Nkrumah Farrar for CRWN
Of all the covers in the grocery store aisle, there’s only one magazine my mom would faithfully order and proudly lay out on our living room coffee table. The others didn’t speak to us at all. Our hair textures, skin tones, and commonalities as black women were completely absent and disregarded in the pages of mainstream magazines, so options were scarce. I grew up deeply attracted to the slick pages of magazines but always yearned for a print publication that honored and aided to my evolving journey as a young and proud black woman.
Fortunately now, thanks to Lindsey Day, co-founder and editor-in-chief of CRWN magazine, black women around the world have a body of work that’s thoughtfully curated to celebrate the glory of what it means to be a woman of color. CRWN is a natural-hair magazine that celebrates every multidimensional, complex, and beautiful aspect of black womanhood.
Along with her co-founder and creative director, Nkrumah Farrar, Day compiles powerful stories and stunning images that capture black women in our truest form and tell our real stories. It is the duo’s hope that you’ll finally see yourself in the quarterly magazine that puts black women first through stories that touch on our beauty, politics, finance, economics, gender roles, self-love, and more. We spoke with Day about her incredible venture, and, well, there’s a lot to be said.
BYRDIE: What influenced you to dream up CRWN?
LINDSEY DAY: I feel like I was prepared for this role to start CRWN my whole life. Looking back, there are just so many things that led me to this point. CRWN started from a conversation between two friends on my rooftop in Brooklyn. We were both working for startups at the time and were looking into transitioning into full-time entrepreneurship. A sense of purpose was really my driver—wanting to create something that would serve our community and our people.
To back things up a bit, Nkrumah Farrar, who is my business partner and serves as the creative director and co-founder of CRWN, and I met back in 2007 working on a blog together. It was my senior year of college, and Nkrumah had been designing for over a decade at that point. He used so many beautiful shapes, forms, and textures in his work. I was drawn to his sense of aesthetic and design style. So, I’ve been a fan of his work for so long, and when we were conjuring up this idea of CRWN, I could already see what it would look like.
Travis Matthews for CRWN
LD: Creating a print publication for black women in the digital age sounded insane at that time, but Nkrumah had the visual side on lock. We came up with 14 different business models that night on my roof. We started mapping everything out together. It started with a weekly phone call since we were bicoastal at the time. We began thinking about who is this woman we want to serve, and what is she looking for? I pulled from my own experiences as a black woman not having magazines that I could see myself in. I would go to the store with my mom—we both have different hair textures—but nothing I saw on the stands would really serve us. With CRWN, it’s even deeper than providing products and services for women of color; it’s the representation of our identity that we felt could be talked about. These conversations were being captured on YouTube and the digital space but weren’t being immortalized in print in a beautiful way. We feel that black women deserve to see themselves beautifully and have our stories immortalized. This motive has really been the heart of what’s propelled us forward with the magazine—serving this woman and showing her beauty in an honest and new way.
Chuck Marcus for CRWN
BYRDIE: Who is the CRWN woman?
LD: She is a black woman. She may or may not refer to herself as a naturalista, but hair is a big part of her identity. Hair can be something that impedes success in the workplace or simply be an activity for her. There are so many things that are tied to hair. With CRWN, we wanted to create something that was beyond just hair and talk about the similarities between our stories; things that make it easier for us to see ourselves in each other, rather than focusing on the divide.
There are so many factors within our community that contribute to this divide, like hair textures and skin tones. Our goal is to find that common ground and unite. We have so many issues as a community and a country. Black women can’t continue to divide ourselves based on superficial things that come from a variety of external forces. We want to foster a place where we can have progressive dialogue to start to overcome these things.
BYRDIE: How do you define natural hair?
LD: We are multifaceted beings, so our expressions of hair are multifaceted. It’s not as simple as saying Your hair is natural or Your hair is straight. The beauty is that we come from a history where we had to suppress our true selves in order to assimilate and feed our families. Now we’re at a place where our ancestors have fought through so much, so it’s beautiful to even be able to have this conversation surrounding our expression of hair. The beauty is that we are defining hair for ourselves rather than having someone else define what beauty is for us. Whether it’s public figures like Viola Davis, Beyoncé, or Oprah, these women show that we are more than enough, and that’s so important. So many people have pulled so much from our culture and our heritage, so I want us to see the beauty that everybody else sees. They don’t always treat our beauty as they should, but they see it.
BYRDIE: What drove you to decide to name the magazine CRWN?
LD: It just came to us, and we knew that was it. Before deciding on that name, we tried everything. We did all of these different exercises, like going through libraries and looking through books. We settled on it as an expression of Your hair is your crown. There are literal and figurative reasons attached to that. The crown is the top of your head. The crown chakra is what connects you to creative and spiritual realms. There’s power in this word that means royalty. All of these words are very positive, rich, and descriptive of black women.
BYRDIE: What’s the legacy you wish to leave behind with CRWN?
LD: I want all black women to look through CRWN and finally see themselves. We’ve been told in so many ways throughout our history to alter ourselves. From things like contouring your nose to make it look smaller and skin bleaching—all of this is current and rampant in our society today. We forget because we see more black women now on screen and in the media, but we still have such a long way to go. The real question is why do black women flip through hair magazines and never see a strand that grows from our head? Is there a problem with that, and if so, why? If I’m able to be a part of so many voices involved in telling this story to spark and lead that conversation, I will be very, very happy. I hope CRWN can serve as a vehicle for that.
BYRDIE: When I read CRWN, it feels so refreshing to see black women who look like me and can relate to my story. Oftentimes, our stories are not captured in the truest manner, especially in the editorial landscape. Did you create CRWN0 to fill that void?
LD: There are so many of black women who come from different ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. You start talking to each other and realize we all share so many similar stories. When you grow up and feel like you’re completely different from your surroundings, you feel isolated and like you have no power. Over time, you realize that you have a huge community of women who share your same values. Now you can unite, elevate concepts and ideas you put together to manifest, use your resources, and change things. In my opinion, that power comes from community. With CRWN, I wanted to take it offline so that you can be able to physically share a representation of our story with your friend and have conversations around this content. There’s so much power and healing in that.
BYRDIE: Natural hair has a hurtful history of being shunned by greater society because it doesn’t fit into society's Eurocentric beauty standards. In recent years, there’s been more of a general acceptance of natural hair. What do you think sparked that shift?
LD: It’s the interconnectedness we experience now in this information age. Black women took rituals and things we’d discuss with our families to YouTube. The phenomenon of a blogger sitting in her living room, sharing her story with women across the globe with thousands of women, is amazing. Subscribers are following along with her story and journey. That sisterhood you would experience on a smaller scale is now a global sisterhood. It’s possible now to see yourselves in your sisters across the globe. What I can tell and summarize from history is the Black Power Movement was a response of us being defiant against the status quo. Our response today is very much so tied to a raised consciousness in terms of hair, health, what we put into our bodies, etc. Watching my mom become inspired to transition after she was diagnosed with breast cancer was so impactful. She stopped putting chemicals in her hair, started eating healthier, working out. In a sense, there’s no going back once you have that kind of awakening. I saw her experience an emotional, physical and spiritual awakening. Our community is shifting in terms of thinking about our continuity. We have more information now so we can make better decisions, and we’re choosing to do so.
BYRDIE: In what ways do you hope that CRWN can transform the narrative of natural hair and rewrite a new story in terms of women?
LD: These forces are there for a reason, and they don’t go away easily, as we can see with the political and cultural climate of the world right now. In terms of changing the narrative, there have been so many things placed on us as people of African descent that tell us we are less than—in so many different ways. Recognizing the trauma and the psychological damage that we’ve been subjected to and understanding that we’re not alone in that is what so much of our content is about. The first issue of CRWN was the manifesto and painted the full picture of a black woman. In our second issue, there’s a huge focus on self-love, partnership, and sisterhood. The current issue is the love issue, the next will be on money and power, and the fourth issue will be on freedom. Our brand pillars are sisterhood and knowledge of self-love, authenticity, and ownership. The mantra of CRWN is manifest love, power, money, and freedom. We see that as the path black women need to take. There’s so much power in manifestation and creating what you want to be in the world.
I received an email the other day from one of our readers who is a white, Irish man whose partner is black. He talked about how reading CRWN will make him a better father when he has a child one day. Of course, we’ve made the magazine to serve a particular woman, but I do hope that people who aren’t necessarily our target market are able to read and learn from the magazine as well. Whether it’s the mother of the mixed child or this Irish man, it’s my wish that they can read these stories and understand how to protect their child from potential psychological damage. I hope that everyone is able to pick up Crwn and understand our humanity. So many representations of black women are portrayed in an unbalanced way. With CRWN, we’re hoping to promote an honest depiction so people can get a true glimpse into what black women care about.
Travis Matthews for CRWN
BYRDIE: I’m sure it’s so hard to choose, but what has been the most fulfilling moment of CRWN thus far?
LD: I’ve been fortunate to have the most beautiful conversations around CRWN—especially when people’s eyes light up because they feel like they’re finally seeing themselves in the pages. When people say that they feel like this magazine “gets them,” it’s the coolest thing because we put so much energy into that. We don’t only feature celebrities; we capture people in their realest moments and in a way that’s very relatable. Through sharing our stories, there’s power in understanding how interconnected we truly are.
Ed. note: You can purchase your very own copy of CRWN at CRWNMag.com/Shop.