STYLE: The story behind Akash Prasad’s Crown City jewelry line

Jewelry designer Akash Prasad, who launched the popular Crown City line in September last year, was terrified on his first day of school in Queens, New York, two decades ago. When she was 15, her family had just left Guyana, a South American country of just 800,000 people. “Russians were with Russians, Indians were with Indians, and black kids were with blacks,” he recalls. “I had no community. There was no one else from Guyana there.

In 2018, the 33-year-old started all over again when he and his wife left New York and moved to Charlotte with their first child. Prasad remained vice president of New Jersey-based Ace Watches and served as a design consultant for a handful of national retailers, including Dr. Jay’s, PCX Clothing and Fashion Nova. But they wanted to raise their son in a more family-friendly town, where Prasad could eventually start a creative business. “I noticed a lot of other awesome brands had already covered the wearable part,” he says, “but there was a gap in the jewelry market, and I saw it as a way to contribute in a way creatively at Charlotte’s fashion fabric.”

Above, left to right: Gold Mint pendant and chain ($40), Gold Brevard pendant and chain (silver also available, below, $40), Gold Trade pendant and chain ($45). Pictures by Rusty Williams.

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Crown City remained a dream until early 2020, after the death of Kobe Bryant. Prasad says it was Bryant’s “Mamba Mentality” that inspired him to start planning his business online. “He accomplished so much and put his all into every project,” he says. “He was also drafted by Charlotte in 1996, so I had all the motivation I needed.”

Prasad had already worked in the jewelry industry for over a decade. His college best friend’s father owned a watch store in Manhattan. In 2014, Prasad and his friend helped launch this store’s jewelry line, focusing on what Prasad calls “trendy urban pieces popular among the rap and hip-hop crowd.” For his own line, he wanted to work in gold- or rhodium-plated stainless steel.

Crown City was born from a collection of pendants inspired by Charlotte. Prasad found inspiration for his crown logo, which has become a Charlotte centerpiece, one day while strolling through Bryant Park and noticing the clean, straight lines of the Duke Energy building.

He also wove some of Charlotte’s story into the collection: the breaks or missing pieces on her crown were intentional. “They’re meant to represent the missing pieces of this city,” he says, “like the Brooklyn neighborhood and other areas that have been torn down.”

Crown City is available at CLT Find, a popular online retailer with a stand at the 7th Street Public Market, and the Charlotte Visitor Info Center store. Prasad hopes to be in several stores in Plaza Midwood, South End and Camp North End soon. He also sells his pieces, which cost around $45 each, on crowncitync.com and on his Instagram page, @crowncitync.

“Living in Charlotte has already changed my outlook on life and people,” says Prasad. “I have a new appreciation for living without haste, putting family first and getting to know your neighbors. The best way to show love or support for something these days is to wear it. make with clothes, others with jewelry.

MICHELLE BOUDIN is a reporter for NBC Charlotte and is a frequent contributor to this magazine.