The cult of Khoi is a distinct group of shoppers who unabashedly love the black-owned jewelry brand, what it represents and how it operates. I was introduced to a few of its members in July during a trip to Khoi’s showroom in Chicago’s Bucktown.

My trip to the showroom came just days after I first learned of the brand during a morning walk around the Bucktown neighborhood. I stumbled across the store’s stunning window display and was stopped in my tracks noticing all of the brown faces in the marketing materials.

“This must be black-owned,” I told my husband.

As it was a weekday, the showroom was closed. But I quickly pulled up the brand’s website on my cellphone. My next reaction? Shock. Sticker shock. And not the kind I am used to. Instead of being instantly turned off by prices that were far outside of my limitations, I was met with extremely affordable price points.

Photo credit: @shopkhoi/Instagram

Sticker Shock

“You can buy earrings for $30 at Khoi,” Khoi’s founder Hayet Rida told me.

I got the chance to sit down with Rida to discuss the brand. She shared the story of a man who came into the store with his wife and was clearly apprehensive about the bill he was about to receive. Rida said after one look at the prices he motioned for her to come over.

“He goes ‘Tell her to get whatever she wants,'” Rida remembered with a laugh. “A lot of times we go out of our way to live up to specific means. You don’t need to break your bank to get this level of quality. I want that to be the bare minimum. Ok, the pieces are great, they’re affordable. Why? Because you can then have fun as you are experimenting.”

Rida’s focus on experimentation is clear once you step foot into Khoi’s showroom. The extremely attentive staff is ready and waiting to assist clients in trying on every piece available if desired. There is no feeling of being rushed. No push to buy. As a customer, you are simply allowed to look, touch and experience what the brand has to offer.

As far as what those offerings are, Khoi specializes in bold, artistic jewelry available in warm gold and silver tones. Exclusivity is also a major part of the brand’s strategy. Once a new collection is released and it sells out, the items are never reproduced. The tactic has helped build the Khoi cult and driven up demand to nab new pieces.

“As an artist, when I’m done, I’m done. I don’t replicate anything,” Rida explained. “It’s actually built this little cult for lack of a better word. You have women who say, ‘Oh you got that piece? Your fingers must be quick because very few people were able to log on and get it.’ That’s the beauty of Khoi I don’t want you to walk around and a million people have the same piece. I want you to understand you have an artifact.”

Being Black-Owned

The Khoi fans I encountered were clearly excited to interface with the brand in-person rather than just online. It’s one of the reasons Rida says she decided to open up a brick-and-mortar location. She’s proud of what she’s built but also not quite content. That, she says, is key. And while Rida is well aware that she is a Black-owned business, she doesn’t lean on the idea of being given grace because of that distinction.

“I never want to be this ‘oh well she’s black so I’m just going to buy it,'” Rida said. “I love that we have that energy but I think there is this nature that I would tell the team at the start of every open weekend I would have them repeat ‘Excellence is what? The bear minimum.’ And that is the ethos of the entire brand.”