by Kat Thompson
I think a good word to describe Lindsey Day is "ambitious." "Inspiring" is another one, and "humble" is suitable, too. The perfect word she uses to describe herself is “thankful,” which already shows how good her heart is. Lindsey is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of CRWN magazine, a platform she’s conceived to build community and create visibility for Black women. The amount of care and passion she puts behind her project is commendable and should be applauded—she is paving the way for other creative women and people of color, pioneering a new space to share, to learn, to report genuinely and authentically. She is filling a void and empowering others, including myself, in the process. “This isn’t just about feeling good, it’s about building for our communities and for our children and our future. I think sometimes there’s this idea that the leaders are going to come save us but we are the actual leaders—we have to save ourselves,” she told Jennifer over the phone, her voice unwavering. Maybe another good word to describe her would be "superhero." Meet Lindsey Day.
What is your name, age, and title?
I’m Lindsey Day, I’m 31, and I am the co-founder and editor-in-chief of CRWN magazine.
What about you surprises people the most?
Oh gosh, you’re getting right to the I have to think questions!... Okay, this is kind of random, but when people first see me they don’t really expect me—like, I have a big brother and I was raised with a lot of hip-hop so I can spit hip-hop lyrics with the best of them. Karaoke, whatever. I think that will be surprising because people a lot of times see me in a particular setting and a lot of times I’m very focused and business-oriented, but I definitely love my music, music of all genres.
What is the most challenging or infuriating thing about working in your industry?
I mean, I think for me, it’s hard to define the industry because it kind of gets in a lot. We’re a magazine, we’re a lifestyle brand, we’re digital, and we’re in the beauty industry but we’re digital and we’re print… But I think, just in terms of challenges in general, I think anytime you’re creating something that’s new or fresh or people haven’t necessarily seen a lot of before, it can be a challenge to get people to buy in. I think one thing that’s been really huge for us is that our customer has bought in so hard so other people have kind of been forced to [laughs].
But in the beginning, there’s a lot of, “Oh, well print is dead” or “Oh, you can’t do it like that” or “Why would you make something in print?” in 2014, or whatever was the time. People were looking at an older business model for print but we were envisioning a new business model for print. It’s not even like we just thought it up out of thin air but we were observing what was happening—not necessarily even targeting towards Black people in print, but in print in general there was a lot happening at the time. I think the challenge, with any entrepreneur, is being the visionary in the face of people doubting you constantly. I don’t know if that is that specific to my industry, but that’s definitely a huge, annoying thing that is all the time until you reach a particular level. And then, I’m sure, there are new things to accomplish.
I guess that question is a little tricky because you guys are on a new level with what you’re doing… it’s groundbreaking and paving the way, so it’s hard to categorize it as one thing. I’m sure people have been doubtful and questioning.
There are a lot of people who maybe have tried to create something but maybe never have and they feel that they know better sometimes than you [laughs]. You know, keeping your nose to the grindstone so to speak and focusing on your vision and protecting it.
What is your go-to cure for a bad day?
It’s music again—it’s Stevie Wonder. Stevie Wonder cures everything. There are certain songs, and even certain albums… sometimes I rotate them, but there’s one, Fulfillingness’ First Finale, it’s kind of out there but it gets my spirit back. Music for sure.
What empowers you?
I feel most empowered when people around me are empowered. Like a lot of times lately I’ve been able to [experience this], whether it’s moderate a panel or speak on a panel, or somehow entertain, or even last week we did a pop-up event in Oakland and I looked around and there’s a room full of beautiful people of color of all shapes and sizes and height, weight, and color. Everyone [was] really enjoying each other and having conversations that are about creating and building together and supporting each other. I think that is my happy place by far.
When I think about maybe certain parts in my 20s and in my career and you look around and—no shade to anyone—but the people around me [didn’t] seem inspired. You know, the five people that you’re around the most are a reflection of you in some sense and I was just like, “Everyone seems uninspired, they seem sad, they seem like they left something behind and kind of gave up on it.” I think when I put that in contrast to now, I feel very humbled and honored to be in a place where conversations can be truly just about positive things. It doesn’t have to be about this person said that and that person did this and things that are destructive and really don’t produce any kind of energy at all… So yeah, I think that’s when I feel most empowered, is when I’m in a situation or environment that is free flow of thought and higher thought that can really carry us forward in the world that I think, even in the face of the crazy Trump era that we are facing, I think the desire to create positivity is even stronger.
This is a question that kind of follows up what you’re saying, but how do you want to make the world a better place?
I think for me and my work, it has become about helping people see themselves. It’s one thing to talk about great positive things and light and butterflies; I want to see people building businesses and owning land and buildings and creating wealth in community. This isn’t just about feeling good, it’s about building for our communities and for our children and our future. I think sometimes there’s this idea that the leaders are going to come save us but we are the actual leaders—we have to save ourselves. My particular project at this time is helping to shape our narrative as Black people and capturing what’s happening right now, and reporting it authentically, and reporting it with integrity when so many outlets aren’t doing so. And I’m not doing it to be on my high horse, we’re doing it because we see that there aren’t enough people doing it. And we saw that a lot of people are doing it digitally but nobody’s really honoring print anymore so for us that was something that we think is valuable and we thought enough people would think it’s valuable as well. This project happens to be print but I think it’s the digital tools and the reach that we have because of social media and digital marketing, just technology in general, that we’re able to spread the word beyond what a print publication would have reached decades ago.
What is your death row meal?
I love tacos. Yeah, probably tacos from my hometown place in Sacramento. There’s a place called 524 and it’s my favorite taco ever [laughs].
What kind of tacos are they?!
Crispy chicken tacos and they have a chile relleno that’s amazing. It would probably be that. A combination plate with beans and rice, you gotta have it. With a nice beer. I’m a Cali girl through and through, and now being in New York I’m like Oh my gosh, I need my tacos. So CRWN always does “Tacos and Chill”; it’s our shared Cali upbringing.
What is the one perfect word to describe you?
This is really corny, sorry, but "thankful." I’m just thankful. I think your career can take turns and twists—you have these plans and goals and it doesn’t always [pan out]. For me, I feel that I’ve found my purpose and for that I can’t be anything but thankful. Even in the craziness, the bad days, the uncertainties of entrepreneurship, being able to wake up and do this… I’m just thankful.
What is the most important lesson that you’ve learned in your lifetime?
I always have so many things to say until someone is like, “What advice can you give me?” and then I’m like, “I don’t know!” [laughs]. I’d say, and I’ve said this before, it’s just nobody’s going to give you permission. There’s a million things you can do in your life. How many people have been like, “I want to be a DJ” or “I want to try being a chef”? But the only difference between the DJ or the chef or whoever did this weird crazy job is that they did it. I think sometimes we put people on a pedestal, like they were born, they came out of the womb, with like a spatula and knew they wanted to be a chef. But then you talk to the people and they’re like, “I was a cab driver for twenty years” you know? And then something finally clicks and they did it.
There’s no right or wrong way—it’s not like each of us was necessarily put here to do one thing. Try things. Do different things. I think for me, the only reason I think I’ve found what I know I’m here for is because I tried a bunch of random stuff and messed it up, you know? Stuff didn’t work out well all the time; it was just a lot of different… I don’t even know if failure is the word, but experiences of not feeling like I was in the right place. You kind of just have to show up every day and try to get more on the right path. You have all of these ideas, you have a huge vision, and that’s great; I’m not saying don’t do those things, but you can’t do it all today.
What is the next best step? I think focusing on the next best thing and realizing that there is nothing stopping me from doing anything that anyone else was doing. And just really committing to it. It’s not about fame and glory the first year that you do it. It’s the whole marathon, not a sprint. It’s about the act and intention and practice and, for me, really finding my purpose. Just do it! Anytime you sit there and it’s been weeks and you’ve been saying the same thing and you haven’t done it, check yourself and do something. Make a website, create a business card, literally just create something. It becomes a snowball effect, I really believe that.
What is the accomplishment that you’re most proud of?
I think it would have to be CRWN. Just creating it, getting an issue done. It’s again, the idea of creating. It was like, “Hey, we’re on a rooftop in Brooklyn. We’re friends, chatting about an idea.” And then fast forward less than two years later, there’s a magazine with a readership with how many hundreds of people who’ve touched this project or been affected by it some way or even wrote and lended their voices or their creative talent to the magazine. Again, it’s that thankful word. It’s like, who am I that all of those people would contribute to something that we had an idea, you know? So, for that, this project honestly is my biggest accomplishment, career wise but to me it’s bigger than a career thing. I see it as a way. And actually, one of the women who shot a spread, her name is Brittani Sensabaugh or Brittsense, she was like, “This isn’t just a magazine. This is a tool to heal our people.” And I think once I realized the power and what it could be, you know again, it’s not about a career, it’s not about a magazine, it’s not about glory for Nkrumah or myself, it’s about using our God-given talent for the betterment of our people.