The Countdown Begins: 25 days of Black Biz
December is finally here and tis the season to shop until you drop. This year, theGrio wanted to help make your gift giving experience even better by including purchases with a purpose. We’ve created a list of 25 Black-owned businesses that offer unique products and services perfect for your long list of family and friends. While it’s super easy to take advantage of the deals supplied by big box retailers, we’ve made it even easier to support Black small business owners who are doing spectacular things online and right in the heart of their communities.
Black buying power is $1.3 trillion according to the latest Nielsen figures. What’s more, African American female-owned businesses are the fastest growing segment of entrepreneurs. In other words, we’re doing the damn thang!
With the holidays now in full swing, make #BuyBlack more than just another hashtag. Over the next 25 days, click through our special guide to find a spectacular list of Black-owned businesses to patronize. It’s all about using our economics to bring power to the people Plus, we’ve got a slew of exclusive deals just for theGrio readers while you’re all making your list and checking it twice!
Company: The Crayon Case
Owner: Raynell “Supa Cent” Steward, 30
Products/Services: Christmas is here, but it’s not too late to go out with a bang! Fans of Supa Cent, the New Orleans-based makeup mogul, can try a bold new look for New Year’s.
Those who love the wildly popular Box of Crayons Palette ($30), a set of rich, pigmented eyeshadows in vibrant colors, can also dabble in lipstick, lip gloss, highlighters, eyebrow products, setting powder and more.
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“When I first started going live on social, I used to play in makeup for fun,” says Steward, a former housekeeper and bartender, whose two-year-old brand made $1 million in 90 minutes on Cyber Monday. “Eventually, I actually learned how to do my makeup and people were amazed.”
While the Crayon Case is dedicated to amateur make-up users and aspiring make-up artists, Steward confirms that learning how to beat your face isn’t actually all that difficult because there’s always room to learn.
When it comes to the importance of Black entrepreneurship, she says: “Our children have to see this because it’s the only way that it will keep going.”
Discount: Enter “THEGRIO” for 15% off your entire order at shop.thecrayoncase.com until December 31, 2018.
Owner: Marie Jean-Baptiste, 34
Products/Services: Planning on spending New Year’s Eve someplace deliciously fabulous and sexy? Check out the beauty of Rue107, a contemporary women’s wear lifestyle brand with edgy, inspiring collections from high-waisted bikinis to easy-flowing mini-wrap dresses perfect for a festive and fun night out.
“Our brand celebrates women of all sizes and races,” owner Marie Jean-Baptiste whose site also flaunts models of every hue and offers items that run from small to 3X.
Rue107’s unique selling point? “We make 95% of our prints and our customers love them!” says Jean-Baptiste. As the owner of the New York-based, fashion design and e-commerce retail company Jean-Baptiste (who is originally from Haiti) says the significance of entrepreneurship is two-fold:
“It has the power to break generational poverty while increasing the likelihood of creating generational wealth.” She continues: “Everyone should exercise their entrepreneurship muscles because it exists in all of us.”
Discount: Enter “GRIO” for 20% off sitewide at rue107.com until January 7, 2019.
Owner: Olayinka Noel, 25
Products/Services: This company is literally doing it for the culture with unique, ethnic fashion accessories that makes us all proud to be Black. In fact, customers rave about the Motherland necklace, a classic beautiful pendant of Africa that comes in gold, silver, rose gold, and gunmetal black and which would make a perfect Kwanzaa keepsake.
“They are happy to have a symbol of home so close to their hearts,” says Olayinka Noel, owner of MIANIK (mee-ah-neek), the nearly three year-old Atlanta business she started with her sister, Nzinga.
After posting a picture of herself in October 2016 dressed as Disney’s Princess Jasmine for Halloween (she’s of Indian and African heritage), the business took off. Now millennials are flocking to her site to purchase bold necklaces, earrings, bags, and bracelets that celebrate our African roots.
A former singer, Noel says entrepreneurship is liberating. “There is nothing more empowering than having a dream and watching it become real before your eyes,” she says.
Discount: Enter ”FIRSTFIRST11” for first-time customers to get 20% off your entire order at mianik.com. (Minimum purchase of $30 is required. Valid until December 31.)
Company: PHLARE Lashes
Owner: Zakiyaa, 31
Product/Service: Kick your lash game up a notch just in time for the New Year with fox, mink, silk, and horse lashes from PHLARE. The high-quality faux flutters are more than the latest accessories craze.
“When women wear lashes, their self esteem is elevated and their confidence is restored,” says Zakiyaa, whose company grossed $165,000 in 2017. “Our lashes come in different styles, textures, and lengths, and all fibers are cruelty-free.”
The silk collection comes in styles like Pure, Promise, and Bougie, which are all in high demand. The next time you’re in Fort Lauderdale or Miami, stop by the PHLARE boutique for a complimentary application with each purchase.
Aside from offering lashes, which retail for $25-$30, they also offer full makeup and eyebrow services such as tints, wax, and contouring.
Discount: Enter “thegrio” for 15% off at phlareonline.com.
Company: Holly Hall Supply Co.
Owner: Justin D. Moore, 32
Product/Service: Now that the holidays are in full swing, men in need of a close shave should consider this dermatologist-developed skin care product line focused on helping men achieve the smoothest skin ever.
“I grew up in my Dad’s dermatology practice and have always cared more about grooming than the average person,” says Justin D. Moore, a Houston corporate lawyer by trade, who left his corporate job to follow is passion.
After two years of running a lean operation, the young startup is hitting its stride after delivering its highest monthly sales to date this past November. The top-selling product is the Hydrating Shave Gel with Clear Shave Technology.
“Customers love it because of how smoothly the razor glides along the skin,” says Moore. “The patented technology delivers a shave that looks and feels great.”
Discount: Enter “TheGrio25” for 25% off your purchase at hollyhallsupply.com.
Company: Black Travel Box
Owner: Orion Helana Brown, 36
Product/Service: Black consumers are demanding that brands speak to them in ways that resonate culturally and experientially. Enter the Black Travel Box, a new natural hair and body care company created by entrepreneur Orion Helana Brown that’s dedicated to empowering Black and Latinx travelers, especially those who are headed out of town for the holidays and want to bring their best selves to wherever their journeys might take them.
The “Carry on B2B Starter Box” is stocked with TSA-friendly, travel-size body balm, hair conditioner (bar form), hair balm, and lip balm (there’s are larger-size items, too). Made of natural ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, and cocoa butter along with safe synthetics, this could also be a great gift for the adventurer in your life.
What’s next on the company’s to-do list? “Look out for vacation and location-specific product bundles as we enter the new year,” says Brown.
Discount: Enter “thegrio10” for 10% off your entire order at theblacktravelbox.com (active until January 5, 2019.)
Company: Chic By Choice
Owners: Shanelle Thompson, 28, and Melissa Atkinson, 29
Product/Service: The next time you’re in need of a cute clutch without breaking the bank stop over at Chic By Choice. The brand offers an array of cool, trendy accessories like handbags, hats, earrings, and bracelets for customers “with a versatile sense of style who are not afraid to push boundaries,” say long-time friends and owners, Shanelle Thompson and Melissa Atkinson.
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With #MACAW (men are chic as well) making waves, a men’s collection is in their future. For now, check out the classic Slouch Pouch, a small top-zip clutch that started as a custom design. The line comes in many colors and textures, and even features an updated mini version.
When asked about their most important lesson as entrepreneurs, the duo said: “Anything worth having will require overtime!”
Discount: Enter “GRIO10” for 10% off at chicbychoice.com
Company: Zach & Zoë Sweet Bee Farm
Owner: Summer Johnson, 41
The family-owned business is lead by Summer Johnson (her husband Kam and two children Zachary and Zoë help out, too) in New Jersey and she got the idea to produce organic honey when their youngest child Zachary started to experience seasonal allergies. Johnson learned that raw honey can provide a natural solution.
Now, the two-year-old business produces nine varieties of honey including three seasonal flavors like lemon, apple cinnamon and cranberry. Hands down, customers favorite out of the collection has to be their ginger honey variety.
“It goes well with cheese, especially aged brie, but most people just eat it right out of the jar!” says Johnson.
You can find the sweet treats online or visit their shop in New York’s Chelsea Market the next time you’re in the Big Apple.
Discount: Enter “thegrio” for 15% off at zachandzoe.co
Company: CARRA Hosiery
Owner: Christi Hairston, 43
Product/Service: After the launch of her first line, designer Christi Hairston received an invite to Milan Fashion Week to debut her luxury legwear collection of hosiery, tights, and socks.
“CARRA Hosiery is one of the first hosiery brands with a built-in panty in all of its legwear,” says Hairston, who is based in Waldorf, Maryland. Translation: It’s really OK to go sans panties while rocking these sexy tights.
“Chaos,” an intricate, transparent pattern that transforms any ensemble, is the best seller to date, but their new seller, “Glittered” is a perfect addition of sparkle to any woman’s New Year’s Eve celebration. The legwear is available in four sizes: Small, medium, Large and X Large.
“Customers love this design because of its comfort and its ability to make a subtle fashion statement.”
Hairston says entrepreneurship changes how business is done. “With a mindset toward generational wealth, we never forgot our ‘Why,’ which positions us to fulfill our dreams.”
Discount: Enter “CARRA15” for 15% off the first purchase at carrahosiery.com.
Company: The Bali Bead
Owner: Lillian Daniels, 31
Product Service: Now that Christmas is literally around the corner, there’s only a few days left to find that perfect statement necklace for your most festive attire. The Bali Bead, a handmade, signature necklace made from recycled glass screams “she ready!”
What we really love? They partner with women in Bali to craft each necklace, which essentially supports the economic growth of women across the globe. The company also works with sororities and other women’s group to design necklaces for special occasions. The New York company’s top item is The Statement Bali Bead, which retails for $159.50.
“You can wear it three times a week and still receive compliments,” says owner Lillian Daniels. It’s a vibrant grab-and-go piece that will add festive bling to a favorite outfit for nights out on the town for years to come.
Discount: Enter “THEGRIO” for 25% off your purchase at thebalibead.com.
Company: Legacy Dream Luxury
Owner: Catherine Kajubi Johnson, 43
Product/Service: For makeup divas in need of some organization, this company manufactures and designs high-end acrylic organizers called Luxury Beauty Cases®. Customers, including celebs like Niecy Nash and Karrueche Tran love the storage drawers for their durability and beauty.
“The majority of organizers are weak and use thin acrylic,” says Catherine Kajubi Johnson, a lawyer turned entrepreneur in Germantown, Maryland. “Our design is three to four times thicker than other brands.”
In addition to two beauty cases (The Original; $199 and The Diamond; $159), the company sells makeup brush holders along with an eight-piece Rose Gold makeup brush set with all of the essential brushes to beat that face for every holiday party during the season!
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So grateful for life, love, friends and family!❤️ My husband and my baby girl Morgan are my heart!❤️ But I could never forget, the kind people that God put people in my path and in my life to help me achieve everything He has called me to be! Because of all of you, I am pursuing my goals with purpose. Thank you @NiecyNash1 , @Karrueche , @Jocalife , @Estelledarlings , @Simonemissick and so many countless others who love our products and do everything they can to PUSH team @legacydreamluxury FORWARD! Love you all!!???✨✨✨❤️❤️❤️❤️
“Next, we are planning to expand our line to suit men since our female clients complain their husbands sneak their colognes and cufflinks into the top of their beauty cases,” she says.
Johnson turned her passion for all things makeup into a profit after receiving an inheritance from her father. “Often, we have ideas, but money is a limiting factor,” she says. “For me, it was an incredible gift to have [start-up] funds because it allowed me to move my idea to execution.”
Discount: Enter “thegrio” for 15% off your purchase at glamupp.com.
Company: Greentop Gifts
Owners: Shaun and Jacquelyn Rodgers, 37 and 34, respectively
Product/Service: When is the last time you saw wrapping paper with a cute, cuddly brown faced Santa Claus? If the answer is um…never, Greentop Gifts has got you covered. The company sells wrapping paper, T-shirts, hats, socks, shirts, sweatshirts, buttons, and mugs featuring Clarence Claus, their version of a chocolate and chubby Jolly Old St. Nick.
After searching stores and contacting friends in major cities like New York, Atlanta, and D.C., no one could find wrapping paper with a brown Santa. That’s when the Rodgers knew they had to fill a void.
“Black entrepreneurship is just as important now as it was during the Jim Crow era when my grandmother owned a hair salon,” says Jacquelyn, about a time period when our people had to create their own businesses to survive. “Black entrepreneurship is not only critical in powering the overall economy, it can also be a vital aspect in creating jobs in our communities and closing the wealth gap,” the power couple says.
Discount: Enter “THEGRIO20” for 20% of your purchase at greentopgifts.com/store/.
Company: Talley & Twine Watch Company Inc.
Owner: Randy Damon Williams, 36
Product/Service: Not sure what to get Bae this Christmas? Consider a classic, bold timepiece, which can often be a signature statement for any sophisticated man. One option is a timepiece from Talley & Twine, a line of luxurious watches and accessories.
“Most brands simply emulate each other,” says owner Randy Damon Williams. “We wanted to bring something fresh to the market in the form of high-quality detailed watches under $500.”
While the three-year-old Portsmouth, Virginia, brand is still growing, Williams says their big break came after sharing a video on Facebook on how they got their start. With nearly 7 million views, the video drives a lot of traffic to their site.
Customers especially love the Gold Worley Chronograph M because it’s a versatile timepiece that can be worn with anything, says Williams. Serving both men and women, this is a good stop for a gift for that special someone.
Discount: Enter “THEGRIO” for 10% off your purchase at talleyandtwine.com.
Company: Mayvenn Inc.
Owner: Diishan Imira, 37
Product/Service: Black shoppers spent $473 million in 2017 on hair care according to the latest Nielsen figures and Diishan Imiri is determined to get a piece of that very rich pie.
His Oakland, California-based company partners with stylists around the country who serve as the salesforce and supply their clients who desire high quality, virgin hair extensions for their weaves, clip-ins, and wigs. Stylists receive 20-25% in commission for Mayvenn hair bought through their site. This business model places money directly into the pockets of Black stylists instead of having clients spend those same dollars at local beauty supply stores, which are often not owned and operated by us.
Customers can try new hair for the holidays, risk free with a 30-day return policy.
Discount: Enter “THEGRIO” for 15% off at shop.mayvenn.com.
Company: DNT Dynamite Design LLC
Owners: Daveia Odoi, 38
Product/Service: If you’re looking for the perfect stocking stuffer or White Elephant gift for a stationery lover, check out The DynaSmiles by DNT, a brand that boasts cool notebooks, journals, phone cases, and graphic tees with adorable images of women and girls of color.
What’s hot right now? “The Christmas ‘Fro La La’ sweatshirt is our top seller because it’s a positive representation of the Black woman,” says Odoi. Her best advice for small biz owners on the rise: “As entrepreneurs, we have to be flexible in how we reach our goals because it’s full of high highs and low lows.”
Discount: Enter “THEGRIO” to save 15% off at thedynasmiles.com Expires 12/31/18.
Company: Cee Cee’s Closet NYC
Owners: Chioma and Uchenna Ngwudo, 25 and 27, respectively
Product/Service: When Chioma and Uchema started Cee Cee’s closet, they had two goals for their modern clothing boutique known for their beautiful, bold handmade Nigerian headwraps.
“We wanted to have a positive economic impact in Nigeria while also creating a business that celebrated the beauty of all Black women,” said the sisters.
If you want to dazzle this holiday, add one of their versatile headwraps to your look. The 2018 Holiday Collection easily features 36 products with 18 different prints. Now, a multiple six-figure enterprise, the duo says, “Focus on creating the best possible products and invest in content and advertising.” Doing so have helped them to build a brand that’s built to last.
Discount: Enter “thegrio” for 10% off at ceeceesclosetnyc.com.
Company: Koils by Nature
Owner: Pamela J. Booker, 39
Product/Service: Use this vegan and cruelty-free haircare line for women and men who want to keep their kinky, koily, and kurly hair poppin, especially during the winter season.
“Going natural is expensive,” says Booker. “I wanted to provide an alternative.”
The company took off in 2010 thanks to selling her wares at hair shows and launching an e-commerce site. Now, products like Moisturizing Shealoe Leave-In Conditioner are a big hit with ride-or-die customers because they give the hair slip and pliability—a must for au naturals who want styling options.
Thanks to spending between $7,500 -$10,000 on social media ads, they’ve gained a new customer: Men!
“Guys love the Ultimate Beard Kit, a complete line for men’s beard grooming,” says the Atlanta based Booker, who believes that Black entrepreneurship is crucial.
“It’s the only way to beat systematic racism where we control the dollar.”
Discount: Enter “thegrio40” for 40% off your purchase at koilsbynature.com.
Company: Eyeseeme African American Children’s Bookstore
Owner: Jeffrey and Pamela Blair, 52 and 49, respectively
Product/Service: Imagine a store where every single book—from comics to mysteries to graphic novels—are written for us, by us. That’s the focus of St. Louis, Missouri-based Eyeseeme, a three-year-old company with $175,000 in revenues in 2017.
“Our goal is to provide the very best children’s books on the market that promote positive images and stories about African American culture and history,” say the Blairs, who wanted to create an environment for their four children that bridged the gap between education, identity, history, and fun.
With thousands of titles, their books make excellent gifts for children of all ages. Bestsellers include titles like “I Am Enough” by Grace Byers, “Big Hair, Don’t Care” by Crystal Swain-Bates, and “13 Days in Ferguson” by Captain Ronald Johnson.
“As entrepreneurs, look at every problem as a potential opportunity,” say the couple. “With strong businesses, we can invest in schools and the community, hire [local talent], and shrink unemployment.”
Company: The Gathering Spot
Owner: Ryan Wilson, 28, and TK Petersen, 28
Product/Service: Heavy-hitters like T.I., Will Packer, Tracee Ellis Ross, Drake, and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms frequent this space for collabs, creative convos, and branded events.
The ATL invitation-only, private membership club is a hub for disruptors, politicians, celebs, and corporate leaders.
“It’s a place for the community to enjoy the diversity, like-mindedness, energy, and connectivity,” says Wilson, who launched the company with Petersen in 2015.
Next up? D.C. and LA “spots” in 2019. Want to give a gift that keeps on giving throughout the year? Membership fees are $200 per month or $2,000 if paid annually, plus a $300 initiation fee. If you’re under 30, expect a price break of $100 per month, plus a $100 initiation fee. With its popularity growing, this venue is definitely the place to be.
Company: The Cochrane House Luxury Historic Inn
Owners: Roderica and Francina James, 40 and 41, respectively
Product/Service: This year, why not make a getaway part of your holiday experience? Book a night or two for yourself or with your boo at this decadently quaint B&B owned by sisters Roderica and Francina James, which sits in the heart of downtown Detroit.
Coined, “Detroit’s Downtown Diggs,” this historic boutique inn, was once owned by a white state senator in the 1900s who owned one of the most extensive private libraries in The Motor City. Guests can enjoy distinctive curated services like the Grown & Sexy Slumber Party including a four-course meal with a private chef and hot stone massages. Rates start at $255 per night.
“When you walk into the doors you can feel the family atmosphere,” says Roderica. “Our goal is to provide an atmosphere where the mind, body, and soul are relaxed.”
Discount: Enter “thegrio25” to save 25% off at thecochranehouse.com until 12/31. For overnight stays only with breakfast included. Must book online.
Company: Hustling Spirit Clothing
Owners: LaKenya and Craig Linton, 39 and 41, respectively
Product/Service: The dynamic duo created an edgy, sporty clothing brand six years ago, but wanted to ensure it made a statement that left customers inspired. They knew they were on to something when hundreds swarmed them after their first fashion show in 2013.
“Our mission was to create dope designs that edified God at the same time,” says LaKenya of her NJ based company. “They said the atmosphere changed when our line was shown.”
Choose one of the 25+ designed products at Hustling Spirit for the fashionista in your life this holiday, including their bestselling leggings, jackets, travel bags, and T-shirts. With the swag comes a card that offers a message of hope, love, and spirituality.
Discount: Enter “HSTHANKYOU” for 10% off your purchase at hustlingspirit.com/shop.
Company: LIPP Beauty
Owner: Aleah Rae Dorsey, 37
Product/Services: Create a lip color only Y-O-U will rock at this year’s company holiday party.The ready to wear lipsticks and lip care tools are custom-made and cruelty-free. Seasoned make-up artist, Aleah Rae Dorsey presents LIPP Beauty, a line she created that offers over 1,000 color combinations and infinite handmade lipstick shades.
“We pride ourselves in specializing in shades that flatter unique skin tones and making products from scratch based on things that empower, motivate and inspire individuals,” says Dorsey of her Washington DC based company.
Discount: Enter “thegrio” for 20% off your total purchase, plus FREE domestic shipping at lippbeauty.com.
Company: The Bolden Company
Owners: Chinelo Chidozie, 40, and Ndidi Obidoa, 40
Product/Service: These Nigerian sisters-in-law are on a mission to fight hyper-pigmentation—dark spots due to sun damage—with a skincare line that specializes in unique products for Black women.
Get your glow on for the holidays or give the gift of glow with their Skin Brightening Toner, which is the best-seller for the Calabasas, California, company because it’s gentle, improves the skin’s texture, and gradually fades dark spots.
“As people of color, it’s critical to have a seat at the table because it includes our experiences, which tend to be a blind spot for many businesses,” said Chidozie.
Discount: Enter “thegrio” for 20% off your purchase at boldenusa.com.
Company: The Bark Shoppe
Owner: Melissa Mitchner, 32
About half of all dog owners and about 39 percent of cat owners purchase gifts for their pets during the holiday season, according to the 2017 American Pet Products Association’s National Pet Owners Survey. Why not celebrate Fido or Frida with full grooming service so your fur baby can look its best?
The Harlem pet care facility has been grooming, boarding, and providing fabulous pawdicures since 2013. With $250,000 in revenues in 2017, customers rave about the dog-grooming services.
“We are attentive, efficient, and don’t keep your pet all day,” says Mitchner, who reduced grooming time from four hours to two compared to competitors. “There is absolutely no reason to have to leave your community for the level of service you deserve.”
Discount: Enter “thegrio” at thebarkshoppe.com for a complimentary toothbrushing with all bathing services, plus 20% off all products and graphic tees.
Company: Brooklyn Tea
Owners: Alfonso Wright, 37, and Jamila McGill, 30
Product/Service: Tea is sipped all over the world, yet, there are less than 15 black-owned tea companies in the U.S. But Brooklyn Tea, launched three years ago, is changing the game with a new retail shop in Bed-Stuy in January. Bestsellers include Kyoto Cherry Rose, an aromatic flavor made from rose petals blended with Japanese green tea. Their teas are sold online and in five locations across Manhattan and Brooklyn.
According to the duo, ownership is the key to lasting success: “We cannot have cooperative economics without Black entrepreneurship.”
Discount: Enter “Grio” for 20% off your purchase at brooklyntea.com.
Tanisha A. Sykes is an award-winning writer and editor specializing in personal finance, small business, and careers-related content. Follow her @tanishastips. Special thanks also to the folks at Official Black Wall Street and Black-Owned Brooklyn for their assistance in curating this list.