Supporting small, Black-owned business

Ten of the Best Small Black-Owned Businesses You Can Support This Month

A list of ten Black-owned businesses to support not only during February, but all year long.

February is Black History Month. This year, we’re commemorating Black History by looking at the history of business and economics in Black freedom struggles, and by supporting Black-owned small businesses.

What does supporting Black-owned business have to do with Black History month? Everything.

Even though we don’t often think of it this way, so much of the fight for equity in America, and Black History in general is, at its core, a history of business. Compensation for labor has been at the core of Black liberation since the antebellum era (way before diversity was ever a buzzword). The Civil Rights Movement began with Black domestic workers—who could also be thought of as OG entrepreneurs—organizing the Montgomery bus boycott. And let’s not forget, the 1963 march on Washington was a March for Jobs and Freedom, and it couldn’t have happened without labor organizers like A.P. Randolph. Just before Dr. King was killed, he was working with sanitation workers in Memphis to organize a strike for better working conditions and pay; the second March on Washington, The Poor People’s Campaign, explicitly linked racial and economic justice. Black folks have been fighting for and invested in small businesses for decades.

It’s troubling, then, that over the past 30 years, the US has seen a sharp decline in independent Black-owned businesses, and that Black women in particular face so many obstacles getting their business ventures funded. And this isn’t just a problem for Black communities; it affects all of us. Like shopping local, shopping at Black-owned businesses (so many of them small businesses and independent businesses) means more of what you spend recirculates in the community and stimulates the economy. Everybody wins.

So, this Black History month, why not participate in the history of Black economic liberation? Here are ten small businesses, all Black-owned with online shops, to patronize this February—and every other month of the year, too.

Shop Clothes: Black-owned is the new Black!

The Cultured Savage

Heads up Blackademics and HBCU alums; this shop is for you. The Cultured Savage specializes in HBCU and Black culture tees and sweats. If you’re into the aesthetic of A Different World, you’ll love their Blacker the College, Sweeter the Knowledge gear. But honestly, with a variety of blackity-black-black prints and fits and cuts for all genders, you’re sure to find something that suits your style.

Our pick: “Blacker the College” sweatshirt, $30

Nude Barre

Erin Carpenter founded Nude Barre with one goal in mind: to create nude hosiery and undergarments for women of color. A former dancer, Erin knew firsthand how difficult finding truly nude apparel can be when shopping for a darker skin tone. But ever the entrepreneur, she turned her frustration into a business opportunity, and Nude Barre was born!

Our pick: Any Nude Barre nude fishnets, $33

G+Co. Apparel

G + Co Apparel prides themselves on having high fashion and low prices. Catered mostly towards men’s apparel with accessories like ties, pocket squares, lapel pins and tie bars, they also have a large clothing selection with colorful, culture-themed hats, sweatshirts, and T-shirts--and women’s and kids’ lines too.

Our pick: The “BLK” Dad hat, $25

Shop (for the) Culture: Home decor & collectibles

BLK MKT Vintage

Brooklynites Kiyanna Stewart and Jannah Handy are both experienced collectors, and in 2014 they joined forced to create BLK MKT, a one-stop-shop for Black cultural artifacts. In their online shop, you’ll first printings of Harlem Renaissance literary classics, 1970s afro picks in their original packaging, Yo! MTV Raps trading cards, and everything in between. They’ve also collaborated with Philadelphia Printworks on Reclaim BLK, a collection of tees and sweatshirts with Black culture themed prints.

Our pick: Vintage "Dick Gregory on Poppy" Lithograph by Milton Glaser, $300

Material Life

Founded in 2015 by Carla Williams, Material Life is all about celebrating Black history and culture. In their online shop, you’ll find everything from clothes and accessories (new and vintage) to books to stationary to home decor. And, in the spirit of ujima (collective work and responsibility), Material Life also partners with other Black-owned businesses and brands. Right now, they’ve partnered with Lasalle and Jackson, purveyor of one-of-a-kind garments and headwraps made with African wax-print fabrics.

Our pick: Red lady head vase, $65

Board Game Brothas

Longtime friends and gaming enthusiasts Omari Akil and Hamu Dennis founded Board Game Brothas to see more diversity in an industry they both loved. BGB is a tabletop game design company started to support their inaugural boardgame, Rap Godz. Rap Godz (which has its own Spotify playlist) is both strategy and roleplay as players compete to become the ultimate Rap God. BGB is already working on their second project Graffiti Knights.

Our pick: Rap Godz Special Edition, $55

Shop Thirst: Toast to your favorite Black history heroes.

Theopolis Vineyards

Toast to black entrepreneurs like Madame C.J. Walker with wines from this Black-owned California vineyard. Or, you could toast to Theodora R. Lee, Theopolis’s owner, who worked as a trial lawyer before becoming Theo-patra, Queen of the Vineyards.

Our pick: 2015 Yorkville Highlands Pinot Noir, $42

Ivy's Tea Co.

Herbalist Shanae Jones founded Ivy’s Tea Co. in 2016 with the explicit goal of incorporating Black culture and traditions to the lily-white holistic health remedies market. Her teas and organic, herb-infused honeys incorporate healing remedies and flavor profiles from Africa and the Diaspora. Whether you’re looking for something to energize you in the morning, calm you down at night, or something smooth and sensual to get you in the mood for a date, Ivy’s Tea Co. will have what you need.

Our pick: Rise & Grind Tea, $15

Shop Reading and Writing: Because Black lit is lit.

For Keeps Books

For Keeps Books is an Atlanta-based store and reading room where you’ll find rare antique and vintage Black books. The online shop sells out FAST, so you’ll want to join the shop’s mailing list and follow on Instagram for updates on what treasures they’ve got in stock.

Our pick: A Signed copy of Octavia Butler's Dawn, $150

A Single Suggestion

A Single Suggestion specializes in handcrafted stationery and cards, including collections based on Black history and the principles of Kwanzaa. Have cards sent to you, or, if you prefer, A Single Suggestion will hand-write your message and mail it for you.

Our pick: Anything from the Black History Month Collection, $8-13

Terri is a writer, researcher, and program coordinator for the US's first academic trivia league for HBCUs. She lives and works in New Orleans, with her partner, their 3 kids, and an ever-growing book collection.

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