Put your money where your
mouth heart is.
Protest. Donate. Sign petitions. Listen and learn. Yes, yes, yes and yes. Another way to make a difference and support the Bay Area black community: Buy from black-owned businesses.
Here, get to know five of our favorite Bay Area fashion brands run by black women.
Ever since she opened her namesake Oakland flagship in 2007, Sherri McMullen has been a force for fashion good and a style star in her own right. The concept shop is loved and lauded from coast to coast for featuring global and local brands with a focus on emerging African and African-American fashion and home-décor designers. Nine months ago, McMullen opened a second store, in Palo Alto. The sibling boutiques carry elegantly understated styles with a roster of labels including Christopher John Rogers, Khiry, Tibi, Bole Road, Kamperett, and Jacquemus. The stores are located at 2257 Broadway (Oakland) and 855 El Camino Real #36 (Palo Alto).
Taylor Jay Collection
Like so many founders, Oakland designer Taylor Jay was inspired to create her business to fill a need. What was she hunting for? Elevated, comfy and simple-chic silhouettes designed for a woman’s ever-changing body. She realized her dream five years ago with the launch of her anything-but-basic basics (dresses, skirts, jumpsuits, tops) collection, designed for women of all sizes and body types. Garments are made from certified eco-friendly fabrics and use environmentally safe dyes at an Oakland factory—where ethical sourcing and fair labor practices are the order of the day. TJC’s Oakland brick-and-mortar is located at 2355 Broadway, Suite 1 (Oakland).
Oakland designer Aliya Wanek has a simple mission: create sustainable and ethically sourced styles that allow a woman’s individuality to shine through. Everything in her eponymous label is handmade in the Bay Area from natural fibers. Both the Jorja dress, a mid-length number with pockets, puff sleeves and elasticized waist, and the Rumi jacket, a three-quarter-length quilted cover with hidden front pockets, are representative of her effortless aesthetic. And like most of the tightly edited line, they’re crafted of hemp and organic cotton. We’re huge fans of Wanek’s vibrant colors (fuchsia, marine blue, and pine), clean silhouettes, and cool detailing.
Our pick: Hiroko pants, $190. // aliyawanek.com
To say that San Francisco–based jewelry designer Lauren Harwell Godfrey has a Midas touch is an understatement: She works 18-karat gold, precious gemstones, and vibrant enamel to brilliant effect. The handcrafted and eye-catching pieces (rings, earrings, medallions, and necklaces) take inspiration from ancient cultures, textiles, and motifs. Jewelry is made to order and often features delicate hand engraving on the back. Godfrey recently created the Black Onyx Heart—with 100 percent of the profits going to the NAACP. Envisioned as a healing talisman, the stunning black onyx, diamond, and 18-karat pendant ($2,500) features Godfrey’s signature triangle motif down the center…it looks like a broken heart that has been put back together.
Beija Flor Naturals
From ridiculously moisturizing (and multi-purpose) Organic Hemp Buttercream to glow-enhancing Agave Aloe Polisher and nourishing Body + Hair Honey, Beija Flor Naturals products are chockfull of organic and nutrient-rich botanical ingredients from Brazil. Oaklander Stevonne Ratliff founded her natural skincare and haircare biz in 2013, after being inspired by the healing properties of many of the vitamin-packed botanicals she encountered while living in Rio de Janeiro. Handmade soy candles, botanical smudge sticks, and probiotic deodorant are also part of the small-batch (and affordable) mix.
To find more black-owned businesses, visit the Bay Area Black Market. Also, the Bay Area Black Owned Business Relief Fund and the Oakland Black Business Damage Fund are providing direct donations to small local businesses.