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Kali Hawk Is The Black Woman Jeweler Behind Some Of Your Favorite Stars' Accessory Game

From Janet Jackson to Beyonce, Kali Hawk's H.CROWNE has adorned some of Hollywood's biggest names.

BOSS UP

If you've seen films like Couples Retreat, Bridesmaids, and Fifty Shades of Black or TV shows like New Girl, the name Kali Hawk might sound familiar. What we didn't know about the starlet is that she has been an avid jewelry collector for many years while also slaying the big screen with some of Hollywood's biggest talents. While on the set of movies and television shows, Kali would often use her own jewelry and accessories. She soon realized that at a certain point, shopping begins to cultivate a certain taste which leads to experimenting with having things custom-made.

That's when the light bulb illuminated and Kali opened the gateway to designing; she went from customer to creator.

At 28, Kali created H.CROWNE, with the 'H' in the name stemming from her last name Hawk and 'CROWNE' from her first creation. It's both reflective of the brand aesthetic and magically mysterious. H.CROWNE began when Kali commissioned a selection of museum-quality crowns for her personal use. Her frequent trips to the Metropolitan Museum in NYC piqued her interest after seeing amazing crowns and ancient jewelry. The womanpreneur even jokes about watching the classic film Coming to America one too many times; but once she began wearing the pieces around, the overwhelming responses proved that she had touched on something that the public wanted. Kali had no choice but to move forward and share her vision.

More than anything, the actress covets the quality of her pieces which speaks volumes. H.CROWNE was a private endeavor she funded on her own as a way for her to share her joy of jewelry with others. Since its inception, H.CROWNE has been rocked by the likes of celebrities like Ariana Grande, Ella Mai, Nicki Minaj, Janet Jackson, and Queen Beyonce herself. "To have had my jewelry worn almost exclusively by superstars over the last four years has been like a dream come true. Now that I've expanded into manufacturing, I can bring the superstar experience to the public, and that's maybe what I'll be the most proud of in the end," she told us.

In an exclusive interview with xoNecole, we catch up with Kali Hawk to talk about life as a multi-hyphenated boss, never taking "no" as an answer, her popping clientele and keeping squares out of your circle.

xoNecole: You told Essence, "I've taken tricks of the trade for the wealthy customer and made it available to everyone." What are some of the tricks of the trade you learned?

Kali Hawk: The main trick is to keep the focus on quality. When you buy a $1M diamond necklace, generally a decoy will be made that you can wear around if you choose to keep the real version in the safe. The decoy has to be made to the exact standard as the original diamond necklace, all while using materials that lessen the value. Now, the decoy of the $1M diamond necklace may cost around $30K, but it has to look like a million, and feel like it at a fraction of the cost.

I've given this same attention to everything H.CROWNE puts out. There is a range of price points on the site, so there are options to suit everyone, but the quality remains the same across the board. You can wear one of my $168 rings alongside any of your most expensive jewelry and it will fit right in. Oftentimes people get more compliments on that one!

xoNecole: Why do you think it's important to make your designs available to everyone?

Kali: Being an actor has given me a window into a world where the Cinderella experience is happening everyday. We all look very basic when we show up in the morning, but when we step onto the set with our perfect hair, perfect makeup and accessories, it really is a magical transformation to behold. I know intimately how wonderful it is to be made to look and feel like a star, and I think everyone can have that experience. With H.CROWNE, I get to share some top-quality sparkle, and also the added star power that comes from knowing you're wearing jewelry made famous by some of your favorite celebrities. It's just way more fun to be inclusive of everyone, and fun is what fashion is all about!

"I know intimately how wonderful it is to be made to look and feel like a star, and I think everyone can have that experience. With H.CROWNE, I get to share some top-quality sparkle, and also the added star power that comes from knowing you're wearing jewelry made famous by some of your favorite celebrities."

xoNecole: As a New York native, you don't believe in taking 'no' for an answer. How has this frame of mind shaped your journey as an entrepreneur?

Kali: To me, a "no" is just a signal to find my "yes" elsewhere. And there is always a "yes" to be found if you've got the energy to keep going. As an entrepreneur, and just as a person, I don't get stuck on the "no". I'm looking for the organic "yes", in the best way I can have it. Just knowing that you can create your dreams and feel good throughout the process is the most wonderful thing. I set that as my intention and just try to keep everything in alignment with that.

"A 'no' is just a signal to find my 'yes' elsewhere. And there is always a 'yes' to be found if you've got the energy to keep going. As an entrepreneur, and just as a person, I don't get stuck on the 'no'. I'm looking for the organic 'yes', in the best way I can have it."

xoNecole: We have seen your designs dripping on celebrities like Beyonce, Janet Jackson, Migos and many more. How did you come to build your star studded clientele?

Kali: Quality, variety, and availability. I pride myself on being able to deliver the very best and I put my whole life force behind that. There was a week where Janet [Jackson] was in NYC doing press, and I had just landed at my hotel after completing a movie I'd gotten injured on. Once her stylist Aquiles told me he needed things for Janet, I turned my hotel suite into a showroom and rushed many new styles through production so she could have them. I was limping around my suite showing him all the new jewelry, and we were just laughing at how crazy the world of celebrity style can be, and how dedicated you have to be to stay in it.

The first time Beyonce wore an H.CROWNE piece, her stylist Zerina Akers requested a headpiece that was needed in 48 hours. I did not sleep for the entire time just to make sure it got completed on time. Both Beyonce and Blue ended up wearing that piece in the artwork for The Carters album Everything Is Love, and in the On The Run II tour film visuals.

At the end of the day, I love being able to contribute to bringing someone's vision to life. That's true of being an actor, and an entrepreneur. I am endlessly available to contributing the best there is to offer, and I think that's what attracts and maintains strong relationships.

xoNecole: What does it mean to you to be a black female entrepreneur?

Kali: To me, it means I get to experience the excitement that comes with what I represent to others like me. People are always so happy H.CROWNE is my vision and many times people are eager to support any way they can because they know what a male-dominated field I'm in. When I'm walking through the jewelry district, I don't see anyone that looks like me, which adds a unique element to what I'm doing, but it also opens people's minds to the fact that someone like me exists.

xoNecole: You've said, "When you align with people whose abilities you can trust, it takes the guesswork out of creating success." Can you share some experiences you have had that brought you to this conclusion?

Kali: A person's track record and resume really matters if you're looking to launch or build something. Before I showed the collection publicly, my friend got me an appointment to preview the collection at Vogue headquarters. It was like a scene out of The Devil Wears Prada, but it was so important because Vogue has the track record of being at the forefront of fashion and style. I streamlined a lot of my ideas for H.CROWNE after that meeting, and also got confirmation that some of my ideas were right on the money!

"When I'm walking through the jewelry district, I don't see anyone that looks like me, which adds a unique element to what I'm doing, but it also opens people's minds to the fact that someone like me exists."

xoNecole: One of H.CROWNE's offerings is a monthly subscription box. Why do you think this is important for your brand?

Kali: The subscription box is just another fun way to be inclusive, while also presenting a little monthly sample sale experience that comes right to your mailbox. I like the idea of accessible luxury, so the subscription box option is wonderful for fans of the brand that want to experience some of our new styles in an affordable way before they're formally released. There are three price options, and so far, people have been loving the consistency and the quality of it all.

xoNecole: What's your favorite piece and why?

Kali: My ultimate favorite stuff is the 24 karat gold collection. Many people told me I couldn't make jewelry in 24 karat gold because it's "too soft", so I really just did that collection as an act of defiance. It was a great experiment that yielded some lovely pieces I often wear everyday, and the richness of that pure gold color has a real Wow Factor. Most people have never seen pure gold at all, so it sparks a lot of great conversation. I'm also just in love with the African vibes. I feel like Mansa Musa casually walking around with kilograms of gold on.

Keep up with Kali on Instagram by following her @KaliHawk on Instagram and check out @H.CROWNE while you're at it!

Featured Image Courtesy of Kali Hawk

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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