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.
Featured Image Courtesy of Kali Hawk
Joce Blake is a womanist who loves fashion, Beyonce and Hot Cheetos. The sophistiratchet enthusiast is based in Brooklyn, NY but has southern belle roots as she was born and raised in Memphis, TN. Keep up with her on Instagram @joce_blake and on Twitter @SaraJessicaBee.
Black women are not a monolith. We all are deserving of healing and wholeness despite what we've been through, how much money we have in the bank, or what we look like. Most importantly, we are enough—even when we are not working, earning, or serving.
Welcome to Black Girl Whole, your space to find the wellness routine that aligns with you! This brand-new marketplace by xoNecole is a safe space for Black women to activate their healing, find the inspiration to rest, and receive reassurance that we are one small act away from finding our happiness.
Want to discover where you are on your wellness journey? You don't have to look far. In partnership with European Wax Center, we're bringing you a customized wellness quiz to help you up your wellness game. Answer our short series of questions to figure out which type of wellness lover you are, what you need to bring more balance into your life, and then go deeper by shopping products geared towards clearing your mind, healing your body, and soothing your spirit.
Ready to get whole? Take our quiz now!
Actress, writer, and producer Issa Rae highlights the advantages of achieving success and fame later in life and showcases how the timing has uniquely enriched her journey.
The 38-year-old, who has been involved in the entertainment industry for over a decade, captivated fans' hearts in 2011 with her comedy web series The Misadventures of AWKWARD Black Girl, which she created and starred in. Although the series and the book of the same name earned Rae recognition, the star's career would elevate to new heights in 2016 with the release of her hit HBO series Insecure.
The show lasted for five seasons and ended in 2021. Since then, Rae has starred in countless films, including Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, the live-action Barbie, which has generated $1 billion at the box office, and created another HBO series Rap Sh!t.
In a resurfaced Masterclass video, Rae revealed why she was grateful that her accomplishments in the entertainment industry happened when she turned 30 while uplifting others still attempting to accomplish their goals by sharing stories of different celebrities who have succeeded at an older age.
Issa Rae On Why She Feels It's Never Too Late To Become Successful
In the clip shared on Masterclass' official Instagram page in July, The Photograph star disclosed that there is no timeline to start working on a particular goal.
Rae added that she felt that way because of the stories she heard of individuals, including actor Morgan Freeman and director Ava Duvernay, learning more about their craft and pursuing that career later in life.
"I don't think it's ever too late to get started. There's too many stories of people learning and getting their opportunities later," she said. "People like Morgan Freeman, who started late, and I think about Ava, who didn't pick up a camera until her mid-30s."
Issa Rae On Achieving Success In Her 30s
Further, into the conversation, Rae shared that she was "thankful" that her show Insecure was "greenlit" when she was 30 because she would have negatively impacted the experience.
"My show didn't get greenlit until I was 30. I'm thankful for that. Because I always say if I had started to pop in my early 20s, I would be out here hoeing," she stated.
Rae wrapped up the discussion by reminding her fans that although they too may be in the same situation, they shouldn't let that moment define who they are.
"So maybe it's good that you're popping later. You're more mature, and this doesn't define you," she said. "[It] doesn't define who you are, and I do feel I have more sense of self because I started later. Because I knew I really wanted to do this."
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Feature image by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images for Shipt