It’s hard to say no to a good deal, especially in trying economic times. If you must shop this Black Friday, be mindful about where you put your dollars. As we rise out of a long economic crisis, it is important to spend money with people and businesses that have your interest in mind — not only when they produce a product, but also when they donate money.
This Friday, put the “Black” back into “Black Friday” by supporting Black-owned businesses like these incredible independently owned boutiques and brands.
There are some truly incredible Black-owned femme and womenswear companies. For those of you who are feminine of center or shopping for someone who is and you’re looking for something special, we recommend starting with Zelie For She, Taylor Jay, Nakimuli, and Monif C., as well as lingerie designer Erica M.
Zelie For She’s sweet spot is located between ethereal boho-goddess chic and confident retro street style. Made in Los Angeles by owner Elann Zelie, the brand caters to a new plus-size silhouette and refuses to be bound by the boring lines drawn by mainstream plus-size companies.
Zelie breathes a sense of freedom and wanderlust into each and every garment that she creates. Every couple of months, a small batch of these gems is released and they move incredibly quickly. Get yours before she sells out.
Oakland-based Taylor Jay is the queen of feminine silhouettes that are simultaneously modern and classic. From separates to jumpsuits to dresses, Jay’s designs ooze sophistication that can easily transform from refined elegance to a retro boho vibe with the right funky statement pieces.
Born and raised in the Bay area, Jay moved to L.A. after high school to work as a stylist while attending California School of Fashion Design. After opening her own boutique in L.A. at the age of 23, young Jay realized her passion was in design and returned to what made her happy: the Bay area, and designing her own line of clothing.
Jay says she will “continue to design amazing clothing that lasts a lifetime, & makes every woman feel & look amazing.”
Note: While her clothes typically only range from small to 2X, the tag may say “no” but the stretch often says “yes.” Inquire on the website for more information.
Dubbed “America’s Funky Sweetheart,” NAKIMULI lives up to its name with modern basics and colorful, African-inspired statement pieces. NAKIMULI caters to women of a variety of sizes, from small to 3X, and also offers a limited children’s brand, Little by NAKIMULI, ranging from 2T to 10. The brand aims to “(embrace) a love of self at any size, inspire sisterhood, individuality, comfort and lots of fierceness.”
NAKIMULI was started by Tennille McMillan in 2009, based out of her home in Brooklyn, New York. After graduating high school at the age of 16, McMillan taught herself to sew, honing her skills by creating clothing for family members and outfits for fellow Hunter College dance students. She came to deeply understand movement for garments as well as bodies, and upon graduation McMillan opted for a career in fashion rather than dance.
McMillan has collaborated with Erykah Badu, and has dressed Eva Marcille, Jill Scott, Danielle Brooks, Jazmine Sullivan and Merrill of the tUnE-yArDs.
Created when Monif Clark couldn’t find clothing to fit her curves, the Monif C. line has been going strong since 2005 and has become a staple in plus-size wear. Possibly best known for her “fatkinis,” Monif C. was one of the first to bring couture plus-size two-pieces into style. Monif C. creates incredible wardrobe staples that one can build upon for decades, as well as super on-trend pieces.
“I think the brand is me. I am this girl. I started the line because of my personal struggles with finding flattering clothing. When I’m thinking about what to design for upcoming seasons, I really just hone in on what I want to wear, and I make that. If I really want to get into a leather dress or a really cute jumper, that’s what I design. … So, Monif C. is me,” Clark told Essence in 2011.
If you want to guarantee a spot on the “Naughty” list this Christmas, stock up on the incredible pieces at Erica M. They’ll give a proper finishing touch to your gorgeous Zelie For She, Taylor Jay, Nakimuli and Monif C. outfits. Created by California born-and-raised designer Erica Young, these daring pieces are guaranteed to turn heads and raise pulses.
Now based in Brooklyn, New York, Young says her world travels have influenced her intricate designs. Beyonce, Rihanna, Madonna and Alessandra Ambrosio are just a few daring celebrities that have donned the lingerie designer’s provocative wares. At a price point significantly lower than brands with similar aesthetics, such as Agent Provocateur, you can afford to get two for the price of what you would pay with others.
Each piece is made in Italy with quality materials. While still a luxury — it’s going to hurt your soul to get a run in these stockings — Erica M. puts that luxury much more within reach. And you get to support a Black woman-owned business in the process!