The greatest part about this year of 2016 is that the Black community has begun to join and ban together in the midst of all the chaos and injustice happening within the law system in America. Deterring the attention away from current world issues, one topic that has long been ignored is finally starting to come to light. Black owned businesses and why we should support them. One of the many solutions to Black people in America gaining not only human rights equality, but all around equality is to stop following this "American Dream" concept that has been put before since childhood. We must obtain, create, and control OUR OWN. In other words, in order to break the cycle its time for us to stop following this pre-packaged American Dream of working some type of 9-5 that you have no passion for and follow your dream. The human default is to automatically think that something like this unobtainable, its "too big" or "too much". but the truth is you can fulfill any desire that you are passionate about and are skilled in. Especially in this day and age.
After the Alton Sterling shooting, the Black Community came together so strong all over this country, not just outwardly but on social media as well remember the internet is powerful. I'm always making new connects on Twitter and I see so many of the young black youth (the cool kids are like what I like to call them) thriving within these small and sometimes even big businesses that they have created for themselves. They start small and it grows into something bigger more and more every day. It is truly inspiring to see and it's also a reminder that you can do it too. It just takes some perseverance and hard work. Thinking about the potential of the power of Black owned Businesses inspired me to interview one of my fav business owners, Eboni Merriman, founder of Lost Queens.
I've been obsessed with Lost Queens ever since I discovered them through seeing my friend "DazziDazz" (who I interviewed a few weeks ago) model some their pieces. I saw the diversity of the models, the set up, and I thought it was amazing. When I saw Lost Queen's "Formation" inspired photo shoot I fell deeper in love! Ever since I've been keeping up with LQ and many other black business as a supporter and witness that establishing your wildest dream is obtainable.
Eboni is 24-years-old originally from New York City, but currently resides in Richmond, VA. We had a little email chat over the weekend just so I could look in the genius of just what Lost Queens is.
So, when was LQ (Lost Queens) first founded?
Where did your Inspiration to start Lost Queens come from?
"I wanted to celebrate black womanhood in all of its fullness and the Pharrell "Lost Queen" song kept looping in my head. I've always loved jewelry so it was just natural to go this way."
So I wanna know about this process its' so interesting! You come up with all of the designs yourself?
"I either work with an individual vendor to come up with Lost Queens exclusives or I choose from a few specific vendor's selections based on what I like."
How is the jewelry made? Is it all made by hand? Do you/will you ever use a manufacturer to produce your work?
"We use a few vendors in LA, NYC, Turkey, India & China currently. We had thigh chains and faux septum clips made by hand in previous collections and we hopefully want to expand to Ghana soon."
How long does it typically take to make a piece?
"We're able to get most of our shipments in on a weekly basis; if something is limited edition and that vendor only made a certain amount, I make sure to note that on it's listing."
Do you have a team of people that help you?
"Currently, I have a creative director that I work with. She's helping me clean up the site, streamline the processes, pull some interns together, and take us to another level. I had an assistant for a few months and I made all of my friends help me in the beginning, but I do almost all of the day to day operations solo."
How did you begin to make connections in business? I feel like living in New York would be an advantage. Was easy to find people (photographers, make up artists, etc) to work with?
"Yeah, I pretty much just used my friends and social media network to find everything I needed. I had a blog in the past with a friend of mine and I've been on Twitter since 2009 so I was able to network fairly easily."
What is your ultimate goal with LQ?
"I want to create a retail empire that impacts and provides representation for ALL Black women"
How far would you say LQ has come since it first started?
"We've come such a long way. We celebrate our 2 year anniversary this month and we've already landed major press and seen our pieces on television, print newspapers and magazines, celebrities, major music festivals, etc."
So now that you've come to this established place in your business, what future plans do you have for lost queens?
"Events, becoming more engaged with our community and growing the business/streamlining our processes."