Shine bright like a diamond: Jawneh encourages cultural pride through jewelry business


Pamodou Jawneh

Jara Jawneh (12) poses wearing one of Kala Boutique’s Africa kerr necklaces. Kala Boutique was founded by Jawneh and offers Africa kerr necklaces and other jewelry products for sale.

Most teenagers spent their elongated summer vacation binge-watching Netflix and procrastinating on homework. Jara Jawneh (12), on the other hand, became the CEO of her very own business. 

“When I was younger I always wanted to start a boutique and I wanted to do something that would also help people,” Jawneh said. “There were many trials and errors… Finally, I decided to start with jewelry.”

Thus, Kala Boutique was born. Today you can shop for rings, anklets, and necklaces at Kala boutique. Along with being affordable and outright cute, Jawneh’s products have her personal touch stamped all over them. 

“Most of the stuff  I sell reflects me as a person. The first products that I sold were these ankle bracelets. I have a bangle that I wear every day and they just looked like me,” Jawneh said. “I also use Wolof words to name my jewelry because my Zambian American family speaks Wolof. I wanted to use the language to express more of who I am.” 

Jawneh utilizes her Instagram platform to reach out to customers and ask what type of items they would like to see next. She cares about her consumers’ opinions and feelings, and, as a result, they adore her. 

“I ordered the ‘Melah letter ring’ in gold with the letter ‘K.’ The ring is such a cute and simple piece that goes with all my accessories. She delivered it to me within three days and it came in the cutest packaging and a handwritten note,” Kyah Mckinney (12) said. 

Not only does Kala Boutique strive to provide modest yet fashionable jewelry, but it also works towards a bigger purpose. 

“I’ve always felt bad that I couldn’t really help people, so when I started this business and started making money from it, I could finally give money to those who are less fortunate,” Jawneh said.

And help them she has. Kala Boutique donates one-third of all its proceeds to reputable charities to help those in need. 

“A part of your money from your purchase goes towards different charities. For example, House of Innocence, Save the Children, St. Jude and more,” Jawneh said. 

Not only has Jawneh started her own business, but she has poured so much of herself into her products. By including components of her culture and religion in her jewelry, she hopes to inspire others to accept their own identities. 

“Kala is a Wolof word that means hijab. The whole idea behind the business was to prompt modesty, not just clothing-wise. But being modest in the way we act, making sure that we treat others right, and being the best that we can be,” Jawneh said.