This Black History Month we’re showing love to our favorite Black-owned beauty and fashion businesses that should be celebrated now and throughout the year.
In the wake of the senseless murders of both George Floyd, Jacob Blake and so many others at the hands of police and the ongoing protests to end systemic racism, we at HollywoodLife have been trying to do our part to keep the conversation going and moving in a positive direction. And this Black History Month we’re updating our list of our favorite Black-owned beauty and fashion companies for readers to support now and always. Many of them are trailblazers and groundbreakers within their industries. For example, the iconic Pat McGrath, who is commonly referred to as the “Mother” of makeup, has always championed for extensive shade ranges and inclusive model casting since starting her career in the ’90s. Now, her Pat McGrath Labs brand is a multi-million dollar company.
Similarly, Rihanna‘s FENTY Beauty found a void in the market where shades for melanin-blessed black women weren’t available. In many cases, what was on the market would give off a grey hue, instead of true coverage. Riri’s FENTY launched with 40 distinct foundation shades which has since grown to a line of 50. Briogeo, a leader in clean haircare, has a strong-willed and brilliant Black female founder in Nancy Twine, who left her high-paying job on Wall Street to become a “green beauty entrepreneur.”
Their fan-favorite “Don’t Despair, Repair!” line has helped women of all hair types revive their dry, damaged hair using all natural ingredients like rosehip oil, almond oil, algae extract and b-vitamins. Another black-owned beauty brand by a strong woman we can’t get enough of is skincare line, Unsun. Founded by Katonya B. Breaux, who happens to also be Frank Ocean‘s mom, the LA-based sunscreen line removed the white residue frequently leftover from other SPF brands, which is particularly bothersome for Black women. Now, in addition their tinted sunscreen, Unsun also sells a sun-protectant lip balm and a soothing hand cream.
Founded by sisters Taffeta and Whitney White, Melanin Haircare is another brand definitely worthy of praise. Aimed at naturalistas and curly girls, the line grew from Whitney’s Naptural85 YouTube channel and vlog. After years of demonstrating how to whip up hair butters, oils and gels at home, she finally offered her 1.2 million subscribers the chance to buy her products readymade. Fans love the line, which includes a Multi-Use Softening Leave In Conditioner and the Twist-Elongating Style Cream. All of the products are free from sulfates, silicones and parabens.
When it comes to fashion, we also like Loudbrand Studios, a Black-owned brand owned by Jedidiah Duyile and beloved by Kylie Jenner. In July 2020, the lip kit mogul rocked the label’s curve-hugging ruched dress finished off with a fishnet top and buckled detailing during her Utah vacay . The dress was massive hit on Kylie’s gram and quickly went viral — mostly due to the fact the KarJenner sis failed to tag Loudbrand in the photo, originally. However, Jedidiah didn’t mind and was just pleased the major influencer was wearing her designs. “Instagram is a JOB she gets paid millions to tag. I for 1 have God on my side so with or without the tag this work will RUN,” she wrote on Twitter, and it sure did. Loudbrand Studios fully sold out of its collection after Kylie’s post.
JADE Swim owner and designer Brittany Kozersky Freene similarly found a “void in the marketplace” when she was covering swimwear as a stylist and fashion editor. She found the industry lacked “high quality minimal swim that could also transition from a swimsuit to RTW and double as great layering pieces,” and so she created the versatile and luxe line of her own. ” I wanted to provide a go-to line of swimwear with styles that shape and accentuate the body, give minimal tan lines and also seamlessly pair with your closet essentials,” Brittany says.
Victor Glemaud also left his fashion industry job to design a line of his own in 2006, launching his eponymous brand that features designs for all people, genders, races and sizes. Using bright colors and prints, Glemaud quickly became a celeb favorite for his combo of comfort and style. Brother Vellies is also a major celebrity go-to, founded by Aurora James. With a goal of creating and sustaining artisan jobs, Brother Vellies is handcrafted across the globe using traditional African designs for luxury accessories. (Meghan Markle is a big fan!)
Another celeb-favorite Black-owned fashion brand is LaQuan Smith, whose risk-taking designs caught the eyes of Beyoncé, Rihanna and Lady Gaga early in his career. He’s recognized for his eccentric sewing patterns and wild prints for the modern day woman. Similarly, Kerby Jean-Raymond’s designs for his label Pyer Moss are as eye-catching and bright as ever. It was in 2016 that the label made headlines after his Spring 2016 Menswear Collection show at NYFW highlighted police brutality through the use of Black Lives Matter protest images.
Carly Cushnie has been a household name in fashion, but now, as acting CEO and creative director of Cushnie, she is changing the game for women’s fashion. “As a woman in fashion, you have to have a strong point of view that stands out and doesn’t waver under critique,” she told Essence in an interview. “As a Black designer, it’s very easy to be pigeonholed based on what the industry assumes you will do. It took a lot of work for me to break those preconceptions, especially when there are very few examples to aspire to.”
Another HL favorite is lemlem, a gorgeous brand founded by supermodel Liya Kebede. The sustainable fashion label is made in Africa by local artisans and was inspired by Liya’s Ethiopian heritage. SheaMoisture founders Nyema Tubman and Richelieu Dennis also used their Liberian heritage to inspire their move into the industry. Using Shea Butter sourced from women-led collectives in northern Ghana through Sundial Brands’ Community Commerce program, SheaMoisture offers a wide range of haircare and skincare products. These include the fan-favorite 100% Virgin Coconut Oil Daily Hydration Shampoo & Conditioner, and the Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Treatment Mask.
Shilla Kim-Parker founded Thrilling, a digital marketplace for vintage shopping sourced from local stores across the US and a must-visit — because you know that the old trends always come back in style! Different from Poshmark and Etsy, Thrilling scours the country’s best vintage boutiques and second hand stores, carefully curating a selection of one-of-a-kind items for online shoppers everywhere. Shilla saw an opening in the marketplace for a store of this kind and was driven by environmental concerns to find a reduction of pollution in the fashion industry. Thrilling features high-end brands such as Louis Vuitton, Giorgio Armani, Lanvin, Dries Van Noten, Betsy Johnson, Diane Von Furstenberg and more!
Jerry Lorenzo founded luxury streetwear label Fear of God, whose seventh collection is currently available for preorder after being shown via Zoom in mid August. The designer highlights his ancestry and the Black community in the new line, with the addition of cashmere or terry pieces embroidered or printed with graphics marking the 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues, one of whose teams—the Atlanta Black Crackers—featured Lorenzo’s grandfather as a player. Lorenzo called this a “humble reminder of how far we’ve come and the responsibility we have to honor those before us who built the bridge we now cross.”
Plant-based feminine care company Honey Pot Co. was founded by Bea Dixon after she suffered from bacterial vaginosis for months and couldn’t get relief. One night, an ancestor visited me in a dream and gifted me with a vision to heal myself,” she writes on the site. “With her help, I created the Honey Pot Co. to solve for what other brands wouldn’t, using the power of herbs.” At an affordable price point, Honey Pot Co.’s all natural line of washes, wipes, pads and sprays are made by women for women.
Another HL fave is MĀKTUB Studio, which is translated to “It Is Written.” Hand-mixed in Los Angeles, CA with a curated blend of virgin coconut wax, natural soy wax, and an FDA approved amount of highly refined food-grade paraffin wax for enhanced performance, MĀKTUB is a black-owned candle company that uses both gluten free and vegan ingredients. These 14-ounce candle can burn over 50 hours and each scent is paired with your favorite songs for a one of a kind sensory experience.
Be sure to check out all of these brands & follow them on Instagram for more information on how you can support their business!