When society attempts to gatekeep the notion of who is deemed “worthy” of access to luxury, Black women are typically shut out of the conversation. They’re criticized and dismissed when they openly live the lifestyle — especially on social media. We’ve seen celebrities like Cardi B and Saweetie get ridiculed for flaunting their prized possessions and even everyday Black women. Fortunately, there are women who are working to change that narrative. Take Gillian Bradley, for example, the CEO of Harper Ray Accessories who believes Black women are more than deserving of the finer things in life.
As soon as customers walk through the doors of Harper Ray Accessories, they enter into a space that is tailored just for them. From being welcomed by a host of Black women to high-quality jewelry crafted with the customers in mind, it’s the ultimate experience for Black women to have a space where they can both figuratively and literally shine in their element.
“I think that just as Black women, sometimes people don’t think that we’re supposed to be in certain spaces and always have this luxury vibe,” Bradley said to AfroTech. “People don’t want to see us in those spaces and with those things. We treat every customer [at Harper Ray] like they’re a princess. This princess thing is kind of our basis. People feel appreciated, seen and heard when they come in.”
From A Hobby To A Luxury Brand
The foreshadowing of Bradley’s journey as an entrepreneur began in her high school jewelry class where she would mold, saw, then rock her own accessories. Her love for making jewelry turned into people wanting to buy her creations. The now CEO transformed her hobby into what is now Harper Ray, which aims to disrupt the fashion jewelry industry as a brand that sells everyday, high-quality jewelry at affordable prices.
“There is no one who really markets toward women who look like us,” Bradley told AfroTech. “I really wanted to focus on celebrating multicultural women. When people are designing jewelry and marketing, they’re not always thinking about us and we are really such a large consumer base for a lot of these brands.”
Brand Marketing For Multicultural Women
Harper Ray’s marketing being dedicated to multicultural women has garnered loyal supporters (Harper Baes) for the brand. The extent of their community’s loyalty showed up during their mega sale in 2020. Harper Ray sold discounted products for 24 hours at midnight with a goal of reaching $10,000 in sales. In just minutes, the brand reached its goal and the numbers continued to climb. By the end of the sale, Harper Ray surpassed nine to ten times their initial goal.
Harper Ray's Non-Traditional Jewelry Store
While building off of the momentum, Bradley recently opened a brick-and-mortar in Southfield, MI where her Harper Baes can purchase their jewelry in person. It defies the traditional jewelry store as customers are able to touch and wear items prior to purchasing.
To further ensure customer satisfaction, the brand is also set to soon launch a campaign for more inclusive sizing. Harper Ray’s ultimate mission is for everyone to feel special while being iced out.
“I really love the vibe we’ve curated of women — it’s women empowerment. You can buy your own jewelry. You don’t have to wait for men or special occasions to buy jewelry for yourself,” she said. “Most jewelry companies now are curated for men. They market toward men, ‘men buy women jewelry.’ There is no market toward women.You can get your own damn jewelry. Seeing women come in and just cash themselves out is so fun to watch.”
Editorial Note: This interview has been edited for clarity and length.