10 Black Entrepreneurs Designing a More Inclusive Future

February 11, 2019 | | View Comments

Happy Black History Month! One way to actively support the Black community during this month (and the rest of the year!) is to support black-owned businesses, designers, and entrepreneurs, and encourage friends and family to do the same. Here are 10 designers/creators utilizing their craft to address issues and/or generate opportunities that have not historically existed.

  1. Pyer Moss founder and Haitian-American designer Kerby Jean-Raymond utilizes fashion as a tool and platform for social justice. Social commentary has become his signature on the catwalk, having addressed issues from police brutality to mental health. 
  2. Founded by Yulkendy Valdez and Josuel Plasencia, Forefront Cultures strives to cultivate and create collaborative work cultures by providing coaches to guide employers and employees towards a more inclusive and thriving culture.
  3. Yolo Akili Robinson created BEAM, Black Emotional And Mental Health, a collective of advocates, yoga teachers, artists, therapists, teachers, and lawyers dedicated to the emotional/mental health and healing of Black communities. Via education, training, advocacy, and creative arts, BEAM works to provide access to emotional health care and healing for Black people. 
  4. While most people think of activism as taking to the streets or government buildings, Afro-Latinx artists Niv Acosta and Fannie Sosa propose activism via power naps. Rooted in research on the “racial sleep gap” the artists provide a series of interactive installations that invite Black people to rest and restore themselves.
  5. There is no minimum age to be an activist and thirteen-year-old Marley Dias proves just that as the creator of the #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign. Tired of reading stories that centered white people as the main characters, Dias created her campaign. Focusing on finding 1,000 books with Black girls as leads, Dias also donates books to teachers with the intent of diversifying the collection of books kids have access to in schools.
  6. A musician, animator, and pixel designer, Momo Pixel is truly a Jane Of All Trades. In response to the perverse action of touching a Black woman’s hair without consent, Momo created Hair Nah.“I created this game to say NO exactly the way that I wanted to. To have a response uninterrupted by the pretense that I have to be cordial to someone impeding on myself.  That I have to care about white feelings before thine own. Hair Nah is Hell No. You have no authority here, over this body, how it lives or how it looks.” 
  7. Working to address the lack of black representation in the design industry, artist and designer Malene Barnett founded the Black Artists + Designers Guild. Pulling from her extensive connections in the art and design community, Barnett created an online directory of black creatives in media ranging from architecture to interior design and more.
  8. Redefining ‘nude’ to make the term more inclusive, Ade Hassan founded Nubian Skin: a skin-tone lingerie line for women of color. Although the concept is simple, its impact on the fashion industry is far from that. Many designers are working to diversify their own lingerie lines but there is still a long way to go. The impact can even be seen in the beauty industry – many companies have been releasing foundation in a wider range of skin tones.
  9. An entrepreneur through and through, Rica Elysee founded both BeautyLynk and Boston Naturals. Boston Naturals was created for women of color with natural hair to come together, learn about their hair and beauty needs, and bond. Building off the passions that Rica brought to Boston Naturals, BeautyLynk was founded with a similar idea in mind. The online service connects salon professionals and transports their talents to the comfort and convenience of your living room.
  10. Reclaiming and reframing misunderstood narratives of the Black community and cannabis, Karanja Crews and Nicole Kennedy founded Portland-based dispensary, Green Hop. Self-titled “the world’s first hip-hop dispensary,” Crews and Kennedy have utilized the music genre not as a marketing tool, but as a way to pay homage to artists who inspired them and bring a piece of that culture back to a historically black neighborhood where Green Hop is located.