Put your money where your mouth is: An ongoing list of black-owned British businesses to buy from, spanning fashion, beauty, design and lifestyle
The protests ongoing in cities around the world in the wake of the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis have brought the oppressions faced by the black community sharply, and rightfully, into focus. Against the backdrop of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, which is disproportionately affecting BAME individuals in the UK and US, now is the time for contemplating how we can better support the fight against racism – not just at this current moment but in the months and years beyond. (This list of resources offers a starting point by way of organisations to donate to, books to read, and figures to follow and learn from online, which we will be adding to daily.)
Anti-racism, at both macro and micro levels, is something that every industry should demand as a priority – including the retail industry, hit by the closures necessary due to the pandemic. Yesterday, the US-based organisation 15 Percent Pledge was launched as a call to action, asking retailers to pledge that at least 15 per cent of the brands they stock be black-owned businesses. Other initiatives like the Black Women’s Directory – aiming to provide a comprehensive and ever-growing list of businesses and services run by black women – have also launched. Here, we highlight some UK-based businesses helmed by black creatives, spanning fashion, beauty, design and lifestyle.
- Wales Bonner: Designer Grace Wales Bonner founded her eponymous menswear label in 2014 after graduating from Central Saint Martins, with womenswear following soon after. Wales Bonner’s research-driven work mines a history of black artists, writers, musicians, and image-makers and incorporates their legacies into her own elegant aesthetic. Shop at: Wales Bonner, Matches Fashion, Browns, Farfetch and Net-a-Porter.
- Martine Rose: Having helmed her eponymous menswear label since 2007, London-based designer Martine Rose has continually used her own surroundings to inform her collections: from her Jamaican-British heritage to the London music scene she is immersed in. Rose’s have been some of the most talked-about collections season after season, and she has staged shows in personally significant places like a covered market in Tottenham and her daughter’s primary school. Shop at: Martine Rose, SSENSE, Matches Fashion, Farfetch and Browns.
- Mowalola: Nigeria-born, London-based designer Mowalola Ogunlesi draws on Nigerian subcultures for her exhilarating collections (her Central Saint Martins BA collection looked to petrolheads and the country’s 1970s psychedelic rock scene). An alumna of Fashion East, Ogunlesi describes the Mowalola world as “chaotic, colourful, and really free”. Shop at SSENSE and LN-CC.
- Saul Nash: London-based designer and dancer Saul Nash launched his eponymous label in 2018, with a core focus on “the liberation of movement”. Nash works with sportswear, and his debut last year with talen incubator Fashion East saw dancers move around the London show space in his designs. “Dance for me provides liberation,” he told Another Man in 2019.
- Bianca Saunders: Bianca Saunders’ menswear collections draw on her British-West Indian heritage, prioritising sportswear-inspired silhouettes alongside unique, covetable tailoring to explore modern black masculinity. Saunders often collaborates with fellow POC creatives in London on short films, providing personal insight into her celebrated collections. Shop at Matches Fashion and SSENSE.
- Monad London: Daniel Olatunji helms Monad London, a label which prioritises the idea of ‘slow fashion’ and garments crafted in collaboration with artists and artisans. Olatunji is inspired by the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi: “[It] centres on the appreciation of imperfection. It’s there that the real soul of my work lies, in the unstructured appearance and the raw edges,” he told Another Man.
- LIHA Beauty: The Cheltenham and Hackney-based beauty company LIHA draws on both British folk history and rich West African botanicals for its natural, vegan, cruelty-free products. As well as its range of nourishing, pared-back skincare products, LIHA also hosts ‘kitchen beauty’ workshops online, guiding on homemade body butters, lotions and scrubs.
- Beautystack: The brainchild of Sharmadean Reid, a former fashion stylist and brand consultant, best known for WAH Magazine and later WAH Nails, Beautystack is a visual booking system and social network platform, allowing you to browse beauty looks and book the person who did it. Download the app here.
- Pat McGrath Labs: One of fashion’s, nay the world’s, most influential make-up artists, Pat McGrath has been honing her skills since the 1980s, creating beauty looks for Alexander McQueen and John Galliano. In 2015, she launched her own make-up line, Pat McGrath Labs, which today offers “a quartet of exquisite palettes, 50 legendary lipsticks, a divine dozen eyeliners and five fetish-worthy lip pencils”.
- Epara: Luxury skincare brand Epara was founded by Ozohu Adoh, who developed products with the specific skincare concerns of people of colour in mind (Nigeria-born Adoh’s initial products took her back to organic African ingredients that best suited her skin). Epara’s line of moisturisers, masks, cleansers, oils and serums emphasise nourishing and protecting the skin.
- Skimdo: A cult following has developed behind Skimdo’s hero (and only) product: original cream, created as a once-weekly moisturising treatment for curly hair. Founded by Kim Cowans, who is of Russian and Jamaican descent, Skimdo’s original cream adds volume, shine and moisture to curly hair for up to seven days (fans of the cream include FKA Twigs and Neneh Cherry).
Design & Living
- gal-dem: Both an online and print magazine, gal-dem is committed to sharing perspectives from women and non-binary people of colour, as well as transforming the UK media industry. You can support the publication’s vital work by becoming a member, with different tiers available. Head here for more information.
- New Beacon Books: Founded in 1966 by John La Rose and his partner Sarah White, New Beacon Books was the first black publisher in Britain and lives on today as a publisher, specialist bookshop and international book distributor. Based in Stroud Green, London, the shop offers poetry, literature, non –fiction, history and children’s books from Africa, Caribbean, Asia, African America, Europe, South America and Britain.
- PRICK: Based in Dalston, Prick is London’s first-ever shop devoted solely to cacti and succulents, which founder Gynelle Leon describes as “a beautiful and sustainable way to transform any interior”. Offering unusual and exotic specimens, PRICK’s offering is sourced from throughout the UK and Europe.
- OOM: A creative food studio, OOM offers a Jamaican dining experience, as well as a curation of items “for the body”, “for the eyes” and “for the palate”, ranging from rum to wild thyme flowers, table- and drink-ware.
- Modular by Mensah: Furniture like no other, Kusheda Mensah’s designs combine the fun and the functional in a truly unique and non-conformist way. “I really do want my furniture to be for everyone,” she told AnOther in an interview. “When I first made the product I was thinking about how we can all better socialise.”
- Satta: Drawing on founder and designer Joe Lauder’s experience and expertise as a landscaper and woodworker, Satta's offering is built upon ideas of utility, simplicity & comfort. Ranging from clothes and accessories to delicious smelling incenses, Satta's lifestyle goods are created with both the body and soul in mind.