By: Escher Walcott
The last few weeks of protests have urged a call for social change in many ways, including the public support of black-owned businesses. Systemic racism and discrimination have resulted in inattention to many of these businesses, as investors often overlook the needs of black people. This has led to the creation of many independent black-owned companies that before now, have not gained the exposure they deserve. However, due to the resurgence of the BLM movement, acknowledgment is finally being given on a larger scale, as the links to black brands are being posted on social media and articles. Here is a list of UK black-owned businesses you can support:
I am all too familiar with the sad expectancy of not being able to find dark nude underwear when entering lingerie shops. In response to this long-reigning issue, British-Nigerian finance worker, Ade Hassa, trademarked the name Nubian Skin, in the hopes of building a successful company that sells suitable nude lingerie for black women.
Fast forward a few years later, Hassan is now an MBE honouree and founder of an internationally successful brand sold in the UK, US, Nigeria and the Caribbean. “I know what my customers feel.” Hassan spoke in 2018, “They also know that my brand was born out of a place of authenticity.” Beyoncé even requested her dancers be fitted with Nubian Skin underwear for her 2016 Formation world tour – another career highlight for Hassan. Nubian Skin provides a selection of shapewear, bras and hosiery for women of colour, which you can browse here.
LAPP THE BRAND
Originally, supermodel Leomie Anderson created LAPP, which stands for Leomie Anderson the Project the Purpose, as a platform for young women to voice their issues. Since 2016, LAPP has evolved into an activewear brand that continues to bring forth the message of diverse feminism and self-affirmation. Rihanna even was seen at Pro-Choice rallies wearing a LAPP ‘This P***y Grabs Back’ hoodie, which led to brand gaining media attention. “I couldn’t have been more happy”, Anderson spoke to Elle in 2017, “She is someone that I am really inspired by…so for her to wear something that means so much to me at such an iconic moment, it was just crazy.”
Support for LAPP continues to be shown online by followers and famous friends of Anderson rocking pieces all over Instagram. On the website, there are also multiple articles on topical women’s issues, as well as information on how one can contribute as a writer, which can be found here.
This luxe menswear label was initially set up as a shirting company by designer Martine Rose in 2007, after she received a £1500 loan from The Prince’s Trust charity supporting young entrepreneurs. The line has a clashing cultural aesthetic influenced by Rose’s mixed Jamaican-British background, growing up in both the reggae and rave scenes of North London. “I’m obsessed with subculture and youth cultures” Rose spoke in 2019, “what [people] choose to display about themselves I’m still really inspired by.”
Broadening the boundaries of masculine dressing, Martine Rose pieces have been rocked by numerous celebs including Wiz Khalifa in the brand’s plaid ‘Utopia’ shirt, Odell Beckham Jr in purple Rose sweatpants, and tomboy Hailey Bieber in an oversized green wool coat. Interest in the brand continues as collaborations with Nike and Timberland have recently developed. Items can be purchased internationally on Farfetch and SSense and many other stockists.
This jewelry brand, which is defined by its representation of the black diaspora within its designs, is created by Rochella Stewart and YouTuber Lizzie Loves. These two businesswomen came up with the idea to sell pendant necklaces in the shape of African and Caribbean countries, as a way of highlighting the identity of their targeted customers. Since launching in 2018, Kionii has expanded into statement earrings, rings and chains and an Asian collection – all of which can be browsed here.
Fashion blogger, Lounge, was able to build her own clothing brand, after garnering attention from followers for rocking her own pieces online. The brand has also gained the admiration of numerous social media influencers, including @MelissasWardrobe. Lounge is able to find inspiration from her silhouettes on her travels and sources high-quality fabrics to create an accessible line with a luxe feel. Since launching in 2016, Kai Collective has been flourishing. Although it’s taken many learning steps along the way, Lounge explained in 2019, “It took time, learning who our customer was and improving the product. A social following did help…but great product goes further.” Shop the collection here.