While it isn’t February anymore, it’s worth reflecting on Black History Month, the origins of which date back to 1926, when scholar Carter G. Woodson launched Negro History Week. It wasn’t until 1976 that the full month of February was first dedicated to paying homage to the vast contributions made by the Black community to society—whether in the form of watching a documentary with the family, having an open conversation, supporting African American artists, volunteering in your community, diving into an enlightening read, or making it a point to support Black-owned businesses. As we look ahead to Black Business Month in August, shopping from Black-owned stores, shops, and brands is still one of the most direct ways to make a difference—especially right now.
Not only have Black-owned businesses historically had a harder time accessing loans and capital, but they’ve also been disproportionately impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. According to one survey, the number of working African American business owners fell more than 40 percent amid the coronavirus pandemic—a much steeper drop than other racial groups experienced. In response, both individuals and brands have worked tirelessly to help elevate Black-owned businesses and give them the funding, recognition, and shelf space they deserve. For example, in 2020 Brother Vellies founder Aurora James launched the 15 Percent Pledge, a nonprofit that was one of the first to call on large retailers to stock 15 percent of their inventory from Black-owned businesses. Since then, places like Sephora, Nordstrom, Madewell, Macy’s, J.Crew, Crate and Barrel, Bloomingdale’s, and West Elm have all gotten on board. With just one purchase, you can take these efforts a step further—and play a part in helping to create lasting change.
Here, we’ve rounded up a selection of Black-owned brands the team here at Oprah Daily recommends—including in the beauty, food and drink, fashion, and home decor categories. These thoughtfully curated selections are nothing short of stunning, so you’ll want to act fast. Supporting them is something you can do all year long. If you have other favorites, tell us about them in the comments below.
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Disappointed by the lack of snack options that were both safe and healthy for her daughter, who had multiple food allergies, Denise Woodard got down to business and launched her own allergen-free cookie company, Partake Foods, in 2016. Woodard, who left her job as a director of national sales at Coca-Cola to run the company full-time, started selling the vegan, non-GMO, gluten-free treats from her car. Now her cookies can be found in more than 1,500 stores nationwide and online. Partake’s new pancake and waffle mix is equally delicious. The mix is free from the top nine allergens, comes in plain and confetti (why not add colorful sprinkles to your morning?), and just needs water for pancakes and water and oil for waffles.
Whipped Urban Dessert Lab
Oat milk is the new almond milk. Whipped Urban Dessert Lab makes ice cream from the popular nondairy delight, and its plant-based, vegan (and, of course, dairy-free) soft-serve has become a big thing. The company was founded by sisters Courtney Blagrove and Zan B.R., and it all started at a market in Brooklyn. They eventually opened a storefront in downtown Manhattan, where people line up for their signature soft-serve (we know—we’ve waited). Those not in the area can order up their oat-milk ice cream truffle assortment, which includes flavors like mint chocolate cookie, double chocolate cookie, and peanut butter cookie.
What do you get when you combine fresh-baked pastries with rich homemade ice cream? Spoonfuls of pure bliss. Chef Liz Rogers celebrates her Southern roots with her uniquely delicious concoctions. “We craft our desserts by harnessing the familiar experience that Southern comfort foods bring and blend it with a culinary artistry that feeds our spirit…there’s a dream in every scoop,” she explains on the brand’s site. Even the names—Porch Light Peach Cobbler, Aunt Poonie’s Caramel Pound Cake, Thick as Thieves Pecan Pie, and Slap Yo’ Momma Banana Pudding—make you want to dig in.
Layla-Joy Williams is a woman of many talents. She has her luxury footwear brand, Iylia, and a wine brand with the same name. Iylia Wines are produced in the Valencia region of Spain, known for its variety of grapes and their ability to create an assortment of wines with intense body and high alcohol content. A selection of white, red, and rosé is ready to be savored.
Maya’s Cookies is the brainchild of vegan and lover of sweets Maya Madsen. She spent years crafting the cookie recipes, and each flavor is personal, a reflection of her travels and memories. For instance, the Everything Cookie with chocolate chips, pretzels, oatmeal, pecans, and butterscotch chips is a celebration of Madsen’s love of food while the Caramel Pecan Cookie harkens back to a trip she took to the eater’s paradise of New Orleans to scout colleges with her son.
The Journey Collection
Journey Carter is a woman of many talents. And she’s only 18. The entrepreneur, designer, actress (she was in Ava DuVernay and Colin Kaepernick’s Colin in Black & White and CBS’s All Rise), and college student started The Journey Collection (check out its new site!) with unique hair accessories and has expanded into streetwear—hoodies, T-shirts, and hats with her hand-sketched artwork.
It only makes sense that a brand with a name like Kind Socks would be all about good vibes. These socks are kind to your feet, thanks to their construction and softness. They’re also kind to the planet, manufactured ethically from organic cotton with a portion of the proceeds going to charity. And since founder Stephen Steele has infused his love of color into the playful prints, they’re even kind on the eyes.
Designed with the feel-good fervor of spring break, these watches were meant to give you a boost all year round. The brand was created by cofounders Kwame Molden and Maurice Davis, childhood friends (and classmates from preschool to college, both attending the same HBCU) from Fayetteville, North Carolina. Each watch, often a vibrant pop of color, is named after a school, community, or event in their hometown.
Royal Jelly Harlem
Mother-daughter duo Teta and Maya Gorgoni were inspired by the stunning printed fabrics they would see on their travels to South and West Africa. They brought their love for the striking textiles to Royal Jelly Harlem, born in 2011. Many of the fabrics for their fashion line come from Africa, and they also employ African-born tailors here in the U.S., specifically NYC, where their goods are made. There’s something to suit every style, from flowy dresses and fitted tunics for women to shirts and shorts for men.
Khiry founder Jameel Mohammed started crafting his baubles while studying political science at the University of Pennsylvania. He already had experience in the business after interning at Nicole Miller and Narciso Rodriguez in high school. Today, his line of sculptural, striking jewelry (earrings, rings, bracelets, and necklaces) is meant to celebrate the beauty and culture of the African diaspora in a luxe and modern way.
Clean Design Home x Martex
Did you know that we spend one-third of our lives asleep? With that much time snoozing, it only seems right to make our environment as comfy and health-conscious as possible. Clean Design Home was founded by Robin Wilson, an authority in hypoallergenic and eco-friendly design. She partnered with Martex for these fluffy towels made from U.S. grown supima cotton that’s worked in a specific way that doesn’t create as much allergy-inducing lint.
Mo’s Crib makes baskets you can feel good about. All the brand’s goods (from planters to decorative baskets) are handmade sustainably in South Africa employing local artisans. The brand is the brainchild of two sisters, Morongwe and Michelle Mokone, who are passionate about sustainability. Case in point: This basket is made from PVC pipes that have been refashioned into weave-worthy strips.
Hoam Candle Company
During the pandemic, Hoam founder Derek DeAndre developed a penchant for candles. “My only escape became suiting up and going to the grocery store to grab the essentials and my not-so-guilty pleasure, candles,” he says on his site. Soon it became clear that DeAndre should put his spin on a candle company of his own. DeAndre wants to help people create a place of peace in their home with carefully curated unique scents, from sweet to fresh to earthy.
Founder Nicole Gibbons knows a thing or two about color. She’s an interior designer and sought-after expert who wanted to improve the paint shopping experience with the launch of Clare in 2018. Some of the ways Clare makes things easy-breezy include curated colors, mess-free swatches, and interactive guides. Plus, Clare paints are free of toxic solvents and made to ensure an even application that really lasts.
Erin Carter is all about creating a happy home. While the website currently says it’s “taking a short break” but will return “soon,” the mantra for the company is “whatever you do, may it bring you bliss,” and the pieces are designed to bring a little joy to your space. Combining texture and style, items like her candles and bowls are made of industrial concrete and then detailed to perfection.
Grandma knows best. That’s why sisters Rita, Charlotte, and Bunny took the advice from their second great-grandma Dosa McGee (everybody deserves happy skin!) to create a line of waterless skincare products and name it after her. Since the products are H2O-free, that means there is less of a need to include chemical preservatives and fillers in the formulas. With skin-nourishing body butters, body washes, bath salts, and scrubs in a variety of delightful scents, there are sure to be smiles all around.
Oui the People
Here’s a brand that is making its mission to redefine the beauty space. For founder Karen Young, words like flawless, anti-aging, and perfecting are out, and creating thoughtfully made products (including razors, milky shave gels, body serums, bath soaks, and even a bikini-line sheet mask) that are also effective and made to make you feel good in your skin is in.
Ready to have your mind blown? Heath, the founder of this company, is just 10 years old. His passion for the healing power of plants and herbs started when he was 4, when he would sell his handcrafted alcohol-free hand sanitizer at a school fair. Now with Heathmade, he has a bunch of goodies to offer the world, from lotion bars to healing balms, that are free of parabens, phthalates, and artificial colors and full of skin-loving essential oils and butters.
You know it’s going to be good when a professional makeup artist creates her own line. KéNisha Ruff searched high and low for five years to find the best labs and factories to create her cleanly formulated, high-quality products. Make room on your vanity for Marie Hunter long-wear lipsticks (plus, lipstick cases!), perfectly pigmented blushes, nourishing skincare, yummy candles, and more.
The three women behind Karité, Naana Boakye, Abena Slowe, and Akua Okunseinde, each brings diverse talents to the table. Boakye is a dermatologist, Slowe is a lawyer, and Okunseinde has a background in sales and marketing. What they all share in common: knowing of the power of shea butter. They grew up using the beloved skin saver in its unrefined form and wanted to create their own comparable version free of chemicals and synthetic ingredients. There’s lip balm, body cream, and hand cream that all have hydrating shea butter sustainably sourced from Ghana.
Black Artists + Designers Guild x Pottery Barn
Pottery Barn joined forces with Black Artists + Designers Guild (BADG) for a collection of goods meant for entertaining, hosting, and gathering. The Pottery Barn design team worked with three talented BADG designers—Penny Francis and Casi St. Julian of Eclectic Home, and Lisa Turner of Interior Obsession—to create a capsule collection of 25 pieces (like this handmade pouf with chambray embellishment) to celebrate the richness and beauty of Black culture.
Sabai is making buying furniture a feel-good experience. The company uses materials that are all sustainable, and there’s no sacrificing style. Everything is crafted in a family-owned factory in North Carolina, and shoppers can customize their furniture as well. Pick free fabric swatches first, then order your piece (sectionals, love seats, ottomans, and more) that will be made to order.
Justina Blakeney believes that it’s the living energies that make a house a home. That means the people, the plants, and the pets. Justina wants the pieces she offers to encourage her customers to bring some creative energy into their spaces and add a jolt of mood-boosting color while they’re at it. Jungalow offers everything from bedding to planters to prints to help spread Justina’s “jungalicious” vibes. Even better? At least two trees are planted with every order.
Darryl Sharpton is a former NFL star who, after playing football for five seasons, decided to pursue his passion: furniture. He joined forces with his wife, Jessica, who has a background designing custom homes, to create their furniture company Edloe Finch. Together, they’ve made it a mission to “bring soulful, stylish furniture to customers at a really great price,” says Sharpton.
YHD x Mikel Welch
Mikel Welch may have a thriving interior design company in New York and outfit the homes of celebrities today, but as a kid in Southfield, Michigan, he had to use Legos to create furniture for imaginary houses. That was surely a sign of his destiny. Most recently, he’s created modern statement-making pieces with Yosemite Home Décor (YHD) that’ll bring sophistication to any space.
If you need a book recommendation, discover the new release Lift Every Voice: A Celebration of Black Lives, which features a foreword by Oprah. The collection presents interviews with the oldest generation of Black Americans about their lives, their experiences, and the wisdom that can carry all of us to a better future. Shop it at your local Black-owned bookstore or online at Bookshop.
Holly Carter is the style features director at O, The Oprah Magazine. Obsessed with all things hair and any shoe with studs, she’s currently working on upping her social media skills and decluttering her apartment sans Marie Kondo.
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