In the retail industries, Black people are severely underrepresented.
However, recent calls for change and increased representation in every facet of our lives have shone a light on the inequalities.
June of 2020 saw mobilization within many industries which have historically underrepresented BIPOC folks, spurring organizations and companies to move forth with partnerships and initiatives to highlight marginalized people.
People like Aurora James, with the 15% Pledge (which calls for 15% of retail space to go to Black businesses, in accordance to how we are represented in the population), catalyzed a movement which has, if nothing else, spotlighted a lot of Black owned businesses.
With the restrictions easing up in some cities and businesses booming again, places like New York City are hubs for new, inventive brands and boutiques owned by BIPOC folks.
Here are some of our favorites to visit and support:
Architecture and design buff? You've probably seen Lichen's cult-favorite room divider somewhere on the internet. Though they're known for the wavy bamboo divider, the Brooklyn based furniture store has a wealth of innovative design pieces that wouldn't look out of place on an Instagram home tour. Some of their pieces — especially their room divider — have gone viral, so grab them at the next restock before they inevitably sell out again.
When Telsha Anderson first conceptualized T.A, it was supposed to be a brick and mortar space with little — if any — online presence. The pandemic had other plans. But in just months, she transformed it into a digital and physical shopping experience which prioritizes discovery.
The eclectic fashion boutique sources up and coming designers and combines them in a carefully curated storefront in the Meatpacking District for an intimate, one of a kind shopping experience. If you're tired of looking like everyone else, this is the store for you, with its collection of whimsical garments and effortlessly cool pieces that ensure you'll leave with a new favorite statement piece no matter what your style is.
For an inventive take on the latest trends, shop Sincerely, Tommy. Their clothing selection always manages to be both on trend and inimitable, but that's only the tip of the iceberg. The brand also carries fragrances, skincare, and decor from their sister brand, Raini Home. While the clothing brands from Sincerely, Tommy are effortless and timeless, Raini Home designs are distinct statement piece's you'll immediately want in your home.
They also pioneered the "Building Black Bed-Stuy" movement to empower and celebrate Black artisans. If you're in town, stop by one of their block parties for a daytime party and to discover other, small brands. (Think: Artists & Fleas without the overpriced hipsters)
Life Wellness Center
Black people have been historically exploited by the American Healthcare system (Tuskegee anyone?), but also left out of the mainstream of alternative healing and wellness. Many of the faces behind the popular holistic healing movements are white — like, GOOP — but BIPOC folks are also active within industries promoting holistic healing.
Life Wellness Center in Brooklyn does it all. Their services range from massages and skincare, to acupuncture and cupping, and even more intense healing services. Bonus points for their flower shop.
Aurora James of Brother Vellies has been thrust into the spotlight for pioneering the 15% Pledge, but she first got her platform as the owner of Brother Vellies, a luxury shoe brand worn by the likes of Solange at the Met Gala.
The Brother Vellies store is a treasure trove of heels and boots and loafers and sandals — all made in Africa to support artisans in various countries. Each shoe is hand made and the care and story each one holds encapsulates a definition of luxury that goes beyond brands and logos.