The Black Girl In Om List: lindsey day
Interview and introduction by Lauren Ash. Photography by Nkrumah Farrar.
THE CRWN QUEEN
Lindsey Day breathes life into the way we are represented. And that is both an act of self-love, as well as an act of community care. As co-founder and editor-in-chief of CRWN, Lindsey tells the world the truth about Black women by showcasing a new standard of beauty — and documents our story in tangible, print form. Deun Ivory and I had an indescribably beautiful experience shooting and telling our stories for The Love Issue, and have enjoyed growing and glowing up with the CRWN crew ever since. On our podcast, Lindsey shed light on the power of sisterhood and mental health. Her sharp vision on ensuring we maintain power in how we see ourselves in the world is a powerful counternarrative serving as an antidote. Lindsey is a true sister for us all and her journey reminds us of the power of getting rooted in our purpose and rising gradually into the fullness of its potential. Connect with Lindsey on Instagram @LindseyDayy and @CRWNMAG and stay in touch with the latest on CRWN’s website.
How do you stay rooted?
I think staying rooted kind of comes back to the people that are in my world and surrounding myself with (even the people I don’t surround myself with). Especially going into my thirties, I just think it's all about the energy you have around you and the people you choose to work with, and also removing myself from the corporate space was a big part of that. Choosing to bet on myself was kind of the first step to really understanding what I’m here for and being rooted in that. click to tweet Being rooted in your God-given purpose and not being afraid, even though the material things might be a little shaky in the beginning, when you're first starting and don’t necessarily have a deep level of clarity. Having that sense of purpose and surrounding yourself with people who have a similar sense of purpose in their own lanes; who are there to see you be your best self — instead of trying to compete with you or put themselves "above you" — is important. I think having that space, whether it’s the space that you create or the space that you enter into, or allow people to enter into, is what keeps me rooted.
What was one of your biggest struggles in creating CRWN Magazine and how did you or how are you rising above it?
I would say one of the biggest struggles that still persist even now, is how we live in this microwave-quick fast world where everyone is putting out 100 blog posts a day and everyone’s shouting at the rooftops about what they want to share with the world. I think having the discipline to not try to do that and play to our strength, be intentional and thoughtful and commit to creating something that’s lasting, versus something that just looks good on the Gram’.
Focusing on what will people be looking at in CRWN five, ten or fifty years from now? We wanted to create something that people would share with their daughters and their granddaughters and be able to have real, healing conversations to ultimately help reprogram ourselves in some ways. All of these things are really, really important to us and in the midst of all this stuff, it can be easy to lose sight of that and try to ‘keep up with the joneses’ so to speak.
In the beginning, I think the challenge was sticking to our guns and making sure that it was right. We are bootstrapped and revenue-funded, we don’t have a bunch of investor dollars flowing in so it was a real commitment to sticking to our vision, what we are here for and saying “we’re going to do it this way.” People don’t always understand that and so that is a challenge, whether that’s companies or readers; and sometimes it means saying no to money and holding out for what you know you're worth, which is really hard in the beginning! But I think that if we would have gone the other way, we probably would not even be here. We’d probably be burned out. And because we want to build this company in a particular way, we weren’t going to win that game of news and reporting on everything, or posting a bunch of sponsored posts for nickels and dimes. Ultimately sticking to that initial vision was challenging, but really, really important to our success.
How do you polish your inner voice to ensure that the dialogue is of abundance?
I love yoga and I don’t meditate nearly as much as I should, but being in a time where you're able to hear the voice of your peers — like Tracy G. and you, Lauren, who have amazing guided meditations — speaking in a way that is so relatable, where you realize, "I’m not alone in this" is so, so powerful.
I will say that it is a constant work in progress. I think especially when you’re raised by such a strong woman like my mother and my grandmother (who was such a powerful force), and you find yourself hearing their voices and you’re like “what should I do?” You ask yourself “Is that my voice? Or is that someone else’s voice?” Is that society putting certain pressures on me? So I think it’s definitely a work in progress. So much of it comes back to that sisterhood and surrounding yourself with people who get that (because there’s so many people that don’t get it), as an entrepreneur and business owner, you’re rejected so many times and you hear “no” so many times and you question whether or not you’re doing the right thing or if you should just throw in the towel? All entrepreneurs feel that at some point. But overall, I think it’s all about the people and the energy you allow in your space. And sometimes the calls that you answer or don’t answer—I think it’s just protecting that mental space and knowing that you don’t owe anyone your sanity or your presence at a given time. You have to take care of "number one" first, and then you can try to take care of some other folks.
How has your definition of success evolved as you’ve risen into who you are today?
It definitely has changed so much. I think a lot of people can relate to the whole “go to school and get a good job” and a “good job” was being a doctor or a lawyer. Those are the things that our parents generation saw as a success and it was kind of imparted in us.
For me, I got the scholarship to USC, I went to college, I graduated from the competitive undergrad Business program, I got the big job at Universal Music and it was like this is not fulfilling to me. When I‘m going to work 8-10 hours a day I ask, “Is this really what I’m meant to do with my time?” After some years passing, you’re like wait, hold on. People think it’s cool to work at this big record label company, but that doesn’t help me sleep at night and that doesn’t make me feel great everyday. I think it was about growing into my own self and being unafraid to make the changes necessary to truly lock into my purpose and that journey has been very tumultuous, but yet so, so worth it. I think my definition of success was always around money, material things and getting the house and doing all of these things that were kind of checking the boxes, even including getting married and having kids young. You realize when you come to know who you are, maybe those things don’t happen in that order or maybe I could have all the money, but I could be missing the purpose or other beautiful things. Of course, everyone would like to be independently wealthy and personally on a Universal level, I would want to see Black people come into wealth and be able to be more autonomous and able to work together and collaborate-- that is success. I think it’s less about the material gains, than it is about legacy and what we’re able to impact with those things.
So yeah, my definition of success has shifted so much. It has shifted to being at peace. I remember obsessively balancing my checkbook and being obsessed with the money that was coming in and going out, and I had money and savings, but when I first went into entrepreneurship, I didn’t have any of that. I was even spending my retirement on creating this platform. But, in that time, my brokest time, I realized I was so much more at peace than when I had money saved up. That journey was so necessary for me to realize it’s not about the money, but it’s just about that abundance mindset and realizing that there isn’t the scarcity that you’ve been raised and programmed to think there is.
Also, so much can be done without money. Although it sounds crazy, you can make it work. Being broke will make you make it work and make you realize how much power and creativity you really have. I think once you tap into that, it’s a whole different game. Overall, we have the abundance of each other, which I don’t think we always recognize. It always comes back to success looks like looking around at the people in your life and question whether these people bring you alive? Do they fulfill you? Do they champion you?
If you had to describe your journey from root to rise in three words, what would they be?
Perspective, purpose and community.
What are three practical steps we can take now in order to manifest business or creative-related projects we desire in 2019?
I would say, it goes back to that notion that you are a reflection of the five people you spend the most time with. I remember a moment in life where I heard that and I looked around and said, “Wow.” The people that I am around who are lovely people, might not be the most happy or purpose-driven.
One, I would say is just if maybe you’re working a full-time job and you know you can’t just leave the people that you’re around, try to take the steps after work to find a community that feeds you and find a space that can feed your creativity, open up something new to you, challenges you, and takes you out of those same toxic cycles that keep you in the same place. I think that’s number one, because any change you make can be undone if you’re around the wrong people. Not everyone wants to see you rise. Honestly, that can be family and even friends you’ve had from childhood, so taking stock and evaluating that can be so hard, but it’s so necessary.
And step two, very practical—save all yo coins. You’re going to need them. If you’re going to start any project, save all of your money. We always say eat the beans and rice before you gotta eat the beans rice. Make those lifestyle choices that prove to yourself that you have the discipline and prove to yourself that this is something that you prioritize. Those happy hours, dinners (especially in places like New York and L.A), that stuff adds up and if you are going to take an entrepreneurial leap or a creative sabbatical, you realize that those every two-week paychecks were feeling great and when they don’t come, it gets very tight, very quick. Your lifestyle will for sure likely have to change, unless you have a lovely source of revenue from somewhere. It’s important to make sure you have that cushion and making those changes before you must is really important.
Thirdly, I would have to say this whole imposter syndrome thing—let it go. I think a lot of times culturally we feel like we’re taught to be humble, which is a wonderful thing, but when you’re in a business context and you’re presenting yourself, no one wants to hire you for your work if you don’t even sound confident in your own work. There are young girls who are coming out of college and feeling entitled in a particular way and they end up fast-tracking their careers simply because they were like “Yup, I’m great” and they own it and know what they’re good at and they don’t back down from it. And Lauren, you are a perfect example of owning what you have and what you bring to the table. Yes, owning it and not feeling like someone else can do a better job. If I learned anything on this journey, you’d be surprised that you and your creativity is beyond the quote experts or the self-proclaimed experts, they just chose to call themselves that and they chose to believe that. Sometimes that’s literally half the battle-- is getting your mind wrapped around your innate, unique value.
I remember going up to the (then) Editor-In-Chief of Essence, Vanessa de Luca and saying, “Hi, I’m the Editor-In-Chief of CRWN Magazine.” And I had a zine in my hand, we hadn’t even dropped our first full issue yet, and we were featured in Essence two months later. This always sticks with me because if I had said to her “Hi, I’m starting this magazine and I would love for you to…” she wouldn’t have thought twice about it.
Receive something meaningful from this phenomenal woman? These 20 black women embody our mission fully. And their journeys over the past year illuminate what it means to root to rise. Share with us on social how you plan on doing the same in the year to come. #BGIORootToRise