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#WomenatWork - I think you are a Lost Queen | Interview with Eboni Merriman

via LostQueens.com

If you recognize this catchy tune from Pharrell ...

then you're already familiar with most of the intentional magic that went into the launch of Eboni Merriman's e-commerce boutique, Lost Queens. 

But, since rebranding what began as a spontaneous meeting of passion and necessity, Eboni's baby, Lost Queens, has grown to a self-sustaining nationally-recognized brand.

I've been curious about (and admittedly hardcore stanning for) the Lost Queens Instagram account for awhile now. I've watched as it's grown by thousands of followers, boasting black girl fave ambassadors like Jamilah Lemieux, Nina Amour and Pinned x Stitched's Meron B. But when the new collection launched, inspired by Beyoncé's "Formation," I knew I absolutely needed to have a sit down with Eboni.

But it's 2016 and we're working women on different coasts. So we did what any two long lost girlfriends who had never met would do ... we hopped on the phone.

I won't make you endure the details of the many moments I fell in love with her raw and present energy. But, I will say, baby girl showed up ... in full authenticity.

Five minutes into our convo, Eboni had already offered me her full self, her full spirit, and revealed herself in a form that's rare for many. I'm talking revealing everything from how she couldn't keep a job before pursuing her dream, to her relocating about 15 times since moving back to NY from VA in 2011, to the balancing of depression and being diagnosed with bi-polar disorder in 2015. Did I forget to mention that Eboni is only 24 years old?

Catch the best from my chat with Eboni below.

And shop the new Lost Queens collection with 15% OFF when you enter "LQCARRIEK" at checkout.

On how Lost Queens became a thing ...

I was sitting at home with a friend, typing ideas on a computer - [Eboni and another friend, Nik Adams had previously begun a blog for creative women that would be a spring board for Lost Queens]. I felt like I was just going in circles … and that Pharrell song came on and took me. I felt it and went with it.  I had already been experimenting, selling things on Ebay. So Lost Queens was a way to spread my love for women and pretty things.

 

On creating ...

I can’t pretend like I'm this business woman that has it all together. I didn't have business experience coming into this. I’m just myself, what I go through is what is reflected in the collections.

On trusting herself ...

I do second guess myself a lot. It’s something I’m working on. But, Lost Queens was something I needed. It gave me a chance to say to myself and other women, "It’s ok to be beautiful, be yourself, be different."

On the Lost Queens collections ...

The jewelry is secondary to the girl. It's complementary. Lost Queens is all about that moment when they pull out the phone to take a selfie because they're like "Oh, I look poppin’ today.” Or, "Oh, my hair is poppin', so let me put this headband on."

On what she's learned from her brand fans and followers ...

Everything, really. Black women are the most vocal. So I take their feedback seriously ... I take the advice and fix the problem. And put the growth back in the business.

It's hard to want to end this with anything more than a "Thank you." So, sincerely, Eboni. Thank you. For being and doing you.

 

By khoLi.

 

EXPLORE: @KariFaux has something to say. And, we're listening.

 

Meet Ifetayo Abdus-Salam

“Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself …"” ― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves      Ifetayo Abdus-Salam , owner and sole artisan of  Hecho en Harlem Jewelry , is probably one of my favorite human beings on this planet, and we’ve never even met. At least not in person, anyway.   But Ifé’s not the kind of person you have to meet to know.    On November 28, 2015, I was on the couch with  Lu  - right-clicking through pages and pages of Etsy, opening more tabs than anyone would care to have to review and/or close - doing what I like to call e-networking.   When I’m searching for a  Khafra partner  or even just new style options for a Khafra client, I’m never anticipating I’ll be lucky enough to find a full collection. Sometimes all I’m hoping for is a glimmer of earnest-seeming inspiration that I can take and amplify for the world.  I was gifted way more than that when I found   Hecho en Harlem .   After about an hour of clicking through every product - staring, studying the materials, design, cost value - I reached out to Ifé somewhat verbosely.     I (hopefully without gushing too much) explained to her that Khafra would be doing a   #khafrachristmas15   promotion for the entire month of December. I detailed the other businesses involved and discussed our interest in collaborating to offer her handmade jewelry to the Khafra community. I didn’t explain that until that very moment of reaching out, I wasn’t even sure that #khafrachristmas15 actually  needed  to happen.  “Thanks so much for your outreach,” she replied less than 24 hours later. “I would be happy to participate … Please provide next steps.”   I was sure then of what I’d suspected all along: I was about to embark on a journey, and hopefully spark new friendship, with a woman deeply invested in action.   Still I wouldn’t confirm this feeling until after our first and only phone call prior to launching the #khafrachristmas promotion.           Inspired by the vibrant aesthetic of Harlem and rooted in a focus of geometric form, Ifé’s jewelry deeply resonates with those who understand the desire and need to adorn. I felt connected immediately.     (I’m not judging anyone who’s thinking of 1980′s rapper  Dapper Dan  or  Cam’ron’s excessive glow -up right now …     I saw all of that when I first saw Hecho en Harlem.)     Hearing Ifé’s voice transformed my relationship to both her and her product. I’d probably be lying if I said our phone call was longer than 5 minutes, but I can hear a kindred soul when it speaks to me, plus Common’s made us all aware that it   takes but a moment to recognize  the sun. And Ifé’s shine is bright.     For her, jewelry-making has been a life long process, begun with bead work at about 10 years old. Although her mother suggested she turn her design efforts into a small business then, according to Ifé, “Like many adolescents, I did not eagerly embrace her suggestions!”  Ifé continued telling me about her journey to entrepreneurship in email.     … My passion for jewelry was never quelled. I began studying (and decided I wanted to go to college for) photography in high school, but still I travelled every weekend alone into Philadelphia from my boarding high school in Newtown, PA to take classes at Moore College of Art. I would return back to school, change my clothes, and go straight to my weekend job at a local Indian restaurant; I think this voluntary routine of 8am-11pm Saturdays exemplifies my natural motivation for artistic practice.   As an undergrad at New York University, double majoring in Photography and Africana Studies, Ifé continued classes in metal work and began selling her jewelry through the gift shop of Studio Museum in Harlem (”Shout out to Jamie Glover, the buyer at the time!”.   I still remember my jewelry professor at NYU, Lisa Spiros, and the encouragement she gave me to start my own business. Hearing this incredibly talented, accomplished jeweler tell me I had a unique, important voice, and that I should continue to pursue my jewelry craft is something that stays with me today.   After graduating from NYU, Ifé began a career in art education, and for the next 10 years (with a little bit of Grad school thrown in the mix for good measure), found herself consumed by the lives of her students, with very little time or energy left to pursue her personal art.  But soon, the high of creative practice would tempt her again … permanently. Ifé returned to jewelry-making in 2013 and started selling her designs under her company, Hecho en Harlem, during the summer of 2014.       I have found no other thing, besides being an artist, that is as fulfilling and satisfying, as being able to support myself from my own creations.  Being able to design my life, has quite literally been a transformative experience for me and has been the most empowering thing I have ever done.   Remember when I said that I wasn’t sure that the #khafrachristmas15 promotion  needed  to happen until I contacted Ifé? What I meant by that was that when I came across her jewelry, I believed: Hecho en Harlem is a line that people needed to know. It’s prodigious but practical. It’s decadent and yet, unassuming. It feels pure.  Ifé, it only now occurs to me, feels much the same.   Be sure to check back tomorrow for more of my conversation/correspondence with Ifé, when she shares everything from the most important lesson she’s learned from her customers, to the celebrity she’d be most willing to form an army with (spoiler: it’s Meshell N’Degeocello).   with <3,    khoLi.

“Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself …"”
― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves


Ifetayo Abdus-Salam, owner and sole artisan of Hecho en Harlem Jewelry, is probably one of my favorite human beings on this planet, and we’ve never even met. At least not in person, anyway.

But Ifé’s not the kind of person you have to meet to know.

On November 28, 2015, I was on the couch with Lu - right-clicking through pages and pages of Etsy, opening more tabs than anyone would care to have to review and/or close - doing what I like to call e-networking. 

When I’m searching for a Khafra partner or even just new style options for a Khafra client, I’m never anticipating I’ll be lucky enough to find a full collection. Sometimes all I’m hoping for is a glimmer of earnest-seeming inspiration that I can take and amplify for the world.

I was gifted way more than that when I found Hecho en Harlem.

After about an hour of clicking through every product - staring, studying the materials, design, cost value - I reached out to Ifé somewhat verbosely.

image

I (hopefully without gushing too much) explained to her that Khafra would be doing a #khafrachristmas15 promotion for the entire month of December. I detailed the other businesses involved and discussed our interest in collaborating to offer her handmade jewelry to the Khafra community. I didn’t explain that until that very moment of reaching out, I wasn’t even sure that #khafrachristmas15 actually needed to happen.

“Thanks so much for your outreach,” she replied less than 24 hours later. “I would be happy to participate … Please provide next steps.”

I was sure then of what I’d suspected all along: I was about to embark on a journey, and hopefully spark new friendship, with a woman deeply invested in action. 

Still I wouldn’t confirm this feeling until after our first and only phone call prior to launching the #khafrachristmas promotion.

image
image
image

Inspired by the vibrant aesthetic of Harlem and rooted in a focus of geometric form, Ifé’s jewelry deeply resonates with those who understand the desire and need to adorn. I felt connected immediately.

image

(I’m not judging anyone who’s thinking of 1980′s rapper Dapper Dan or Cam’ron’s excessive glow-up right now …

image

I saw all of that when I first saw Hecho en Harlem.)

image

Hearing Ifé’s voice transformed my relationship to both her and her product. I’d probably be lying if I said our phone call was longer than 5 minutes, but I can hear a kindred soul when it speaks to me, plus Common’s made us all aware that it  takes but a moment to recognize the sun. And Ifé’s shine is bright.

image

For her, jewelry-making has been a life long process, begun with bead work at about 10 years old. Although her mother suggested she turn her design efforts into a small business then, according to Ifé, “Like many adolescents, I did not eagerly embrace her suggestions!”

Ifé continued telling me about her journey to entrepreneurship in email.  

… My passion for jewelry was never quelled. I began studying (and decided I wanted to go to college for) photography in high school, but still I travelled every weekend alone into Philadelphia from my boarding high school in Newtown, PA to take classes at Moore College of Art. I would return back to school, change my clothes, and go straight to my weekend job at a local Indian restaurant; I think this voluntary routine of 8am-11pm Saturdays exemplifies my natural motivation for artistic practice.

As an undergrad at New York University, double majoring in Photography and Africana Studies, Ifé continued classes in metal work and began selling her jewelry through the gift shop of Studio Museum in Harlem (”Shout out to Jamie Glover, the buyer at the time!”.

I still remember my jewelry professor at NYU, Lisa Spiros, and the encouragement she gave me to start my own business. Hearing this incredibly talented, accomplished jeweler tell me I had a unique, important voice, and that I should continue to pursue my jewelry craft is something that stays with me today.

After graduating from NYU, Ifé began a career in art education, and for the next 10 years (with a little bit of Grad school thrown in the mix for good measure), found herself consumed by the lives of her students, with very little time or energy left to pursue her personal art.

But soon, the high of creative practice would tempt her again … permanently. Ifé returned to jewelry-making in 2013 and started selling her designs under her company, Hecho en Harlem, during the summer of 2014. 

image

I have found no other thing, besides being an artist, that is as fulfilling and satisfying, as being able to support myself from my own creations.

Being able to design my life, has quite literally been a transformative experience for me and has been the most empowering thing I have ever done.

Remember when I said that I wasn’t sure that the #khafrachristmas15 promotion needed to happen until I contacted Ifé? What I meant by that was that when I came across her jewelry, I believed: Hecho en Harlem is a line that people needed to know. It’s prodigious but practical. It’s decadent and yet, unassuming. It feels pure.

Ifé, it only now occurs to me, feels much the same. 

Be sure to check back tomorrow for more of my conversation/correspondence with Ifé, when she shares everything from the most important lesson she’s learned from her customers, to the celebrity she’d be most willing to form an army with (spoiler: it’s Meshell N’Degeocello).

with <3,

khoLi.

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Overwhelmed by holiday shopping?

Well, you’ve got us.

Every week of December, we’ll be sharing some of our favorite brands, stores, and absolute must-have items - items that you and your family and friends will love!

And, just you’re luck, we’re throwing in a few discounts along the way!

So, here’s the first 5 on our list! Be sure to check back for more next Monday!

Show + Tell


Love.

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We’re basically obsessed.

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Show + Tell is one of our favorite shops in Oakland! Everything is handmade and sustainable, and most of it is locally sourced. 

Feel free to drop by (1427 Broadway, Oakland CA) and get 20% OFF ALL ACCESSORIES + 10% OFF ALL JEWELRY!

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They’ve got SO many local jewelry vendors!

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Or visit showandtelloakland.com and take 10% ALL ONLINE ORDERS.

(offer available now through December 15, 2015)

Ubiq

Ok, so maybe we won’t be spending SF rent on any of the YEEZY Season 1 Collection. Maybe we will, who are you to judge us?

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But, we’ve got quite a few items from Ubiq on this year’s #khafrachristmas15 list.

Like these Frank the Butcher x Puma “Eat What You Kill" Blaze of Glories.

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Oh, and this XL Herschel Supply Folio Pouch.

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Hecho en Harlem

Where to begin? Guys, there are so many pieces that we’ll be ordering for friends and family (OK, also hoping friends and family order for us).

Like the Sterling Silver and Brass Double Starburst ring.

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And the Solid SIlver Jewel Brass Ringband.

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And the long triangle earrings.

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And … it doesn’t matter which piece is your favorite, starting on DECEMBER 8, 2015, you’ll get 20% OFF ALL ONLINE PURCHASES using the code “KHAFRA”.

Ashaka Givens

If you follow us on instagram, then you already know how much we love Ashaka Givens’ designs! She’s got a new line of fedoras that we want to gift to at least 5 friends this year.

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These two!

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Fanm Djanm

Do we even need to mention that they’ve got Black Friday sales lasting through 11 pm tonight?

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“Guys …

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We …

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Can’t.”

They do. Head scarves, bags, jewelry. Have at it, guys!

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more surprise sale announcements this week!

– 

with <3,

khafra co.