Some of you have emailed me to see what’s been going on since I haven’t posted in a while. The truth is, it just hasn’t felt appropriate to be writing about pretty things to buy. Last week I decided to take a break to make room for more important news and voices. I would like involve you, as my readers in this discussion and would love to know how you would like me to address these issues moving forward. And please do share some resources and causes that you think are worthy.
So for today’s post: Last week, actress Barrett Doss (You might recognize her from Girls, 30 Rock, Broaday’s You Can’t Take it With You and Groundhog Day, or most recently, her role as Victoria Hughes on Grey’s Anatomy and Station 19) emailed me to let me know she reads the blog regularly, and asked if I would be interested in doing a post about Black-owned businesses. Of course the answer was a resounding yes, and I thought it would be great if she wrote it, so we could also meet yet another cool and interesting woman in the bargain. So I will stop talking and let her take over. p.s. those glasses are Warby Parker, and her necklace is vintage from Kindred Black.
I love shopping. I’ve always loved how making a new purchase allows me to imagine an entire life with this new shoe, dress, serum, or earring in it and how I will feel wearing it. And like many others who do, I’ve made an effort, especially in the last few years to consider where my products come from. Do the companies I shop with employ ethical business practices? Are they local? Do they use sustainable and clean ingredients? Do they pay their workers a fair wage? What are their values? It’s time now for all of us to ask ourselves the same questions. What are my values? Can I do more with my spending habits to support, build up and sustain a community?
Black-owned businesses are incredibly vulnerable, especially during the pandemic, and receive little economic support outside of the black community. Investing in black-owned businesses can infuse much needed capital which can then be re-infused back into the community to help drive economic equality for all. It’s an incredibly easy, effective, and important way to show support for and solidarity with the black community, beyond posting, donating and voting. I’m so thrilled to share some of my favorites and new favorites here to promote some perhaps lesser known brands and companies. Once of the most incredible discoveries I’ve made upon doing some of this research is that many of these companies make a concerted effort to support and implement ethical and sustainable business practices as will as traditional methods of production to bring us beautiful clothes and products that can make us feel good about putting our money where our mouth is when it comes to racial equity and justice. So here are just a few of the companies and pieces that I’m into right now.
Brother Vellies Palms Boot. Pricy, but I wear them A LOT. I have the black pony, but I’m kind of obsessed with this snake print. This incredible brand founded by Aurora James in 2013 keeps traditional African design practices alive while also creating and sustaining artisanal jobs around the world. This boot is one of my absolute favorites and makes me feel crazysexycool. I think it’s something about the perfect almond toe shape and the wider calf. Every time I wear them with a short slip dress, I feel like a slinky goddess with perfect legs. They also look incredible with a midi-length with huge hair for a 70’s vibe.
Mixed Chicks Deep Conditioner I, like most women in the black community (and most curly haired women in general), buy and use a TON of hair products. I have at least four different leave-ins, five different deep conditioners, and probably five or six curls products. I mix and match according to how my hair feels before I wash. This conditioner is the one I recently came back to and don’t know why I ever left her. The cool thing about this brand is that it was designed by two multiracial women, intended for multiracial women of all mixes. We tend to have many different curl patterns and textures and my products need to evenly moisturize the laid back curls around the base of my neck with the party curls at the crown of my head. Leave this on for 10-15 minutes in the shower and rinse out, and everyone is playing together and looking great.
Sincerely, Tommy Ellis Nu Cycle Short Sincerely, Tommy is a coffee shop/boutique of my dreams. Like… in another life, this is exactly the sort of store I would want to have. During quarantine, I’ve realized that I’m obsessed with lounging in bike shorts. They always make me feel ready to bust a move. I usually pair my black ones with a loose cropped t-shirt or tank, but I want to wear these with an oversized denim work shirt and some Keds and re-live my ’90s childhood. They’re my fancy bike shorts.
Oui the People Razor I love this company! Founder Karen Young developed this after one particularly bad case of razor-burn. The goal was to create (or recreate!) a razor that causes less irritation and could be made more sustainably, with less plastic waste. I’m trying to reduce reuse and recycle like PBS taught me, and also I get ingrowns. This beautiful object and its sharp, sharp blades really seems like it’s going to help me. And I feel like I need this insanely gorgeous razor in my shower. And instagram sold me on this even before I knew it was black-owned. So while all the colors may be sold out right now… it will be mine.
This skirt by Label by Three is so adorable and low-key sexy when it’s paired with a collarbone baring top, and it comes in black too! The clothes are handmade and designed in Phoenix by three women of color with an emphasis on minimalism, sustainability and versatility.
Ten Thousand Things Chain Wrapped Earrings Partners/designers Ronald Anderson and David Rees are inspired by beautiful, natural materials and observing nature. I’m in love with these little chain-wrapped honeys. I’m an earring girl, and I wear them every day. I typically go for a big hoop, but for those times when I want something smaller, I still like something that makes an impact. These are so understated and elegant and would look so pretty with a low bun or braids on a red carpet, or a cool head wrap any time.
Want Les Essentiels Daza High Suede Pump Another brand I loved, and only recently discovered was black-owned (by brothers Byron and Dexter Peart). And there’s a sale happening!!! So I immediately bought these. I couldn’t stop myself. I’m tall (5’9”) and I also love heels, but because I’m terrible at walking in stilettos, I try to find super funky chunky ones. This tomato red suede and the weird thick heel just got me. I want to wear them with something pink, as soon as there’s a reason to wear them. A note on this brand: The founders are two twin brothers from Montreal, who recently started another amazing venture, Goodee, a curated marketplace with a focus on sustainability and ethical business practices. They have an INCREDIBLE selection of home goods- baskets, benches, wallpaper, planters, everything! I moved about 6 months ago and keep trying to figure out what I don’t have yet, so I can buy something from there.
Hyper Skin Hyper Clear Brightening Clearing Vitamin C Serum I really want this to be my next Vitamin C serum and can’t wait to try it when I run out of my current Vitamin C. As a brown-skinned woman I struggle with dark marks ALL THE TIME, but so many generally effective dark spot treatments use ingredients like hydroquinone that could potentially bleach darker skin. This company was founded by Desiree Verdejo after struggling with serious hyperpigmentation as a result of hormonal breakouts during her first pregnancy. An oil-free, clean, and natural vitamin C serum with a blend of kojic acid, vitamin e, turmeric and bearberry, this stuff is incredibly well reviewed, and I trust that it must be high powered if it works on darker skin without the gross bleaching ingredients.
Kimberly Goldson Lynn Boot Cut Pants Another awesome family business, Kimberly Goldson and her sister Shelly Powell founded this line in 2011 in Brooklyn. This past year, I’ve made the choice to wear more pants and suits at events. I just feel like I can have more fun, and not worry about what might pop out if I’m dancing… and honestly, I just feel incredibly elegant wearing some great floor-skimming pants! And these totally fit the bill. High-waisted, boot cut, yellow and blue brocade all day. I’d probably stick a high neck sleeveless top in a bright color on top. Because WHY NOT? For those who aren’t into bootcut, check out the Cami Cropped pants, for the J. Crew look, in a print that people won’t have!
Natty Garden Luna Pot in light marble clay I spend most of my time in LA, working on the show- but in the summer, I would normally be at home in Brooklyn. Natty Garden is just a few blocks from my apartment, and I go there at least once a month to look around, maybe pick up a new pot for replanting, or a little plant to give as a gift. Austin (my boyfriend) says I can’t get any more plants for the house. He’s right. But sometimes I can’t help it! The Luna Pot in light marble clay would be perfect for a little prickly pear cactus, or a pilea peperomioides. They also have an amazing selection of glazed terra cotta pots in awesome colors to punch up a mellow room.
Fe Noel Welfed Crop top and matching pants I’m absolutely crazy about this brand, which is based in Brooklyn and largely influenced by the founder, Felicia “Fe” Noel’s Grenadian heritage and family. I’ve got like 6\six things in my shopping cart, and I really have to whittle it down. But these two pieces are at the very top. I love buying sets, so I can split the pieces up, and wear them separately and feel like I have three new outfits instead of just two new items. But maybe that’s not real and I just use it as an excuse. But I love this set, and you can get the pants in multiple inseam lengths, and both pieces (along with almost anything on the site) made-to-measure if you prefer. The colors and fabrics she uses in her designs just blow me away. Sheer plaid bodysuits, Bright red wide-leg linen pants, the Black Essential Casual Gown? I want it all.
Tensira Mattress Rectangular I love the site Goodee-Kapok for its awesome and huge selection. And this brand, Tensira. follows the african tradition of indigo dying, but apply it to minimalist designs. I love this mattress pad, which I would want for picnics, camping, or keeping around the house for lounging on the floor. My boyfriend’s sister had a baby two months ago, and this seems like the perfect thing to gift them for playing on the floor!
Aliya Wanek Indra Pants Aliya Wanek works overtime- a speech therapist by day, and a womenswear designer by night, so I’m already inspired. She carefully selects colors for her collections for their impact on “mood and well-being”, uses natural fibers, ethical and sustainable business practices, and zero-waste packaging, so we can feel good about all parts of the purchasing process. These hemp and cotton pants look like an easy alternative to Ilana Kohn or Jessie Kamm, with mood enhancing benefits! Maybe I need to branch out from bike shorts and get into this cotton/hemp easy pant life, because these pants make me feel calm and centered just looking at them. But also- maybe they could go to dinner with the Daza suede pumps, and a cute sweater?