When Winter Baxter and Kelsey Beckford, co-founders of BeckzBax Supper Club, step into a restaurant, heads turn. It's impossible to miss Winter’s close crop cut and Kelsey’s flowing braids, both with glowing smiles that radiate genuine warmth and confidence. But, it’s not just the two that cause eyes to redirect from glasses of wine and exotic dishes, it's their entire party. The Spelman sisters turned best friends are also flanked by 10 to 15 Black women when they are all escorted to their table.
To many, the concept seems simple- a group of friends out to dinner- but the experiences of the BeckzBax Supper Club are anything but ordinary. This supper club delivers everything from private dining rooms to specialty curated menus with incredible dishes prepared just for them and table visits from the chefs, all in some of New York’s most exclusive and hottest eateries. The New York-based supper club has set its sight on delivering a dining experience that seeks to thrill with its adventurous palette and return to the social aspect of dining. Crafting unabashed moments of sincerity and candidacy with the people seated right beside you and social media posting saved for later.
The founders of the supper club designed by and for Black women dished to xoNecole about the courses they serve before the waiter even places the first dish down.
xoNecole: You are both native New Yorkers, the crossroads of the globe that’s home to a diverse array of cultures and with that, a dining scene that’s unparalleled. How did your childhood fuel your passion for food?
BeckzBax: When you're a city kid in New York, you really learn that going out to dinner or lunch is the thing to do. It's our culture to try out new food in restaurants. So since we were children, we saw how the restaurants and many neighborhoods were changed due to gentrification and how we lost a lot of authentic New York folks, whether they were Senegalese, Italian, Greek, Russian, Ukrainian, [or] African-American. Now a lot of the neighborhoods are just whitewashed and toned down.
So now there are restaurants that are bringing back culture, and we want to experience that.
xoN: How did BeckzBax make it from the group chat to a now highly sought-after event?
BeckzBax: Last summer in 2022, we were out at Moko, which is our favorite Omakase restaurant in the city. We had a 15-course meal, and we loved it. It was such a cool experience. But we looked around and realized we were the only two Black women in the space. We thought it would be more fun and a more fulfilling experience if we can dine in bigger groups.
I feel like a lot of people are trying to rediscover how they want to be social, definitely because of lockdown and just getting older. We have friends who are now sober, friends who don't like going out to clubs, and everybody is doing brunch. So we asked ourselves, “What else is there to do?” We came up with the supper club and focused on dinner because you always need to eat!
xoN: In just a year you have carved out a very unique identity for your supper club. Why do you think so many Black women gravitate toward your events?
BeckzBax: This is not a girl-boss event. This is really just, 'Hey, it's Tuesday night. Are you alone in the city? Do you need company? Do you need a sister? Do you need a friend, even if it’s just for a couple of hours?' We have seen how it really helps people feel like they are safe and supported.
We really appreciate that people give us that honor and privilege of coming to our events by themselves because they feel safe enough that they'll be received and treated with honesty and respect.
xoN: What is it like being a group of Black women occupying restaurant spaces that typically caters to a different crowd?
BeckzBax: We are here to disrupt the hospitality industry in the way that it operates because right now, there are a lot of things that people are not talking about. People are not being transparent about when it comes to having a good time out at dinner at some of these fine dining restaurants.
The treatment from the door is very different. If they don't know that we are the supper club that's booked for the private dinner, they assume that it's not us.
xoN: What ideas are you trying to dismantle with your supper club?
BeckzBax: The gatekeeping! There’s no gatekeeping food. It's food, it's an ingredient whether it's a tomato or a truffle. Everyone deserves to try and have new things.
xoN: What has surprised you the most about the restaurants since you’ve started?
BeckzBax: Our attendees are really shocked to find out that a Black woman is behind the menu and has curated this entire experience in a number of upscale restaurants.
That's what we want to highlight: we are the ones behind the success of a lot of these restaurants. Whether or not we are in the room… we are in the kitchen, and nobody talks about that. We're in the kitchen, so we deserve to be in this space just as much as everybody else does.
xoN: Wow! So how do the chefs react when they see your group in their restaurants, especially when you both don’t reflect the makeup of the restaurants you attend?
BeckzBax: We’ve been told it's liberating for the chefs. They don't often get to flex their own muscles very much. They're restricted to their menu and what their clients want. BeckzBax Supper Club allows them the space and freedom to really show what they're capable of.
Instead of repeatedly making the same ten dishes, they can offer seasonal options, and the chef is really allowed to show the fullness of what they can do.
xoN: What about the people that say, “Hey, I can go out to dinner with friends on my own.” What is it that BeckzBax brings to the table… literally?
BeckzBax: You are not going to have the same experience solo that we are able to curate for you. It’s impossible because we take the time to build relationships with chefs, owners, and general managers to provide a very specific experience for our members.
What sets BeckzBax apart is the point of breaking bread together. We've lost the art of socializing without it being for a reason like a birthday or networking. We’re not about a certain aesthetic. Everyone is there because they actually want to come, sit down, have dinner, and have real conversations. They want to get candid and share their life. Whatever you need, and it happens over food.
xoN: How can xoNecole readers join the supper club? Are you all accepting new members?
BeckzBax: Yes! If you’re interested in joining, email us at email@example.com. We’ll send you a welcome email and explain the full process of joining, including how the club works and membership fees and dues. If you want to do a trial run before joining, we also have mini-series events that are usually cocktail hours so you can get to know us and meet current members.
xoN: Do you have any plans to expand BeckzBaz outside of New York?
BeckzBax: We’re going international! Japan is at the top of the list, and our goal is to do world tours, with the food being the basis of it all. This summer we’re also expanding domestically, if you’re in D.C., Philly, California, or Atlanta, keep your eyes open!
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Featured image courtesy of BeckzBax Supper Club
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
The face of tennis is changing, and it’s about time. Over the years, if you were asked to name any Black tennis player, two would come to mind: Serena and Venus Williams — and rightfully so. But as new tennis sensations like Coco Gauff and Naomi Osaka rise to fame for their athleticism and tenacity, it’s clear that there’s a new era of tennis taking shape to bring forth a fresh take on representation and reclamation on the courts.
For that reason alone, there’s no better time than now for Black Girl Tennis Club co-founders Virginia Thornton and Kimberly Selden to lead the charge of making tennis more accessible to Black women and girls so the next Serena and Coco can emerge.
What began as your everyday lunch chat between friends to discuss their mutual dream of owning a boutique hotel turned into a proposition to start a tennis club together. With Virginia being a tennis player since adolescence and Kimberly entering the sport as a hobby in her adult life, the two jumped at the idea of making a space where Black women could discover a new hobby and not feel like the “only one” on the tennis court.
“The club kind of started for selfish reasons, but not in a bad way,” Virginia tells xoNecole. “We realized that there was actually a need for this.”
Kimberly adds, “Now we're literally disrupting a whole industry. We didn't plan it, but it felt divine; like we were called to do this. Black Girls Tennis Club has been a catalyst for personal growth in all areas of life, and we would have never anticipated that.”
Since establishing the Black Girl Tennis Club in 2022, the two have made it their mission to cultivate a space for “Joy Equity and Radical Wellness.” Their platform serves as a means to inform, inspire, motivate, and reshape the narrative around Black women and girls in the tennis world while highlighting the transformative power of sports and play for liberation.
With approximately 78% of tennis players being white and only 6.8% being Black, and the average cost of a private tennis lesson being $60 per hour, racial and economic disparities within the sport are vast. To help close this gap, the two founders have banded together to develop free tennis instruction clinics for girls aged 8-18 and local tennis events that bring adult offerings through programs like the Self Love Tennis Club and Cardio Tennis Classes to HBCU campuses in Virginia.
Both Virginia and Kimberly understand the power of their mission and believe that they were brought on each other’s path to execute it together. “It’s the power of alignment,” Kimberly says. “I think when you're doing the right thing and you're obedient, and answer the call, that’s when things start to happen, and the universe conspires to make them happen.”
We caught up with the founders to discuss their mission, the importance of representation, and how they plan to disrupt the tennis industry one court at a time.
xoNecole: Could you talk a little more about your CARE pillars with change, access, representation and exposure?
Kimberly Selden: As we started to do the work, we saw that there were so many equity issues. Although we knew from our own personal experiences that there are barriers to tennis being an expensive sport, we just acknowledged it as the culture of tennis. Because it's predominantly white, that transfers over to the fashion, the dynamics on the court, the attitudes, and the mindset. And so we knew this required a culture shift for us to ever really feel comfortable.
We were exposing kids to tennis, and then after the clinics, they're like, "Okay, now what?" It's still expensive, and they still may or may not have had access to it if they're not with us. We don't want to just pop in like, "Hey, here's a clinic, bye!" So, the culture change is just a reflection of what our existence looks like. Access is about being able to access the sport through courts, programs, or a coach. Representation is that we can't believe it until we see it.
Granted, there are a lot of pro Black women tennis players taking off, and we love that. But we think about media representation as well [as] representation within the USCA, in the boardrooms, and the people that are making the rules around the game.
xoN: Why do you all think it’s important for Black women and girls to reclaim their space on the tennis court?
Virginia Thornton: It's rare, at least in my world, where you're in a space and see nothing but women who look like you. But it makes me feel great when I can be my authentic self, especially on a tennis court. Just shedding all the weight of pretending to be anything else. You feel at home when you're around nothing but Black women. Even small things like seeing a young Black girl being okay with how God made them is amazing.
KS: [In] the Atlanta clinics we did, everyone was crying. It's just clear how desperately we need it. Connection is the key to a long life. So many of us — especially from the pandemic and working from home — are isolated. With every clinic, it's just fun to be there, and it just fills you up. I think people need hobbies. I think a lot of people, especially people in big cities, feel that way and were confronted with that during the pandemic.
xoN: How did sports play a role in helping you two find your voice and confidence both on and off the court?
VT: I think what people don't realize is that tennis is such a mental sport. You could be a 4.0 player and have a bad mental day, and you will play like you've never picked up a racquet before. So, the mental piece is super important. For me, it's like ‘you against you,’ even though you are playing somebody.
If you're able to work through those mental pieces with yourself on the court, that will translate off the court. I had an issue on the court where I have a habit of saying, "Sorry," — I think a lot of Black women do, honestly. Then I realized that they wouldn't say sorry or they’d use my kindness as weakness. I've learned a lesson in that because everything translates on and off the court.
"If you're able to work through those mental pieces with yourself on the court, that will translate off the court."
KS: It's easy for me to do things that I'm good at, but it's not easy for me to do things that I'm not good at. Tennis is still challenging for me, but it pushes me. It’s a reality check for me; I know when things are aligned, and when they're not. It feels like a big metaphor for me because it's pushing me to do something that's uncomfortable and makes me work for myself more.
xoN: What do you hope the long-term impact of Black Girl Tennis Club will be?
VS: We want to have a space for people who might be workaholics or might be going through depression. It's always great to have a hobby, whether that's knitting, sewing, or what have you. For me and Kimberly, it’s about creating hobbies for Black women and girls but also knowing that it’s okay to not be amazing at it. You don't have to be amazing at tennis; you could hit around the court, and that's okay.
The next Serena or Venus might come from Black Girls Tennis Club.
Featured image by LumiNola/Getty Images