The pandemic has worsened entrenched inequalities in our society. Women are bearing the brunch of these inequalities, especially those running small businesses. A few of the large banks have introduced initiatives to support female entrepreneurs. Still, we also know that these initiatives are rarely spread equitable across demographic groups (1). Although Ethnic minority businesses together contribute £25 billion to the UK economy, they receive the least support from both public and private sector organisations (1).
Despite the lack of funding and support, Black women are starting businesses at the fastest clip of any racial group, according to research by American Express (2).
If you are looking for a way to address this inequality, then support Black female founders in a way that goes beyond hashtags and likes.
Buying from Black-owned businesses is a great action to take this Black History Month. We have pulled together a list of Black female-owned businesses bases on those that are visible to the FL community.
We recognise that there are many more out there that we have not included, so please add your favourite Black female entrepreneur to the list and let us support their businesses.
FASHION & BEAUTY
1. Bea Skincare
Harley Street-trained aesthetician Bianca Estelle founded the skin-care range Bea Skincare in 2015. The range is influenced by Estelle’s background in cosmeceutical science, as well as her clinical work at her two Marylebone clinics: Bea Skin Clinic and Vitamin Injections London. The range has several collections — from mature skin to skin-tone correction, to acne care — but there’s also an essentials range which is suitable for all skin types.
Boucleme is a plant-based hair-care brand specifically developed for people with curls, based in South West England. Founder and CEO Michelle Scott-Lynch says she was frustrated at existing products on the market containing sulphate and silicone (which strips out moisture and weighs down the follicles). Boucleme uses fair-trade ingredients where possible and focuses on using naturally derived ingredients in their products.
3. Kemi Telford
The brand’s founder, Yvonne Telford knows how to design stand-out, floaty dresses in flattering prints and styles. Think show-stopping pieces for both events and everyday wear.
4. Tribal Twist Clothing
A ‘tribally modernised’ clothing brand by Joy Kamau with the aim of reinventing ‘traditional clothing’ by creating beautifully finished garments to fit in with day to day life. Clothing, bags, shoes and accessories can be purchased via the online shop.
5. Kaji Headwraps
Inspired by the owner’s years of travelling and viewing diverse beauty around the world, Kaji Headwraps is a stylish, luxury brand for trendy women who enjoy being able to protect their hair with style and fashionably wear scarves. There is a selection of vibrant designs to suit everyone and a handy tutorial page for the ultimate styling guide
5. Maya Nije Perfumes
Swedish-born, London-based photographer Maya Njie began working with scents at university as a way to add to her photography art practice.
Her line of small-batch, hand-bottled perfumes are made from high-quality essential oils, compounds, and resins and are now stocked internationally after her launch in 2015.
6. Rad Swan
Blogger-turned-entrepreneur, Freddie Harrel, teases a summer 2020 launch for her conscious beauty and hair brand Rad Swan. Featuring ethical hair extensions, Harrel raised £1.2 million for her new venture “built for the global diaspora.”
7. UOMA Beauty (UK customers can shop via Cult Beauty)
Uoma Beauty was created by Nigerian born, London and LA-based beauty industry executive Sharon Chuter. The brand’s aim is “to redefine the rules of inclusivity and diversity” in the industry. Its foundations are among its most popular products.
8. Liha Beauty
Featuring shea butter and oils handmade in Hackney, Liha is a conscious skincare brand with a “mix of natural African roots and a quintessentially British attitude.”
9. Yard + Parish
Want more black-owned brands from the UK and beyond? Yard + Parish is a portal for independent brands run by people from the African and Caribbean Diaspora. Founded by London-based Toronto natives Samantha Newell and Alesha Bailey, it features sustainable, fashion, beauty and lifestyle products.
10. The Underargument
A lingerie company that celebrates what lies beneath every woman’s clothing. Founded by Maïna Cisse, the inclusive collections follow particular themes of activism, with the brand describing itself as “against conforming”, “against sexism” and “against stereotypes.”
HOME DECOR & CRAFTS
1. House of Kato
Run by Ugandan-British couple Haula and Daniel, House of Kato is an online house plant business. A God-send socially-distanced plant lovers. Based in London, together they are “aiming to promote a connection with nature within our urban homes”.
2. Sarora Knots
Sara’s passion for shopping sustainably and love of textiles translated into these functional designs all plant lovers will adore
3. Aysha Bell Wellness
Aysha Bell is trained in three different types of yoga (Vinyasa Flow, Kundalini, and Yin) and has studied meditation, breath work, sound healing, and Reiki. As well as offering sessions, which are based on yoga with a blend of breath work, harmonic resonance, and sound, Bell sells meditation gift boxes. They include a candle, healing stones, a sage stick, and a set of guided meditations to download. The candles can also be bought separately, and come in both lavender and a cedarwood/geranium blend.
4. Bespoke Binny
Natalie Manima, a London-based therapist of Ghanaian descent, was inspired to start creating vibrant, handmade homeware accessories after being surrounded by bright African colours and prints as a child. Manima sells lampshades, pillows, bedding, and more through Bespoke Binny, alongside running virtual lampshade-making classes, for those wanting to create their own lampshades at home.
5. Chloe Ainsley Creative
Chloe Ainsley’s modern range of stationery, wedding invitations, and art prints are simple but striking. Based out of her design studio in Kent, Ainsley’s designs incorporate wax seals, feathers, or simple string accents to elevate save-the-dates or menus to something extra-special.
6. Dorcas Creates
The design work of UK-based artist Dorcas Magbadelo is influenced by her Nigerian heritage, but also bold colours and patterns. Her art prints are particularly gorgeous, but she also has a line of quick-to-sell-out pins, which could happily adorn a denim jacket.
Artist Kirsty Latoya is a 24-year-old artist from South London who specialises in digital illustration and traditional art in the form of drawing. Her online shop sells a selection of products including tote bags, prints, phone cases and greeting cards. She is currently accepting illustration commissions and is open for collaborations with brands and other artists.
8. Creative Curls
Artist Erina Nyonyintono specialises in acrylic portraits predominantly focusing on her Ugandan heritage, promoting a positive light of Africa as a whole. Her paintings and prints are available to purchase via her online shop.
9. Avila Diana
Given that sending a card is one of the only ways we’ve been able to get hold of our loved ones over the last few months, there’s never been a better time to stock up on beautifully designed stationery. Her range includes personalised cards and mugs.
10. Freya Bramble Carter
London-based ceramicist Freya Bramble Carter creates textured and tactile pieces that are as useful as they are beautiful. From vases to dishware, her work is inspired by the natural world and finished with her own artisan glazes. Though most of her work is currently sold out, she takes commissions.
FOOD & DRINK
1. Chosan by Nature
Exotic organic drinks inspired by African tradition using fruits and plants indigenous to Africa. The drinks are low in both calories and sugar and completely organic, without any preservatives, artificial additives or colourings. 5p from the sale of every bottle of drinks in the Chosan range is donated to food producers in Africa.
2. Dark Sugars
Dark Sugars founder Nyanga Mendy began the company’s journey on a stall at Borough Market, before travelling around South America and West Africa to research cocoa on her family’s farm. Now the Brick Lane shop works Ghanaian cocoa beans into a variety of products, from ice cream and chocolate-covered nuts to luxurious hot chocolate. Many of their products can be ordered online, including a DIY hot-chocolate kit.
Vese Aghoghovbia-Aladewolu is co-founder of this company — which she launched with her three sisters in order to pioneer West African flavours. Their products include Chapman, a sparkling, nonalcoholic drink featuring notes of black currant and spices (that’s known as “the sangria of West Africa”), and rodo sauce, a blend of scotch bonnet peppers, onions, and garlic.
4. Plumb and Rabbitts
This wedding-cake business owned by Autumn Anastasia Rabbitts uses recipes Autumn learned from both her grandmother and great-grandmother — recipes from pre-war Britain. Rabbitts, who has a degree in Jewellery Design from Central St. Martins and is based in Alnwick, Northumberland, has a range of bespoke cakes, including a pistachio sponge with orange-blossom jelly and dark chocolate ganache. She also offers tasting boxes, delivered to you, so customers can try her services anywhere in the UK.
Chika Russell won backing on Dragon’s Den for her snack range inspired by childhood holidays in Nigeria but decided to go it alone. She sources ingredients from across Africa to give back to local communities, and her products can be found in Waitrose and Holland & Barrett.
6. Chilli Chop Co
Elizabeth Uwaifo moved to the UK from Nigeria at the age of 11, and officially founded Chilli Chop Co in 2016. On the website, you can buy her signature jollof sauce, as well as sweet & spicy chutney and three-chilli sauce.
7. Island Ting Kitchen
Ever wanted 100% plant-based blondies or CBD-infused cinnabuns delivered to your door? Well, now you can, thanks to Leah Affia, who – with help from her mum, Sonia – launched Island Ting Kitchen with inspiration from her Rastafarian heritage.
1. Sheni and Teni
Based between Lagos, Nigeria, and the UK, Sheni and Teni create educational puzzles based on traditional scenes from countries in Africa. Each puzzle has multiple difficulty levels, so can suit multiple ages. It came recommended to us by Nina Malone, founder of the Dope Black Mums podcast.
2. Imagine Me Stories
With a drive to ensure that all children grow up seeing their own realities reflected in their favourite books, Imagine Me Stories offers subscription boxes with representative books, Black history activities, and reading club charts. Boxes are available to gift, and founder Keisha Ehigie also works with nurseries and schools to create custom-made packages.
3. Thimble & Doll
Nonwhite dolls are often hard to find, so Londoner Alisha Lestrade began selling her handmade, diverse dolls at Camden Market in 2012, under the name Sugacandipop. Relaunching her company as Thimble & Dolls in 2017, Alisha now works with 11 skin tones to create four different fabric doll types — with a bespoke, made-to-order service also available. Thimble & Doll also offers customisable felt bunting.
4. Colour Celebrations
After the birth of her son, Deborah Ajaja noticed a gap in the market when it came to milestone cards — a common baby shower and new-mum gift which allows families to document and celebrate the many milestones of their children’s upbringing. Struggling to find any milestone cards which represented her son’s darker skin, she decided to create two sets of cards, for Black and mixed-race kids, respectively.
5. Mom Made UK
As well as rompers, blazers, and tulle skirts, this Leicester-based kids company makes nappy wallets and head wraps featuring colourful Ankara prints. Owner Abby, who is a mother of two, started Mom Made after growing frustrated at the lack of stylish options for her sons. Most of her items are made to order.
Do you have other suggestions to add to the list? Share them in the comments below!
Also, don’t forget to join our BAME Leaders Power Circle to connect to like-minded business women and build your network.