Kia Sangria is all about legacy. When she and I sat down to talk about Black Fae Day and why it means so much to her and others, she often returned to the concept of the people that will follow. She wants to make a pathway, with blueprints and notes in the margins to boot, for those that have yet to find their way to the liberation she’s discovered.
When Black Fae Day launched in 2021, Kia was already a veteran in the cosplaying and costuming space, but found a new type of community among the fae-obsessed who came out in droves to celebrate their own magic. Now, she can’t imagine ever going back. In this conversation we explore what she loves about cosplaying and designing, and how the event is changing the way the world at large views Black creators in Fantasy spaces.
The Seelie Crow: How has Black Fae Day affected your relationship with Fantasy?
Kia Sangria: I honestly think that Black Fae Day is kind of the catalyst for solidifying it for me, because I was already doing Fantasy costumes and stuff like that before Black Fae Day was a thing. It’s just, this is the first time that on a grand scale I, and many other like Black girl cosplayers, have had an actual space curated specifically for us where we can share these things. Not just with each other, but with the world. So, for me, it just means a lot, because when people create in the Fantasy genre, or they partake in the genre, it’s usually always a place where Black people don’t exist.
I was doing it regardless, but having a place where I can exist and where I’m celebrated, it just makes me even more excited to make my fantasy costumes because now for the first time in my life, I actually have a place for it. And I didn’t have that before.
The Seelie Crow: With saying that you have the space to do it, do you think from that starting point to now have your designs gotten bolder? Do you think that Black Fae Day has kind of given you that push to take things to different levels?
Kia: Oh, it most certainly has. I actually just ordered my fabric for this year’s Black Fae Day costume. This costume and the costume that I did the first year are going to be worlds apart, but in the best of ways is all I can say for right now. Probably like nothing I’ve ever created, honestly, with everything that I’m about to put into this. I’m really going to go all out for Black Fae Day this year. The holiday means so much to me and I want it to grow and I want to be a part of that growth. For me, that means putting on my costume and then going to central park, and having a big picnic with my friends. So, I’m very excited about that. It’s just going to get better and better for Black Fae Day. We can only go up from here.
The Seelie Crow: I love to hear that. I feel like that’s kind of what I’ve been hearing from other people, too. It’s real now. What does that timeline look like for you with idea and creation, to having it done? How long does that take you?
Kia Sangria: Last year’s costume that I made for Black Fae Day, I made it in one week. I’m very quick at making garments and costumes. Realistically, I could probably have my costume done in about two weeks. I don’t usually take more than two weeks to make any of my costumes. I work rather quickly. So, for me, I’m doing research on fabric colors that I think work really well together. You know, fabric types. Do I want something that flows? Do I want something shiny? Does it drape? Is it pleated? Those are a lot of things that I do. I literally spent all of last week trying to figure out what my favorite look was going to be fabric and costume wise, and I changed my design. Three times! I finally settled on something today. Even now I’m still not even one hundred percent sure about it, but I guess we’ll see what happens. Ideation is so, so hard. It’s probably harder than sewing. Everyone’s going to go study so hard and it’s like, no, the hardest part is figuring out what you’re going to make.
The Seelie Crow: So, once you have the idea, it’s like “bam. Okay.”
Kia Sangria: Yeah. And then it just, it feels real when you have the fabric in your head, it’s just in piles. And I said, “okay, now you got to break this down and take these piles and turn it into something,” because that’s the fun part for me.
The Seelie Crow: I’m so excited to see what you debut on Black Fae Day. I’ll be waiting very excitedly. In what ways have you seen Black Fae Day changing this Fantasy landscape?
Kia Sangria: This event is changing it, because Black people as a people, we are, it’s weird, because we are also people [others] are hyper aware of. But, we’re also invisible at the same time. We’re both visible and invisible all at once, which is a really weird spot to be in. I think that it just uniquely applies to us, because everyone’s watching us and then not paying attention to us all at the same time. The world has never, ever, been able to ignore Black people. So, I think for this event, specifically, people that, you know, live in these Fantasy spaces and these fictional genres we are a force to be reckoned with because you can’t ignore us. You can’t and we won’t be ignored.
I think that for younger people, especially younger Black people that are into fiction and Fantasy, they’re coming into an outlet where they’re able to envision what a Black fairy is going to look like, or a black witch, or warlock, or wizard, or sorceress. They’re going to see us, and when they see us, they see them.
The Seelie Crow: How do you hope others will receive you? What do you hope that seeing you specifically can do for them?
Kia Sangria: That’s actually part of the reason why I was brought in to be an ambassador. For the past two years, I’ve been working with a company called Fabric Wholesale Direct, which is an online fabric store. On that blog you can find tutorials for regular clothing, and you can find so many tutorials for cosplay. I dominate that area on their website. So, if you go to the Fabric Wholesale Direct website and you visit their blog, you will see me and my costumes along with the step-by-step picture, tutorial on how I created the costume. My Black Fae Day costume from last year lives on their website as a blog post, where you will know what pattern I used, you will know what fabric I used. Since you’re already on the Fabric Wholesale Direct website, you will be able to literally go and buy the fabrics that I use to make my Black Fae Day costume. That is the same thing that is happening this year. I have partnered with Fabric Wholesale Direct once more to create my Black Fae Day costume so that I can have a step-by-step blog post on how I created that costume. When you see the costume that I debuted for this year, you will be able to make it yourself if you so choose.
I specifically like doing this because even after the holiday’s over, anyone could go back to [their] website, find all of my cosplay tutorials and take those things and apply them to their costume for, you know, the years after in any other event that they want to cosplay. That’s what I’m hoping to leave behind, because when I first started cosplaying we didn’t have dedicated spaces with the picture of tutorials on how to make things for cosplay, how to sew with patterns. Ninety-five ercent of my costumes are made with sewing patterns. I’m not creating the pattern myself, I’m buying it. Then, I’m using that to create my look, and there hasn’t always been like cohesive resources on how to do that. So, not only do I work with Fabric Wholesale Direct, but I also have my own YouTube channel where I post cosplay sewing content. Outside of what people see, they can go through my background and see that there are resources there designed specifically to help them, especially new cosplayers that are in the space. That’s what my contribution to the community is.
Kia Sangria will be featured alongside other creators in Fantasy for Issue #2 of The Seelie Crow magazine in July!