Black History Month: 10 Black-Owned Businesses to Shop Now and Forever
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It’s Black History Month, and we are excited to lift up powerful Black voices. Information about the amazing contributions of Black folks isn’t always easy to find, but don’t worry — keep on reading to learn about the origins and purpose of Black History Month. You can then scroll further for a list of our favorite Black-owned businesses to look out for. You’ll likely have heard of one or two big-name brands, but we’ve included a number of bright-burning new arrivals to the scene for you to check out and show your support. Happy Black History Month, and happy reading!
Black History Month Facts
Before we move on to our favorite businesses and brands, it’s important that we dig into why we celebrate Black History Month in the first place. Here are the details:
What Is Black History Month?
This time-honored annual observance of the critical contributions of Black individuals originated in 1915, 50 years after the abolishment of traditional slavery via the 13th Amendment. Any day is a good day to explore the powerful contributions made to the world by African Americans and folks of African origin (peanut butter, the modern toilet, blood banks, potato chips, and countless forms of popular dance to name a few). However, February has provided a special space for the celebration of Black creatives, thinkers, and visionaries, both past and present.
Why Do We Celebrate Black History Month in February?
The origins of Black History Month date back to the 1926 celebration of Negro History Week in the U.S., which was created by Carter G. Woodson — the "Father of Black History" — to deepen the nation’s consciousness of Black history and culture. This week was chosen mainly because it was close to the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln (the president largely credited with ending traditional slavery in America) and Frederick Douglass (a major abolitionist leader and the first Black man to be nominated for president). The celebration grew yearly as more mayors and leaders officially recognized the week. Fast forward to 1969 at Kent State University, where black educators proposed the creation of a full Black History Month. The first celebration of Black History Month was held at Kent in 1970, with an official endorsement from President Gerald Ford in 1976.
10 Black-Owned Businesses to Support
Looking for a great source of literature written by authors of color? The rapper known as Noname (pronounced “No Name"), started a book club that has since expanded into a live space called the Radical Hood Library to boost the voices and works of authors of color. RHL promotes two books a month by POC authors, and divides their books into sections such as revolution, Black Capitalism Won’t Save Us, and a kids section called Little Homies. Drop by their Jefferson County location if you’re local to the Los Angeles area, or visit the Noname Book Club website for more ways to support. You can donate money to support their mission, or even donate your used books to folks in the prison system.
For more literary recs, check out our roundup of Must-Read Books by Black Authors in Honor of Black History Month!
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Black Girl Sunscreen products are created with darker skin in mind. Designed to dry clear on the skin and eliminate stubborn white streaks, Black Girl Sunscreen is specially formulated to give a little extra love to magnificently melanated faces. Like so many of our other brands on this list, BGS is about more than just profit. They care for the environment by sending you a gift when you send in your empty bottles to be recycled through their BGS Recycling Initiative. Check them out and learn to love the skin you’ve been blessed with.
Chrisitan Paul deserves a medal for his handcrafted desserts. Most people took up a hobby of some kind during the pandemic. But this long-time food enthusiast took the plunge and blew up on TikTok and other social media platforms after turning his newfound passion for chocolate into a full-scale business. Featuring decadent bars and even pre-packaged handmade smores, his dessert drops go out of stock quickly, so check him out and grab the goods while you can!
Uncle Funky’s Daughter may sound like an off-beat name, but don’t let it fool you – the brand has been taking the hair care world by storm with affordable, all-natural hair care solutions made specifically for curly hair. Despite the name, shoppers won’t find anything funky in UFD’s cleansers or beauty kits (though the Uncle Funky's Daughter apparel shop is a wonderfully different story). Check out Uncle Funky’s Daughter products directly on their website, or pick some up at Target and other major retailers.
In today’s world, religious clothing can be an expression of faith, but can also be the trigger for extreme hate. As a way to combat this, Art of Homage offers a refreshing counter-proposal for the world of Christian apparel: creative and tasteful conversation-starters that trump hate and condemnation with simple, focused love. AoH’s owner Channel took a huge leap of faith from a decade-long career in banking to start his brand, and every piece is a stylish, God-centered reminder of his devotion. In the interest of giving back and setting others free to create their own brands, Channel has used his success with AoH to create the EntreBeliever Brand Builder's Club — buy a shirt, then learn how to make your own shirts all in one place!
Bevel is an incredible skin care brand specializing in products for sensitive skin. While the grooming brand markets primarily toward men, Bevel sells products like sulfate-free shampoo and curl creme fit to impress all types. Their story is even more compelling than their premium products, though: Bevel’s creator is working to end recidivism — the cycle of re-incarceration and re-arrest of previously convicted individuals that contributes so heavily to single-parent homes in underprivileged communities. They’ve partnered with mega-retailer Walmart to contribute a portion of the proceeds from every sale to anti-recidivism legislation and resources like job training and continuing education for individuals returning from incarceration.
If the pandemic has changed your idea of “fancy clothes" to a vest with a nice button-up, pajama pants, and a comfy pair of bunny slippers, G+Co.’s here to the rescue. Dress yourself to the nines with debonair duds and fashion-forward formal wear that celebrate the Black experience in style. They carry every kind of apparel, from casual kids, women’s, and men’s clothes to suits; they even offer an accessory subscription to give your wardrobe a monthly infusion of cool. Founded on values of community, fashion, and collaboration, G+Co. has committed to helping other Black-owned businesses with a portion of every purchase.
Of all the senses we experience, nothing can invoke a sense of nostalgia like our sense of smell. Fueled by the childhood memory of her aunt’s fragrant perfumes and amazing travel stories, Teri Johnson set out to create Harlem Candle Company in 2014. After traveling to over 70 countries herself, Teri learned to harness the nostalgic power of scent in her candles, creating custom scents meant to capture the essence of the Harlem Renaissance. Featuring iconic scents like the earthy “Speakeasy" and floral “Lady Day," customers can enjoy a piece of Harlem history with every candle and spray.
Skin care is a strange world — most skin care brands these days try to turn back the clock on aging with some combination of crazy chemicals, filtered water, and primordial ooze, but if you look hard enough you can find brands that bring true quality without all the weird stuff. Every product at MooreWell Skin Care is carefully handcrafted, from their face serums to their fluffy-as-a-cloud whipped body butters. Plus, MooreWell products are 100% free of any chemicals or preservatives. Their face serum uses premium ingredients proven to fight wrinkles, acne, and discoloration in all skin types, and a portion of every purchase goes to support a small Kenyan church in providing supplies, food, and education for children in the region. Visit their website or shop their Etsy store to support this amazing husband-and-wife duo and treat your skin to a new kind of awesome.
10. Stephen Ddungu
It’s always fun to enjoy the latest iteration of a AAA game, but it’s not every day true innovation strikes the video game world. A new challenger has appeared on the scene, however, and his name is Stephen Ddungu. In one of the most exciting and unique projects we’ve ever heard of, Ddungu is weaving his love of music and video games into a musical action role-playing game called Sword of Symphony. According to his comments in a series of viral videos he released on social media, music drives combat to an incredible degree in SoS. Each character and monster wields music-based weapons and executes music-note attacks that send magical waves of sound flying across the battlefield. Stephen is solo-developing the game full-time, so visit his Patreon to help make this incredibly ambitious creative dream a reality.
11. Bonus: Coco and Breezy Eyewear
Founded by twin entrepreneurs/designers Corianna and Brianna Dotson, Coco and Breezy is an inclusive eyewear brand made to help people around the world feel truly seen. The twins quickly earned recognition as a force in the fashion and music industries, and can regularly be found DJing when they aren’t busy creating trendy new eyewear. Their brand has been featured by stars as big as Alicia Keys and the late Prince – Coco and Breezy have even collaborated with Hershey’s in recent years. Pick up a pair or seven today and drop by Coco and Breezy’s Instagram page to join their vibrant community.