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This Milwaukee black-owned business celebrates black history every day through jewelry

The Bronzeville Collective has called on the Milwaukee community to support black-owned businesses in celebration of Black History Month. Local poet, artist and entrepreneur Lilo Allen owns Papyrus & Charms - one of the four Black-owned businesses in the collective. Her handmade jewelry is vibrant, unique and celebrates African and black culture.

Listen to the audio story below to learn more about Lilo Allen and her jewelry business Papyrus & Charms.

Photo by Mahdi Gransberry
“The brand itself was always meant to be a platform for something bigger,” Allen says about her handmade jewelry business Papyrus & Charms.

She started the business over four years ago and today it lives amongst a few other black-owned businesses in the Bronzeville Collective.

“It’s what I like to call culturally conscious, handmade, wearable art,” says Allen. “Everything I make pays homage to both my African-American and Jamaican ancestry.”

Papyrus & Charms is a very "for-the-culture" type of brand. She pays respects to ancestral icons like Queen Nefertiti by turning her silhouette into earrings. She turns today’s biggest activists such Colin Kaepernick into enamel pins. She even has earrings and bracelets inspired by Marvel movie "Black Panther," with her signature Wakanda pieces.

Allen also collaborates with her father who lives in Jamaica. He sends Lilo unique pieces made from palm trees or coconut shells, along with colorful and cultural fabrics for Allen to use in other pieces.

Allen's favorite part of making jewelry is taking requests for custom items.

“Just the experience of creating something based on how well you know a person or what kind of vibe they give you is really dope,” said Allen. “To see the pay off from that like if they’re crying or happy, I love it.”

For the month of February, Allen and her fellow entrepreneurs at the Bronzeville Collective will be hosting special events and sales in honor of Black History Month. Learn more here.