Years ago, my dad and I were searching for a post office at the peak of the busy holiday season. Maybe it was luck, or a Christmas miracle, but we ended up finding a strip mall store that was clean, uncrowded, and headed by a friendly man who assured us that our presents would make it to grandma in plenty of time. "We'll be back, brotha," my dad said to the owner, dapping him up. On the way home, he explained the importance of supporting Black-owned businesses — if we don't support our own, who will?
I send my own packages (and pay my own bills) these days, and experience a teeny bit of guilt whenever I think about that conversation. I live in Brooklyn, which used to be home to an abundance of Black-owned shops and restaurants when I was growing up, but things look different now. I order on Seamless with no thought as to who's making my food. The majority of my wardrobe is from Asos, not Africa. And while I still get my hair braided by my go-to girl from Ghana, my product collection is all over the map.
Last July, vlogger Jackie Aina (yes, the one Kim Kardashian allegedly shaded this week) challenged her 1.4 million subscribers and non-Black YouTubers to take on the Black-owned makeup brand challenge, also known as B.O.M.B. Of course, she crushed it — and introduced her followers to some dope brands, too. I was happy to see that other vloggers and influencers followed her lead, but this challenge didn't get nearly as much traction as 100 layers of lipstick, nail polish mountains, or Cheeto curls.
Dozens of small, Black-owned brands come across my desk...but I can admit that I often prioritize the glitzier prestige brands. Why, though? These beauty and skin-care lines are created for us and by us, and often have more personalized selections made for darker skin and natural coils.