March is Women’s History Month and while we encourage our readers to celebrate women every day like we do, March is a time to really focus on appreciating the contributions of women cultivators and history makers, particularly in the Black community. With remarkable illustrations of Black girl magic such as Michelle Obama and Simone Biles, Black women have continued to make history even in the face of adversity, all while influencing little Black girls everywhere that no dream is too big to achieve.
Just look at the numbers. The National Center of Education Statistics’ study showed that Black women are one of the most educated groups in the U.S. and they are more likely to become business owners in comparison to white women according to Forbes. The studies prove that Black women are more willing to take risks and sometimes make history in the process.
So, for Women’s History Month, we want to shine a light on 10 Black-women owned small businesses that you should support.
Sylvine is a visual artist who creates beautiful art that explores Black women in their femininity and their everyday life. This work includes women wearing grills, stylish nails, and hairstyles synonymous with Black women. Her artwork ranges from canvas prints to posters and even phone cases. “Everything about the Black Culture inspires me a lot. The Black Woman is my muse,” Sylvine said on her site.
Prime Beauty is a cruelty-free and vegan makeup brand that has been seen on the likes of Issa Rae and Tamar Braxton. The site notes that the brand's goal is "to create quality and affordable products that defy Eurocentric beauty standards and uplift the beauty that is being a woman of color. Specifically focusing on the long-standing gaps in color cosmetics for deeper skin tones."
If you like to have game nights with your family and friends, then you might enjoy Kulture Karaoke. It’s a music card game that celebrates Black music and Black culture featuring categories of the 90s and 2000s hip hop and R&B music. In an exclusive statement to xoNecole, the game creator, Dae Fenwick, said, “The concept was born early in the pandemic, in 2020. It was created as just something fun for my friends and I to do at a time when we needed more joy. After playing with friends, I thought maybe others would enjoy it too, and Kulture Karaoke was born.”
4.Jade Gold Studio
Jade Gold Studio is an online boutique that features affordable and stylish jewelry and accessories. According to the website’s description, "Each piece of the collection is exquisitely crafted with the everyday woman in mind - women who enjoy simplicity, women who enjoy making bold statements, and every woman in between. The pieces can be worn by themselves for a minimalist look or layered for a lively, bold look."
NYC brand Zaime is an ethically-made clothing line that is both functional and luxurious. The brand creator, Zapora Williams, wanted to prove that fashion can be “responsibly manufactured” while also being sophisticated, elegant, and edgy. In an interview with Forbes, Zapora talked about the fight to be respected as a Black designer. “We often get lumped into streetwear,” she said. “Black doesn’t automatically mean streetwear. I wanted to showcase Black women in a new light.”
Sahel Cosmetics was founded by Sahel to honor her Chadian roots. The company’s most popular product is the chebe powder, which is a reddish-brown powder that is native to the African country of Chad and is said to promote healthy hair hydration and less breakage. The chebe powder is seemingly responsible for the thick, long hair that is often seen on the women in that region.
Ivy’s Tea Company was created by herbalist Shanae Jones as an ode to hip-hop. The teas' names are all influenced by songs and figures in hip-hop like Nip’s Tea, which is in honor of Nipsey Hussle and C.R.E.A.M., which is a popular song by Wu-Tang Clan. In a previous interview with xoNecole, shared what inspired the brand. “I find that hip-hop is a great teaching tool and I see no reason why herbalism and herbal tea or any tea shouldn't be a part of that teaching,” she said.
Luxury footwear company Kendall Miles takes shoe design to the next level. The shoe brand that has been seen on Lizzo and Mickey Guyton caters to women who love to keep it classy and chic or flashy and edgy. Just one scroll through their Instagram page and you will see it’s giving variety, from fur-lined heels to strappy heels to a simple pump.
As the weather starts heating up again, it’s time to start thinking about swimsuit shopping so why not a Black woman-owned brand? Castamira is a “conscious luxury” swimsuit brand founded by Wilhelmina model Chantel Davis. The collection’s aesthetic is inspired by the 1970s and the 1990s and it is designed with the woman in mind focusing on showcasing women’s natural curves.
10.Bright & Salted Yoga
Yoga Instructor Arianna Elizabeth has a YouTube channel where she teaches viewers yoga at home. The classes range from beginner to intermediate so anyone can participate and she often offers challenges for yogis to focus on certain body parts or poses. Her classes are rooted in faith and she closes each class out with affirmations to say to yourself before getting off of your mat.
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7 Black Women Bookstagrammers To Follow And The Reads By Black Authors That Empower Us
I've always been a stan for reading, and I've been a so-called book geek since kindergarten. My mom would always reward good grades and behavior with a trip to the local library, something my siblings loved more than any new toys or free time to play outside. We would spend hours at the tall stone building in the downtown area of the small town I spent my childhood in, first in the downstairs "Children's Room" (which only had books for readers 5-13). I later graduated to going (i.e., snuck) upstairs to find all the juicy celebrity autobiographies, travel books, and classics like Sula, Moby Dick, and A Midsummer Night's Dream.
So today, when I see so many Black women part of #bookstagram, I feel seen because many of us love not only to read but to drown in books by Black authors, poets, historians, and researchers who continue to add to the narrative and reflection of what it truly means to be a Black person---a Black woman---in America.
Check out (and follow) a few of my favorite Black women bookstagrammers and the books that empower us:
Zora Neale Hurston is clearly an icon, and she's one of my favorite authors, thought leaders, and scholars, so this is an obvious choice for me. What I love, specifically, about this bookstagrammer's page is that it lacks pretension, is super-relatable, and includes a nice mix of nonfiction books, something I'm trying to boost in my collection.
2.Kayla Starr @blackgirlbookadventures
Another classic, Beloved was a book I unsuccessfully tried to read as a 12-year-old, tried again in my 20s (and failed), saw the film, and then fell back in love with again reading in my 30s. Black Girl Book Adventures is a page that just screams brightness, positivity, and a love for books that draws you near.
3.Black Girl With Books @blackgirlwithbooks
This book had a profound effect on me, as it connected the dots between Ghana (a place that has held a special place in my heart since my 2016 visit) and Black America in a way that blew my mind. It also helps that the storytelling and timelines are captivating and thoughtful in a way that any editor who just loves good writing--in an online content environment that seems to reward robotic, vapid, Grammarly-informed, copycat writing---would appreciate.) The founder of this page also offers info on bookstores and other interesting updates for bibliophile baes.
4.Shani Akilah @_shaniakilah
A love of travel and books? Yes, please! Shani's page is refreshing and welcoming, inviting you in on her global adventures along with her journeys through her latest reads. I'm a huge fan of books that feature Black women protagonists in Caribbean or African settings who are able to come into a higher sense of themselves through challenge or hardship. For some reason, I'm always drawn to those books, which is why this one is a top pick for me.
5.Boipelo Lecha @boipelo.reads.books
I'm not big on romance novels (after having grown out of an early obsession with Danielle Steele). At one point, I'd been yearning for a book that offered an elevated sense of the Black love experience (beyond the esteemed OGs like Terry McMillan, Eric Jerome Dickey, and Zane) and stumbled upon Love In Color. It was just what I needed because it's a collection of classic love stories retold through the lens of the author, and the tales centrally feature women.
Biopelo is an up-and-comer in the #bookstagrammer space.
I've been consumed by Black historical fiction, and this is a good one for the collection. It tells the story of a Black southern family through generations in a way that doesn't feel like a book you were forced to read for a college project. It screams, "Turn me into a six-part Netflix saga," and was a surprise hit for me because I made some very ignorant assumptions about a poet being able to write such a story. (Ah, like Maya Angelou isn't literally a queen in my head.)
Virginia-based Semiyah is literally like my reading tastes twin, down to the mix of types of books she showcases on her page, from romance fiction to new YA titles.
Lex serves up book events and information about new releases to boot, and her page doesn't scream, "Hey, I'm going to just promo books sent to me for free by publishers." On top of that, I support any and everything with the name Tiffany D. Jackson stamped on it. She's a graduate of the other HU (heeeey all my Hampton *cough*, I mean, Howard folk), and the way she puts her special stank on YA will have you wanting to actually relive your own teenage years.
Dare I say, reading her work is like the first time I read Judy Blume, Sister Souljah, and Candy Dawson Boyd---all pioneers in what is now known as young adult fiction. It's authentic, truthful, kind, real, and has a living soul, all elements I yearned for back in the late '80s and '90s as a confused, geeky, Black girl at the library and that I still yearn for as an award-winning editor, editorial manager, and self-employed woman at my big age.
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