After all of that Cyber Weekend shopping (I dread seeing my delayed Paypal transactions), it’s time to get into present mode again. Last year I created a gift guide that focused on some amazing black-owned businesses and I was so thrilled by the response, as it’s a subject close to my heart. All of the brands are still going strong and I’ve since interviewed Dorcas and Flow to delve even deeper.
Sometimes when I mention a few of the posts I’ve been brainstorming, people will ask me if I’ve decided to change the direction of my blog. I like to think that I’m just sharing more about an important part of myself. If you read IWYTK, then you are supporting a black-owned business, it’s that simple. I’ve written about my own experiences blogging and the unique pressures can be true in many different industries, whether you’re a creative juggling two jobs or a store battling rising rents due to gentrification.
Although we will have Meghan Markle in the Royal Family next year (I couldn’t stop tweeting ‘SEASONING IN THE PALACE’), we still have a long way to go. If you look at any Forbes list, from the world’s billionaires to the highest paid models, then you will see that there’s a major power imbalance and why I keep celebrating the diversity within black businesses. It’s a list I could have done with when I was younger, drawing every evening but never really knowing whether I could actually achieve my dreams.
This is a pretty exciting selection and there’s some great gifts to treat family or friends to as well as yourself. Don’t worry, I won’t judge if you go on a basket bag spree!
Want to know more? I have a whole section for posts on braids, beauty and racial identity.
Home & Lifestyle
La Basketry – Forget cushions, I need a home filled with pretty baskets. I first met founder Tabara N’Diaye backstage at Blogtacular and she’s continuing the creativity with this colourful homeware brand, inspired by her Senegalese heritage. She runs La Basketry with her sister and they work closely with 12 artisans based in her parents hometown.
You’ll find the tiniest succulent-friendly styles and others that will make doing your laundry far more exciting. Their aim is to provide more job opportunities for women in rural areas of Senegal and they donate a percentage of profits to support local initiatives (find out more here).
Follow @labasketry on Instagram
Belly Full – As soon as I heard about this book celebrating Caribbean food, I knew I had to own a copy for myself. Jerk chicken, curry goat and ackee and saltfish have always been things I’ve eaten without question, but I never really knew how these dishes came to be. I once asked my Nan for a recipe and was confronted with ‘Me no no.’
Belly Full explores the diversity within Caribbean cuisine and looks at the people behind the takeaways and restaurants dotted around the UK. It’s inspiring as author Riaz Phillips launched a successful crowdfund and self-published the book, after struggling to get it noticed in the traditional way. You can buy it directly from his publishing company Tezeta Press as well as Waterstones and Foyles.
Follow @belly.full on Instagram
Prick – I featured succulent paradise Prick in last year’s guide and now there’s a book and snazzy online store to add to the mix. Founder Gynelle Leon has produced a beginners guide to all things cacti-related, there’s tips on styling, care and the reasons why you should love their sculptural-like properties (did you know they first became ‘trendy’ in the 15th century). Can she start offering one-on-one consultations next? Unfortunately my Sempervivum arachnoideum is looking a bit worse for wear…
Follow @prickldn on Instagram
Onua – OK so I haven’t exactly stopped collecting cushions, this Onua pillow is one of the last ones I’ve allowed myself before my bed becomes completely ridiculous. Emmanuela and Phillip aim to make Western African culture accessible through their homeware range (lampshades are coming soon) and they can create bespoke designs depending on your preference.
Follow @onua_home on Instagram
Happy Piece – More baskets! This time Rwanda is the country of origin and Happy Piece produce beautiful, yet functional products that inspire joyful living. They provide a living wage to their weavers and each bowl is made with sustainable materials.
Follow @happypiececo on Instagram
Fashion & Beauty
Malee – It must have been fate that the Malee fragrance and bodycare stand was opposite where I needed to be at Stylist Live the other week. I was immediately drawn in by the leafy Verdure scent that aims to transport you to the dewy wetlands of Africa and loved the fact that their creams are super easy to apply (no one wants to spend twenty minutes tackling the ashiness situation). They’re stocked in Harvey Nichols and you can even download a free guide to figure out the right natural products for your skin type.
Follow @maleeonline on Instagram
Jim + Henry – Need another natural haircare brand to try? Jim + Henry’s offering only consists of a leave-in conditioner at present, but their vegan, paraben-free ethos is one to note if you like your products wholesome (it’s made up of just eight ingredients). This would be a great addition to any gift basket.
Follow @_jimandhenry_ on Instagram
Teju Bolaji – I’ve been wearing my Womanhood t-shirt non-stop since I got it and Teju Bolaji’s inspiration comes from the powerhouse women of her generation. This interview with her is eye-opening, she grew up in pre-gentrified Hackney, had a career breakthrough at 33 and now balances her brand alongside her day job.
Follow @tejubolaji on Instagram
We Are Kin – I can’t believe I’ve followed Ngoni’s journey from fashion student to launching her own label! Her brand is about seasonless pieces that will become wardrobe staples and everything is produced in London. She’s also designed a range of t-shirts to raise money for breast cancer awareness.
Follow @wearekin.co on Instagram
AAKs – Can I add these basket bags to my Christmas list please? It’s no surprise that AAKs’ beautifully woven designs caught the eye of Anthropologie buyers. Each one is handmade in Ghana and founder Akosua Afriyie-Kumi wanted to showcase some of the unique techniques that are only found in the northern region. Get your orders in ready for SS18.
Follow @a.a.k.s on Instagram
Barüch – Although this East London store sells some well known Scandi brands, it’s the wax print culotte jumpsuits that have caught my eye. Barüch owner Angela Knowles likes to juxtapose the two different cultures through her own range and also stocks an eclectic mix of clothing, homeware and gifts. I’m rather tempted by their dressmaking service.
Follow @baruchboutique on Instagram
Art & Stationery
Black On Paper – You may have noticed some of Lorelle’s collages in my post about braided hairstyles and there’s plenty more where that came from. Black On Paper celebrates black icons such as Billie Holiday, Josephine Baker and The Supremes, who are all given a playful and slightly surreal twist. The idea came about due to Lorelle’s love of old Hollywood cinema and all the glamour, but also yearning to see the stars that resembled her. She aims to prompt a wider conversation about diversity within beauty.
Follow @black.on.paper on Instagram
Araki Koman – Parisian designer Araki Koman is currently crowdfunding to expand her brand and develop her Global Couture project, which aims to pay ‘tribute to the authenticity and diversity of women’s clothing aesthetic traditions from around the world.’ Her quirky yet minimalist style can currently be found on postcards and prints via her Etsy store.
Follow @araki.koman on Instagram
Ayok’a – If you felt curious after seeing Soul Of A Nation at the Tate, then it may be worth checking out Ayok’a to discover even more established and emerging black artists. The name means ‘Welcome’ in Bété (founder Alice’s native tongue) and the platform aims to do the same by making their products and stories easily accessible. Make sure you read the profiles of each artist. There’s also phone cases, t-shirts and framed prints to adorn your walls with.
Follow @ayokadeco on Instagram
Nyanza D – My trusty iPhone has a new look thanks to one of Nyanza D’s cases and I wanted to learn more after spotting her expressive illustrations over on the gram. She cites 50s pop art, anime and comic books as her inspiration and creates positive images of black women laughing, pouting and occasionally throwing shade. Her Instagram captions are a hoot too.
Follow @nyanzad_ on Instagram
Bonita Ivie – I featured Bonita in my Stationery Week post earlier this year and she’s since added a selection of slogan mugs to the range. She’s a self-taught graphic designer and her prints are inspired by her mother’s colourful wardrobe.
Follow @bonitaivieprints on instagram
B Creatives Pop Up – If you’re looking to discover even more brands, then you need to head to the B.Creatives pop-up on the December 9th in East London. There’ll be skincare, stationery, vintage clothing and plenty of art you’ll want to keep for yourself. See you there?
Follow @bcreativespopup on Instagram
Let me know what catches your eye! I’ve also featured books by Reni Eddo-Lodge and Otegha Uwagba in my latest video, if you fancy some more important reading. Now to tackle the rest of my Christmas shopping…