February is observed as Black History Month and SPY is celebrating by highlighting Black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs who have carved out their lanes in the market despite the odds stacked against them. These Black businesses, as well as the Black community at large, have been historically denied access to the same capital as their white counterparts, causing a significant racial wealth gap. And while some of these businesses take necessary measures to rebuild after the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, one of the best ways to support their efforts is by choosing to buy Black with each daily purchase.
In 2020, representation in ownership became an urgent concern after the world witnessed George Floyd lose his life at the hands of police brutality. This moment was the breaking point for many and fueled a real push for allyship. For far too long, Black Americans have felt their lives hold less value to the criminal justice system and the people who are supposed to protect them. Reform is needed, and we can champion this reform, but only if we achieve it together.
We still encourage peaceful protests and donating to foundations and charities that promote the idea of betterment and protection of Black lives and human rights. Here are just a few organizations we think are doing great work in the fight for more justice and equality:
The need for parity within the United States is necessary, and although the talk about race equality on your timelines and on the evening news may ebb and flow, Black lives will always still matter.
Buying black should be year-round and not just something to do when there’s unrest in the streets or for the sake of Juneteenth. We’ve curated a list of Black-owned businesses to support during Black History Month and every other day of the year.
R&B crooner and stellar songwriter, John Legend, has branched off into the world of skincare. Recently, the “All of Me” artist released his unisex brand, Loved01, targeting the needs of melanin-rich skin — set at an affordable price point. Formulated with the help of dermatologist Dr. Naana Boakye, the product range includes essentials such as an exfoliating cleanser, face and body wash, shaving cream, toning mist, and moisturizer.
Looking for literature to read to inform yourself right now? Try supporting a Black-owned bookstore like Mahogany Books in Washington, DC. Founded by a husband and wife duo, Derrick and Ramunda Young, Mahogany Books is eager to inspire reading, writing, and cultural awareness about the African Diaspora within the African American community. They hope to give people the tools to educate, encourage self-esteem and ultimately improve the community.
They offer a wide range of books and materials written by African American authors, including fiction, cultural literature, non-fiction, and books for children and young adults. They ship nationwide and are a great resource if you’re looking to support the Black community while educating yourself on history, as well as the present.
No One Clothiers
No One is the culmination of over two decades of creative endeavors born out of Baltimore and founded by two friends who met in high school, Lenard Grier and Jameel Saleem. Now based in Los Angeles, Lenard and Jameel have always had a tendency to delve deeply into their pursuits. With Jameel’s interest in films leading him to a successful career in Hollywood and Lenard’s passions for hip-hop and fashion driving him to create his first streetwear line in 2012, the momentum was built up for what now is considered a contemporary streetwear label, No One.
This brand is for those who are comfortable with ambiguities, oxymorons, and contradictions. Taking the approach of refining American workwear by maintaining quality construction and pairing luxury fabrics with gender-neutral silhouettes, No One is intended to embody the youthfulness of streetwear and the sophistication of bespoke suiting.
After years of creating content with beauty and self-care products on her YouTube platform and garnering a huge following, Jackie Aina developed a unique aesthetic and wanted to create products based on her passions, including luxury candles.
Jackie Aina birthed FORVR Mood to bring black women the self-care, luxury, and deservedness to spoil themselves. And make no mistake; men love candles too — just as much as they do their favorite cologne.
BLK & Bold
Founded in 2018 by childhood friends Pernell Cezar and Rod Johnson, BLK & Bold Coffee became the first nationally distributed Black-owned coffee brand in the U.S. Created to increase Black representation in the coffee industry, BLK & Bold also places a significant focus on social issues, donating a portion of their proceeds to the For Our Youth Foundation. Sold in all major retailers, including Target, Amazon, and more around the country, the brand has experienced exponential growth over the past few years and shows no signs of stopping.
With a strong focus on quality and craftsmanship, Brooklyn-based jewelry designer, Bernard James, offers handcrafted luxury accessories for women and men through his eponymous brand. His timeless and elegant pieces are comprised of fine metals, including solid sterling silver, 14 and 18-karat gold, as well as smooth genuine leather.
After dealing with suicidal urges, Demetrius Harmon was reminded of his worth by a self-written sticky note message that read, “You Matter.” In finding his purpose, Harmon is making it his mission to spread love and normalize the complexities of the human experience. In efforts to reach those around the world, he’s adorned that small, yet powerful message on his apparel collection of hoodies, accessories, and more.
Yowie is a home and lifestyle shop focused on curating small collections from friends, independent artists, and designers. And if you’re a Philadelphia resident, their storefront is in the neck of your woods — located in Queen Village. Be sure to stop in or shop online for a one-of-a-kind piece that complements the aesthetic of your humble abode.
Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade created PROUDLY after seeing a lack of skincare options for children of color as they raised their four kids. With PROUDLY, Union and Wade’s mission is to embrace and celebrate melanated babies by offering affordably-priced products with gentle, cleaner ingredients.
Maison Noir Wines
Maison Noir Wines is named using the French words for “black house,” a name evocative of their “black sheep” mentality when approaching wine-making and the rules surrounding this traditional art. André Hueston Mack, the sommelier, and winemaker behind the business is all about rule-breaking and doing things differently to push the creative envelope.
Their website touts that Maison Noir is not afraid to make wines that “have a good time” and disrupt the industry in the process, freeing the makers and drinkers to do what they please. Luckily they’ve got plenty of options to choose from — including everything from their “Other People’s Pinot Noir” to the “Knock on Wood” Chardonnay.
Theophilo is an emerging designer to keep on your radar in 2023. Founder and Creative Director, Edvin Thompson, developed his contemporary clothing brand to connect and celebrate people who look like himself. From daring silhouettes to bursts of color, the line serves as a freedom of expression and homage to his birthplace — Kingston, Jamaica. With an already growing celebrity fan club that includes Naomi Campbell and Alton Mason, aside from being crowned a CFDA award-winner, it’s clear Theophilo is a force to be reckoned with. Check out the brand’s website and also shop his collection on SSENSE.
nineoh7 is a Brooklyn-based apparel and accessories brand that highlights Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Black artists. Founded in 2016 by Robert Tate, the brand is most well-known for its woven blanket collection, which lends itself to cultural moments in music, television, and film. Their merchandise also extends to items such as hockey jerseys and sweatshirts.
GOODEE is a leading curated marketplace offering essential homewares and lifestyle products for better living. With conscious commerce at the center of its platform, the company hopes to drive sustainable change in the community and inspire creators to transform the world in a similar fashion.
Founded by Diishan Imira with a mission to serve hairstylists and their critical work, Mayvenn offers high-quality virgin hair wigs and beauty products to give the Black community ownership over the beauty industry they pump billions into every year. Imira went from a box of wigs in the trunk of his Toyota Corolla to a nationwide network of over 50,000 stylists and customers with millions of dollars invested back into their community. Their wigs are virgin hair, meaning human hair that’s completely untreated by chemicals or harsh dyes. They offer salon products aimed at arming stylists with the best tools possible and helping customers feel good about their new look.
The Brooklyn Circus
The Brooklyn Circus is a menswear brand stationed in Brooklyn that has become a community staple. So much so it was featured in the popular local outlet Black-Owned Brooklyn. Founder Ouigi Theodore reopened the store formerly focused on a Harlem Renaissance aesthetic in 2018, paying homage to Spike Lee, Jay-Z, sports, and Cooley High. The store focuses on “tailored casual” streetwear that’s just as easy to don on a night out as it is during an important meeting. They’ve got branded varsity jackets, graphic T-shirts, vintage Levi’s, and sneakers with plenty of limited-edition drops and collaborations throughout the year.
Curves by Sean Brown
Sean Brown pays respect to hip-hop artists such as Jay-Z and Missy Elliott with emblazoned CD-shaped rugs and tote bags that celebrate their dominance in music. His unique assortment of products also includes Birkin-shaped piggy banks, high-design inflatable chairs, woven throws and so much more.
Breathe by Brandon
Breathe by Brandon is a sunglasses line, but also a movement to create a space where people can boost their energy, block any negative energy and transform anybody’s aura so they can breathe. The brand aims to inspire people around the globe through the power of unparalleled storytelling and reflecting creative minds.
Founded by Nancy Twine, an NYC transplant and beauty hair care expert, Briogeo is her answer to the lack of natural hair care available on the market. After moving away from her West Virginia home in her early twenties, where she and her grandmother specialized in creating natural haircare formulas from all-natural ingredients, Twine realized a lack of high-quality natural hair care with ingredients that could be trusted and decided to take matters into her own hands.
The result was Briogeo. They’ve created a whole line of hair care products that are “six-free,” which means their products are free of these six ingredients: harsh sulfates, silicones, parabens, DEA, synthetic color, and phthalates. Their products are between 90-100% naturally derived, and every product is cruelty-free. They’ve got something for everyone — whether you’re looking to take care of natural hair, gain more volume, boost natural curls, or reclaim some moisture.
The Reparations Club
Founded by Jazzi Gilbert, a black consumer looking to buy things she needed from Black-owned businesses, The Reparations Club is all about pooling Black-owned enterprises together and making it easier for people to support them. It makes it simple to support Black entrepreneurs and rids someone of the excuses “I don’t know where to look” or “I can’t find them.” The marketplace opened in Los Angeles in June of 2019 and is entirely curated by Black creatives and people of color. Customers can order items to be shipped nationwide from their online store, where they’ve got a wide selection of books and apparel. The selection of books is curated to highlight the voices of authors of color and the experiences of Black individuals.
Slutty Vegan has become a staple in the vegan food culture in Atlanta because of its vegan cuisine and its relatively controversial name. Pinky Cole, the founder and CEO, started the company with a small food truck. After having a food truck tour that stopped across multiple predominantly Black cities in the United States, Cole opened her first brick-and-mortar location in 2018 in the predominantly Black area of Atlanta’s West End.
Offering everything from vegan burgers to vegan bacon and even vegan shrimp, Slutty Vegan’s culture is saturated with customers and celebrities alike. Some celebrities who have dined at Slutty Vegan include Tyler Perry, Snoop Dogg, Waka Flocka, and Big Boi. While the restaurant is Atlanta-centric, there’s a new location in Brooklyn, New York. Best of all, their truck can be booked for catering. All details can be found on the Slutty Vegan site.
It used to be very hard to find products specifically catered to Black skin and grooming needs. Since 2013, Bevel has done their part to be the solution for Black men by addressing this hole in the market. Featuring the shaving products, safety razors, and electric trimmers that made them famous, to more recently launched haircare and skincare, Bevel is a brand that helps fight ingrown hairs that are extremely prominent with kinky, coily hair textures.
Bevel ventured into haircare and skincare to help Black men keep their hair and skin hydrated and moisturized. These cruelty-free products don’t feature any ingredients that’ll dry out your skin or hair, like alcohol, and will help moisturize skin. Buy Bevel’s latest product offerings at the Bevel website or on Amazon.
PetPlate uses a tech algorithm to customize meals to your exact dog’s needs based on weight, breed, lifestyle, and other details — think about it like MyFitnessPal, but they also provide the food. With six yummy entrées for pups to choose from, rest assured knowing they’ll be fed something with real ingredients that even people can eat (crazy to think about, but it’s facts).
Bolé Road Textiles
Hana Getachew decided to marry her two passions — interior design and Ethiopian textiles — and create Bolé Road Textiles. Bolé Road is all about the power of interiors and how textiles can transform spaces and the people within them. She was an architect for 11 years in New York before realizing that vibrant colors and patterns were always what she leaned towards, a connection to the home she grew up in and the global aesthetic to which she was accustomed.
Now, Bolé Road is designed in Brooklyn and constructed in Ethiopia, making the products authentic, high-quality, and completely handmade from start to finish. Their products are made with hand-spun cotton and yarn, primarily by women artisans who make a living wage by working for the business. Bolé Road offers a variety of goods for the home, including pillows, rugs, linens, and beautiful wall hangings. Liven up your space while supporting female Ethiopian artisans on the Bolé Road website.
BLK + GRN
BLK + GRN is a marketplace of Black artisans of all-natural beauty products to connect Black communities with non-toxic, high-quality brands. The marketplace has a wide variety of green brands from beauty to skincare to haircare and home goods, all created and run by Black makers. They’ve compiled a list of 20 harmful ingredients that they don’t allow in any of their products nor let “clog their self-care” — only some of which have been banned by the FDA. Consider purchasing something from their extensive online marketplace or purchasing a gift card for a friend or loved one to spread awareness of this fantastic online resource.
Sol Cacao is a chocolate company founded by three brothers, Dominic, Nicholas, and Daniel, who grew up in Trinidad and Tobago surrounded by cacao trees. They loved eating chocolate from the cacao they had grown themselves, and now they want to share that art with everybody.
Their chocolate bars use two simple ingredients: cacao and raw cane sugar. The three brothers have grown to understand and own every part of the chocolate-making process — from the growing of the cacao to the production of the chocolate bars themselves. They’re focused on the quality of the product and the environmental and social impact of their business, so purchases are both delicious and responsible at the same time. Find their chocolate bars here on the Sol Cacao website.
Grace Wales Bonner
The eponymous label Grace Wales Bonner approaches luxury through European and Afro-Atlantic cultures. Founded in 2014, the brand has become a fashion industry favorite for providing tailored and intricate looks that are sophisticated and suave. The brand is mainly known for catering to menswear, however, it recently ventured into womenswear.
One of the most critical “celebrity style” moments for the brand is when Meghan Markle wore Bonner’s trench dress. Known for its bold outerwear and knits, the brand harps on the idea of reestablishing what “Black masculinity” means in a real-life context. Learn more about the brand and purchase items from the Wales Bonner site.
The Mane Choice
Courtney Adeleye was on a healthy hair journey and took to YouTube to share her hair care tips with others and soon found herself with a band of loyal followers seeking her help with their own manes. With her bachelor’s degree in nursing and unique, medically-oriented perspective on haircare, she realized she could fill gaps for people seeking better, healthier haircare, and The Mane Choice Hair Solution was born. Each product she creates fulfills a dual purpose — beautifying and improving health simultaneously.
Now, they’ve grown to become a multi-cultural hair growth company with a line of products infused with essential nutrients backed by scientific data. These products include scalp oil, hair masks, moisturizing sprays, leave-in conditioner, and more. Find all of their products online with Ulta beauty and more information on the company on The Mane Choice website.
This next business is Kansas City barbecue at its finest. Two sisters Deborah “Little” and Mary “Shorty” Jones, carry on their father’s legacy by smoking meats and creating their family’s signature barbecue sauce daily at the famous Jones Bar-B-Q. If the name sounds familiar, it might be from their feature on a previous season of “Queer Eye.” Needless to say, they’re barbecue masters and masters of the art that is a sauce from scratch.
Order their barbecue sauce online as well as other merch. The ingredients in their signature sauce are all-natural, and while the recipe is top secret, rest assured knowing there’s a ton of heart and decades of family mixed inside.
Post-Imperial is a menswear brand made unique by its fabric-treatment process in Nigeria called Adire. This hand-dyeing process was developed by Yorubas in Southwest Nigeria and involves an artist painting a pattern with a dye-resistant wax base and then treating the fabric. Their goal is to give these traditional practices a modern perspective and new life by using the material to make elevated, modern-day designs.
The fabric is then brought to New York and sewn into T-shirts, button-up short-sleeve shirts, jackets, sweatshirts, and button-up long-sleeve shirts. The unique streetwear designs range from perfect for a casual day in the sun to a stand-out jacket for a cocktail party.