Managing Your Business
10 Black-Owned Businesses You Can Support Today (By Buying Cool Stuff)
The Great Resignation might have the big boys shaking in their boots, but it’s also been an opportunity for self-starting entrepreneurs of all walks of life. In particular, the number of Black American business owners increased by 38% in 2021. This is good news, but more than anything, it’s making up ground for long-standing biases and inequality.
Barriers ranging from the sociocultural to the institutional routinely block Black Americans from being able to build businesses in the same way as white Americans. Only 5% of the former hold some form of business equity when compared with the latter’s 15%.
Many people take Black History Month as an opportunity to show their support for the Black business owners that have had to painstakingly fight against these barriers and create their own businesses. Supporting Black-owned businesses is good! However, we need to not let this become a once-a-year thing.
As we’ve previously discussed, Black Americans are understandably no longer content with token efforts by companies or individuals. Buying one item from a Black-owned business, posting about it on your social media, and then never going back to that business is seen as performative at best, insulting at worst.
That’s why, as you read through the suggestions we’ve gathered below, we encourage you to come back to these and other businesses throughout the year. Ultimately, the best way to support Black-owned businesses is with your wallet.
10 Black-Owned Businesses to Support During Black History Month and Beyond
One of the best ways to learn about someone’s culture is to hush up and listen. Books are an ideal way to do this without asking someone to do the hard emotional labor of educating you. Janifer Wilson’s Sisters Uptown Bookstore has offered local and national customers this opportunity by stocking a diverse collection of books from Black authors and other outstanding masters of the craft.
A staple of New York’s Washington Heights, Sisters Uptown is more than just a bookstore. It’s a community resource center providing a nurturing environment. No matter where you are in the U.S., you can help support them and expand your literary horizons at the same time.
This lifestyle womenswear brand is named after its founder, Felisha “Fe” Noel, who started the business from a brick-and-mortar shop at 19. The store itself is based in Brooklyn, but Noel takes inspiration for her designs from her Caribbean heritage, including her mother and grandmother. Noel’s style combines vibrant colors and glamour with a sense of sensibility that makes for clothing appropriate for events throughout the year.
Even better — every time you shop at Fe Noel, you help support other young designers. Noel herself has a passion for helping young people start their own businesses, which she supports through the Fe Noel Foundation.
If you need some male grooming products or know someone who does, Frederick Benjamin has you covered. Founded by Michael James, who named the company after his grandfather, Frederick Benjamin provides high-quality products aimed at helping men sculpt their best selves. James began the company to help men of color, especially Black men, find products that suited their specific needs.
If you’re looking for ways to always look your best (or want someone you know to do so), this is a great business to give your patronage to. Bonus: Frederick Benjamin partners with Barbershop Books to inspire young Black boys and other children of color to read for fun!
Women-founded and women-led, Freedom Apothecary was started by Morrisa Jenkins and Bonkosi Horn in Philadelphia as a sanctuary for inclusion and holistic welfare. Their goal is to give women, especially Black women and women of color, a safe space to find themselves and build a community. To help fund this dream, Freedom Apothecary supports and sells women-owned wellness and cosmetic products in their shop.
BLK & Bold was founded by Pernell Cezar and Rod Johnson. These childhood friends turned an everyday ritual, drinking a cup of coffee or tea, into a business that sells specialty coffee and tea nationwide across over 5,000 retailers and independent-owned restaurants.
You’ll notice a trend among many of the businesses highlighted here. When you support them, you’re also supporting many other people in Black communities. BLK & Bold is another one of these businesses that gives back.
Buying from BLK & Bold isn’t just a good way to support a Black-owned business (while keeping your energy up for your own business ventures). With 5% of their profits going to help at-risk youth, your purchases will always go to a good cause.
Whether you own your own business or not, there’s always room for a little more stationary in your life. Next time you find yourself in need of some extra notepads, post-it notes, notebooks, or the like, consider using Effie’s Paper instead of the local Office Depot. Founder Kalyn Johnson Chandler’s company offers functional but stylish products that give anyone’s office space a little more life and pop, including a collection of Black Girl Magic branded items.
You don’t have to settle for buying items individually either. Effie’s Paper offers a subscription box of curated products so you can let the experts handle selection for you. You’re helping out a Black-owned business without even having to put in extra work!
If you’re looking for a clothing brand that’s a little more casual and a lot more in your face, look no further than Green Box Shop. Founder Kayla Robinson started humbly, selling custom shirts to pay for yoga instructor certification. Her business boomed after musician Frank Ocean wore one of her shirts at the Panorama Music Festival.
Now Robinson is a full-time entrepreneur, using the clothes she designs and sells to send powerful messages and promote causes she cares about. Note that these are definitely not your grandmother’s shirt slogans (unless you have a really cool grandma). But if you have the right mindset and are looking to expand your wardrobe, this is the store to visit.
Everyone loves a good child entrepreneur story, and what could be better than one that deals with cookies?
Cory Nieves, known as “Mr. Cory,” began baking and selling cookies, lemonade, and hot chocolate at six years old. His dedication and stick-to-itiveness, not to mention the support and business know-how of his mother Lisa Howard, resulted in an entire business that sells cookies nationwide while partnering with leading companies and brands such as Whole Foods.
It can be hard to motivate yourself to go back to the same website or store when you need new clothes, stationery, or wellness products. We don’t think you’ll have any problem going back for more of Mr. Cory’s Cookies. Mr. Cory’s Cookies even accepts cryptocurrency as payment!
Talley & Twine president Randy D. Williams wants to “set a standard for future generations.” Lofty goals for a watch company, but when you see the care and craftsmanship that goes into the company’s products, you see where he’s coming from. Operating outside the norms of the watch industry’s long-standing gatekeepers, Talley & Twine offer watches that are both high quality and inspiring.
After working in a New York City architecture firm for 11 years, Hana Getachew launched Bolé Road Textiles in Brooklyn. Her business specializes in bold, colorful patterns for pillows, throws, rugs, and other textile products. All of the products are handwoven by artisans from her native Ethiopia.
Bolé Road Textiles’ designs combine ancient traditions passed down through generations with modern flair in a way that’s eye-catching and appropriate for any setting. And with all of their products being ethically sourced, you can be sure your money is truly being spent responsibly.
Don’t Limit Your Support of Black Businesses
The Black community’s work, products, and innovations deserve to be celebrated all year long. Just because Black History Month is the shortest month of the year, it doesn’t mean that your support should be limited to 28 days as well. There are thousands of Black-owned business owners with unique, quality products and services who need your patronage year-round. So open up your hearts (and wallets), and use websites such as We Buy Black to connect with them.
We understand that times are tough, and not everyone can afford a fancy watch or gourmet cookies. Check out our article How to Support Black-Owned Businesses and Why It Matters if you have more passion for backing Black entrepreneurs than funds to do it. You’ll also get some talking points on why it’s essential to do so.
If you’re interested in Black-owned small businesses stories, check out these spotlight articles: