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Support Black Owned Small Businesses: My Favorite Stores

Dear readers, I am finally emerging from a long writing break.  We’ve been working hard behind-the-scenes on Ms. JD’s Board of Directors to help keep our organization running during this defining moment.  Your membership and support is critical and we are grateful for everyone’s engagement with our unique community.  I am newly inspired to share some fresh content with you for hopefully a long time to come.  Let’s get started! 

Firstly, if you haven’t checked out Ms. JD’s Covid-19 resource page and Opportunities Board, run don’t walk on over to our site.  Hopefully you’ve been taking part in our Virtual Toolkit Series, which are webinars chock-full of community advice from top-notch experts in our industry ranging from Personal Branding Remotely to Self-Care During Quarantine.  Today we will host a groundbreaking discussion on Allyship between one of Ms. JD’s original founders, Jessie Kornberg, and our esteemed Board Chair, Maleaha Brown.  Please watch the recording if you missed it.  Everyone can benefit from the time spent listening to their beautiful words, I truly mean it. 

My next nugget of inspiration comes from the #amplifymelanatedvoices hashtag I read about today.  The movement is trying to amplify the voices of Black creators on social media, and also trying to support small businesses more generally.  I am not active on Instagram, so I’d like to join in by amplifying some of my favorite black-owned brands here on Ms. JD’s blog.  I invite you to share and promote your favorites in the comments, and on your own blog post or social media channels.  This may be just a drop in the ocean of support we should be showing our black colleagues, but it’s a small step for many underrepresented and much-deserving small businesses.  Our collective purchasing power can really make a difference and there are so many wonderful brands out there that I can hardly choose.  But I have to start somewhere and here are my current top 5 picks. 

1. SuitKits

If you participated in Ms. JD’s 12th Annual Conference on Women in the Law this year in March, you will have had the pleasure of hearing from one of our panelists, Sierra Elizabeth, Founder & CEO of Suitkits, a made-to-measure custom suiting business for women.  She also happens to be a Trial Lawyer at a major U.S. law firm.  Business owner and successful lawyer?  This woman is #Goals!  The suits on her website are somehow fashion-forward yet classic at the same time.  And you know they will fit because they are tailored to your frame.  You just can’t go wrong, and with the slow return to court or office that so many are facing, a fresh professional look can do us all some good right now.  And their Scholars Program, which awards students from a disadvantaged, low-income or at-risk environment with free business professional suits from SuitKits makes support of this brand all the more enticing.

2. Rebel Chic NYC

To borrow from their website, Rebel Chic is a jewelry and accessories collection with an ethos of empowerment through sustainable design and style.  Pieces are delicately handcrafted from repurposed leather (remnants, upcycled leather garments) or vegetable tanned leather.  Owner/Designer/Maker Tisha Brown is a New York City native born in The Bronx to an African-American father and a South Korean mother. She adheres to a Zero Waste Eco philosophy by creating collections in small batches and making pieces as they are ordered.  I saw her collection years ago at a local trunk show and have been following the brand since.  Pick up a pair of their edgy leather hoops or tassel earrings to stand out in your next Zoom meeting.

3. OhmyKierraJ

This is a favorited Etsy Shop of mine thanks to its hilarious and timely greeting cards.  Owner and designer Kierra Johnson is based in San Antonio, Texas.  She designs party dresses for the younger set, but also features of-the-moment reusable face masks and humorous ‘quarantine cards’ such as “You Look Hot from 6 Ft. Away – Happy Birthday!”, “Stand 6 Ft Away – Now Read – Happy Mother’s Day” and customizable photo cards.  Support this shop for all your special occasion stationary.

4. ThingsByHC

Hilton Carter is a Baltimore native who is hard to describe in one sentence.  He is an artist, filmmaker and planting aficionado.  I was introduced to his work when he came to my workplace for a wellness event to teach us how to plant and care for succulents.  He has over 200 plants in his home!  I can barely keep one alive, for shame.  I have a copy of his book, Wild At Home, and learned he also has a products page to help you hone your at-home planting skills with gorgeous artistic planters, vials and other accessories he created.  Most of his shop seems sold out as of press time, and hopefully it’ll be restocked, but at a minimum check out his two books and classes on at-home planting to help turn your brown thumb green. And follow along on his Instagram @hiltoncarter.

5. Pattern Beauty

I am not sure if this qualifies as a small business given that it was started by acting powerhouse Tracee Ellis Ross, but I wanted to acknowledge the brand and their products.  I can’t wait to start using them after I finish up my DevaCurl bottles.  I’ve seen her interviewed about this new product line on late night and she spoke about their development with such care and passion that I am putting them at the top of my hair products list.  Oh, and purchases help support organizations and programs that empower women and people of color.  I have thick, frizzy, curly/wavy hair (don't let the blowouts fool you!), so I can definitely give these a go and hope they serve you well too.  

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