#BlackBusiness of the Week | "Black" Pin Makers

Black Business Trend Alert: Pins!!!

Those who know know me, know that I love accessories. Earrings, bags, shoes, bracelets, head bands. I love them all. And now, I love pins.

I first noticed the pin trend several months ago on Instagram (where I discover most of my favorite black businesses). With pins featuring a variety of afrocentric messages (e.g., "black girl magic" and "black & proud") and images (e.g., Michelle Obama and afro-haired women), I had to get some.

The first pin I bought was a 

"She's Gotta Have It" brooch (priced at $25) by Rachel Stewart Jewelry

. This solid wood brooch is inspired by the Spike Lee movie of the same name and is F-L-Y. Every time I wear it, I receive tons of compliments about its beauty and questions about where I bought it.

At work wearing my "She's Gotta To Have It" brooch and "Still I Rise" pin. 

The past two months I have gone pin crazy. First, I bought a

"Still I Rise" lapel pin (priced at $10) by Radical Dreams

 to represent my love for the famous Maya Angelou poem, and then two weeks later, I bought their

kneeling "Colin Kaepernick" lapel pin (priced at $8)

to show my support for the former NFL player and his fight against racial injustice and police brutality against black people in America. I have worn these pins several times this past month to keep me motivated on the days that I feel weary and frustrated with the things happening in this post-Obama world. Most recently, I purchased an

"I'm Judging You" pin (priced at $14) by Pin Vibes LA

. This metal pin is part of a special collection celebrating the release of

I'm Judging You: A Do Better Manual

by Luvvie Ajayi aka

Awesomely Luvvie

. I love to wear this pin to work (use your imagination on why 😬).

Judgey but motivational with my "I'm Judging You" and "Still I Rise" pins.

I like to make statements with my clothes and accessories. And, anything that allows me to show my love for black culture and black people and be fashionable is a must-have for me. I absolutely LOVE the fact that "black"pins allow me to express my pride, my beliefs, and my mood without having to say a word.

They are great for work and play. You can wear one pin, or a bunch of them, anywhere. Pin them to your jackets, shirts, bags, or hats.

Make a statement with your accessories and check out these black pin makers today.

#BlackBusiness Spotlight | The Wrap Life

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The Wrap Life is one of my most recent black business find gems. I discovered this great black female-owned business on social media. Created by Nnenna Stella in Brooklyn, New York, The Wrap Life is about "cultivating a life abundant with color, texture, and handmade goods," such as handprinted and African head wraps, jewelry, soaps, and incense.

I was specifically attracted to the company for their beautiful head wraps. Lately, I have been enamored with various black women I have seen on Instagram rocking beautiful head wraps twisted into creative and unique styles. So, after I found out about The Wrap Life, I headed immediately to their 

website

.

What I love about The Wrap Life are their wide variety of head wraps, including brightly colored ones with intricate patterns for the bold head wrapper and darkly colored ones with subtle patterns for the less bold or novice head wrapper, and their short YouTube tutorials providing viewers tips and ideas to help them create your own unique wrap styles. I currently follow the company on Instagram and frequently bookmark their tutorial videos, so that I can try them out.

The Wrap Life's head wraps are 100% cotton, handprinted, and (approximately) 22x72 inches. They are moderately priced, ranging from $25 to $27. I purchased their "Fes" head wrap, which has a Moroccan inspired pattern, and I have already rocked it in three different styles, since I received it in about 2 weeks ago.

I love The Wrap Life's head wraps and I recommend you check them out. I am already eyeing one of their African head wraps for my next purchase.

Website: https://thewrap.life

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/thewraplife

Below, I have posted a picture of a bouffant wrap style I created using one of their YouTube tutorials. Got me feeling confident on those days when my roots are not looking so great.

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#BuyBlack Spotlight: Designs by Bolaji

I discovered the beautiful paintings of this young black female artist Bolaji Ogunsola, while attending a holiday concert performance on Harvard University campus. She was selling her paintings in the lobby of the venue and I was immediately attracted to the bold colors and the images of black women with large carefree afros. I had to have one of her paintings to add to my collection of black art. 

If I had more money, I would have bought more of her paintings. Instead, I have made Designs by Bolaji my #BuyBlack spotlight of the week. 

For information on the artist and her work, check out her website: http://www.designsbybolaji.com

#BuyBlack Spotlight: Kashmir.VIII

I love

Kashmir.VIII

(**Oprah voice**). This creative brand is one of the coolest businesses that I have discovered in the last few years.

Created by young, black, and fabulous artist Kashmir Thompson, this brand is the definition of dope. Kashmir.VIII offers one of a kind items, including prints, clothing, calendars, accessories, and home decor, that features two of my favorite things: vibrant colors and 90s hip hop/black pop culture (i.e., tv shows, music, and movies).

From A Different World t-shirts (note: Issa wore one on an episode of hit HBO show Insecure) to painted drawings of the cast of Martin to Lil Kim "Queen Bitch" clutches,

Kashmir.VIII

has unique pieces that exudes creative, fashion, and black cultural pride.

I recently bought a Living Single clutch from the brand. I used as my main purse during a recent trip to the DMV and I received tons of compliments on it.

Highly recommend that you head over to the website of this week's #BuyBlack Spotlight pick

Kashmir.VIII

 (http://www.kashmirviii.com) and check out all of the unique items Kashmir Thompson has to offer. (And if you buy something, let her know I sent you!!) 

**This business is certifiably For Us By Us***

#BuyBlack Spotlight: The Watercolor Portraits of Debra Cartwright

I was exploring Instagram this past weekend and I came across this beautiful watercolor portrait of three women standing arm in arm (in arm) with each other. What I found most touching and socially poignant about the image is how the women are embracing the woman wearing a hijab (a head covering worn in public by some Muslim women). The embrace among women appears loving, natural, and reciprocated. The two women are embracing the women wearing the hijab, as much as she is embracing them.

This image feels me with HOPE. 

With the current political situation occurring here in the US with the 45th President's "Muslim travel ban," I thought this portrait and the artist deserved to see potlighted and celebrated. This image speaks to what we need to be doing---EMBRACING and SUPPORTING EACH OTHER in spite of our differences. 

Debra Cartwright

 is a Harlem-based artist that creates watercolor portraits of black woman in all of their wondrous, magical, strong, and beautiful GLORY. 

For more information about the artist and her work, check out her website www.debracartwright.com 

#BuyBlack Spotlight: Iman Cosmetics

I love Iman Cosmetics!!! (

*Oprah voice*

)

I started following the beauty brand on Instagram two months ago after seeing a beautifully rich wine-colored lipstick while exploring the app. I immediately liked the picture and then left a comment under the picture asking about the name of the lipstick and where I could purchase it. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that they sold the lipstick and other Iman Cosmetics products at Walgreens.

I have known about Iman Cosmetics for years. I remember when it started over a decade ago as beauty brand that made makeup for women of color. But for a long time, I thought it was a high-end makeup brand like MAC or Dior that was only sold at department stores and that cost between $30 to $50 per item. This past year I have seen Iman Cosmetics featured on various best beauty brand lists in Essence and Ebony magazines. 

After finding the lip color (which is Iman Luxury Moisturizing Lipstick in Opal) in one of my local Walgreens stores in Boston (and seeing the affordable price of $10), I decided to finally try out the brand. I went to the beauty brand's website imancosmetics.com and downloaded their suggested Iman Cosmetics Beauty app, which provided customized Iman product recommendations to match my unique Color Signature, based on facial recognition technology that analyzed my skin tone. The app helped me identify my concealer and foundation matches and also suggested lipsticks and eye shadows that would work well with my skin tone. 

For my first purchase, I bought the Iman Luxury Moisturizing Lipstick in Rebel, Iman Second-to-None 

Stick Foundation

 in Clay 4, Iman

Corrective Concealer

 in Earth, and Iman Luxury 

Luxury Lip Shimmer

 in Honey from walgreens.com (also available at amazon.com). The products arrived at my house within 5 days. I tried each product out immediately and I fell in LOVE with them. 

The concealer and stick foundation matched my skin color so well and provided such great coverage. When I wore it, my friends and my family immediately noticed the difference and complimented me on my makeup. Iman Cosmetics makeup products gave me such a beautiful, healthy glow. Within a month, I got my mom and my best friend to purchase and try out Iman Cosmetics products. I also purchased two more lipsticks, another lip shimmer, and the new Iman 

Luxury Concealing Foundation

 in Earth 3. 

As a black woman, I really appreciate the quality, price, availability, and color options of Iman Cosmetics. I am tired giving my money to beauty brands that do not care enough to create products that match my skin color. Creating one or two "dark" or "brown" foundation or concealer for women with brown pigmented skin is ridiculous, exclusionary, and outdated. Black, latina, and other non-white women come in a variations of colors and make up significant portion of the female population. We need more than one or two shades to cover our beautifully diverse skin colors (I am looking at your Maybelline. Your

FIT ME Matte & Poreless Foundation

has only one color for brown skin).   Iman Cosmetics is made for us by us (F.U.B.U). Model and creator Iman is a beauty icon with a passion for creating products that match ALL women, from the very fair-skinned to the very dark- skinned. 

I have been searching for new makeup products for women of color, after my local Target stopped carrying Covergirl Queen Collection products (which I started using in 2010). Iman Cosmetics came into my life at the right time. As an advocate for supporting black-owned businesses, I have committed to making my personal cosmetics and beauty collection at least 90% black-owned beauty products by the end of 2017.

Ladies, I highly suggest you check out Iman Cosmetics. You won't regret it!! 

Here are my three favorite Iman Cosmetics products thus far: 

Iman Luxury Moisturizing Lipstick, Opal