Due to the unfair implications of systemic racism, which has been heavily embedded into culture as we know it, the black community has a far lower self-employment rate than others (12 per cent, according to Policy Exchange).
As more and more consumers start to realise the true impact that buying from black owned businesses can have on the whole of society, we thought it was time to highlight some of our favourites in London. Here are our top favourite black owned businesses in London—among an even larger and growing list of others.
“See it, like it, book it.” This one is a wholly supportive business whose ambition is to help beauty professionals grow their services. Essentially, Beautystack is a booking app with a heavy focus on social community where users are put directly in contact with any beauty services they might need, which in turn nurtures the careers of those professionals who work independently. Think of it as the Treatwell of the new generation, only Beautystack truly uplifts independent professionals.
The app further helps beauty pros reduce the time they usually need to spend on social media ‘managing’ their businesses alone, as bookings are advertised and easily made through the app. This also provides protection to those who are self-employed within the beauty industry.
As written by TechCrunch in an interview with Beautystack’s founder Sharmadean Reid, “the beauty pro’s time is better protected against cancellations, too, with a 50% upfront booking and 50% upon completion. An image of the beauty treatment sought is attached to each booking and the beauty pro can view the client’s profile to gauge their taste before they even walk through the door.” Beautystack is fundamentally one giant B2C conversation and its events are organised to inspire, connect and support anyone who has a dream, and wants to make it reality.
Bonus, Reid recently launched The Stack, a membership focused on beauty, wellness, business, culture, and society. What’s not to love, right?
Founded in 2011 by Femi Adeyemi, NTS has now become a cult global radio platform. “Built by music lovers, for music lovers. Broadcasting live from London, Manchester, Los Angeles, beyond,” reads NTS’ website.
The Guardian reported it as “somewhere between BBC 6 Music’s diversity and pirate radio’s DIY spirit.” The station, along with its super loyal community, has also made a name for itself for championing underground scenes and supporting exciting music and cultures through both its online radio and its pre-pandemic (and hopefully post-pandemic) events. As well as luring music fans back to radio, it connects them to each other.
As written in Trippin, since its launch in 2015, gal-dem “continued to hold truth to power through platforming the stories of women and non-binary people of colour.” The new media publication further explains on its website that it is “committed to telling the stories of people of colour from marginalised genders,” and it certainly does just that! As with all of the other wonderful brands and initiatives on this list, gal-dem is community driven.
The publication’s journalism and creative work is known for shaping debates and discussions to create important and necessary shifts in the way we think, and by doing so, gal-dem succeeds at empowering as well as supporting the creative work of its diverse community—a platform that everyone should add to their bookmarks.
Founded by Gynelle Leon, PRICK is London’s first ever cactus and succulent shop, based in Dalson, East London—although its online shop is pretty ‘busy’ too. It offers a selection of unusual and exotic plants (that are hard to not keep alive, for any non-green fingered souls out there). PRICK sees cacti and succulents as living sculptures that can take years to fully develop and through her business, Leon successfully sheds light on these plants as a sustainable way to brighten up city living. Plant pet, anyone?
Founded by Karl Jouanni, Alive & More is a streetwear label that lets customers unlock real clothes through a video game. By merging Alive & More with his other venture, TEAM RELMS, Jouanni created a gravity defying fashion brand like no other. The concept is simple: users download the RELMS app, play the game and travel to a virtual fashion shrine to unlock their garments. Welcome to the future!
Founded in 2004 by Edson Sabajo and Guillaume ‘Gee’ Schmidt in Amsterdam as a means to provide themselves, as well as their friends and family with a steady supply of footwear and gear, Patta quickly shifted from a hobby to a thriving business and recognisable brand.
By 2016, the London Patta store opened its doors, and the community surrounding it continued to expand. Unlike mainstream and unsustainable fashion houses, Patta is built on love and necessity rather than profit and novelty.
“From Lagos to London.” Founded by Louie Akinwale in the midst of the global pandemic, Lu by Lu is an accessory brand that currently makes handbags in Nigeria, but aspires to create much more in the near future.
Although still new, Lu by Lu has a strong message surrounding it already. It is where sustainable luxury meets an underground community that is committed to authenticity in contemporary fashion. The brand is ushering a modernist view of Africa, and all that it entails. At its core, Lu by Lu is a movement, a stylish one at that, and is definitely one to be a part of.
Founded by Screen Shot writer Marcia Veiga, Nobody’s Native is an independent ceramic business that sells quirky homeware, from your go-to cups to the cutest smoking pipes you’ll find on the gram. Available to be purchased through DMs on Instagram, you’re bound to find an ideal gift for yourself or a friend on there.
Gyms are open, and we’re excited about it! Instead of signing up to the gym giants that usually run the scene, why don’t you sign up to community based gyms where you might actually interact with other fitness enthusiasts? Elite Evolution is a black owned gym based in Hackney, East London, that specialises in providing quality health and fitness in personal training and fitness classes.
Elite Evolution’s goal is to create a safe and connected space for groups and individuals to improve their lifestyles through health, fitness and general wellbeing. Yes please!
The global pandemic induced lockdowns had us spending a lot of time in our homes, giving us a new sense of appreciation or motivation to spruce up some change within them. If you’re looking for furniture that is intricately sourced from around the world, have a look at Bleu Furniture, which is based in Herne Hill, South London.
Most of its products are mid-century modern, 20th century design, decorative art, vintage industrial furniture, vintage African masks and art. The shop also offers specialist upholstery and restoration!
This is a miniscule list in comparison to how many up and coming black creators are out there taking the plunge into self-employment, but it’s a start. Keep an eye and an ear out for the people behind the products that we buy daily, and ask yourself if there are alternative local businesses that you can support too.
As the global fight against racial injustice gains steam, meaningful change is beginning to materialise. From mayors pledging to defund police forces and racial justice organisations receiving an outpouring of support to a sharp rise in public discussions around issues of systemic racism—evidence of progress trails behind the swelling wave of protest and outrage. It is important to build on this historic momentum and keep the foot on the gas.
What can you do to support the movement for black rights and racial justice?
Taking to the streets to demonstrate remains one of the most effective ways to protest injustice and demand immediate change. Check the Black Lives Matter website, local community websites and social media for information about protests taking place in your area. If your circumstances don’t allow you to march in the streets, you may want to inquire about virtual protests happening, like the one recently arranged by Black Lives Matter London.
Protesters marching in the streets are in need of various supplies, including water, masks, food, and more. Visit the webpage of a protest happening near you to learn about its designated supply drop-off locations, or contact protest organisers for information on how to help.
As a growing number of protesters are being arrested by police forces, bail money is urgently needed for people who cannot afford to purchase their freedom. This Google Doc contains a list of bailout and legal funds categorised by city and state.
Systemic racism has robbed black communities of funds and resources and stilted progress among its residents. Contributing to initiatives designed to empower black communities is a crucial step in rectifying the ravages of centuries of racial discrimination. Black Visions Collective, National Bailout and Campaign Zero are three organisations that work in varying ways to achieve long term improvement for black communities, end their oppression and promote their rights and safety. You may want to research similar organisations operating in your city or state.
Make it a point to support black-owned businesses, restaurants and shops in your area. You should also research which companies are complicit in perpetuating systemic racism and refrain from supporting them—L’Oréal, Reformation and Zimmerman, I’m looking at you.
Immigrants of colour are disproportionately targeted, terrorised, and abused by the government—at the border, in detention facilities, and in black and brown communities repeatedly raided by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). At the invitation of the NYPD, ICE agents have been infiltrating Black Lives Matter protests in New York City, and have already detained one immigrant. Research and donate to organisations working to protect and advocate on behalf of immigrants of colour.
Queer people of colour are at an increased risk of experiencing violence, exclusion, police brutality and oppression. They are also more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and other mental health issues as a result of what is commonly referred to as ‘compounded minority stress’—being both queer and black or brown. The LGBTQ Racial Justice Fund and the Black Trans Femmes in the Arts Collective are two out of numerous organisations working to protect and uplift black queer people in the US. If you’re based in the UK, you may want to check out UK Black Pride, IMAAN and NAZ Project.
While the focus tends to revolve around national politics—it is local authorities that are often hotbeds of racial injustice. Inquire about your mayor, comptroller, chief of police, and district attorney, demand accountability for their actions, and be sure to vote in local elections and get involved in your community.
Across the US, and around the world, more and more people are demanding to defund the police and invest their budget in community projects and infrastructure and locally-run emergency-response teams. Minneapolis may be the first US city to completely disband its police force, and LA Mayor Eric Garcetti had already pledged to slash the city’s police budget and invest the money in communities of colour. Join the growing demand to defund the police by supporting #8toAbolition, the Movement for Black Lives or other NGOs operating in your city or county.
Challenge yourself with daily and rigorous reflections on how the concept of Whiteness may affect your life; in what ways does it limit or impact your actions, your perceptions, your opinions, your circle of friends? Policies are important milestones in the fight against systemic racism, but they alone cannot herald real, long-lasting change on societal and institutional scales. Slavery had been abolished, Jim Crow laws had been eradicated, and yet here we are still battling the plague of racism. Ultimately, racial justice could only be achieved when we fundamentally change the ways we see ourselves and obliterate the institution and concept of Whiteness.