It’s been more than a year since social media posts in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement began inundating social media feeds everywhere. The posts were poignant and did help spread awareness. Silence, after all, speaks volumes. But true activism doesn’t begin and end with a couple hashtags. One of the easiest ways to take a stand against systemic racial inequality is to support Black-owned businesses and brands. In short: Put your money where your mouth is, otherwise your glossy words don’t really mean anything.
That’s especially true in the lead-up to Juneteenth, which commemorates the official end of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, slaves in Galveston, Texas finally got word of the end of slavery in accordance with President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation.
Juneteenth is now on track to become a federal holiday, following in the footsteps of several companies that have begun acknowledging the historical significance of the day. While that is significant, many activists feel it’s largely a symbolic move, especially if it doesn’t occur en tandem with real legislative reform.
How can you make an impact? You can start by supporting Black-owned brands on Juneteeth and beyond. Regardless of the time of year, taking inventory of the businesses you support and shop from is a key. Even if you don’t realize it, your values are reflected in the purchases you make every single day. It’s one thing to say, “Black lives matter.” It’s an entirely different thing to show they matter by reaching into your wallet. This process includes changing your shopping habits as well as donating to organizations and non-profit groups actively working on issues like addressing police brutality and reforming the criminal justice system.
Whether you’re looking for chic ready-to-wear, vibrant cosmetics, or just about anything in between, there are many examples of Black excellence in the fashion and beauty world. Begin by learning more about and, ultimately, shopping from the brands below when you’re financially able. Not only will you expand your fashion and beauty repertoire, you’ll also amplify diverse voices whose artistic contributions should be celebrated and enjoyed year-round.
We only include products that have been independently selected by Bustle's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.
Marrisa Wilson NY
Founded in 2016, Marrisa Wilson NY is characterized by cool, relaxed styling blended with funky textiles and print artwork that are developed in-house. The label’s namesake is a first generation Guyanese American designer born and raised in New Jersey. Soulful sounds, vibrant artwork and installations, and eclectic interior spaces also heavily influence the brand’s ethos.
Born from a fire in their New York apartment that nearly destroyed their first collection, Whensmokeclears launched their label in 2016 with a collection of apparel, jewelry, accessories, and footwear. The brand is a reflection of the founders Thermal and K$ace’s daring and uncompromising aesthetic. Now based in Atlanta, Whensmokeclears has become a bold favorite for fashion lovers everywhere.
If you’re searching for festive footwear that doesn’t sacrifice quality, look no further. This luxury female-led footwear brand, launched in 2015 by founder and CEO Kendall Reynolds, utilizes craftsmanship to set the brand apart. All footwear and accessories are manufactured in Florence, Italy with family-owned vendors to ensure products are handcrafted using only ethically sourced and sustainable materials.
Retro-inspired silhouettes are aplenty at Chelsea Paris, the shoe brand started by designer Theresa Ebagua. Her vision? A luxury footwear brand inspired by her African heritage.
Meaning “little courage” in Haitian Creole, Petit Kouraj is the creation of Nasrin Jean-Baptiste. Born in London to Haitian immigrants, Jean-Baptiste has made her mark on the fashion world with eye-catching fringe bags.
In 2006, Haitian-born designer Victor Glemaud launched his independent leisurewear collection, which is rooted in ultra rich knitwear. He was a finalist for the 2017 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, and his designs have been worn by Issa Rae, Michelle Williams, Iman, and others.
The Grenadian designer, whose full name is Felisha Noel, grew up surrounded by the beauty of clothing. Her mother worked in a Manhattan factory, and she often brought home fabrics for Noel to play with when she was a young girl, inspiring her to pursue a career in fashion.
Born in Queens, New York, Laquan Smith started his eponymous brand at the age of 21. Both Beyoncé and Rihanna have worn his daringly elevated and super chic designs.
Another New York native, Romeo Hunte was born in Brooklyn and launched his brand in 2014. His first celebrity client was Zendaya, and Beyoncé wore his signature buffalo check shawl in a look that quickly went viral.
Telfar has created a new it bag for a new generation. That encircled T is instantly recognizable among the fashion set, and it will be an iconic accessory for years to come.
Founded in 2013 with the goal of keeping traditional African design practices and techniques alive while also creating and sustaining artisanal jobs, Brother Vellies is home to luxury accessories you won’t find anywhere else. Consider these investment pieces that will be instant conversation starters.
The brand’s founder, Kerby Jean-Raymond, has long been an advocate for fighting police brutality. He's the genius behind the viral "They Have Names" shirt that lists Black victims of state-sanctioned violence, and his Spring 2016 collection was inspired by the cause.
His designs — from a flowing Pyer Moss yellow gown to his futuristic sneakers released in collaboration with Reebok — are just as innovative as his business model. In fact, he recently told Vogue about his plans to scrap a traditional fashion show this September in favor of a drive-in movie premiere. The idea is to debut American, Also, a feature film documenting the years leading up to the epic Pyer Moss show that took place last fall at Kings Theatre in Brooklyn. More than 3,000 people attended, and a 90-person gospel choir set a new standard for bold, interactive experiences at Fashion Week.
Christopher John Rogers
For those outside the fashion industry, the name Christopher John Rogers might not be familiar — at least not yet. But that’s all changing. The 26-year-old designer has already dressed the likes of Michelle Obama, Rihanna, Lizzo, Gabrielle Union, and Tracee Ellis Ross, just to name a few. Earlier this year, he showed his Fall 2020 ready-to-wear collection at New York Fashion Week and dropped a highly anticipated line in collaboration with Net-A-Porter.
Carly Cushnie launched her luxury women’s ready-to-wear and bridal brand back in 2008. Since then, it’s grown into a beloved go-to brand for women everywhere, including Michelle Obama, Beyoncé, Lupita Nyong’o, and Ava DuVernay.
You might recognize the Hanifa name from an innovative viral video that recently made the rounds. Designer and visionary Anifa Mvuemba used 3D models to show her latest collection on Instagram Live, singlehandedly demonstrating what the future of fashion in a pandemic-affected world could look like.
At a young age, Cashmere Nicole watched her aunts sell Avon products with shades that were never deep enough for their skin tone. Nicole set out to change that. Her brand, Beauty Bakerie and its inclusive range of cosmetics can be found both online and in Ulta stores.
Former beauty executive Sharon Chuter is the woman behind Uoma Beauty. The cosmetics brand, created to celebrate Blackness and Chuter's Nigerian heritage, had one of Ulta’s largest launches in 2019.
Rihanna launched Fenty Beauty with 40 foundation shades, an inclusive collection of highlighters, and one cult classic known as the Gloss Bomb. The multi-hyphenate set the tone for what it means to be inclusive in the beauty space, creating The Fenty Effect — a challenge to other brands to widen its color options.
Mented — short for pigmented — was created by KJ Miller and Amanda E. Johnson. They set out to fill the gap between what the beauty industry considered a nude lipstick and what actually was a nude shade for Black women. Since their initial launch of six nude lippies, the brand has grown to include blushes, brow pencils, and foundations.
Pat McGrath is a beauty icon. From the looks she creates for runways to her work on the covers of Vogue, McGrath is often referred to as the mother of makeup. Her luxury eponymous beauty brand brings all her magic directly to your own vanity.
Black Girl Sunscreen
Shontay Lundy created Black Girl Sunscreen when she couldn’t find a product that didn't leave behind a white cast, which Black women have been speaking out about for ages. Now, her brand is found in Target and there’s a children’s range as well.
Founded by Rachel James, Pear Nova is a luxury line of nail polishes that are vegan, cruelty-free, and 5-free. With a fashion and merchandising and beauty background, James wanted to create a product that blended her two passions.
Pattern Beauty by Tracee Ellis Ross launched in 2019 and is specifically designed for curly, textured hair. With treatments, shampoos, conditioner, and more, the brand aims to “support the curliest, coiliest, and tightest of hair textures,” while working to counter the damaging messaging of white, Western beauty standards.
Epi.logic was created by oculofacial plastic surgeon Dr. Chaneve Jeanniton. After working with a diverse clientele, she began Epi.logic, which combines effective, simple ingredients with industry research for products that provide “skin logic for all.”
Briogeo founder Nancy Twine started her hair care line after being inspired by the natural beauty recipes she and her grandmother once created together. Upon discovering that natural brands on the market weren’t giving her what she needed, Twine took her grandmother’s recipes and got the job done herself.
Founded by sister duo Whitney and Taffeta White in 2015, Melanin Haircare is committed to making safe and effective products that promote natural hair and scalp health. From the clarifying yet non-stripping shampoo to the multipurpose oil blend, the brand’s products are known for keeping curls happy, healthy, and hydrated.
Looking to treat your skin to some extra nourishment? Check out hanahana beauty. The skin care brand’s shea butter formulas smooth parched limbs and smell delicious, plus they’re committed to improving the shea trade for women in Ghana.
Bread Beauty Supply
Bread Beauty Supply is simplifying natural hair care routines with genius sets and products that will make wash days a breeze. Founder Maeve Heim created a line of “essentials” for women with any and all types of hair, whether it’s chemically-treated, natural, or somewhere in between.
OUI the People
OUI the People addresses some of the most frustrating shaving issues— ingrowns, razor burn, and dry skin to name a few—by making soothing, sensitive skin-friendly body products. Their sensitive set is the perfect product duo for anyone who’s ready to retire her drugstore razors.
EADEM is a skin care brand that loves, celebrates, and caters to melanin. The brand launched in May and in just a few weeks, their Milk Marvel Dark Spot Serum sold out. If you suffer from hyperpigmentation, or just have a stubborn dark spot or two, grab this serum when its back in stock...and quick.
Lavender Clouds & Poetry
These dreamy fragrances connect nature and beauty with a collection of scents that have been meticulously formulated and packaged. Lavender Clouds & Poetry will have you smelling wonderful, all while supporting the Cultural Connections Institute— a program that facilitates both language and cultural learning for immigrants.
BEVEL makes skin care for men that’s easy, effective, and looks really cool. From shaving essentials to body washes to serums that address a wide array of skin struggles, BEVEL offers up the tools and products they need to look (and smell) fresh to death.
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