Imagine what would happen if Black people—the largest consumer group of color in the U.S.—routinely demonstrated allegiance to the 2.6 million Black-owned businesses that exist in America. For one solid year, that’s what author and advocate Maggie Anderson did. She wrote about the experience of buying from only Black-owned businesses in her book, Our Black Year: One Family’s Quest to Buy Black in America’s Racially Divided Economy (PublicAffairs). It details how she and her family committed to a social experiment that became a movement.
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“America’s economy is still so racially divided. Our neighborhoods are still the poorest and produce the fewest jobs, and our businesses still fare the worst by far. We’re spending less than 5 percent within our own community,” Anderson says, adding that our children are looking to us to set the example of not only launching businesses but also supporting entrepreneurs who look like them. Now is the time to actualize our goals. The following list is just a starting point to show your support. Build on it. Run with it. Add to it.
Effie’s Paper: Stationery And Whatnot
Founder and creative director Kalyn Johnson Chandler believes in the power of composing a handwritten note, a practice she learned from her beloved grandmother Effie. Chandler’s vibrant stationery, which can be personalized and custom-designed, perfectly complements a well-versed sentiment or heartfelt message. The online paperie also produces desk accessories, notebooks and wall prints, taking office spaces from pretty plain to just plain pretty.
House Of Evbuomwan
Husband-and-wife design team Osayame and Ekiuwa Evbuomwan share a passion for clean, crisp Web and print design. Their work is made even more compelling when you consider that the couple are still enrolled in college in Atlanta—Osayame is studying graphic design at The Art Institute, while Ekiuwa is attending Georgia State University to earn her bachelor’s degree in psychology. They build websites, put together media kits and offer brand development services for entrepreneurs such as actress Keshia Knight Pulliam.
Owner Sabrina Thompson makes visual storytelling an art. As one of the cinematographers for the Hillary Clinton campaign, she captured memorable and candid moments of the former Democratic nominee as she traveled the country. With an eye for what really needs to be said through the lens, the Brooklyn-based Thompson, who previously worked as a TV producer, documents hard-driving social justice campaigns for global clients and snaps extraordinary shots for families and individuals.
Rubberball Productions/Getty Images
Through her entertainment company, Ekiuwa “Eki” Asemota brings historic stories of African royalty to life to remind adults and teach children that we come from majestic people. In full costume, she and her small cast of fellow creatives portray characters such as Queen Makeda of Ethiopia and Queen Nzinga of Angola. Since last year, the group has traveled to more than 30 organizations, including schools, counseling centers and festivals, using song, dance and storytelling to depict the beauty of our heritage.
Founder Byron Francis learned firsthand how traveling can expand a young person’s mind when he studied abroad. His Chattanooga-based nonprofit—in which he and his team plan and facilitate trips for high school students—provides access to adventures systemically denied to students of color. This past summer, the organization took teens to visit Western Europe for 14 days after they had completed a curriculum that focused on cultural competence to enhance their leadership skills.
New York City Explorers
College friends Keyanna Murrill and Kisha Edwards-Gandsy combined their expertise in keeping kids entertained—Edwards-Gandsy is a former nanny; Murrill taught children’s theater—to build a farm-to-table-friendly preschool, camp and afterschool program. It serves busy Brooklyn families by providing an innovative coworking area that allows parents to be professionally productive while their little ones are engrossed in enrichment activities.
BEAUTY AND FASHION
The search for a talented stylist can make a Black woman go rogue and give up on hair altogether. Cocreators Jihan Thompson and Jennifer Lambert lived it, survived it and did something about it with the launch of this free app. Available on Apple devices, Swivel helps women of color find stylists and schedule appointments with partner salons according to hair type and desired service. The New York City–based tech solution plans to expand to other areas, like Chicago, by the beginning of 2017.
Fab U List
Owner Sunshine Outing established this online designer resale and consignment shop featuring vintage items for customers with an eye for high-end fashion and a desire to pay less. Offering everything from Balenciaga merch to Tracy Reese dresses to Chanel handbags, the site is a hot spot, and its new iPhone and Android apps make the delicious inventory even more accessible to busy fashionistas.
African-inspired design is a brilliant celebration of the culture and couture of the Motherland. Founder and CEO Kelechi Anyadiegwu launched this Atlanta-based site in 2014, giving a global network of designers the platform to spotlight their talent in textiles like dashiki and Ankara. Zuvaa pop-up shops bring African aesthetics to venues in major cities across the U.S. International locations are scheduled to be added next year.
HEALTH AND WELLNESS
Continuing the legacy of her mom, Annette Turner, who started the company, owner Jerri Evans features cleverly named, freshly pressed smoothies and juices—like Green Latifah, a delicious blend of apples, ginger and fennel. Each location (there are two in the D.C. area and a third opening soon) also sells food—vegan cupcakes, y’all!—and juice-cleansing packages.
Afro Flow Yoga
Founder Leslie Salmon Jones created a fusion of meditative yoga and African dance for the diverse clientele who flock to her Boston-area workshops and classes (also held in Brooklyn and Stamford, Connecticut). With sessions set to live percussion directed by her husband and cofounder, Jeff W. Jones, the Alvin Ailey–trained dancer encourages students to get lost in the healing freedom of movement.
The Mecca Group, LLC
The well-being of our children is our community’s biggest priority. Guided by that knowledge, business partners and fellow psychologists Mercedes E. Ebanks and Keisha L. Mack founded a collective of psychologists, social workers and support specialists to serve D.C.–area families. The group offers mental health, behavior management and school-based services that focus on the specific needs of Black and Latino youth.