We at VAIVAI Magazine are devastated by the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Dreasjon Reed, and so many others. We stand in solidarity with the Black community and hope that this coverage will serve as a helpful resource to further antiracism work in our community.
Big corporations have a history of suppressing small businesses and putting a heavy load on low-income communities. But diversity creates economic vitality, uplifts communities, and promotes productivity.
The accomplishment of a green economy depends on the recognition of diversity by and for all peoples. We think that a healthy, equal economic ecosystem is one without boundaries based on race, class, gender, and sexual orientation. Also in regular times, black-owned small businesses often are more helpless financially than others, with lower cash resources to carry them through in difficult times. Every voice and action is worth honoring—not just now, but all the time.
As riots and protests against racial inequity and police ruthlessness continue around the country, you may have heard calls to support black-owned businesses. The pandemic and shutdowns have led to a hard few months for companies and people nationwide.
So, in addition to donating to organizations that are most immediately combating racial injustice, we recommend you to think patronizing more Black-owned businesses and more often.
Hanahana Beauty, founded by Abena Boamah-Acheampong, is a clean beauty brand that sustainably sources its shea butter and pays double the fair-trade price to its suppliers.
Created by a former performer Hassan Sayyed, Haus Urban takes into consideration what stage performers need for their skin to counteract stage makeup, sweating in said makeup, and more. His line is all-natural and includes everything from body butter and oils to face washes and toners.
The Honey Pot
Bea Dixon started making feminine-care products in her kitchen, and today they are sold at large retailers like Target, Urban Outfitters, and Walgreens. They are 100 percent natural but still clinically tested, and gynecologists approved. The line encompasses everything from organic tampons to bath bombs to feminine washes for everyone from the most sensitive to expectant mothers. —J.M.W.
Desiree Verdejo created Hyper Skin after a bout of hormonal pregnancy acne left her with stubborn hyperpigmentation. Their first product, Hyper Clear, is an affordable vitamin C serum formulated with 15 percent skin-brightening ascorbic acid, kojic acid, and vitamin E. —D.P.
Lauren Napier Beauty
Lauren Napier, the former celebrity makeup artist, created a line of face wipes that don’t strip the skin and instead hydrate it as it takes off makeup. She created a different texture for the wipes, and they’re individually packaged, so they don’t dry out. They’re the ones I always buy for myself. —C.A.
OUI The People
A body-care company, founded by Karen Young that makes the most excellent reusable, direct-to-consumer razors I’ve ever seen. They also sell a body gloss, a gel-to-milk in-shower moisturizer, and bikini line masks. —D.P.
Pat McGrath Labs
Pat makes some of the most luxurious makeup products, and with her long-list of celebrity supporters, she’s one of the most loved makeup artists. —C.A.
One of the best ways to be anti-racist is to learn about antiracism, and one of the best places to buy books is at a black-owned bookstore.
Cafe con Libros
Cafe con Libros — “coffee with books” in Spanish — is an intersectional feminist community bookstore and coffee shop in Prospect Heights, NY.
Located in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, Frugal Bookstore is a community bookstore with the motto, “Changing Minds One Book at a Time.”
Named after Harriet Tubman, this bookstore in Philadelphia’s Fishtown specializes in books by women authors.
For Keeps Books
For Keeps Books is an Atlanta-based bookstore with rare and classic black literature and records and t-shirts. —Hilary Reid
Fulton Street Books and Coffee
Located in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Fulton Street Books has curated an Ally Box, which is “is a three-month limited book subscription for allies (and those who seek to be allies).” The first one ships on July 1.
The Lit. Bar
The Lit. Bar, opened in 2019, is the only bookstore in the Bronx, serving the borough’s 1.5 million residents.
Loving Me Books
A registered behavioral therapist, Angela Nesbitt, created Loving Me Books to bring parents and children books with more diverse characters and storylines. You can buy from her online stock, but she also provides services to schools, daycares, and book fairs.
Mahogany Books started as an online bookstore a decade ago, specializing in books “written for, by, or about people of the African Diaspora.” They opened a storefront in Washington, D.C., in 2017, and are still committed to making books accessible to all.
Sister’s Uptown Bookstore
Sister’s Uptown has been serving Washington Heights for 20 years, opened and operated by Janifer Wilson and her daughter Kori. They sell their books online, via oneKin, and recently put together a “Consciousness Reading Book Guide” on Instagram.
Source of Knowledge
Newark’s only African-American-owned bookstore Source of Knowledge had to close because of coronavirus. They are running a GoFundMe to keep their family business alive, serve their community, and feed their employees. —Liza Corsillo
CLOTHING AND ACCESSORIES
Anya Lust is a luxury lingerie e-commerce business, founded by Krystle Kotara. On the site, you’ll find pieces from a range of smaller high-end lingerie designers, as well as links to sign up for Sensual Yoga and Tantric Date Night workshops.
BedStuyFly offers graphic tees, hats, jackets, and sweats for men and women and has stores in Bed-Stuy and Williamsburg.
BLK MKT Vintage
Strategist writer Tembe Denton-Hurst wrote about Bed–Stuy’s BLK MKT Vintage, which is owned by Jannah Handy and Kiyanna Stewart. The couple combs flea markets and estate sales for black ephemera (including 1970s afro picks and 1970s anti-apartheid stickers), which you can find on their website, alongside art and vintage pieces.
A menswear store located in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Circus, was featured in Black-Owned Brooklyn, where owner Ouigi Theodore cited “Cooley High, sports, Jay-Z Brooklyn, Spike Lee Brooklyn” as the reference points for styles carried in the store.
Brother Vellies makes excellent leather goods, including handbags and shoes that range from summer-y huarache sandals to thigh-high boots, and was founded by Aurora James. She established the 15 Percent Pledge (which asks major retailers to devote 15 percent of their shelf space to black-owned businesses). —Dominique Pariso
Los Angeles–based designer Cameron Tea uses wood beads to make bucket hats, rectangular mini-purses, and bags that are shaped like hearts.
A swimsuit line founded by former model Chantel Davis, Castamira’s bathing suits is designed to support women with curves and come in sleek one-shouldered cuts, as well as ruched designs with lace-up details.
Los Angeles–based CBAAF’s clothes are hand-dyed and made of 100 percent recycled cotton. Their current collection includes oatmeal and black tie-dyed T-shirt, long-sleeve, and shorts sets.
Christopher John Rogers
Christopher John Rogers makes stunning womenswear pieces in voluminous silhouettes, including iridescent pink taffeta skirts and a red feather-trimmed bustier.
Cool and Casual Studios
One of the shops I found through Firstman’s Instagram story, Cool and Casual Studios, is a Los Angeles–the based shop that offers a mix of vintage and independent designers. You’ll find breezy striped linen shirts and ideal pairs of stonewashed vintage jeans.
Detroit-based clothing label Diop makes diaspora inspired streetwear, including fabric face masks inspired by mud cloth from Mali. For each mask sold, Diop is donating a portion of mask proceeds to coronavirus relief initiatives, including Feed the Frontlines, which supports Detroit restaurants and provides meals to emergency and health-care workers. —Liza Corsillo
New York City line Edas — which sells spiral earrings, hand-rolled jewelry dishes, and miniature leather bags — was started by Sade Mims, who is also the head designer for the brand.
Flat Fifteen is London-based designer Francesca Kappo’s line of tiny handbags in iridescent silk and gingham that, as Kappo writes on the site, “your Aunty would probably wear to Church on a Sunday.”
Gizmo Vintage Honey
Bed-Stuy’s Gizmo Vintage Honey is where you’ll find retro patchwork tops, perfectly broken-in jeans, and utility jumpsuits.
We could all use a few more lounge sets these days, and this brand, which offers custom-made matching shorts, sweats, and tops, was included in both Coscarelli and Hairston’s stories.
House of Aama
Mother-daughter duo Rebecca Henry and Akua Shabaka started the House of Aama in 2015. According to their website, the brand — which sells silk halter tops, corduroy jackets, and off-the-shoulder tops — “explores the folkways of the Black experience by designing timeless garments with nostalgic references informed by historical research, archival analysis, and storytelling.”
Founded by fashion and travel blogger Fisayo Longe, KAI offers glamorous ruched burnt orange and purple skirts and patterned mesh going-out turtlenecks.
Riot Swim sells the bathing suits that are all over your Instagram feed. Designed by Monti Landers, one of their most recognizable styles is a cheeky, deep-V one piece, but the entire range consists of minimalist swimsuits in a variety of colors from neutral to neon. —Jenna Milliner-Waddell
The Bed–Stuy coffee-slash-clothing shop founded by Kai Avent-deLeon focuses on jewelry, home goods, and womenswear by emerging designers (it is also where Strategist senior editor Katy Schneider buys, as she puts it, “more or less all of her clothing”).
Minimalist leather-goods brand Tree Fairfax offers timeless cross-body bags, belts, totes, and waist bags in vibrant shades of mahogany, cognac, black, and russet.