The actress and activist designed a four-piece Lioness Collection with Aurate, and 20% of the proceeds go to the non-profit women's activism organization, Supermajority

By Kaitlyn Frey
November 19, 2020 09:00 AM
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Credit: David Urbanke

Kerry Washington's joining the jewelry business with the main mission of "democratizing fine jewelry" for all women.

The actress, activist and investor (she's backed startups The Wing, Community and Byte) has made an investment in the female-founded, direct-to-consumer jewelry brand, Aurate, the New York-born brand started in 2015 by Bouchra Ezzahraoui and Sophie Kahn.

"When I met Sophie and Bouchra, I was so impressed with them as women and as badass entrepreneurs and founders," Washington tells PEOPLE. "I was so impressed with the product. It really spoke to me, this idea of democratizing fine jewelry by cutting out the middleman and allowing more people to have access to beautiful jewelry. I wanted to be a part of this journey."

To kick off their partnership, Washington, 43, worked with Aurate to design the Lioness Collection featuring four pieces — a Chain Necklace ($380), Chain Bracelet ($280), Link Huggie Earrings ($180) and a Lion Coin Pendant ($150).

Credit: David Urbanke
Kerry Washington with Aurate co-founders Bouchra Ezzahraoui and Sophie Kahn
| Credit: David Urbanke

"I thought wearing them all together would look like overpowering and too much, but they honestly work really beautifully together and as singular pieces," Washington says, noting that the Lion Coin Pendant, which features the image of a lioness as a symbol of female empowerment, is her favorite piece.

"Developing the collection really got me thinking about what a lioness pride is all about. In the lioness pride, there ain't no hierarchy. All of the female lions, take care of each other. They hunt together, but they also nurture their cubs together. They're so feared, but they're so loving," Washington says. "It just reminds me of a lot of the women in my lioness tribe that I love so much. In the advocacy space, the founders of [the non-profit organization] Supermajority are some of those women, Alicia Garza and Ai-jen Poo and Cecile Richards, these are women who really inspire me. They are creating the larger lioness pride for women in the advocacy space."

As part of her mission to support women of all walks of life, Washington and Aurate's co-founders are donating 20% of all proceeds from the Lioness Collection to Supermajority, the non-profit women's activism organization close to the star's heart.

Credit: David Urbanke

"I thought it would be great to not only embody these themes of loving, fierce community but also to have some of the money go to them," Washington says. "Giving back has been in the DNA of the brand at Aurate right from the very beginning. From day one, the brand has always looked for ways to pay it forward."

Credit: David Urbanke

Designing jewelry has been "such a fun space to play in" for Washington because to her, it's "the part of fashion that holds the most emotional resonance."

"I like working in an element of fashion that feels more filled with our heart-centered connections with each other. And it's why it was so important to me that the collection had embodied themes that were really important to women. This is really a brand that's by women, for women," she says. "And so, I wanted to something that really felt inspiring, uplifting and provocative."