February is such an extraordinary month full of extra love and extra blackness. We can't help but feel all the feels through and through. The day of love aka Valentine's Day is quickly approaching and after seeing thousands of Black women serve it up to Erica Banks' hit, "Buss It", we want to keep this feminine power going.
Valentine's Day isn't just about showing love to a partner, it's also about showing love to yourself. Whether you're single or married, we want to empower the xoTribe to elevate your sexy with confidence. Being in a panoramic/potpourri/pandemic means that we have to get innovative with our 2021 plans. We want to make sure that you take the uplifting energy of this month into V-Day with some Black AF lingerie brands. Ahead, find brands by us and for us!
Evangeline Poku does it for the full-busted woman. The mom of three created A'zaira Intimates in 2017 after seeing the lack of representation in the lingerie department. To mind the gap, she made sure her line represents that diverse community by offering sizes 28-36 DD-H. A'zaira Intimates' depiction of passion, strength, and femininity is unmatched.
Sab-lee-ay, which means hourglass in French, wants to help you enhance your beauty. Sablier fashions sensual lingerie for the modern and discerning African woman who loves the best of both worlds. The collection's creator, Tolu Oniru-Demuren aka Toolz told Bella Naija:
"The journey to accepting my body hasn't really been a smooth one. Growing up, I wasn't particularly confident. As a plus-size and curvy girl, you tend to feel out of place – my body type wasn't the hot thing back then. I just didn't fit in. I became very self-conscious – I thought my hips were too wide…my bum was too big, and I was on the short side. My experience strengthened me and gave me a voice – one which I have decided to use in empowering and boosting the confidence of plus-size women like me – those who are currently in a physical and psychological battle to accept their own bodies."
Consider this boutique your lingerie wonderland. In 2015, Anya Lust created a portal to find the most luxurious treasures right at your fingertips. Made up of curated collections for every woman, it desires to lace your body with the best fabrics and textures. The brand also supports the empowerment of women around the globe with its collaboration with Free The Girls. "We chose to work with Free The Girls for their incredible dedication to empowering women and girls, as well as for their unique approach to a cause that is near and dear to our hearts."
D Bleu Dazzled
You may have seen some of our favorite celebs dripping in D Bleu Dazzled. From Beyonce to Meg Thee Stallion to Lizzo, Destiney Bleu has created a brand that is trusted by the greats. This specific house specializes in custom crystallized hosiery, lingerie, swim, athleisure, and performance wear. D Bleu Dazzled is at the intersection of stage and street; a place where everyone dazzles.
Their motto is 'Love, Luxe, Lingerie' and Black women deserve all of those things and more. Lingerie addict turned Lingerie Boss, Annabelle Mu'azu, spent a chunk of her life curating African art. Then one day, she decided to pour into her other passion of wanting real women to feel comfortable in their skin. And not just comfortable but flirty and seductive too.
It's really the body positivity for us. This one-stop-shop was once just a place to get a fly waist trainer. Now, Tempting Curves is a six-figure boutique where you can get shapewear, swimwear, and lingerie. Founder, Javanna Palm, wants nothing more than to help women find their inner diva and give her unconditional love.
SADA by Sara Dawson
Brooklyn-bred Sara Dawson is the product of pure ingenuity because of the freedom she had as a young creative. She's been designing since the tender age of 13. For this FIT graduate, her goal is to disrupt the intimate apparel game by dismantling the taboo around it. "...it doesn't have to be about looking sexy for someone else, it's about expressing your own confidence and comfortability as a beautiful person. Confidence in yourself is beauty in itself." If you want custom lingerie, SADA is where it's at.
8.Savage x FENTY
Do I even need to say anything else? Savage x Fenty is a game-changer. Rihanna birthed Savage x Fenty to push the boundaries and have a sexy space where all women could see themselves. 2018 marked the beginning of the icon building the third column of her growing empire. Savage x Fenty offers an optional membership program where you can shop fearless pieces every month. It's affordable, fun and ultra-stylish.
Do you sometimes need a reminder that YOU ARE THE SHIT? This is it. Blue Reign is it. The moment you slip into these vegan and faux leather pieces, you'll have no choice but to own your body and gain real agency. "We design lingerie to elevate and adorn. Each piece has been hand created to not only sculpt and support the body, but to also be available to as many bodies as possible."
One thing about Love, Vera, they are going to show up and show out for Black women. And it shows by their loyal followers and customers because no one does it like Vera and Nate when it comes to removing limits and increasing invisibility of all Black women. More than anything, we stan this eCommerce business because they aim to illustrate us as the beautiful, multi-faceted beings we are. It doesn't hurt that the lingerie is straight fire too!
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Featured image by Shutterstock
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.
Whether it was your group chat, social media feed, or your favorite media outlet covering the spectacle, I’m pretty sure you’ve come across the viral Black wedding between actress KJ Smith (Sistas, Raising Kanan) and actor Skyh Black (All the Queen’s Men, Sistas). From their grand entrance to Jay-Z, Kayne West, and Beyoncé’s song “Lift Off” to KJ’s standout dance routine and the endless celebrity appearances, it’s an addictive TikTok scroll you can’t help but delve into.
But what many people would be surprised to know is that the couple’s original wedding plan was nothing like what it grew to be. What started as her simply scrolling through posts to get ideas eventually transformed into what the internet knows now as #TheBlackExperience. In an exclusive conversation with xoNecole, KJ walked us through her planning process, the morning of her wedding, and what she thinks of the online response.
Some women have their whole wedding planned out, from the bridal gown and venue to the bridal party and playlist. However, KJ was not one of those people. “I didn’t foresee a wedding in my future,” she reveals. “I was just gonna be the boss chick, rich auntie. I didn’t force love in my life until recently. I never had an idea of what a dream wedding would look like, it was easier for me to elope.”
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
And to many people’s surprise, that was their original plan – until Skyh brought up a valid concern. He was raised by his grandmother and thought she should be at the wedding, and naturally, that led to KJ wanting her grandmother to be there as well – then her mom – and later her sister – and, you’ve gotta invite the besties too, right? From there, the guest list continued to blossom. Much like the updo and pop of color bold red lip, she wore on her special day, which was initially on her Pinterest board as a soft glam look with her hair hanging on her shoulders, KJ is okay with changing her plan if it brings her and her loved ones happiness.
So let’s get into the wedding, which took place in Malibu, CA. The first thing you should know about the celebrity couple is that they’re non-traditional. They know, and they don’t care. So, in true unconventional fashion, they shared the morning of the wedding together.
“I woke up with Skyh, we walked our dog, had black coffee, and said good morning to the people who stayed at the venue with us,” she says.
Now, it was time for hair and makeup. While she was getting glammed up, she had Black-owned McBride Sisters wine and champagne (which ties into The Black Experience theme) on deck with her mom and friends, had her besties help rework her vows, retried on every outfit (sis is very Type-A), took photos, and ended the early-celebration with prayer and meditation. It seems very non-Bridezilla, I said.
“Yeah, I was the most unbothered bride ever. Everyone was just so supportive. As entertainers, we go on red carpets all the time. We actually have a production company,” she explains. “The get-ready process was like a day at work, but with people we love the most. Being entertainers, we didn’t feel stressed at all, but my excitement was so high.”
Things moved quickly, and before she knew it, it was time to line up to walk down the aisle.
“Yeah, I was the most unbothered bride ever. Everyone was just so supportive. As entertainers, we go on red carpets all the time. We actually have a production company. The get-ready process was like a day at work, but with people we love the most. Being entertainers, we didn’t feel stressed at all, but my excitement was so high.”
KJ Smith and her bridal party
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
Since everything started with their grandmothers, the couple wanted to ensure they honored them and planned to keep an element of their wedding traditional. Although we’ve all seen the reception videos and photos online, you may have noticed visuals from the wedding itself are harder to find.
“We planned for it to be traditional, but we’re not like that, so we tried to create those moments. We jumped the broom and had a salt ceremony (where the bride and groom individually pour salt into a glass container, symbolizing their lives becoming one.) But honestly, still, nothing was traditional about it.”
She goes on to explain that her mom caught the holy ghost coming down the aisle, her glam team was on deck, and she became so nervous with excitement that she had an anxiety attack – something she struggled with for years, she explains tearfully. Her friends had to literally cheer her down the aisle because of how overwhelmed she felt until she eventually calmed down.
“Skyh was standing there with his hand on his heart; we have our own little language, and I could feel the support,” she shares.
It was surprising to hear all these emotional moments happened before the party we saw online. That is until she once again got into the backstory.
“As a Black woman actress, for so long, it was popular to be mysterious and secretive, but that’s not who I am or what I like. Plus, we both wanted to create an experience for everyone there. We are the people who always host family and friends,” she says. “Like for me, the first order of business was getting sandals for the women so they can dance all night long. We had oxtail, D'ussé, and a coffee and sativa lounge – which is part of Skyh and I’s lifestyle and routine. We wanted to bring them into our world.”
Skyh Black (L) and KJ Smith (R)
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
She went on to discuss the dance routine she did for her husband at the reception, which has taken over the internet. Apparently, that’s another thing that didn’t go according to plan. According to KJ, she had promised a performance at their joint bachelor/ bachelorette party, but her outfit got stolen from her car. So, Skyh ended up performing for her – complete with a strip tease. Still, she never forgot her promise to dance for him.
So, she hired her friend as a choreographer, learned the routine, made friends and family watch it endless times, and attended Beyoncé’s Renaissance show a few days before for a confidence boost. It ended up being a show to remember. But that wasn’t all the night offered. Lil Mo performed, and the guests received special goody bags featuring their favorite Black-owned products like journals, hair care, and more.
“We made sure everyone was taken care of all night. That kind of stuff makes us happy. I wanted everyone there to experience the joy and love I have for myself, my partner, and for them. I wanted them to feel full and whole, and they had the time of their lives,” she says.
But naturally, the internet is going to internet, and while there were countless people praising the event and applauding the newlyweds, some thought it was too over the top. I was curious to know her thoughts on some of the criticism.
“It’s cool. We did what we wanted to do. I’ve decided to share my world with people. Just how I went on social media platforms and found inspiration, I want people to do the same,” she explains. “I don’t think it's fair to my supporters not to give that out. There’s so much I wanna share with brides, specifically Black brides. I love that people are adding it to their Pinterest boards."
"I wanted everyone there to experience the joy and love I have for myself, my partner, and for them. I wanted them to feel full and whole, and they had the time of their lives."
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
“I’m happy with it because we did what we wanted to do. They can do what they wanna do. Don’t be cruel, though, because you will get blocked,” she said, laughing.
The more I spoke with her, the more her sense of freedom shined through. People are always going to have their opinions, but at the end of the day, it’s you who has to live your life, and it seems like the couple realizes that and embraces that power. She also stressed the importance of not living for others and the lessons life has taught her.
“I’ve been to countless weddings, and I’ve been in countless weddings. I’m a generally older bride. So when women in my demographic get married, and you and your husband are busy working people like us, you deserve to have the one you want to have,” she shares.
“This is what we wanted to do. Our loved ones love and support us. We did so much to honor them, but we also wanted to start our own tradition, legacy, and creation. I'm not going to be pulled back into ideas of the past when I’m trying to create a future with my partner. “
If you’d like to see more of the couple, you probably won’t have to wait long. Although no content is planned yet, she admits to being an oversharer. “Me being open and transparent about my experiences lets people know it’s okay to have flaws; it makes you human, and for many years, I didn’t believe that was okay. I had pressure to be perfect, and I’d crumble every time,” she explains to xoNecole.
Now, she owns her flaws and uses them as a superpower to connect with her community and feel and express her love.
“Some people give us [Skyh and KJ] a hard time because they say we just seem too perfect. I’m like, why is that a bad thing? I love the people I love. From my man to my mama, to my friends - unabashedly. We move through time and space how we want to move. If we did it another way, we’d let ourselves and our union down.”
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Feature image by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
These 30-minute to 1-hour-long strolling adventures have given us a way to clear our minds and listen to our favorite songs, all while staying active and getting our bodies moving. And while we may have grown accustomed to having a fire playlist or podcast as the soundtrack to our walks, there's a new, more mindful alternative that’s taking a spin on your sidewalk struts.
“Silent walks” are the new walking trend that’s offering a deeper mind and body connection while taking a solo walk. Sure, the thought of having to take a walk for any duration of time while alone with your thoughts may seem unnatural, but you may be surprised to learn that tapping into that silence around you could give you an extra boost of clarity that you’re looking for.
As explained by the creator of “silent walks,” TikTok user Mady Maio, the idea was sparked by her boyfriend challenging her to take a distraction-free walk without the audio support of music or podcasts. While she was resistant to the challenge because her “anxiety could never,” Maio soon found that after two minutes of her mind going “haywire,” she was able to tap into a flow state that allowed her to hear herself and her thoughts more clearly.
#stitch with @KENZIEELIZABETH WE’RE SILENT WALKING ALL SUMMER, BABE 🚶 #walkinggirls #girlswhowalk #meditativewalk #intentionalwalk
Many times when we go on walks, the goal is to either get fresh air or clear our minds from all the mental junk that’s been floating around throughout the day. But when we don’t allow ourselves the space to sit in silence, our inner voice can be drowned out by external distractions and stimuli.
As the creator of the trend notes, God, the Universe, or whichever higher power you connect to has a tendency to speak in whispers. But if we’re unable to tap into quiet and still moments within our days, we could miss an opportunity to receive the answers that could come to us in the silence.
Silence allows us to tap into a meditative state. When we practice quieting our minds and focusing our attention inward, without the use of external guidance or verbal cues, we’re able to decrease brain fog, find solutions to our tangled thoughts, and let new ideas flow.
Silent walks also connect back to the original goals of its predecessor, hot girl walks, which encouraged walkers to focus on three main things: their goals, how they’re going to achieve those goals, and all the things they’re grateful for. Only this time, you're getting your dopamine hit from the thoughts you’re able to produce as opposed to the music, podcast, and phone calls you’re typically tuned into.
When channeled properly, silence is the gift that keeps on giving. With many people finding silent walks to be a valuable tool for reducing stress, enhancing mental clarity, and increasing overall well-being, this is your invitation to leave the headphones at home and plug into the world around you on your next outdoor journey.
Featured image by Xavier Lorenzo/Getty Images