Issa Rae's Top 10 Black-Owned Businesses Shopping Guide
Just a decade ago, Issa Rae was beginning to take her filmmaking and insatiable hunger for dynamic Black storytelling more seriously with the launch of her comedy web series, Awkward Black Girl. In 2021, Rae has accomplished many of her lifelong aspirations and these sentiments were shown in the vision board she created for herself 7 years ago.
“In 2013, the vision board I created was treated more like a time capsule, where I put it away and recently unpacked it, which ended up feeling way more affirming for myself and my career,” Rae tells ESSENCE.
Issa Rae’s vision board is a mere physical manifestation and testament to how far she has come as she alternates between her many professional hats as an actress, writer, and television & film producer. Recently, the renaissance woman publicly announced the ending of her critically-acclaimed HBO series, Insecure. Similar to ABG, the series has provided a safe space for Black women to feel vulnerably seen and heard, while playing out the most intimate—yet hilariously candid—scenes that showcase the intricacies within Black love and friendship. In between her filming schedule for the dramedy’s 5th and final season, she reflects: “I am so grateful to play a small part in reflecting Black people’s experiences on screen in a (hopefully) beautiful way.”
The Inglewood native continuously pays tribute to her upbringing through the various Black-owned locations where Insecure takes place; most of the filming locations are common places Rae visited growing up in the area. Now, the multi-hyphenate has taken on another venture outside of the writing room by partnering with Sienna Natural’s founder, Hannah Diop, to collaborate on an extensive textured haircare line that is meant to open up the hair conversation between Black women alike and make haircare less intimidating and more inclusive.
“The foundation of Sienna Naturals is taking care of you. For me, I want to be able to help Black women feel represented and most importantly, their hair be left healthier,” Issa Rae proudly states. “My hair is so closely aligned with who I am; it is part of my identity and part of my insecurity and I want to bring products to the market that will help others learn how to maintain their hair.”
In 2021, both Black History Month and Women’s History Month have been celebrated and acknowledged with appreciation on a more widespread level, namely in response to the unjust police murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, as well as a multitude of other social issues fueled by white supremacy that reached a boiling point in 2020. For her part in contributing to the fight for economic equality, Issa Rae is urging Americans to shift consumer culture by seeking out Black-owned product alternatives through supporting Black entrepreneurs.
“We have built this country and we don’t see the benefits of that at all,” says Rae. “For Black economic prosperity and generational finances, it is important to consider Black-owned businesses, not just by word-of-mouth but through benefiting off of dollars from people of all colors.”
Issa Rae curated a shopping guide for ESSENCE of her favorite 10 businesses that are either Black-owned or Black-founded.
NYAKIO Clean & Green Beauty
Nyakio Clean & Green Beauty is an globally-sourced skincare product line that uses African herbal ingredients and cultural practices to care for all types of skin. The products range from $20 to $45 and are available for purchase online and in stores at Target. Founded by Nyakio Grieco.
Femme Noire is a self-care product line that is widely popular for their body balms such as the “Kiss My Ash” balm with online products that range from $7 to $20. Founded by Nadja Renise.
Alexandra Winbush is a self-care product delivery service that provides scented candles and hand-selected teas accompanied with a curated playlist for the perfect occasion. The online products range from $12 to $38. Founded by Alexandra Winbush.
Aliette is a modern luxury brand that features silky loungewear designs that are highly functional for multi-purpose comfortable use. Zendaya’s famous shimmering dress from Sam Levinson’s Malcolm & Marie is for sale in the designer’s fashion line. The online products range from $60 to $795. Founded by Jason Rembert.
Reparations Club (LA)
Reparations Club is an independent bookshop and creative hub that often hosts events with influential guests speakers and Black innovators. The instore and online products range from $10 to $70. Founded by Jazzi McGilbert.
Pop’s Kernel is a gourmet popcorn experience with over 12 flavors and they can even customize your own soiree offerings for events and corporate parties. Their mission is to employ special needs adults to offer more job opportunities. The online products and services range from $7 to $16. Founded by Davis-Wade.
Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen (LA)
The downtown Inglewood Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen is a lively innovative food space and gourmet coffee shop. The menu ranges from $3 to $16. Founded by Ajay Relan and Yonnie Hagos, co-partner, Issa Rae.
Bria Nicole Art
Bria Nicole Art is a visual gallery and online shop of Bria’s digital illustrations, prints, paintings, home decor, and accessories. The decor and product accessories range from $10 to $36. Founded by Bria Nicole.
Post 21 is a comprehensive Black-owned marketplace that features products from various Black entrepreneurs and creatives to fulfill the insatiable need for more Black-owned products. The products range from $12 to $175. Founded by Juana Williams and Blair Paysinger.
Sienna Naturals is a textured hair-care line with products that range from $12 to $70 that are available for purchase online and in stores at Target or Nordstrom. Founded and co-owned by Hannah Diop and Issa Rae.