How to support Black businesses and creatives in LA
As a nation, we are at a pivotal moment in history. George Floyd’s death at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis, along with other recent killings of Black individuals — Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade and many, many more — have sparked nationwide and global outrage over a longstanding pattern of brutality against Black people, particularly at the hands of the police. More than 700 protests and counting have erupted across the country in recent weeks, and the rallying cry for justice and change continues to echo across social media.
During this time, many are asking how they can best be involved. And while there are many paths to allyship, such as joining in the protests, spreading resources, educating oneself, donating and signing petitions, one contribution method that should not be overlooked is supporting Black businesses and creatives. The present economy does not favor Black-owned businesses, as they continuously experience underinvestment, even when the economy is flourishing. Therefore, collectively dedicating spending power to support these individuals and groups can be incredibly impactful. While there are far too many to list, here are 15 businesses and creatives in Los Angeles you can assist through your time, money and dedication.
Cross Colours is a streetwear brand defined by bold colors, Pan-African flag influences and its motto, “Clothing Without Prejudice.” Launched in L.A. in 1989 by Carl Jones and T.J. Walker, this progressive brand draws inspiration from Black nationalist ideologies in an effort to bring the Black community closer together. They sell their colorful merchandise for all genders online including hoodies, shirts, underwear, hats and even air freshener.
If you’re looking for a mixture of style, comedy and empowerment, consider shopping at Stuzo Clothing, an L.A.-based brand created by Stoney Michelli and Uzo Ejikeme. With a mission of fostering a nonjudgmental space in fashion, this versatile brand sells clothing and accessories with phrases such as “Black AF” and “Yup, still gay” printed on them. Their merchandise is genderless and, in their words, “for the non-conforming and bold at heart.” And, for your coronavirus needs, they sell face masks for $12-20 online.
Distinct, forward-thinking and extravagant — these are all words that describe the merchandise of Burkinabaé, an L.A. accessory brand that sells pieces such as statement jewelry, couture eyewear, head wraps and more. Created by West African designer Karen Emilienne Chatelain, the brand encourages customers to form a sense of style individual to themselves through their unique and lively pieces. Discover a new definition of your own style as well as what a fringe neck-piece looks like at their website.
Lot XI, a Compton-based urban apothecary, was founded by clinical psychotherapist Krystyl Wright and her mother with the mission of encouraging self-care and community wellness. Their products range from candles to facemasks and more and are all handcrafted from environmentally safe and organic fair trade ingredients. They keep 11 core principles in mind when formulating their products, including social justice, self-investment and growth.
Eso Won Books
Patrons of L.A.’s Eso Won Books will find an extensive literature collection tailored to Black culture and history. Co-owners James Fugate and Thomas Hamilton list a variety of genres for sale on their website, such as books on the Black Panther Party and the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which are great to purchase if you’re looking to educate yourself on the history of racial injustice. They also host book signing events for authors, and past guests have included Ta-Nehisi Coates and Maya Angelou.
The owner of Cultural Interiors, Gail Hawkins, curates multicultural items from around the world for your interior and exterior design needs. Their shopping categories online range from “Cultural Body Treasures,” which includes all sorts of vibrant beaded jewelry pieces, to “Heart of Africa,” in which many decor items have been imported straight from Africa or are African-inspired. They currently take online orders for delivery and phone-in orders for curbside pickup.
Umar Rashid is a man of many talents. He is an artist, poet, musician and history fanatic. His work has been exhibited across the world and in the United States in spaces such as the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. He uses ink, acrylic, tea and coffee to illuminate alternative tellings of people of color’s histories in the colonial world.
A self-described “soul seductress,” Sanura’s smooth vocals are both powerful and soothing. Her style is a blend of R&B, jazz and house, and she has been singing professionally for more than 10 years. Her most recent single, titled “Don’t Ever Talk To Me Again,” boasts beautiful harmonies and a story about getting over a past lover. You can listen to her discography on Spotify or on her website.
Maurice Harris is not your ordinary florist. Rather, he expresses his individuality with magnificent floral sculptures that he says embody “chaos and balance.” He also owns both a flower and coffee shop in L.A. named Bloom & Plume and Bloom & Plume Coffee, respectively. Bouquets and centerpieces are available at the flower shop, and you can order his coffee, tea and colorful merchandise online.
Craving comfort food? Look no further. Jeremy McBryde and Mark E. Walker’s ComfortLA uses locally sourced ingredients to create healthy versions of classic Southern foods, such as “Clean Mean Greens” and “Organic Not Your Average Fried Chicken.” They currently offer delivery and curbside pickup orders.
Abeautifullife is a cafe and food truck created by mother-and-daughter duo Barbara and Aja Dawson that serves family-style cooking and desserts, such as jerk chicken and kale berry smoothies. Although their food truck is currently closed, you can order food online for pickup at their Spring Street cafe or order delivery through Postmates, Ubereats, Caviar and DoorDash.
Oh My Burger
Almost every burger on the menu at Oh My Burger has a name inspired by music-related backstories from owners Danielle and Brandyn Powell, like the Big Homie, whose name derives from a Tyga song. They created this burger joint to serve fresh-tasting burgers without sacrificing quality or service. You can order their “Pandemic Box,” peach cobbler shake and more online.
Boketto Cold Brew
Based in downtown L.A., Benjamin Westley’s Boketto Cold Brew sources its premium ingredients from sustainably farmed products around the world. Their cold brew espresso comes in 1.5-liter pouches that’ll last for over a month, and they offer automatic replenishment services to keep you sufficiently caffeinated. You can order online for delivery.
With their motto “coffee first, mischief later,” Harry Potter-themed Nimbus Coffee is advertised as a haven for all types of mystical beings. Co-owned by mother and daughter Shawn and Eviana Farrar, they serve everything from “Witches Cold Brew’’ to “Dragon’s Breathe,” which is a type of compote infused with fairy dust. Choose whichever magical drink catches your eye for pickup or for delivery through DoorDash.
Bohemian House of Espresso + Chai
Head downtown to receive an unconventional coffee experience at Bohemian House of Espresso + Chai, which doubles as an innovative creative space for its patrons. The shop sells artisanal chai, rich espresso drinks, snacks and pastries. You can access its menu for in-store pickup or delivery online.