Amid a tepid economy, America’s burgeoning “maker” movement is breeding a whole new generation of creative black entrepreneurs. They are betting their futures not on traditional jobs, but on serious craft. Whether hand-sewn, hand-made, home-forged, hand-cut or garage-built, these risk takers rely on a very old-school concept: If you have a craft, nobody can ever take your career away.
The rapid rise of black entrepreneurs in the maker space is due, in part, to greater incubator spaces, cheaper access to collaborators, and possibly to dramatically higher black unemployment. This has made some people much more aggressive about pursuing passions and opportunities outside of the norm.
But, their timing couldn’t be better: Recent studies by African American economists and activists agree that one of the easiest solutions to black economic advancement, would be a dramatic increase in spending by black consumers within their own community. According to Nielsen, less than two cents of every dollar spent by African Americans stays in their community. Yet economic leaders such as Charles Tate, the former head of the Booker T. Washington Foundation, estimate that if African Americans would simply examine their list of monthly purchases and dedicate themselves to buying a minimum of three of those items from black-owned businesses, it would add as much as $30 billion to the community. So, with that in mind, you can spend Thanksgiving night waiting in line to buy new TVs from big-box stores or you can buy true craft by an exciting group of African American artisans.
This list, compiled by the Urban News Service, represents the best of the best — creators and crafters, some famous and some soon-to-be, who are producing high-quality products. They also have put just as much effort into their delivery systems, so their goods will arrive in time for the holidays.
Detroit vs. Everybody – The brand is manufactured and designed here in Detroit with brick and mortar stores in Greektown and Eastern market.
LFANT chief designer, Ryan Jackson and twin brothers, Chris and Clayton Griggs fuse classic and modern in their line of handmade, New York-made coats, shirts, hoodies and tees.
BROOKLYN CIRCUS Arbiters of global street style, the founders of Brooklyn Circus have developed an international following for their vintage-inspired offerings.
LEISURE LIFE Relaxed and stylish without being trendy, this Brooklyn-based shop delivers jackets, tops, bags and home goods befitting a life of leisure — and hustle.
BRIMBLE AND CLARK
Distinctive custom-made suits with Saville Row style detailing, but from downtown D.C.
POST IMPERIAL Hand-sewn ties and pocket squares for people with style and confidence.
African-inspired shirts, blazers and pocket squares that bring Sapeur style to American shores. ikerejones.com
SPORTS AND APPAREL DGK SkateboardsGreat boards from skating legend Stevie Williams, but also everything skate culture — from wheels and teesto hoodies and hats. thekayostore.com/collections/dgk
FOOD AND WINE
MOUTON NOIR WINES
It’s a T-shirt line and a lifestyle brand, but the wine is the foundation of former sommelier Andre Mack’s well-crafted array of products that celebrate the culture of wine. moutonnoirwines.com
CAJUN FIRE BEER
You’ll have to visit New Orleans to taste the beer, but now you can get the very cool T-shirts and other gear inanticipation of broader national distribution. drinkcajunfire.com
CARLA HALL COOKIES
Washington, D.C. native and host of ABC’s The Chew, Carla Hall adds cookie and pound cake empress to her long list of endeavors, which soon will include a chain ofDzhot chickendz restaurants. carlahall.com
JUSTICE OF THE PIES Why take time baking pies when you can have the best sent to your friends? Send one to your mom and make her mad. Bourbon pecan, key lime and more. justiceofthepies.com
CAKELOVE Bakery owner and Food Channel star Warren Brown has found a way to put his world-famous cakes into a personal jar of deliciousness. cakeloveinajar.com
CHEF BELINDA SPICES
Chef Belinda’s special blends go beyond the norm, from spices to sugar substitutes for coffee and tea orto Turkish and Greek blends for savory dishes. chefbelindaspices.com
THE SWEET LOBBY Winner of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars show, this Capitol Hill shop specializes in macarons, the light French treats, inas many varieties as their cupcakes. thesweetlobby.com
DELA POP Gourmet Popcorn Based in Decatur, GA, DeLa Pop offers 125 flavors of popcorn delight and just as many decorative tins to send to friends and family. delapop.com
AFRO FUSION CUISINE Spices, sauces, marinades, jams and preserves — all with that spicy African and Caribbean kick. afrofusionbrands.com/shop
SOUTHERN CULTURE FOODS An Oprah favorite. Endless varieties of flavored pancake mixes, plus all the fixin’s to make candied bacon. southernculturefoods.com
GIFTS AND STATIONERY EFFIE’S PAPER Unique gift cards, thank-you notes, personalized stationery and specialty gift wraps.effiespaper.com
HAUTE HOPE Classy paper products and well-crafted gifts for those who are special and loved. haute-hope.com
BODY JANESSACO Organic, ultra-high-quality sea salt body scrubs, shaving cream, moisturizers and body butters for men and women. janessaco.com
THE LIP BAR Offering a new definition of beauty for women of color, Lip Bar delivers lipsticks and nail polishes in dramatically untraditional colors and tones for every complexion. thelipbar.com
OYIN HANDMADE Bath, body, face, hair. Olin Handmade’s products cover you from head to toe. oyinhandmade.com