As we work to support the Black Lives Matter movement in the aftermath George Floyd's murder, we're examining where on Epicurious we can speak up. One such place is our shopping vertical, Well Equipped. You trust us to tell you about the best waffle maker and coffee grinder; you come here to find the latest cookbooks and a gift for your mom. We'll keep doing all that. But going forward, you'll see an increased focus on who is making and profiting from the products we share with you. It's not an equal playing field for POC-led businesses; in this series, we’re making an overdue commitment to leveling it.
If you're wondering what you can do to support the Black community right now, one small way is to buy from Black-owned businesses. Let me be clear: There is actual work we all need to do—including educating ourselves on racial injustices and police brutality, making donations to organizations that support racial equality, contacting politicians, and voting.
Shopping is at the bottom of this list. Way, way down. But we all do it, and we all have a choice about where to do it. The Washington Post states that Black people make up the smallest share of business owners in the nation. On top of that, Black-owned brands are rarely given the platform or shelf space by major retailers that white-owned brands are.
The 15 Percent Pledge, a movement started by Aurora James, the Creative Director of footwear brand Brother Vellies, seeks to correct these inequities. James asks major corporations like Amazon, Whole Foods, and Sephora to commit 15 percent of their shelf space to Black-owned businesses.
I've committed to the 15 Percent Pledge in my own life. An easy way to implement this is to allocate all of your "leisure purchases" to Black-owned brands. For me, this means every time I buy a throw pillow, a fancy condiment, a cookbook, or a birthday gift, I'll be looking to brands below like Bolé Road and Golde.
One of the reasons I can is because I live in a society that rewards me for not being Black. I live in a society that supports the accumulation of generational wealth in white and non-Black POC families; I live in a society that favors my "non-threatening" South Asian appearance and my Anglo-sounding name at traffic stops, in job interviews, and in bank loans.
So for me, taking the 15 Percent Pledge is an easy step. It's one small action—of many actions—that I can take. And I hope you'll take that step with me. If you do, the list of Black-owned brands below will help.
One more thing. Of course, the current economic situation in America makes it a difficult time for many to make these leisure purchases–if that rings true for you, consider instead focusing on supporting Black-owned businesses that provide essential services and products. We can all do this, regardless of our budgets.
For anyone trying to avoid harmful chemicals in their cleaning products, look to Pur Home. Unlike many so-called 'green' products, Pur Home scores a one or two (the best ratings you can get) on the Environmental Working Group's safety page. This three-bottle bundle comes with a multi-surface cleaner, a bathroom cleaner, and an abrasive surface scrubber.
Dinnerware, Decor, & Linens
Bolé Road Textiles
Be warned: you might want every single thing in Bolé Road's shop. The handwoven Ethiopian textiles include sunset-hued kitchen mats, subtly-striped table runners, and every color of bed linen you could hope for.
Los Angeles-based florist Schentell Nunn has grown a loyal following for her romantic and slightly wild-looking arrangements: think bouquets of plump white and taupe roses, sprigs of fragrant jasmine, and feathery foliage. Right now, Nunn's floral studio Offerings is delivering bouquets in the Los Angeles area only—but bookmark this page for your post-coronavirus destination wedding or event. To place an order, reach out via the inquiry form on her website, or, through Instagram, where you can also take in her dreamy arrangements.
BUY IT: Joy Bouquet, $85 at Offerings
Maggie Holladay has an eye for particularly striking—and soothing—design: cream, bronze, jade, and coffee shades dominate her shop of antique furniture and decor. Her East Village showroom is closed due to the coronavirus, but you can shop glassware, sculpture, and decor accents and furniture on the Claude Home website.
A hand-poured beeswax candle is an excellent naturally-scented addition to your dinner table or bedside. Lomar Farms, which is owned by a couple in Upstate New York, pours theirs with shea oil, coconut oil, and beeswax for a uniquely nutty-sweet smell and long, clean burn.
Philly design and decor shop Yowie has the Hay glassware, Dusen Dusen linens, and groovy totes we can't get enough of. This beach towel will serve you well come summer, even if it's just for safe sunning in the backyard.
BUY IT: River Towel, $40 at Yowie
Camille At The Wheel
If you fell deep for the speckled white ceramics trend, visit Camille At The Wheel. Her varied and personal-feeling pieces can be ordered individually or in sets—look out for the covetable pasta bowls and mugs.
If staring at the same walls every day of quarantine has made you consider a paint job, consider Clare Paint. Zero-VOC formulas, a color-finding quiz, and an easy-to-use, direct-to-consumer business model definitely beats standing under the harsh light of the hardware store analyzing chips. You can also buy all the materials you need to get it done at Clare, like brushes, trays, and tape.
You may never look at a flax linen apron again after seeing Natalie Manima of Bespoke Binny's colorful aprons in African fabrics. Manima also designs pot holders, lamp shades, and napkins, each in bright, geometric-patterned cloth.
BUY IT: Bespoke Binny apron, $32 on Etsy
If your victory garden is in fact a set of teeny herbs or succulents, this is the planter set to elevate them. Nine three-inch pots are perched atop a sturdy metal frame, which will do just as well indoors or out—plus, the lack of saucers means you don't have to worry abut overwatering as much.
Design studio xN was founded by Nasozi Kakembo, a graduate of Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation who found herself drawn to textiles from her native Uganda after her workday in international human rights finished. Now in its ninth year, xN produces a portion of their baskets, textiles, and kitchen accessories in Uganda alongside local artisans, and supports education-focused non-profit work in the country.
Los Angeles-based ceramicist Diana Adams draws on Zulu shields for inspiration with these geometric-patterned planters.
If you're a frequent cookbook shopper, bookmark the website of DC's Mahogany Books. Our first pick for your cart? One of the best new books this spring, Bryant Terry's Vegetable Kingdom. Our editorial assistant Tiffany Hopkins keeps her fridge stocked with a creamy, silky tofu dressing from the book, while I can't stop making the herbaceous green rice (it somehow, magically, makes for even better leftovers, unlike every other rice dish I've cooked.)
Semicolon is Chicago's only Black woman-owned bookstore. DL Mullen, who has a PhD in lit theory, opened the shop less than a year ago. We're picking up a copy of another spring favorite, Meals, Music, and Muses, by Harlem-based Alexander Smalls. Smalls writes with simultaneous levity and reverence for his community, and with great knowledge about America’s culinary and musical roots.
Blk & Bold Coffee
Father's Day is coming up–does your dad need a coffee refill? Look to Blk & Bold's Father's Day gift package, which includes two bags of your choosing and a coffee donation to COVID-19 first responders. Since its inception, Blk & Bold has also donated five percent of sales to non-profits benefiting at- risk youth.
Try a de-stressing floral blend packed with chamomile, rose petals, lavender, cinnamon, and mint, from a small business that donates a portion of its sales to Black-focused charities every month.
Sorrel, a non-alcoholic hibiscus-based drink, has over 400-year-old roots in Caribbean cuisine. First-generation Caribbean American Nzinga Knight started her business Brooklyn Sorrel after friends praised the bottles she'd brewed at home based on her father's recipe. Its smooth and floral flavor works well as a mixer, or alone over ice.
Me & The Bees Lemonade
Mikaila Ulmer first came up with the idea for Me & The Bees Lemonade when she was just five years old at the Children's Business Fair in Austin, Texas. Ten years later, Mikaila's honey-sweetened lemonades can be found at Whole Foods, World Market, and H-E-B, and her first book will be published this summer. This gift pack allows you to sample the ginger, prickly pear, mint, iced tea, and, of course, classic lemonade flavors.
Red Bay Coffee
The team behind Oakland-based Red Bay Coffee describes themselves as "the fourth wave of coffee," meaning, they say, that they're committed to making sure coffee production is not only high-quality and sustainable, but also a vehicle for diversity, inclusion, and economic restoration.
Maybe you've taken our advice and committed to a nightly meditative tea ritual. Enjoying a pot of organic Pu'reh or chamomile from Brooklyn Tea in the coziest corner of your home is a great way to stay relaxed while you call your representatives.
Pantry, Snacks, and Sweets
A Dozen Cousins
I can't open Instagram without seeing an elaborate "bean bath"—a pot of broth seasoned with so much olive oil, fresh herb twigs, and halved alliums that the affordability of this staple becomes somewhat of a moot point. A Dozen Cousins reclaims the bean with traditional Trinidadian, Cuban, and Mexican seasonings.
Berhan Teff Flour
Teff, an ancient grain native to Ethiopia, has a nutty flavor and an impressive nutritional profile. Use it in Injera, the traditional Ethiopian flatbread, alongside Doro Wett. Because it's naturally gluten-free, teff flour is also used as a substitute in baking.
Jones BBQ Sauce
This sweet and tangy BBQ sauce, which was a family secret for generations, is just as good tossed with sturdy grilled vegetables as it is poured over ribs.
BUY IT: Jones BBQ Sauce, $7 at Jones BBQ
These cookies are gluten free and vegan, and free of the top eight allergens. If that makes you worry they are free of flavor, fear not. The ginger snaps, which have just the right amount of crunch and chew plus a warming, gingery tang, can't seem to last more than a few days in my pantry. Our other favorites include the classic chocolate chip and the nostalgic, not-too-sweet birthday cake flavor. This variety-pack gets you five boxes of crunchy cookies—but if soft-baked centers are more your thing, Partake has that too.
The Epi team has been wild for Hawa Hassan's tangy, spicy Basbaas sauces ever since our former editor cooked Somali Beef Stew, Bariis Maraq, with her back in 2017. Use these sauces on everything you grill this summer, or drizzle them over grain bowls, curries, and steamed vegetables.
The Salty Heifer
This much-loved cookie and cake shop is best known for their salty chocolate chip cookies. If you'd love to support but already have enough baked goods in your house right now, consider emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to donate an order to first responders.
Beauty & Wellness
Golde Latte Blends
The wellness industry—with its whitewashing of yoga, appropriation of Asian ingredients like turmeric and matcha, and the way it has let white-led CBD businesses thrive while Black people have been incarcerated in masses for marijuana charges—needs a complete overhaul. One way to support that change is to support minority-led businesses in this space, like Golde, a wellness and beauty brand run by Trinity Mouzon Wofford. The turmeric-infused latte powders are warming and delicious when swirled into a cup of almond or oat milk.
Minor Obsession Soaps
Epi's site director, David Tamarkin, is a big fan of these soothing natural soaps. Every bar is hand-poured, and free of synthetic fragrances, animal products, sulfates, and artificial colorants. While most soaps are currently sold out, Minor Obsessions will be restocking June 17th. Keep an eye out for this one, called Golden Hour, which boasts an ingredient list that includes olive, coconut, and avocado oil.
Black Girl Sunscreen
Anyone with a solid dose of melanin in their skin will tell you two things about sunscreen: 1. Most are formulated for white skin and leave an ashy purple or white coat on ours, and 2. We've been told our whole lives that it's not as important for us because we don't burn. In fact, skin cancer is less likely to be detected in early stages on Black people, because of community and physician bias. Black Girl Sunscreen is reef-safe, formulated without parabens, and rubs in completely, leaving no dreaded residue.
Blk & Grn
Blk & Grn is an online marketplace that showcases all-natural body, skincare, and grocery products from Black-owned businesses. Given the never-ending hand washing of late, the hand soaps caught our eye. But don't sleep on the rich body butters or all-natural laundry soap either.
Originally Appeared on Epicurious