I’m a big believer in giving credit where credit is due.
As it concerns the entrepreneurs you’ll discover here, credit is due all day long, all year long, every day, and every month.
Considering it’s Black History Month, I want to give a special shout to a sampling of African American handmade business entrepreneurs who are blazing an inspiring trail for the world to follow — and buy.
Buckle up to meet some homegrown African American handmade goodness.
1. Chris Campbell: The Shoe Bakery
Forget the dress! Say “yes” to the shoe!
Chris customizes amazingly realistic bakery themed shoes and accessories for women. Want a shoe to match your wedding cake design? Chris has got your back, ladies!
Inspired by everything from cinnamon buns to pound cake, Chris takes a model shoe and customizes it to resemble an edible, calorie-filled treat dripping with icing and sprinkles. In addition to shoes, you can get some arm candy (otherwise known as a purse) with a matching key chain, and even a pair of baby shoes. You can grab up their seasonal wares (gingerbread house shoes anyone?) or have a design custom created just for you.
2. Celeste Beatty: Harlem Brewing Co.
Launched in 2000, Celeste’s artisan crafted beer was recently picked up by WalMart, according to the word on the street , and it will be in select stores in just a few weeks. In addition to the original Harlem Brew, you can also get Sugar Hill Golden Ale Strawberry Hill Hard Cider made with New York apples. Every single bottle is hand crafted in small batches in Harlem, and made with hops that are grown and harvested in New York. Celeste traces her beer inspiration to her love for the spices and creativity that go into making the southern foods she grew up on.
3. Gwen Jimmere: Naturalicious
Naturalicious is the first company to develop an all-natural, all-in-one hair care system designed specifically for curly, coily, kinky and wavy hair textures. Gwen is the first African American woman to ever hold a patent for a natural hair care product. After being frustrated that it took her hours to style her hair every day, Gwen created the line of Naturalicious “OooLaLocks” products to save time and money for women of color who want to wear their hair natural. The products are made up of a 4-step hair care system that allows you to go from wash to ready to style in less than an hour.
4. Todd Parsons Designs: Todd Parsons Ear Art
Todd makes laser engraved ear art. With designs ranging from extremely unique jewelry to digital fine art, Todd is a staple at shows nationwide. Women love his designs and the friendly, personal customer service he and his team offer. Whether it’s the beautiful silhouette of a woman with natural hair, a rendition of the continent of Africa or another related theme, Todd’s work usually honors Africa in some way. He can also custom-laser your matching ear ring logo design.
5. Valerie Reed: Valana Minerals
Valerie founded Valana Minerals after being disappointed with the makeup options for women of color. She decided to make her own, and eventually opened a business so she could cater to women like her who often cannot find makeup to match their beautiful brown skin tones. Valana offers foundation, lip color, eye shadow and blush, along with faux brushes. Valana Minerals is the only line of mineral makeup for women of color that is also vegan.
Every one of these African American handmade business leaders has something incredible to offer. What a great way to close out Black History Month, don’t you think? Now, tell me what African American handmade businesses inspire you the most!
Image: Shoe Bakery