Here Are 25 Black-Owned Businesses Taraji P. Henson Spotlighted For Black History Month
As you know, we brag on Taraji P. Henson a lot around here—and that has everything to do with the fact that she is worth bragging on. She is so important to the mission, constantly providing access to ways to improve our mental health, and giving us lewks in the process. And you know, one of my favorite things about her, is she is not shy about throwing her support behind any black man and woman unapologetically (which is damn near unheard of in an 'influencer' world).
What's even better, is since the start of February, the Empire actress has been sharing her favorite companies on the 'gram; companies in a variety of categories, from wellness, beauty, art and design, to home, and food and drink. Sis, was covering all the bases, and we couldn't help but to recap--you know, just in case there was ever a question how bomb af she is.
So, go ahead and grab those wallets, ladies. Here's a list of the 25 businesses Taraji P. Henson has spotlighted throughout Black History Month:
1.BROWN GIRL Jane
BROWN GIRL Jane is a disruptive luxury, plant-based wellness and beauty collection centering the needs of dynamic women of color. Owned and founded by industry leaders and sisters, Malaika Jones and Nia Jones, along with beauty and wellness expert Tai Beauchamp, the BROWN GIRL Jane product line harnesses the power of plants and Broad-Spectrum CBD in order to support the wholeness of our sisters through internal balance and external beauty.
2.The Honey Pot Co.
The Honey Pot Co was created because their founder, Bea Dixon, was suffering from bacterial vaginosis for months and couldn't get relief. One night, after a visit from an ancestor in a dream, she was "gifted with a vision to heal myself."
The Honey Pot Co began to solve what other brands wouldn't, using the power of herbs. And after a wild Target ride, Dixon has found her lane, where she rocks tf out of it.
Golde's products are a celebration of the superfoods which effortlessly boost your daily routine, from morning smoothies to skincare. They pride themselves on creating products that are always 100% natural and vegan-friendly, with superfood ingredients you can recognize, (pronounce), and trust.
Anser is a wellness brand founded by entrepreneur, actress, chef, producer, author, wife, and mother, Tia Mowry. After being diagnosed with endometriosis in 2006, Tia realized she needed to change her diet. She partnered with one of the leading supplement companies in the market and co-founded a new line of vitamins: Anser. And the rest is wellness history.
HOMEBODY is made up of wellness enthusiasts, artisan makers, bath addicts and clean self-care fanatics, that creates self-care blends with the emphasis on you...and also other important things like effective pain management, high quality sun grown holistic herbs + food grade active ingredients.
6.PRESSD By Lanni
PRESSD by Lanni is a luxury press-on nail line from master nail artist, Lanni Jade. They are available in different shapes, sizes and lengths; short, long stiletto, coffin shaped and more. Every set is custom made by hand. Each set can be created with nail art, chrome, glitter, Swarovski crystals etc. Press'd sets are reusable and durable for up to two weeks and can also can be reapplied up to 3-5 times.
Mented Cosmetics is a makeup products brand that is perfectly pigMented to match your skin tones. All women, from light to tan to dark skin tones, should feel like they have makeup that actually works for their complexions. Mented Cosmetics solves this problem.
Gilded, believes in 100 percent skincare for your entire body. They create effective and original products and tools that make body care easy and luxurious. All dermatologically designed and tested to maximize their benefits for your body, Gilded is dedicated to providing you with tools and products that help you feel rejuvenated – recentered – restored.
9.Black Girl Sunscreen
Black Girl Sunscreen is a sunscreen created in 2016 in Miami. It is the ultimate for us by us move, stressing the importance of educating the culture that damnit, we need to be wearing sunscreen too!
Propabeauty is a makeup brand that prides themselves on its inclusive message. Their pigments and formulas are trusted to have our skin tones at the center stage of beauty innovations. With Propabeauty, never again will we have to say, "If only this shade was just a tiny bit darker, a tiny bit warmer or a tiny bit redder, then it would be perfect for me."
11.Inspired By Tyler
Inspired By Tyler (Inspire By Tyler on Instagram) is an artist who unapologetically displays self-love and women empowerment with the stroke of her brush on her vivid canvas art pieces. The artist is known for incorporating real hair into her 3D canvases that showcase black beauty and black hair at its finest. Additionally, she also sells 1D prints, premium posters, accessories, and custom art.
Shop her artwork here.
12.Black Trans Femmes in the Arts Collective
BTFA is a community-based arts organization that builds community and mobilizes resources to support Black trans femme artists (artists who were assigned male-at-birth and now identify somewhere underneath the femme umbrella). They organize programming that centers and highlights Black trans femme artists, executive produce projects led by Black trans femme artists, and provide direct to support to Black trans artists.
Donate to the mission or get involved here.
13.Creative Soul Photo
This husband-wife photography duo has taken over the internet quite more than we can count and they have zero intention of that changing. They take photos with an holistic approach to capturing one-of-a-kind moments has allowed their work to be featured in Teen Vogue, CNN, Glamour, Vogue Italia, Black Enterprise, BET.com, on The Real daytime talk show, BBC News, the OWN network and more.
Follow them on Instagram here.
14.Jade Purple Brown
Jade Purple Brown is an artist living in New York City, whose work uses strong figures, vibrant colors, and messages of optimism to create new, dynamic worlds of individuality and empowerment. Her artistic practice spans across Illustration, Design, and Creative Direction, and has attracted a wide range of global clients.
Jessica Spence is a Jamaican-American artist whose work is inspired by her lived experiences and the women around her. She received her B.A. in Studio Art from Hartwick College, and an M.A. in Art Education with a concentration in Painting from Lehman College, The City University of New York (CUNY). She works predominantly in portraiture and is based in New York. #jessicaspence
Follow her journey, exhibitions, and artwork here.
Clare Paint is a paint company that has reimagined a whole new paint shopping experience with designer-curated colors, technology to guide you, mess-free paint swatches, and the highest-quality paint and supplies, delivered. They've also got you covered with the best advice to help you tackle your paint project with confidence.
Claude Home is an NYC vintage furniture and design hub for minimalist aesthetics. Founder Maggie Holladay, a former fashion editor for i-D Magazine, turned her hobby of vintage shopping into a full-time job in December 2018. Enter Claude Home—your destination for beautiful furniture and statement sculptures and trinkets.
18.Bolé Road Textiles
New York-based designer Hana Getachew started Bolé Road Textiles out of a desire to merge her love of Ethiopian handwoven fabrics with her career in interior design. What was born, was a homage to that cultural inheritance and a reflection of her own personal global modern aesthetic--through home wares.
PUR Home is a household cleaning brand, dedicated to creating natural and safe household cleaning products that can be used by anyone, giving special consideration to selecting ingredients that are plant-based, biodegradable, sulfate-free, and non-toxic.
20.Aya Paper Co.
Aya Paper Co. is a sustainable stationery brand defined by neutral earth tones, minimalist illustrations, and modern typography. The collection emphasizes cards for everyday occasions—birthdays, congratulations, love, friendship, and sympathy—while also creating seasonal items for Valentine's Day, Women's History Month, Mother's Day, Father's Day, and more. In addition to cards, Aya has produced notecard sets, journals, tote bags, and candles.
When their daughter was diagnosed with severe food allergies as an infant, this family came up short on healthy snacks that were safe to eat and delicious. Frustrated by the lack of options, Denise (founder) left her corporate job and set out to make her own. And that's how Partake was born. Oh, and they're backed by women named Rihanna and H.E.R. (*whispers* and a guy named Shawn Carter).
Since 2005, the McBride Sisters' mission has become clear—to transform the industry, lead by example, and cultivate community, one delicious glass of wine, at a time. Over time, McBride Sisters has grown into what is not only the largest Black-owned wine company in the United States, but one of the most inclusive, accessible, socially aware and sustainable.
Untouched by chemicals and shade grown above 4000 feet, this Haitian coffee brew is smooth and low in acidity. Caribbrew coffee beans are then meticulously picked and roasted in small batches for a fresh cup. It is a strong coffee with a full body, full of flavor, a real treat.
24.Ivy's Tea Co.
Ivy's Tea Co. is owned and operated by first-generation herbalist and Tea Bae, Shanae. The brand launched in 2016, and since then has transformed into the Hip-Hop inspired tea company you shop from today. Through Ivy's Tea Co., Shanae hopes to change the way you see tea drinkers and introduce more African holistic health remedies into the holistic health industry.
25.The Spice Suite
Angel is a mommy, home cook, activist and educator with a knack for blurring the line between food and fashion. Her love for fashionable flavors and natural talent in the kitchen landed her a spot in the Top 40 of MasterChef's Season 8. Angel brings gourmet, exotic and tantalizing spices, infused oils and other culinary delights to customers in a hip, quaint and comfortable, atmosphere.
Thank you for being you, Taraji!
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Featured image by Shutterstock.com
Charmin Michelle is a southern native and creative spirit who works as a content marketer and events manager in Chicago. She enjoys traveling, #SummertimeChi, and the journey of mastering womanhood. Connect with her on Instagram @charminmichelle.
Amber Riley Is In Her Element
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
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Introducing Chief Mom Officer: Where Working Moms Come First
xoNecole's Chief Mom Officer explores the 18-month post-pregnancy journey through the lens of our very own Chief Mom Officer, Shakyna Bolden. The series will serve as an inspirational and resourceful guide to help get through the early days of new motherhood as working moms knowing they are not alone in the hardships.
“I want to build my work around my life, and not my life around my work.”
I typed these words in my iPhone Notes as I fed my newborn daughter one morning during the first few weeks of having her earthside. I didn’t have much time for page-filled journal entries as my days were filled with nonstop feedings, soothing, and recovery…but I knew I needed to give those words space and life.
Prior to my maternity leave, I, like most working moms, was burning fumes juggling work and life. Since 2019, I’ve been running revenue operations here at this really cool company you may have heard of called xoNecole (hehe). I’ve been behind the scenes building our brand partnerships and negotiating deals with companies such as Ulta Beauty, Toyota, Target, Spotify, SheaMoisture, etc.
Courtesy of Shakyna Bolden
I’ve co-produced our signature events like ElevateHER and Pajamas & Lipstick while conceptualizing, selling, building, and distributing our original video and podcast content and podcast. The list goes on and on. I’ve helped build this small but brilliant company into what it is today, all while running my own small family. And that is not an easy feat.
In all truth, trying to be the best mom and partner I can be while also leading in my job has felt at times like a whirlwind where the rest of my life is passing me by. I don’t quite know where or when it happened, but I swear somebody pushed the fast-forward button in life, and I’m losing my edges trying to keep up.
My mind and body get so preoccupied with the management of life that my soul sits on the sidelines, waiting to take the reins and intentionally live it.
So many facets of my life, from my health and well-being to my hobbies and passions, have been placed on the back burner while tending to my young family and growing in my career has taken center stage. And for the longest time, I’ve wanted to flip the switch, but the pace of life just hasn’t let me restack my priorities.
That is, until now.
Courtesy of Shakyna Bolden
When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter last year, I couldn’t imagine adding more to my already full plate. Simultaneously, I was also relieved to know that my upcoming maternity leave would force me to press pause and catch my breath. Her birth in January 2023 was a much-needed reset, to say the least.
My maternity leave was the first time since 2019 that I had a second for dreams that were buried in the back of my heart to bubble up to the surface of my reality. I got a taste of what it was like to solely focus on my well-being and my home life. And I liked it a lot. My healing. My recovery. Sitting and really taking quiet time with God to search the unattended areas in the garden of my life.
I was cooking homemade meals on the regular and actually sitting down with my family at the table to eat. As grueling as those first newborn weeks can be, I was enjoying the long-awaited shift in my priorities; and I wanted that shift to stick. I didn’t want it to fade away after my maternity leave.
I want to build my work around my life and not my life around my work.
As a leader of an organization that speaks to millions of women every day about their well-being (and also in leading a team of majority women), I feel it’s my responsibility to carry this shift forward boldly. This is why I’m launching a new column here at xoNecole: Chief Mom Officer!
As I return to work full-time this month from my maternity leave, I want to regularly share my experience of trying to harmonize work and life. As an audience, you all share your raw, unfiltered journeys with us. For years, they’ve undoubtedly inspired me. I want to show up and do the same because I know this shift in my life will be quite the journey.
So for all my Chief Mom Officers—those of us who are constantly merging the imperfect and chaotic worlds of leadership in the office and wearing our crowns at home—I invite you to come on this journey with me and celebrate the ebbs and flows in how we show up for each.
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Featured image courtesy of Shakyna Bolden