Michelle Obama, our forever first lady, once again rocked her speech at the Democratic National Convention. But this time around, people are paying as much attention to what she wore as to what she said. The VOTE necklace Obama sported has gone viral, and the Black woman entrepreneur behind it—Chari Cuthbert, founder of jewelry brand BYCHARI—couldn’t be happier.
But Cuthbert had no clue that Obama would wear it for her much-anticipated speech at the convention.
“We had no idea where she was going to wear it. We just knew that she wanted it,” Cuthbert told The Daily Beast. “It was surreal. I sat at my desk and cried. To see her wearing my necklace, it’s insane.”
“I never imagined that something I’m so passionate about could mean so much to so many! The response has been incredible and I am beyond honored and humbled that Michelle Obama wore my design,” she tweeted.
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Behind BYCHARI, is a team of incredible talented and diverse women. A team of women that show up everyday to help make my dreams a reality. My gratitude for their commitment and tenacity is beyond words. I couldn’t do it without them and for that I will forever be indebted. @k_cutty you’re far away but you’re the real OG of the team. Wish you were here. @benjaminholtrop thank you for capturing this beautiful image. #bychari @clubmonaco
According to The Daily Beast, 36-year-old Cuthbert was born in Miami to Jamaican parents. A self-taught artist, she quit her job and moved to Hawaii in 2012, and later Los Angeles, with $100 to start her business.
“I have no formal training in jewelry—it was a self-taught journey that was fueled by my passion,” Cuthbert told E! Online.
“I started BYCHARI with only $100 and had no business starting a company,” she continued. “Yet, I was determined to work for myself and build a brand I could be proud of and in return, empowered other women.”
That brand is about to reach a whole new level of exposure, thanks to Obama.
According to CNN, the necklace was the top-trending search on Google during the final hour of the convention. The news outlet also noted that “During her tenure as first lady, Obama often championed small, culturally diverse fashion and accessories designers.”
@MichelleObama has always been extremely conscious that whatever she wears will likely sell-out, and as such often champions smaller, less-well-known labels and brands, many with culturally diverse owners/designers.
— Kate Bennett (@KateBennett_DC) August 18, 2020
Having Obama as a champion will certainly help the brand achieve its mission of helping “women to share and create their stories.”
“There is something so subtle and beautiful about jewelry. I love how each piece, and how it’s worn, tells a story about the woman who wears it,” Cuthbert writes on the website.
Cuthbert added to TIME magazine: “Jewelry is something you can put on and just feel really good about yourself.”