Life

These Black-Owned Businesses Stood Strong In 2020

2020 was a hard year, that’s obvious. One thing that makes it remarkable is that, in some form, it was hard for nearly everyone. So it’s tempting to hop on the bandwagon of bashing this “365-day dumpster fire.” But to reduce this year to only its most negative aspects would be to ignore glimmers of progress amidst pain. Slivers of light piercing the storm clouds.

In 2020, people took to the streets in record numbers (and with a record-level of diversity across the race and gender spectrums) to protest racial inequality and police violence. That remarkable movement, in turn, sparked a different sort of fire — a growing commitment to pay attention to the broader implications of systemic racism faced by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). From healthcare to upward mobility to employment to travel to media representation, conversations about race in America are being had on a wider scale than ever before.

The support of BIPOC-owned businesses is a vital piece of this puzzle and crucial in tearing down white supremacy’s stranglehold on the economy. Especially with these establishments being disproportionately shut out of pandemic relief and gate kept from success.

“Between 40% and 50% of Black-owned businesses are slated to go under permanently as a result of this pandemic,” Melina Abdullah, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter LA chapter says. “So, yes, we really want to support Black-owned businesses during this season. If you’re buying stuff, we’re saying ‘buy Black!'”

If you’re still holiday shopping, here are 15 incredible Black-owned businesses to show love to as 2020 winds down.

1. Crowns and Hops Brewing Company

Founders of the recently opened and LA-based Crowns and Hops Brewing Co., Teo Hunter and Beny Ashburn, actually met on a Tinder date at a taproom. As they connected over their shared love of beer, they began to notice how little representation there was for Black people in the craft brewery world.

So they started their own business. It’s both an inspiring story of entrepreneurship and a hell of a meet-cute.

Hunter and Ashburn are hoping to branch out into a taproom in Inglewood in the coming year. In the meantime, you can buy their beer while supporting their goal to make the beer world more inclusive. Doing good while having drinks is the kind of win/win we need more of right now.

Check Crowns and Hops out here.

2. Proper Gnar

The only Black and woman-owned skateboarding company in the market today, founder and artist Latosha Stone blends activism and social consciousness with her custom skateboards and pieces.

This is an incredibly cool business with so many gifts for others (and, of course, yourself).

Check out her boards and art here.

3. Harriett’s Bookshop

This recently open Philly bookshop, named after Harriet Tubman, celebrates womxn authors and activists. It’s also an adorable space — with owner Jeannine A. Cook personally curating the collection with books she loves or wants to read herself.

Check out the books you need to own here.

4. Red Bay Coffee

Red Bay Coffee Roasters, founded by artist Keba Konte, is a brand that’s intent on crafting delicious brew while also being sustainable and inclusive. They hire from all backgrounds, but especially people who have been left out of the coffee industry like BIPOC, the formerly incarcerated, women, and people with disabilities.

Skip the Starbucks line this year and buy from a Black-owned brand that’s doing some good in the world.

Grab your caffeine fix here.

5. BLK MKT Vintage

BLK MKT Vintage specializes in vintage, cultural pieces of Black history, and Black Power-centric work — carrying everything from signed books to movie stills to posters.

If you’ve been staring at the walls of your home office — walls which you never thought you’d be spending so much of your time looking at — and feeling disconnected, now is the perfect time to get some special pieces and do some decorating.

Pick out some awesome memorabilia here.

6. Grounded

The perfect way to get through an especially isolating winter is by buying people you love plants. This women/ Black-owned plant service will help you do exactly that, shipping you and your loved ones plants that are sure to liven up any living space. You can buy plants individually or opt for a subscription service with new greenery arriving monthly.

The service was launched this year, which comes as no surprise. The healing energy of plants as self-care is more needed than ever right now.

Make your space more beautiful here.

7. Vela Negra

Aisha Cort used her blended Afro-Cuban and Guyanese background to create candles that evoke the scents from her many travels and favorite places. Made of vegan coconut soy wax and ethically-sourced wooden wicks, fragrance, and dyes, her black candles, which she says absorb and dispel negative energy, will cleanse your space for a fresh start to the new year.

Plus, her soothing scents will have you dreaming of your next beach adventure — bridging the gap until you can get back out there to one.

Start your aromatherapy here.

8. Feelmore Adult

If you could use a little relaxation after the last year, look no further than the products from Feelmore.

Nenna Joiner started her career selling dildos and vibrators out of the trunk of her car. Now, she has a popular Oakland shop that not only sells a large variety of sex toys, but works to create a non-judgmental, safe space for the community to access, talk about, and engage in pleasure. She also works to curate products that are inclusive and makes sure her shop is centered around the exploration and fun of human sexuality.

Feel more pleasure by going here.

9. GOODEE

Brothers Byron and Dexter Peart founded GOODEE to bring home decor and accessory brands that were beautiful, sustainable, and making a positive social impact under a single banner. You can’t go wrong with their incredible products, made by artisans, which they carefully curate. And you can feel good knowing that they did the research for you as to whether your money is going toward a “good” purchase, made ethically.

Start purchasing off your Pinterest dream board here.

10. The Brooklyn Circus

Brooklyn Circus, the super hip menswear brand by Ouigi Theodore, makes vintage style pieces look modern by blending streetwear and prep with a timeless style that celebrates African American history and culture. It’s absolutely unique and will make you feel Brooklyn cool — regardless of where you live.

Get dressed up here.

11. McBride Sisters Wine

McBride Sisters is not only the largest Black-owned wine company in U.S. but also a company that works to promote sustainability and inclusivity in the industry. And their wine is approved by UPROXX’s Janice Williams. Get a bottle for everyone you love and a few for yourself.

Grab a few bottles (or cases) here.

12. Coco and Breezy

These Black, Puerto Rican, DJing sisters make eyewear and sunglasses that grace magazine covers and are a favorite of celebs. You can see why. They’re stylish, classic, and would absolutely make a great present to wear into the next year.

After many months inside, we’ll probably need to protect our eyes when we end up at rooftop bars and festivals again — so we might as well do so in style.

Pick up a pair of shades here.

13. Mahogany Books

This family owned Washington D.C. bookstore not only stocks an incredible selection by and about the African Diaspora, but they also bring readings, enrichment opportunities, and cultural events to the surrounding community. Plus, they founded an organization to provide books featuring Black protagonists to kids.

Trust us, they’re awesome.

Finish out 2020 reading by buying some books here.

14. Southern Girl Desserts

With award winning pies, cookies, and cupcakes, this Los Angeles-based bakery, owned by two Black women, brings you incredible southern cooking shipped right to your home. Perfect for gifts and ringing in 2021. God knows that if we’re still stuck inside we at least deserve delicious desserts to savor while we binge-watch Netflix and wait for a vaccine.

Get all your treats here.

15. Brough Brothers Bourbon

Opened just this year, this craft whiskey distillery is the long-overdue first African-American owned distillery in Kentucky. And not only is this expression flying off the shelves and gaining buzz, but the three Brough brothers themselves have made a clear commitment to spreading knowledge, bringing jobs to, and revitalizing the economically depressed community near their HQ.

Less than a year after their launch, Brough Brothers is already being sold in several states. We can’t wait to see where they go next.

Get a bottle of whiskey to toast to 2021 here.

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