From newsstands, to the box office, to the many screens our eyes fall upon daily, it is no secret that media mis-represents the society looking back at it – most of the time. Thanks to more recent films, magazines, and even revived marketing campaigns, we’ve been starting to see a truer reflection of humanity that speaks to a more diverse audience. CRWN Magazine was created to do just that for Black women – and has been doing so, gorgeously. With a mission to “address the whole Black woman; a woman who is more educated, well-traveled and sophisticated than ever before — largely because generations before her have fought to ensure her seat at the table,” they have showcased a narrative for women to both see and find themselves in. I was so thrilled to get to hear from CRWN’s President and Editor in Chief, Lindsey Day, on their heart behind creating the magazine, the need for self-love in order for communities to thrive, and what taking ownership of our story looks like to her.
Some of the very first words you come across on the CRWN Mag website are, “You are changing the world just by being yourself.” What in your life, whether specific moments or a long journey, led you to create something that spreads such an empowering, reassuring message?
SO MANY THINGS prepared me to co-create CRWN Magazine. From my mother’s strong influence, to the exclusion and racism I experienced as I “came of age,” to the lack of positive representation I’ve always noticed in media and business… As Black people in America, we’re constantly fed messages that we don’t belong or that we have to alter ourselves in some way to fit in or to be successful.
It’s mind-boggling to personally know so many beautiful, educated, successful, well-traveled Black women; but not to see that energy reflected on-screen and in magazines.
This was particularly true when we first launched, and is thankfully changing with movies like Black Panther, A Wrinkle in Time, etc. We believed then, and we believe now, that modern Black women deserve a tangible, authentic reflection and reminder of their innate beauty and power. So we set out to create just that.
CRWN is declared as “a new kind of print magazine for Black women; for natural hair and the women who wear it.” You not only feature diversity within styles of natural hair, but also within your incredible range of content - covering everything from wellness, to creatives, to beauty, to culture, and beyond. What common core values do you look for while curating your variety of content?
Our brand pillars were established very early on, when CRWN Magazine was still just a concept, before we even released our first zine. They are: Sisterhood, Knowledge of Self, Authenticity, Self-Love, and Ownership. Whether considering our content, potential partnerships, hiring, or any other opportunity; we make sure that it’s first in line with those brand pillars. This ensures that we’re serving our reader from a real place that truly adds value to their lives.
And while we have a focus on natural hair lifestyle, our vision has always been to address the whole woman, beyond just her hair — to celebrate the diversity of Black women.
Our mission is to create the most beautiful and honest representation of Black women in the history of print.
The name CRWN evokes an inherent regality; one that undeniably requires respect. How did you land on this word to become the first impression of your publication?
It honestly just came to us. To your point, the word crown has a royal feel and is a part of our vernacular already — Black women have referred to their hair as crowns for years and years. Plus the magazine was also born on a rooftop in Crown Heights, so it just felt right.
In your latest issue, The Love Issue, you focus on exploring self-love. You pose, so beautifully, in your introduction that it is the necessity for communities to thrive as a whole:
“But what about the Sister in Sisterhood? How sustainable is the lifestyle of the ‘strong, Black, independent woman’; selflessly leading her family, community, colleagues… without requiring much, if anything, in return?… What does Love - and more specifically, Self-Love - actually look like in practice?…
In a time of 45, mass incarceration and the politicization of stolen, innocent Black lives; it’s clear that we need more than hashtags and awareness. We need community, support and some damn answers. We need access to capital and resources and trust among our people.
We need to learn to see ourselves in each other. This is the only route to true freedom.
But all of this - every part of it - begins with self. When we know ourselves, when we tap into our innate power and purpose, we begin to operate from a place of stability. This enables us to form authentic, lasting bonds and run our households with a sense of security. Self-Love helps us to see ourselves in our sisters and brothers - encouraging collaboration and wealth-building over competition. This is the path to ownership and autonomy for our people.”
That’s entirely enough of a mic-drop within itself, but I’d love to hear if you have since discovered more about this topic during the creation of this issue, or since its release.
Thank you! I think what I said still stands. We have to do the proper work internally, whatever that is, before we can form healthy bonds with others. These bonds shape and define our families, our businesses and the global community at large.
So often, as individuals, we want to do work that reshapes the world, but we haven’t done the work to reshape our own minds and hearts first.
I think we’d get a lot more accomplished if more of us practiced tough (self) love.
Everything about CRWN, from print to social media, features brilliant, elevated design. Where do you and CRWN’s Creative Director, Nkrumah Farrar, look for visual inspiration?
Inspiration is everywhere, all the time. Nkrumah and I were both into magazines growing up, and we both appreciate the art of the magazine and the book. I’ll go shopping for clothes (which I kinda hate) and somehow I’ll end up in the book/stationery section of the shop taking photos for reference! Nkrumah is constantly picking up zines and bringing magazines and ephemera to the office. We definitely prefer a minimal aesthetic and are big fans of magazines like Monacle, Kinfolk, Cherry Bombe, and GOOD Magazine.
This month at Yellow, we are focusing on respect; something CRWN embodies fantastically. What are some areas that you see either women as individuals, or our society as a whole, needing growth in when it comes to respect?
Respect of heritage and history.
Respect for the planet.
Respect for our bodies.
Respect for our teachers.
Respect for our purse: the pay gap must be eliminated.
Respect for the process: delayed gratification is real.
We all know there is still a long way to go when it comes to a diverse representation of women (and men) in all kinds of media - print, film, fashion, television, etc. How do you feel encouraged and/or discouraged about the future of Black women being represented?
I’m encouraged by increased number of Black women being represented, but I’m sometimes leary of the motives — and timing — of some of these organizations. I recently wrote a piece discussing why It’s Time to Stop Celebrating Appropriation Masked as Representation, which reflects my sentiments in more depth.
My eyes grew excitedly wide to see the message to your readers, “Let’s take ownership of our story,” as the theme of our 2018 Yellow Conference is “Our Ownership”. How do you think women can best own their stories, dreams, and abilities?
For us, ownership of our story means literally owning the platform(s) through which our stories are being told. There is power and influence in the ownership of businesses, land, etc. I think women can best own their stories, dreams, and abilities by submitting themselves to the process and relentlessly chasing their purpose.
The best way to own your dreams is to make sure they were yours to begin with.
How would you describe in one word what it means when women come together in unity?
Images courtesy of CRWN Magazine