- Jackie Aina debuted a new candle collection on Thursday under her company Forvr Mood.
- One candle is named “Sòrò Sókè,” a rallying cry used against police brutality in Nigeria.
- Aina shared a public apology on Friday after receiving backlash and criticism online.
Jackie Aina and her lifestyle brand Forvr Mood issued an apology for naming a candle in her latest collection after a Nigerian protest slogan.
Aina, 35, and Forvr Mood shared an official statement Friday on Instagram addressing the controversy among her fans this week. The Nigerian American social media influencer gained internet fame as a makeup artist on YouTube before expanding into lifestyle and home goods.
The criticism against Aina sparked Thursday after she unveiled a four-candle set called “The Owambe Collection.”
The collection included a candle named after the Yoruba phrase “Sòrò Sókè,” which translates to “speak louder.” It was used to call out police brutality in Nigeria during the #EndSARS movement in 2020. SARS stands for Nigeria’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad.
“As the brand owner of FORVR Mood, I understand our decision has severely hurt members of my Nigerian community with the naming of the candle Sòrò Sókè. We missed the mark on this and it will never happen again,” Aina’s Instagram post read. “Empowerment and respect is the ethos of FORVR and that was unfortunately not properly conveyed in the naming of the candle.”
“We accept full responsibility and I recognize the gravity of this error,” the statement continued.
The statement added that the candle Sòrò Sókè would be removed from sale and production.
“We accept full responsibility and I recognize the gravity of the error; to that effect, this candle will be pulled from the market and production immediately,” the statement continued. “I apologize for the hurt this has caused and I thank you for holding us accountable.”
Representatives for Aina and Forvr Mood did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
As of Saturday, the Sòrò Sókè candle isn’t listed on the company’s website and the product is no longer available at Sephora. However, a photo of the candle is still viewable in a pre-launch advertisement.
Fans called out Aina online, with some accusing the social media influencer of using the protest slogan as an aesthetic
Following the collection’s debut, Aina began to trend on Twitter as people discussed the candle’s name. One criticism launched at Aina was that she didn’t publicly speak out in support of the #EndSARS movement until after SARS was disbanded in October 2020, NBC News reported.
According to the outlet, Aina shared a Twitter thread of infographics that month that called out Nigeria’s government and sought justice for victims of SARS-related violence. Five days later, she also shared another post about the movement on Instagram.
—the candle lady (@jackieaina) October 11, 2020
“This Jackie Aina situation really re-confirms why influencer culture will never be ethical. It’s hinged on marketing and selling products. So yeah, aestheticising your culture to sell candles makes sense in that aspect,” one person tweeted.
Another added: “I didn’t quite understand everything regarding Jackie Aina and her using Soro Soke for a candle, until I saw someone say it was the equivalent of someone putting “I can’t breathe” on a candle. It’s unsettling.”
One person noted that Nigerian citizens were killed during the protests.
“Jackie Aina, a Nigerian in the diaspora decided it was sensible to name her candle Soro Soke; a word formed during the #EndSARS protest. This was a period when hundreds of Nigerian youths were beaten and shot to death because they wanted a better country,” they tweeted.
Aina is vocal about inclusion and diversity, having called out brands and companies in the past
Several online users also noted that in the past, Aina has used her platform to highlight the lack of diversity in the beauty and fashion industry.
In June 2020, Aina spoke out against clothing brands like Fashion Nova for being “dead silent” about police brutality and other aspects affecting the Black community. She also called out cosmetic brands like KKW Beauty for a “dismal” concealer shade range in March 2018.
NBC News reported that Aina called out the cosmetic brand Too Faced in 2018 for its limited shade range, which later led to a brand collaboration to create darker shades.