospitality, design and marketing– which includes globally-recognized brands like Marriott International, L'Oreal, and Etsy– to steer The Soulhaus platform as the founding editor in chief. Summer was drawn to the curation of homeownership and design stories published to the Real Estate and Home & Living categories.

As a recent first-time homeowner herself, Jocelyn shares why she is passionate about sharing inspiration and resources to make ownership more accessible.

What is the mission of The Soulhaus, and who is it for? 

My husband and cofounder Donald and I launched The Soulhaus in September 2022, as the first digital media outlet solely dedicated to documenting the modern-day Black creative renaissance. It was important to us to bring design and lifestyle into focus, through the lens of the Black experience around the globe. Our editorial team is a global collective of resident contributors that explore thought-provoking themes in various forms of immersive creative works amplifying voices excelling in the fields of art, architecture, interior design, fashion, photography and other creative disciplines. While our focus is on Black, POC and Indigenous voices, the content is universal and creates opportunity to gain insight into the origins of most mainstream creative influences.

What inspired you to start The Soulhaus? 

To me, starting a digital publication was not what I initially thought would help create change. I have a degree in interior design and a curvilinear +12 year career in digital marketing across hospitality, beauty, fashion, and the landscape of both corporate (Etsy, L’Oreal, Marriott) and small business operations. Throughout the years, I’ve used my unique perspectives and experiences to help entrepreneurial friends and colleagues. However, the year 2020 brought an urgency for the need of resources and inspiration.

The Soulhaus cofounders Donald and Jocelyn McCall. Photography by Elwood Taylor.

After spending time reflecting on the abundance of innovation happening globally, I realized stories of those that looked like me and other Black and brown individuals were not heavily reflected in large platform media. All around me, I was seeing my peers pouring their energy into launching creative businesses, developing products and building empires from scratch. The developments resembled what took place over one hundred years ago when Harlem, New York, birthed the Harlem Renaissance– one of the most documented and celebrated periods of multidisciplinary creativity within the Black community. The Black-owned publications during this period of time created visibility for many of the names synonymous with artistic excellence today (i.e. Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, and more).

It became apparent to me that there was a need for a digital safe space to authentically celebrate the stories of today’s writers, artists, tastemakers, and culture-shifters. Our hope in building The Soulhaus is to close the gap left by the historically-exclusionary media space and serve as a conduit for visibility, access, and wealth while prioritizing wellness. 

We love The Soulhaus’s On My Stoop series, sharing compelling stories of Black women and their respective journeys towards securing the valuable asset of homeownership. In this series, you express that owning real estate “holds both present-day and future generational benefit.” Debbie Wright says that “real estate and homeownership is power.” Tricia Lee says “yes, it’s home, but it’s wealth!” These sentiments resonate with Summer’s overall belief in real estate as a working asset. What are some of these benefits– whether immanent or longer-term– that you personally see for Women of Color?

Owning real estate has historically been a wealth-building tool within the United States. Equally as important, but less talked about, is that right behind the financial rewards is a world of health benefits that can be associated with both primary and vacation home ownership. Our publication’s view is that home ownership can be a transformative tool to create space for restorative leisure and a clear mental shift from the daily grind. It is a beautiful thing to be able to own and benefit from a space that becomes the backdrop for togetherness generation after generation.

Ashya Creative Studio interior featured on The Soulhaus. Photography by Anthony Prince Leslie.

How do you see Summer’s business model contributing to making these benefits a reality?

Summer’s business model reimagines the possibilities for second-home ownership and wealth-building by disrupting the traditionally-modeled path to ownership. By offsetting the cost of ownership through short-term rentals, Summer’s approach can help counter issues within the current flawed system, which bakes in intentional barriers such as discrimination, redlining and much more.

"It takes a village. Building your own support system of realtors, real estate lawyers, brokers, home inspectors, and more will help you make a sound investment. Your curated team will bring years of expertise to the buying process and help advocate through the complexities of each step."

For those on the fence about  purchasing a vacation home, access to a community of experts is both hugely beneficial and vital to pushing the narrative around ownership beyond just resilience to include the joys of ownership. Summer offers support through every step of the decision-making process.

On My Stoop features advice for Black women navigating homeownership. What advice would you give from your stoop? 

It takes a village. Building your own support system of realtors, real estate lawyers, brokers, home inspectors, and more will help you make a sound investment. Your curated team will bring years of expertise to the buying process and help advocate through the complexities of each step. Start small by beginning conversations with a realtor.

"Summer’s business model reimagines the possibilities for second-home ownership and wealth-building by disrupting the traditionally-modeled path to ownership. By offsetting the cost of ownership through short-term rentals, Summer’s approach can help counter issues within the current flawed system, which bakes in intentional barriers such as discrimination, redlining and much more."

I would also suggest building connections with other homeowners to begin expanding your knowledge, especially when it comes to local resources. Many sources of information are shared via word of mouth or through an 'in-real-life' community board versus a splashy digital landing page that you can find with a quick Google search.

Podcasts are another great way to tune into conversations covering the breadth of homeownership, whether it’s for the first time, second time or as a wealth building strategy. Two favorite podcasts of mine for investing are Multifamily Insights by John Casmon and Vacation Rental Revolution by Shawn Moore, both of which have many interviews outlining the landscape of investing in short-term rentals.

"Owning real estate has historically been a wealth-building tool within the United States. Equally as important, but less talked about, is that right behind the financial rewards is a world of health benefits that can be associated with both primary and vacation home ownership... It is a beautiful thing to be able to own and benefit from a space that becomes the backdrop for togetherness generation after generation."
Meyourge textiles and home finishes featured on The Soulhaus. Photography by Breanne Furlong.

Tell us a little about the Black-owned brands and artists in the decor & design space that are featured on The Soulhaus, and why they fit into your curation. 

Creating a sense of place is a through-line of the decor and design stories we publish. Each of the brands are making products and spaces rooted in cultural awareness, reimagined luxury, and innovation.

For example, Ashya Creative Studio was designed to be a re-energizing creative home base that serves as a retail space and design atelier, home to an inspired and growing collection of their coveted luxury handbags. Indigenous destinations around the globe serve as muses for each newly designed travel accessory, breathing a new energy into the studio’s interior.

"Creating a sense of place is a through-line of the decor and design stories we publish. Each of the brands are making products and spaces rooted in cultural awareness, reimagined luxury, and innovation."

Meyourge, a textiles and finishes lifestyle brand, creates artful pieces for modern tastemakers and Afrocentric souls. By reassessing traditional African aesthetics with a modern pop art-esque approach, Meyourge’s mission is to create completely functional and useful objects, which also exist as works of art themselves. 

These are just a couple of examples. The Soulhaus will continue to capture design stories at the intersection of interiors, travel and real estate.

For more on Jocelyn & family, The Soulhaus, the Black creative renaissance, and to discover new brands, designers, and creators, explore The Soulhaus website and follow along on social.

The McCall children. Photography by Elwood Taylor.

Have more questions for the Summer team? Drop us a line anytime at hey@gosummer.com.

This article was written by
Dennis Shirshikov

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