Happy Black History Month!
The City of Philadelphia and the Greater Philadelphia area are home to many important and wonderful Black-owned businesses that fill the gap of so many needs. Spanning from nutrition options, slow, ethical fashion brands, the arts, cultural and educational enlightenment, just to name a few areas, that are all a result of immensely dedicated hands-on learning and practice. We are excited to share a list that we have compiled of some of the many Black-owned companies to support in celebration of Black History Month in 2022.
We have shouted out Christa Barfield, owner of FarmerJawn in the past for being a huge inspiration in 2021, and want to take this time to continue showing FarmerJawn some love! FarmerJawn’s mission of nourishing the Philadelphia community comes in many packages (literally). One being their seasonal CSA options that we can’t wait to partake in this upcoming Spring 2022. Aside from providing delicious and nutritious goodies to Philadelphia communities, FarmerJawn plans to expand their legacy by housing agriculture residents in the next phase of their business in their non-profit sector. These farmers-in-residence will be housed in the historical Elkins Park Estate and learn from Christa and her team how to harvest, farm and tend to the beautiful land FarmerJawn resides on. Christa’s work is directly impacting another generation of hands-on learning that will benefit the environment and the communities of Philadelphia and we are so here for it. You can support the next phase of this project at FarmerJawn here.
Illustrator, Designer and Educator, Veronica Jamison has embarked on many meaningful collaborations to bring crucial stories to fruition. Such as, A Computer Called Katherine, her delightfully illustrated children's book (fantastic to read with your little ones) about NASA’s Katherine Johnson written by Suzanne Slade. Katherine Johnson was a Black female mathematician who was instrumental in assisting American astronauts landing on the moon for the first time. Veronica has since collaborated with other authors as well, creating illustrations to complement these stories, such as Tanisha C. Ford’s: Dressed in Dreams, A Black Girl’s Love Letter to the Power of Fashion, and The Zee Files, a fictional book about navigating teen life by Tina Wells. These partnerships which have brought exposure to such incredible stories, are just one segment of work that Veronica produces. She is also a full-time print designer for Lilly Pulitzer, and a previous instructor of Fashion Illustration and Design courses at Made Institute in Philadelphia, and Drexel University where she obtained her MS in Fashion Design. We can’t wait to purchase Veronica’s next illustrated book This Is A School, coming out this Spring!
3.Shannon Maldonado of YOWIE
All things color, liveliness, home, style, community, the list goes on and on in regards to everything YOWIE is! It isn’t often when a business can successfully and simultaneously live and breathe as many glorious things all at once. However, YOWIE owner Shannon Maldonado, multi-talented and multi-passionate artist pulls it off, and kills it every time. YOWIE, primarily a home goods and lifestyle retail store and online platform carries many deliciously designed items such as ceramics, homeware, food products, textiles and more. Some of which are made in house under the YOWIE brand, and some that are created by other independent artists/brands. Shannon with a background in Fashion from FIT, pivoted into interior design and lifestyle, shaping what is now YOWIE and has continued to think outside the box since the beginning of the brand. Shannon has worked to expand not only YOWIE’s own space (which, she indeed is, as we speak), but she has collaborated on designing other important spaces as well, such as The Deacon, a converted church which is now a boutique hotel and event space in Philadelphia, and Ethel’s Club, a Black-owned wellness community artist space in Brooklyn. YOWIE is now in the process of expansion in the form of opening their first boutique hotel and community space. Check out YOWIE’s site where you can view and shop Black, Latinx & AAPI owned businesses as well or visit them in their shop in Queen Village Philadelphia!
4. Keturah Benson
An incredibly multi-talented visual artist, Keturah Benson, has recently been immersed in textural mixed-media paintings of Black historical and social figures, artists and musicians. Keturah brings extra dimensions to each of her creations by incorporating an element of tangible fantasy through integrating and sewing beautiful African patterned, printed fabrics an homage to her ancestral homeland of Liberia, and other tactile motifs into her realistic portrayals of her subjects. It is particularly mesmerizing to watch Keturah in action, as she films most of her work in progress creating time-lapse videos so we can marvel at her from start to finish on each of her paintings. (Wear headphones when watching around your little ones, as these videos play mature music alongside the time-lapse). Keturah also has immense experience in set design, costume design, mural arts and more. For inquiries on adding one of her profound and dimensional works of art to your personal collection, you can contact Keturah Benson here.
5. Neutral States Clothing
Slow-fashion at it’s finest, each Neutral States Clothing piece is a labor of love and the combined union of hand-knit and woven yardage resulting in wearable works of art, that are unique and absolutely lovely. Owner of Neutral States, DC Boyd utilizes subtle silhouettes, colors and prints, playing with interesting pairings of texture of contrasting fabrics, which take each piece to the next level. The blending of asymmetry, shape, and texture of these high end ready-to-wear garments, not to mention the craftsmanship, attention to detail and thoughtfulness are all a direct result of DC’s dedication of over 15 years towards the practice of hand-knitting and inventive, meticulous garment construction. Neutral States Clothing is the perfect exemplification of one perfecting their hand-craft. Shop Neutral States Clothing’s elegant looks here.
6.Pound Cake Cosmetics
‘Reinventing color cosmetics’ Pound Cake was born to demolish the universal one size fits all non-inclusive beauty industry that continues in our current society, by providing shades of lipsticks that are truly recognizable on various diverse shades of skin and lip tones. Camille Bell, CEO and Co-Founder of Pound Cake has been building her brand with thoughtfulness and attention to detail over the last several years, experimenting and inventing numerous batches of colors to bring a quality product to market that invites everyone to glam up to their most fierce selves. Pound Cake has been awarded a spot in beauty brand Glossier’s exclusive Black-Owned Business Cohort and won Allure’s Best of Beauty Award in 2021. We can’t wait to see the next phase of Pound Cake and partake in their quest of equalizing the beauty industry that’s been long overdue.
We think of ease, style and luxury when we think of Harx4 garments. The exquisite, and very contemporary high-end ready-to-wear pieces that live in Harx4’s collection were made to shine by playing with styling and mixing and matching items within each lively collection. They are truly pieces that could be dressed up or dressed down, and even though they’re so luxurious they exude comfort and effortlessness. The owner of Harx4, Renee Hill, has accomplished so much since her time of being in business. Such as designing for high-end clients, being part of the Philadelphia Fashion Incubator program, and participating as a contestant in Season 17 of Project Runway. Renee continues to elevate her brand with inventive silhouettes, texture, and creative juxtaposition of shape within a typically ordinary garment adding something particularly special and unique to your closet for any occasion.
Named after historical civil rights champion, Harriet Tubman, Harriet’s Bookshop exists to educate and amplify women authors, artists and activists. Information is power, and learning is a privilege which is at the heart of Harriet’s Bookshop’s existence, as well as it’s sister store Ida’s Bookshop based on Ida B. Wells, American journalist and civil rights activist.
Owner of Harriet’s Bookshop, Jeannine Cook, continues to reimagine the traditional brick and mortar model by carefully curating exhibit-like displays of their book collections. After all, books are works of art and their space serves as a beautiful canvas to invite the viewer into the cherished world that Jeannine and her community have created. There is a wide selection of enlightening fiction and non-fiction literature for adults, and a diverse, educational selection of children's books. We love the idea of a self-regulated monthly book club with our little ones and expanding our libraries alongside each other!
***Adults only, watch here for a documentary short featuring owner, Jeannine Cook about beginning her harrowing journey and perseverance of opening Harriet’s Bookshop in Philadelphia. Allow it to be a reminder that the work towards education and equal civil rights is never finished. ***
We are so grateful and lucky to be living in a time where we have access to all of these incredible works by these legendary Black-owned businesses, artists and makers. All of which are an outcome of their hands-on dedication, individual stories, and missions that provide essential works of art and creative services.
Discover hands-on skills in 2022 with our summer camp programs!
The Handwork Studio, a fun, summer enrichment camp where kids learn by making. Since 2001, we've been the leading educators in teaching kids hands-on skills that you won't find in your school curriculum. Whether your child is interested in building, sewing, coding or design, we provide engaging activities for kids to embrace their imagination and think like innovators. Click below to find a summer camp location near you.