We had the good fortune of connecting with Nikki Byrom and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nikki, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. I think I inherited from my grandfather. In this iteration, I really wanted to be intentional about using my creative gifts to make room for me. I took a giant leap of faith, deciding to walk away from stable albeit somewhat unfulfilling career in higher education to live the life I wanted to lead on my own terms. It has had its challenges, but I wouldn’t trade what I’ve learned for what I left behind.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I became a full time artist 3 months before COVID-19 really hit the United States and we were put on lockdown. Lockdown meant no art shows, no festivals, no in-person events of any kind. And I must admit, it took the wind out of my sails. But, I hadn’t become a full time artist to go to shows, or festivals. I had become a full time artist because after years of doing what I was “supposed” to do, I wanted to give myself a chance to do what I wanted to do, what I believed I could do. And during the quarantine, just about all I could do was journal. I’d had the idea to paint journals before, but was afraid to do it. A friend of mine asked me to offer them because she wanted to send one to her friend in another state. And that’s how The Crown Initiative was born. It is the thing I’m most proud of as an artist. The way it works is, a client purchases a care package that includes a hand painted journal, a small piece of art, pens, and a greeting card (that I also create). They can gift that package to someone they know or donate it to be given anonymously. The goal was to offer Black womxn a safe space to feel what they needed to feel, and to be loved on by those who loved them. Friends, sisters, mamas, cousins, all manner of people were ordering these packages and sending them across the country. The womxn who received them were of course surprised by the gift, and would often find me on social media to comment on the journal being right on time and how thoughtful the idea was. It made the feel seen, validated, and empowered. It was beautiful. I still offer this care package on my website, and am working on making it a bit more expansive, but if I never paint anything else worth looking at again in my life, the journals and art I sent out with The Crown Initiative are enough for me because they directly align with my mission as a creative: ‘…to raise the vibration of the collective one paint stroke at a time’.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’m an introvert and a foodie, so, most of my favorite spots are restaurants, lol. But I would probably take my friends to these spots because they are my faves: For Keeps Books on Auburn Avenue, so we can peruse and gasp at all the rare books we’ve only seen named in bibliographies. At some point, we’d have to have pancakes and grits from Le Petit Marche in Kirkwood because it’s back now. I’d more than likely take them to Yeye’s Botanica on Covington Highway so they can stock up on incense and other spiritual necessities, and then to Phoenix and Dragon for crystals. There’d definitely be a trip to Harold’s on Roswell Road because, why not. We’d also have to go to Art Haus in Grant Park, so they could see my work in the gallery, because many of my friends live far away and can’t make it to openings. Finally, for the sake of brevity in this list, we’d have to go to Little Five Points so I can take them to Moods Music because it is a vibe.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I am often humbled by how blessed I am to have been allowed, at every juncture of my life, love, support, mentor ship, and friendship from so many people. I know I would leave someone out if I simply listed names, so I’ll forego that and say I wouldn’t be where I am without my family, my alma mater, The Fort Valley State University, my chosen family of close friends, and my nieces, nephews, and godchildren, who all inspire me every day.