Supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and the Black community comes in many forms: donating to non-profits (like the George Floyd Memorial Fund and Reclaim the Block), educating yourself, protesting, unlearning, advocating for fair policies, and signing petitions. While those are important displays of solidarity, supporting Black-owned businesses is also a valuable way of showing support. More than ever, the lifestyle, beauty and wellness industry must work towards a more inclusive and diverse environment and you can help support the effort by purchasing products from Black-owned brands, marketplaces and studios.
PRODUCTS OF EMPOWERMENT
Brown Beauty Co-Op
Co-founders Kimberly Smith and Amaya Smith (not related) debuted Brown Beauty Co-Op in December 2018. Harnessing their mutual passion for “empowering women of color through beauty and wellness,” the duo curated what they saw as a niche in the market into a retail haven for women of color with beauty, skin, hair and makeup products by Marjani and Product Junkie. Kimberly founded Marjani in 2017 as an e-commerce beauty shop for women of color and Amaya launched Product Junkie earlier in 2018, which caters to natural hair. Together, they make up Brown Beauty Co-Op, where women of color can embrace their natural skin and hair textures, get product consultations, network and find community. Though they are now closed due to the pandemic, you can still shop online or schedule a “Brown Beauty To-Go” pick up from Fridays to Sundays between 3:00 and 6:00 p.m.
From our marketing to our name, we are not shy about who our target audience is. We believe Black and Brown consumers deserve a beauty experience that caters to us and affirms that our dollars are valued.
1365 Connecticut Ave, NW Suite 100, brownbeautyco-op.com
CLEAN + GREEN LIVING
BLK + GRN
Founded by Dr. Kristian Edwards, BLK + GRN is a Black-owned beauty and lifestyle marketplace dedicated to green-living by showcasing and selling carefully-chosen sustainably and ethically manufactured home, wellness and beauty products made by Black artisans. BLK + GRN “connects Black people with natural lifestyles to high-quality, toxic-free brands that share in our mission of health, wellness and community cultivation” and they maintain that connection by curating, crafting and consuming consciously for you.” They carry a wide range of brands, all curated by Black artisans, including Kushae, Melanin Essentials, CurlMix, so you’ll be introduced to dozens of new brands to support. If you’re intrigued by their ethos and processes and want to learn more about clean living, you can also tune in to their The BLK + GRN podcast. Bonus: their shipping containers are made from at least 30% post-consumer waste paper.
Many Black-owned indie brands that are specifically formulating clean and eco-friendly products for Black women have a hard time thriving in today’s global market. Larger corporations can make it difficult for smaller businesses to be successful, given their power, influence, access and capital. But, what’s great about a platform like BLK + GRN is that it’s about more than just selling products. It actually addresses important issues in our community and within the wellness industry such as Black women’s lack of access to high-quality non-toxic products; and Black artisans’ lack of access to larger retail platforms.
ART FOR THE HOME AND SOUL
Black Pepper Paperie Co.
Black Pepper Paperie Co. is a DC-based mix-media art + design studio and lifestyle brand that creates one-of-a-kind handcrafted pieces including wearable ceramic art, apparel and paper goods. Designer Hadiya Williams has over 15 years of graphic design experience under her belt and has been featured in publications including Okay Africa, Afrominimalist, Curbed, and Travel + Leisure. She makes her own accessories, home products and hairpieces, inspired by the African diaspora around the globe, with a specific nod to West African art combined with modern western design. You can find her pieces at her online pop-up shop, at stockists like Shop Made in DC and Nubian Hueman.
My work is inspired by those who, for centuries, have found ways to turn function into art as a means of joy, tradition, and survival.
Founded by Anika Hobbs, Nubian Hueman is a link between creative artists and curators and international commerce. Nubian Hueman works with 500 artists and designers, from six different continents, and more than 25 countries to bring consumers carefully-picked fresh, sustainable and unique products ranging from menswear and greeting cards to planters and beauty products. It is a gallery of thoughtfully curated products by independent artists from around the globe that also hosts events like The Black Love Experience, which is set to be held at the end of August this year.
We bring pride and purpose to unique retail experiences by emboldening Black and Brown brands representing the global diaspora. Our business is important because representation matters. Additionally, as reports state that the number of Black-owned businesses in the US fell 41% from just February to April, we find it imperative that we continue to function as a conduit for these under-represented brands
1231 Good Hope Rd SE, nubianhueman.com
Calabash Tea & Tonic
At Calabash, you’ll get your fix of teas, tonics, spices, garden seeds, body care products and aromatherapy. The company, founded by Dr. Sunyatta Amen, a fifth-generation master herbalist and naturopathic physician from a Jamaican, Cuban and Native American family, aims to reconnect people with food and drink as a means of healing and to create a safe space for the community. Wind down in a bath with Amen’s great-grandmother’s bath crystals recipe, read a book while burning Solar Plexus Chakra Incense in the background, or kick back with a cup of Mandela’s Masala Chai – Calabash is a resource to keep Washingtonians grounded, relaxed and balanced.
“How can we help heal you today?” – is the question that welcomes every guest and marks the start of their transformative experience at Calabash Tea & Tonic, a magical urban oasis designed to reconnect city-dwellers with food and drink as medicine. … At Calabash, one enters as a customer then becomes a part of the communi-tea.
1847 7th St NW & 2701 12th St NE, calabashtea.com
THE POWER OF WOMXN
Femme Fatale DC
Owned by Cee Smith and Adriana Mendoza, Femme Fatale DC (FFDC) is a space for womxn by womxn to showcase themselves and their creations. Not only is it a space for creativity and exploration, it is also a community that supports womxn, amplifies womxn voices, and mobilizes change. They describe themselves as a “resource rich system of giving and receiving,” cultivating connections within the District and giving womxn a platform to collaborate and support each other “in business and in life.” FFDC’s online shop features a range of products and creations from candles and prints to skincare and plants for your home all made by “women makers, designers and creators in Washington DC.” The entrepreneurs they support get access to their retail space at low fees and in return, FFDC provides them with “a risk tolerant environment to test, and improve, new products” and become “part of a vibrant community of people that put collaboration and economic development first.” On top of that, FFDC also offer a resource review to educate and inspire consumers to be activists.
The Femme Fatale DC retail experience might feel like being welcomed into the expansive walk-in closet of your eclectic aunt. It is colorful, full of distinctive fashion, jewelry, art, home and apothecary goods; it smells of lavender oil, wax and sage.
401 Massachusettes Ave NW, femmefataledc.com
SIMPLIFIED YOUTH & WELLNESS
Hunnybunny boutique was founded by Leigh Byers and now owned by her two daughters, 11-year-old Nya and 6-year-old Zuri. Byers was inspired to create clean, natural products for her family when shopping for then-one-year-old Zuri. Hunnybunny produces their own all-natural bath and beauty products right here in DC with ingredients that your body and skin will love. Products, like hand soap, face masks, and body lotions are always tested by Nya and Zuri before they become available to the public for quality control.
Compare labels. Our ingredients are pure and natural. Our ingredients are few. The result is a superior product that is luxurious, safe, and worthy of being used on the most important people in your life.
311 8th Street NE, hunnybunny.boutique
By Blk Grls
By Blk Grls is a local artisan company that hand-makes each and every one of their bath bomb offerings. Founded by Samantha Somers, By Blk Grls products are made with essential oils, moisturizing Shea butter and Coco butters, and sugar scrubs in a range of scents with all-natural products. The refreshing options invite you to settle in with a bellini and the Strawberry Peach Bellini bath bomb, sip on a mimosa while relaxing with a Wildberry Mimosa bath bomb, or have your skin feel at its smoothest after an exfoliation with their Eucalyptus Lavender sugar scrub.
At By Blk Grls we believe that bathing should be a tranquil experience and we strive to make our clients feel beautiful, confident and relaxed after using our products. With busy and hectic schedules, we can easily forget to take care of ourselves. By Blk Grls products are a friendly reminder to stop and take care of ourselves. Whether with a hot bubble bath, a good exfoliation or just a glass of your favorite wine…take a moment to Wine Down.
Also worth checking out: Mahogany Books, Sankofa Video, Books & Cafe or Loyalty Bookstore where reading material about anti-racism, the Civil Rights Movement, or the Black Lives Matter movement is available for purchase.
Note: Due to COVID-19 regulations, stores are temporarily closed for in-person shopping but products are available online and/or for curbside pick-up.