Many Black business owners have endured a profound series of shocks over the past three months, and charting a path forward right now will require all entrepreneurs summon an immense amount of fortitude.
This story is the first in a series of profiles that will feature Man Repeller contributors and creative collaborators who are more than up to the task—we reached out to them to hear about how they view their roles as entrepreneurs right now, and who they love to work with and follow for inspiration. We’ll be publishing these as an ongoing series. First up today is Jameel Mohammed, an artist, designer, and founder of luxury jewelry brand KHIRY.
Jameel Mohammed, Artist + Designer, Founder of KHIRY
In September 2017, Jameel Mohammed was a 21-year-old poli sci major—and likely the only senior in his department at the University of Pennsylvania to schedule his fall classes around the debut of his jewelry line at New York Fashion Week. KHIRY’s launch was the culmination of years of focused effort—including a summer internship at the erstwhile Barneys (offered after he asked Barneys VIP Daniella Vitale for advice during Penn Fashion Week) and a successful $25,000 Kickstarter he organized during his junior year. Now, only a few years later, KHIRY’s Afrofuturist hoops can be seen on the earlobes of Solange Knowles and Ayesha Curry. KHIRY’s signature pieces, like the Khartoum ring and Mask pendant, have become the recognizable icons of the brand, drawing from African cattle horns and west African masks, respectively.
While Mohammed’s college major may seem unrelated to running a luxury jewelry label at first glance, it’s clear that his political training plays a role in his creative outlook: “As a black artist and designer, it’s important to me to own my own business—as a means of both unhampered self-expression and of advocating for issues that affect the black community at large,” Mohammed says. “It offers me a semblance of self-determination, a space away from the arbitrary and often unjust rules of the world. It simultaneously challenges me to identify my values, while giving me the opportunity to live by them.”
Want more? Dive into MR Market Strategist Elizabeth Tamkin’s database of more than 500 Black-owned brands, along with some of her personal shopping recommendations. If you have a suggestion that you think should be added, please share it in the comments.