“Shop Small” is a series where we speak to founders of small businesses discussing how their products and services address the needs of the members of the communities in which the founders identify.
Want to talk about making your dreams a reality? Gretchen Carvajal started BRWNGRLZ jewelry in her college dormitory and is now bringing representation to women of color well beyond the campus grounds.
BRWNGRLZ jewelry started as a passion project for Carvajal. (It also helped pay her rent while she was in school!)
“I was a Fine Art major and learned how to do laser cutting in my school, and it just took off from there,” Carvajal tells In The Know. “Ever since then, I would sneak into the art lab and use their laser and cut out mad earrings and stuff.”
Carvajal saw the potential of BRWNGRLZ early on. She recognized a complete lack of representation in the world of fashion accessories, so she started the brand to give faces like hers and her friends a platform to be seen in retail.
“Earrings in general are a deep-rooted thing in women of color’s history,” she says. “Bamboo earrings and things have always been a statement piece, so I love using earrrings as a way of making people stand out, making women of color stand out.”
BRWNGRLZ jewelry’s statement pieces are not just beautiful, they’re also meaningful. One of her Delano earrings features imagery to reflect the United Farm Worker’s movement. Another earring shows the international hotel strike, a movement that supports housing rights in San Francisco.
Take a look at more of our favorite BRWNGRLS jewelry pieces that support women of color.
Shop: Text Msg Hairpin Set, $35
Shop: Sunset Earrings, $90
Shop: Delano, $35
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