When it comes to Black pride, it's something we wear loudly and proudly on our hearts and our on our sleeves. Self-expression is one of the many ways we celebrate and unapologetically uplift who we are as people. From popular sayings to mantras, we have an array of elements that remind us of how creative, how dope, and how multifaceted we are as a people, and dope ass apparel is a way for what we wear to speak for us. Style is an extension of self-expression, so quite literally some black-owned apparel and accessory companies aid in that freedom of owning the fullness of ourselves as well as our love affair with our people.
Since the 2020 Revolution started, everyone has been doing their research about how to support the culture. xoNecole has always been in the business of highlighting black women-owned businesses, so the new trend of supporting black businesses is actually our mission. Keeping that same energy, we rounded up some women making waves in the apparel realm.
Photo Courtesy of Raven Nichole
"I was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. I founded Legendary Rootz while attending Arizona State University and earning my Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry. I love all things creative and I was inspired to create Legendary Rootz because I needed a safe space to just be myself. My ultimate goal is to inspire Black girls worldwide that they can accomplish anything they put their hearts to. I want the world to know that this brand is more than just a business. It represents the messages and encouragement that's been poured into me that I hope every Black girl and Black woman internalize. My passion for reclaiming our history and celebrating black culture pushes me to strive for that vision."
On The Why Behind Legendary Rootz:
"Whenever I looked around, whether that be on TV or in magazines, I didn't see anyone who looked like me. There wasn't a space where I could vent about things that were important to me such as my natural hair or even the microaggressions I faced in daily life. To be honest, when I started, I did not have the vision of starting a business. I just knew that I wanted a safe space where I could be my authentic self and express my blackness comfortably.
"I remember going to visit a local college in one of the smaller cities in Phoenix. While there, a student came up to me and told me how much she loved the brand. She went on to tell me how her little sister was being bullied at school about her hair and skin tone. After she found out about it, she grabbed a few Legendary Rootz items for her and she said how much that helped her. Knowing that my art could be of help is all I needed to keep creating and pouring into this brand."
Photo Courtesy of Nareasha Willis
"I am a fashion designer from Jersey City, NJ. I'm a firm believer to always create what you want to be a part of. I'm inspired daily by my ancestors. AVNU targets the modern-day fashion activist who loves fashion and acknowledges the importance of its role in our society. AVNU is unafraid to disrupt the fashion industry by setting its own trends. Featuring an array of controversial statements, colors, and textures, AVNU boldly creates a voice for garments, and the individuals wearing them."
On The Why Behind AVNU:
"I used to feel like I didn't have a place in the fashion industry. I always felt like an outsider in the industry that I loved the most. I was dismissed and told 'no' so many times that I finally created my own lane to pursue whatever avenues I had in mind in celebration of my Blackness. Initially, Avenue N was a fashion blog that highlighted Black designers. It later birthed my own fashion line, AVNU."
Photo Courtesy of Holly Draper
"Draped is a handmade headwrap and clothing boutique dedicated to helping the outspoken modern woman outwardly express her innermost authentic self through our bold fashion power pieces. I founded Draped in 2016 after losing my job as a drug and alcohol counselor. Sewing was already a hobby of mine and in my huge amount of spare time, I started creating and designing my own clothes and accessories. We pride ourselves at Draped in handcrafting many of our pieces with daring prints and vibrant colors. Many of our prints are sourced from West Africa. We also are proud of our original tee line which boasts bold female empowerment statements."
On The Why Behind Draped:
"Here at Draped, we support and source many of our unique jewelry pieces from local female jewelry artisans. We truly believe in sisterhood, supporting small businesses, and straight-up celebrating girl-power! Draped's goal is to inspire and create more contagiously confident women inside and out. I started Draped to create a space for women (especially women of color), to boldly express who they are. I want to help the modern woman outwardly express their inner-most authentic self. I want the world to know that Draped's goal is to inspire more women to be contagiously confident. Our motto is 'Rock it. Own it. Spread your colors'. And I hope that more woman take the time to embrace who they truly are."
Photo Courtesy of Kalilah Wright
"I'm a Jamaican native, born and raised in Brooklyn, but have made Baltimore my home. The quintessential creative, my mind is always going thinking of new MESSages, business ideas and ways to continue our growth. If you know me or follow me on social media, you'll see that I'm never shying away from the ups, downs and sideways of not just business but life in general. I do all of this while also being a mom to my son Kaiden."
On The Why Behind Mess in a Bottle:
"I started Mess in a Bottle as a way to be vocal about my feelings, injustices and life in general without having to say a word at all. As the company grew, I realized so many other people agreed with me and I've been able to continue to create MESSages that resonate deeply with others.
"I want the world to know that we all have a MESSage and we're here to help everyone share them. Everyone may not be as vocal but it is important to give a voice to the voiceless, to stand in solidarity and be the catalyst for important conversations. No matter how you feel about a particular subject matter, sharing your MESSage allows others to think past their own experiences or beliefs."
Featured image by @shopavnu/Instagram
Joce Blake is a womanist who loves fashion, Beyonce and Hot Cheetos. The sophistiratchet enthusiast is based in Brooklyn, NY but has southern belle roots as she was born and raised in Memphis, TN. Keep up with her on Instagram @joce_blake and on Twitter @SaraJessicaBee.
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.
Russell and Nina Westbrook are one of those low-key, unproblematic couples we don’t talk about enough. They met in college and got married in 2015. They also have a beautiful family with three kids. While Russell is an NBA star, Nina is a licensed family and marriage therapist and a mental health advocate.
She recently launched the podcast The Relationship Chronicles with Nina Westbrook, and in the latest episode, she had none other than her husband on as a guest. The college sweethearts dived into important topics from marriage to children and how they navigate it all.
One of the topics they touched on was dealing with resentment in your relationship. The former MVP highlighted the sacrifices his wife has had to make in order for him to pursue a career in the NBA, and that’s why it’s also important for him to support his wife whenever he can.
“For me is respecting and understanding what your partner do and the time it takes,” Russell said. “Not kind of downplaying what they do, understanding the time and energy and effort they're doing to make sure whether it’s their job or making sure home is taken care of, and understanding that, I think that is the challenge of not being resentful.”
Nina agreed and also shared her thoughts on resentment. According to her, one of the best things couples should do is have their own identity and passions outside of the relationship in an effort to be fulfilled.
“I also think that when you’re in a relationship, that’s why it’s so important that each individual kinda pursue their own passions and follow their own dreams as I feel like it only becomes or leads to resentment when one person is not feeling fulfilled in what they're doing in their lives,” she explained.
“And so, they will start to look at the other partner who’s happy or excelling or promoting or moving along in their journey, then they’re left feeling stuck like they sacrificed themselves, their happiness, their career, their future and have not pursued it in the name of the relationship or their partner. So, it’s so much easier to avoid those feelings of resentment when you’re each equally pursuing your passions.”
The couple has many passions that they work on together and separately. Outside of basketball and his family, Russell has become known for his eclectic style and started the fashion brand Honor The Gift. Nina has her podcast, and she also started the mental health website Bene. Together, they run the Why Not? Foundation, which works with kids in underserved communities.
“I’m a firm believer that one person can’t be everything to you, so you have to sort of seek out those different friendships or groups or hobbies or activities that help to fulfill you,” Nina concluded.
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Feature image by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images for Religion of Sports