Now more than ever we’re seeing how powerful it is to speak out against the blatant racism in our country. There are tons of ways to support the movement — you can sign petitions, donate and even attend protests. But there’s another way to show your support that we often don’t think about. By shopping black-owned businesses, we can show we care about black representation in the economy. Their businesses are suffering right now, and it’s not being talked about nearly enough.
As the coronavirus swept across the country, the nation saw black-owned businesses disproportionately struggling to survive the pandemic. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, a whopping 41% of black-owned businesses have been shut down as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic. This statistic is hugely disproportionate to any other racial group; for comparison, only 17% of white-owned businesses have shut down due to COVID-19.
So we know these businesses are struggling right now, but what can be done about it? Enter the 15 Percent Pledge initiative.
In recent weeks, we’ve been seeing an increase in demand for large corporations to give a platform to businesses owned by minority groups. The 15 Percent Pledge is a movement started by entrepreneur and economic equality activist Aurora James that urges major retailers to commit at least 15% of their shelf space to black-owned businesses.
Why 15%? Well, according to the website dedicated to the initiative, “black people in the U.S. make up nearly 15% of the population,” so it would only make sense for black-owned businesses to occupy the same amount of shelf space at stores.
In early June, James called on major retailers Sephora, Whole Foods, Target and Shopbop to commit to this pledge. The first to join was Sephora, who officially announced their commitment on June 10. Sephora voiced on social media that they would be going through the three-step process laid out by the 15 Percent Pledge website by taking stock, taking ownership and taking action to dedicate more shelf space to black-owned businesses.
The change we’re starting to see is long overdue. We’ve got the momentum to create economic and social change for black-owned businesses, but we need to keep the ball rolling. If you’re itching to start consciously supporting the movement, here are five great shops to support now.
1. Phenomenal Woman
With their namesake inspired by Maya Angelou’s poem “Phenomenal Woman,” this company creates apparel for those who want to make a statement with what they wear. Phenomenal Woman carries a variety of unisex crewnecks and tees, all printed with powerful messages aimed at different groups of people. With categories like “Black Lives Matter,” “Indigenous,” “Trans” and more, there’s something for everyone at this shop.
Founded by lawyer and author Meena Harris, Phenomenal Woman is a company that not only makes clothes, but also launches numerous campaigns for different causes. In the midst of the pandemic, the company partnered with Justice for Migrant Women to launch “Phenomenal Farmworker.” This campaign was meant to celebrate the contributions of essential farmworkers during the pandemic and to encourage people to donate to the Farmworkers’ Pandemic Relief Fund.
With clothes that embrace your identity paired with meaningful social campaigns, Phenomenal Woman is a company you can feel good about shopping with.
Carrying over 40 independent brands, GOODEE is committed to giving artisans from around the world a place to sell quality products. In 2017, twin brothers Byron and Dexter Peart created GOODEE to cater to conscious-minded shoppers — those who prioritize sustainability, ethically sourced goods and supporting marginalized communities.
GOODEE is a one-stop shop for all your home needs — from pillows to furniture to plant pots. Home decor isn’t the only things sold on the site, though. They also have accessories, personal care and even a small selection of books. You can shop through categories like most online shops, but you can also shop through the “Brands” tab to explore the different companies and learn about their message and mission.
Check out the “Stories” section on their page to see inside stories on the talented artisans featured on the site, as well as blog posts about interior design, skincare, social issues and more.
3. Rayo & Honey
Rayo & Honey is an online store based in Brooklyn, New York, that specializes in simple products with powerful messages. Creator Roachele Negron takes inspiration from the written affirmations her mother had placed around her childhood home, as well as Latino and black pop culture references. Negron now uses these words to inspire and uplift in the form of aesthetic home decor and accessories.
Rayo & Honey sells an array of goods ranging from beautiful, etched mirrors to hand-engraved keychains, but the shop is mainly known for their hanging pennants. The canvas pieces with felt lettering are handmade by Negron herself.
Whether it be a bookmark, pin or tote bag, these beautiful products with great messages have a handmade touch that adds a personal feel to what you’re buying.
Golde, which was founded by partners Trinity Mouzon Wofford and Issey Kobori in 2017, is a health and beauty company that focuses on making wellness accessible to everyone. This brand made waves in 2019 when Mouzon Wofford, at the age of 25, became the youngest black woman to launch a Sephora line. In 2020, Mouzon Wofford and Kobori were featured in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list.
Their bestselling product, the Original Turmeric Latte Blend, is chock-full of immune-boosting and skin-clarifying ingredients. The blend, which has a five-star rating on their site, was actually the first product Golde launched. Since then, Wofford and Kobori have added more superfood blends to the shop, as well as other products like organic powder-to-gel face masks.
These products will have your skin glowing and your body feeling its best — plus, the affordable prices mean you won’t break the bank.
Featuring unique home decor, bold wallpapers and beautiful bedding, Jungalow will make you feel like redesigning your whole house. Founded by artist and entrepreneur Justina Blakeney in 2009, Jungalow actually began as a design blog Blakeney ran in her living room. Since then, the brand has blossomed into an online shop that sells just about everything you need for your home.
Jungalow’s signature goods and collections are designed both at a Los Angeles studio and different locations around the world. They also offer art pieces from a group of international female artists, as well as art from Justina Blakeney herself.
Not only do they believe in giving a platform to independent creators, but Jungalow also has an environmental initiative. The company strives to use less single-use plastics and Styrofoam, and they incorporate natural and recycled material into their packaging. Plus, Jungalow will plant at least two trees for every order — just another reason to click “add to cart.”
While we might not always think about the consequences of where we spend our money, it’s something we need to make a conscious effort to consider. This is a unique time in history; we’re seeing the true magnitude of racial injustice in this country at the same time we’re seeing black-owned businesses disproportionately struggling to make it through a national pandemic.
As a country, we need to come together to not only voice our support for the movement, but to actively and consistently shop black-owned businesses because that’s what will ultimately make a difference.