Shattering glass ceilings are true signs of an entrepreneur. Driving down paths that many are hesitant to conquer comes naturally to a person determined to fulfill their destiny. At Madamenoire, we recognize the value of those who are committed to making their dreams a reality, regardless of the challenges. We salute black women who embark into the world of entrepreneurship fearlessly. As part of our How I Made It series, powered by Nissan, we got the opportunity to chat with celebrity stylist and notable jewelry designer, Crystal Streets.
During our exclusive interview, Crystal sheds light on tapping into the jewelry space as an African-American woman, as well as the challenges that come with owning your share in a over-saturated market, while still trying to be a force to be reckoned with. The busy mom also shares what her daily responsibilities are as a boss and the most important tip that any creative looking to break into the design business should know and most importantly follow.
Find out how Crystal Streets made it…
Madamenoire: As a women in the fashion and jewelry space – how challenging was it to break into the business and now thrive as an entrepreneur?
Crystal Streets: Well, the diamond and jewelry industry in New York City it is dominated by Jewish and Indian men. Not only am I a minority – based on being a woman…I’m a Black woman with blonde and curly hair. I think in the beginning they thought I worked for someone. Honestly, it’s like a secret society. I had to work twice as hard to forge all my relationships.
Madamenoire: What are some the challenges that come with being a boss in what is often viewed as an over-saturated industry?
Crystal Streets: I think some of the challenges of being a boss in an over-saturated industry is feeling the need compete. I try to never compare myself or my accomplishments to anyone else. Staying true to yourself and your brand is always best. That’s what makes you unique. I believe what GOD has for me is for me and no one can get in the way of that.
Madamenoire: We often see the results of entrepreneurship – wealth, strong business networks, etc. – but what are the darker sides of being your own machine?
Crystal Streets: The darker side of being your own machine is that it requires more time and discipline than if you were working for someone else. I can’t clock out. I make my to-do list for the day and I have to power through it until it is finished – no matter what.
Madamenoire: You were interested in fashion from a young age – how has the business changed since your breakthrough?
Crystal Streets: When I started styling we didn’t have social media as a platform, so a part of me feels like we had to work so much harder to market our business and solicit clients. However, I do realize this is the world we live in now. However, at the end of the day, you still have to work hard to keep your clients. You can take a million pictures for social media, but if your clients aren’t happy with your service – it doesn’t matter.
Madamenoire: Who are some clients that seek your product? Why do they gravitate towards your brand?
Crystal Streets: My clients are usually very successful women who have disposable income and love fashion and jewelry. Truthfully, they gravitate towards my brand because we offer high quality custom pieces. I can make anything their heart desires. I also have a lot of athlete’s wives and finance guys looking to buy engagement rings. Most of my clients are referral based – so I try to create a personable, positive, and luxurious experience for them.
Madamenoire: What skill sets, tools, or resources do you think are required for entrepreneurs now?
Crystal Streets: I am a true believer in being a master of your craft. It’s important to have a solid foundation in whatever you do. I didn’t wake up one day and say “I want to be a jewelry designer.” In 2009, I went back to school at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT ) in New York City and took classes in jewelry design and jewelry making. I taught myself how to use design tools such as: Illustrator and CAD, which are extremely important in jewelry design because of the focus required on specs. Knowing all the necessary technical jargon and information allows you to communicate your vision better to those you work with in the industry. I also did an apprenticeship with my mentor and learned everything there is to know about diamonds and gemstones before I launched into diamonds and fine jewelry.
Madamenoire: What does a typical day look like for Crystal Streets?
Crystal Streets: I’m up at 6 AM and then I drop my daughter off to school. I workout with my trainer and then it is home-eat-shower. I start my work day around 11 AM and then I head to my showroom in the Diamond District. I meet with clients, look at new shipments of stones, head to the factory – check on production, source materials and then it is back to my desk to – respond to emails and meet with more clients. Back home, I prepare dinner while supervising homework and then it is back to my desk to – respond to more emails and work on new designs. At the end, I kiss my daughter goodnight and wind down so I can have a little me time. I am usually in bed by 11 PM.
Madamenoire: What tips can you share with women who are looking to get into your field?
Crystal Streets: Assist, assist, assist. I assisted for 2.5 years before I went out on my own. Assisting gives you an opportunity to make mistakes on someone else’s job.