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Today, when #Blacklivesmatter is more of a battle cry than a hashtag, where you choose to spend your money is more important than ever. Luckily, there are plenty of black-owned businesses to shop from, guaranteeing the value and impact of your dollars.
In the last few weeks especially, there’s been much-needed talk about the importance of supporting and building community, creating dialogue, lifting one another up, and how exactly to go about doing those things.
Not only is buying black-owned an opportunity to strengthen the community financially, but it opens a world of creative support, allowing these makers and artists the opportunity to create and inspire for a living.
So this weekend, on Small Business Saturday, consider buying from a black-owned business — one of the ten here below, or any at all. Even if you can’t shop this weekend (or are too burnt out from Friday), remember these brands, interact with them, and spread the word.
The Very Black Project
The collective, founded in 2014, is far more than just an e-commerce shop. Very Black aims to affirm and uplift the community through storytelling, both digitally and through in-person events, and hopes its range of everyday clothing will spark dialogue centering blackness and its relationship to society. “To be very black is to be unapologetic of who you are in a society that furtively teaches people of color to hide their stories, heritage, and importance,” the site reads.
Rule of fashion thumb: If Solange says it’s good, it’s good. The artist is just one of many to have fallen in love with the collection, filled with reworked, standout pieces that feel and look more like sculpture than jewelry. Hleziphansi Zita — the designer behind the collection — is a self-taught maker and was inspired by the cross-cultural resonance that characterizes the African diaspora across Europe for the fall 2016 collection, all of which is handmade in New York City. The brand’s site is currently down, but you can shop and support the collection on Drive New York.
The Wrap Life
What started as a hobby has now become a full-fledged business for Nnenna Stella. The Wrap Life offers a wide and vibrant range of handmade head wraps and jewelry, and she’s shipped thousands around the world since the brand’s start in 2014. If you’re thinking “These look great, but I would never be able to wrap one myself,” you’re in luck: The Wrap Life’s how-to video tutorials are just as much a part of the brand’s DNA as the wraps themselves.
William Okpo is a womenswear collection designed by sisters Darlene and Lizzy Okpo. Inspired by the juxtaposition of American culture with the personal style of their parents (both Nigerian immigrants), the sisters offer a unique aesthetic. You’ll find playful accents like pom-poms and illustrated designs, strong tailoring, and great denim in every form.
Shop owner Kai Avent-deLeon calls herself a Bed-Stuy “retail pioneer,” and considering her store is the only clothing boutique in the whole neighborhood, we’re inclined to agree. The Brooklyn native stocks her shop with pieces by up-and-coming designers like Loq and Rejina Poy, as well as the Sincerely, Tommy in-house line and work by local Brooklyn artists. Most of what you’ll find IRL you can also find on the e-commerce extension, but if you’re in New York — or will be soon — definitely stop by (if not for the clothes, then for the great coffee, inspiring atmosphere, and free wifi).
It’s been the year of customization, and Edas Jewels is all for it. The brand specializes in delicate and innovative jewelry for women, creating pieces made to be worn alone or paired, which allows the wearer to create a look all their own. The collection is all about bold, eye-catching pieces in mostly brass and sterling silver that are handmade in Brooklyn.
The brand started out as a T-shirt shop for men and women when it was first founded in 2011, but has since evolved into what it is today: an independent womenswear line specializing in plus-size clothing. From dresses to crop tops, T-shirts to swimwear, the line has plenty of options starting at size 10 and running through size 30.
From clothing to accessories, art, and objects, Devonrae Jones is a maker in every sense of the word. The womenswear is minimal, often with raw edges and loose silhouettes, and can almost always be customized, from fabrication to color. (As the site suggests, get creative!)
The young collective aims to bring the essence of Africa and its people to consumers all around the world through a heavy usage of Ankara fabrics and other cultural influences. From sweatshirts and crewnecks to socks and even home goods — like pillows and throws — you’ll find an equal sense of comfort and culture in every Llulo piece.
Founder and creative director Sarah Nakintu was born and raised in Uganda, and while she’s currently New York City-based, her roots continue to be a strong focus of her work. The Kintu handbags are dreamed up in New York, co-developed with global artisans, and made by hand in Italy. The brand, which launched in 2015, designs for the “dynamic, busy, urban woman who values quality and self-expression.”