This is not a time to plead ignorance. Welcome to 2023 — education, resources and tools are a Google search away. We are all in different places when it comes to our social evolution — but there are big and small ways we can take action right now to support the Black community.
Spending is political. In moments of injustice, who we decide to give business can help or hinder social impact. Your purchases count — there’s a little activist in all of us.
Here’s where to start. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and we hope that this will inspire you to seek out and support Black-owned businesses in your own community. If you are looking for more resources, see the end of this article for suggestions.
Related: 10 Black Canadians who played a big role in Canadian history.
Health and wellness brands
This all-natural, vegan, environmentally sustainable and socially conscious skincare line based in Alberta has a ton of essential oils, face oils, serums, bath salts and more for the ultimate yet luxurious feeling of self-care.
Founder Jennifer Winter opened up the first inclusive Black-owned Pilates studio during the pandemic in Toronto. Now, the space has expanded online with a new on-demand Pilates and mind movement platform where you can access classes at your convenience and level.
Best friends Shanelle McKenzie and Kim Knight created this wellness space and platform after feeling excluded from health and wellness spaces. BIPOC women can now access tools to help their well-being, wellness education and support from the community through book clubs, yoga and fitness classes and social events.
See also: How Black women can advocate for themselves in a healthcare system that ignores them.
Based in Vancouver, this beauty and skincare brand uses sustainably sourced plant-based and nourishing ingredients to create daily products for all skin types. Okoko Cosmetiques also supports non-profit initiatives like Bridge Housing For Women and Beauty Night.
Navigating Canadian weather can be tricky for anyone — especially if you are a woman of colour. But Hanahana Beauty helps by providing Canadians with handcrafted shea butter sourced from Ghana. The staff knows their stuff — understanding the whys and how their sweet ingredients can help benefit the lives of women who require that additional hydration in their skin.
The Toronto-based beauty company offers a wide selection of high-fashion hair extensions, medical hair prosthesis and hair care products for women who value a chic aesthetic.
Related: 10 Canadian women of colour-owned beauty brands to support.
We know the damaging effects of the sun are a thing — but did you know that most sunscreens are not made with the consideration of women of colour? Enter Black Girl Sunscreen — a brand looking to fill that necessary gap in the beauty and health space.
Familiar with this one, eh? Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty is a brand that was created with all complexions — especially the underserved ones — top of mind. What’s important about this well-known brand is that it has influenced other brands in the beauty space to do better and follow its lead — increasing the availability of foundation shades in a range.
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Inspired by Alicia Keys’ own skincare journey, KEYS Soulcare is dermatologist-developed. The line of beauty, skincare and wellness products focuses and feel-good rituals that goes beyond skincare to truly care for the whole self — body, mind, and spirit. The products are clean, safe, effective and cruelty-free. KEYS Soulcare also gives back, contributing parts of its proceeds to The HAPPY Organization — a youth-founded and led organization empowering young people through holistic education.
Founder Tomi Gbeleyi developed the line of makeup products following a negative modelling experience, where the makeup artist present simply didn’t have the range of colours needed to work with Gbeleyi’s dark skin. Gbeleyi writes, “I felt awkward and apologetic that my skin tone posed a challenge. Now I recall that incident, saddened for my younger self that I felt, even for a brief moment, apologetic for being dark skinned.” Her inclusive line features products and palettes that compliment a wider range of skin tones you can feel good in.
See also: The history behind iconic Black hairstyles.
Omi means water in the Yoruba language and plays tribute to owner Ashley Alexis McFarlane’s Jamaican-Akan-Indigenous-Maroon heritage. Each piece is handmade with fair-trade African gold conflict-free fine metals.
With an understanding of the impact of culture and travel, this sustainable luxury eyewear company aims to represent contrasting identities, shift cultural paradigms and challenge the status quo. With social purpose at the heart of their brand, Bothen is conscious of its impact on the environment, sources reclaimed wood from West Africa and works to be greener every day.
If you’re looking for a new stylish active set, Veer Active has you covered. The company offers Afro culture-inspired sportswear and accessories for men and women that’ll surely make you want to hit the gym.
A clothing brand that truly understands that representation matters. Their collections include: Legalize Blackness, Black Culture and Break the Chains. “We don’t make clothes, we make statements” is their approach to their fashion — this brand seeks to empower marginalized groups including POC, members from the LGBTQ2S+ community and other minority groups.
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This Toronto-based brand offers high-quality, and comfortable athleisure t-shirts, sweaters and matching sets. The term “Nuff Love” is popular in the Caribbean and means “Lots of Love” which aims to spread positivity and unite everyone.
Committed to responsibly engaging their audience, Because of Them We Can is more than a clothing company — it’s a movement. In addition to some great retail, this company also offers content and tools to help amplify and support Black existence on the daily.
Not only are the options at J.N. Patten beautiful and functional, but the brand is Black-women-owned, Canadian and Toronto-made. Each coat is only produced upon order eliminating overstock, and a high carbon footprint that often follows items that are imported from afar.
Related: The Legacy Awards 2022: The best fashion moments on the black carpet.
Food and drinks
There’s a reason this Toronto burger joint sells out in the middle of the day almost every day. If you’re in the Annex area, stop by for a delicious burger or chicken sandwich that’s so good its ingredient is secret.
Calling all soon-to-be moms. Founder Lillian created the company after noticing there was a lack of snacks that considered the dietary restrictions and needs of women during pre-pregnancy, during and post-pregnancy.
Chicago French Press Coffee “grinds for a cause” where five per cent of the proceeds from each bag sold directly supports select organizations locally and globally. Gabrielle Union even called it her go-to coffee brand. There are many hand-blended ingredients and flavours like dried fruits, nuts and cocoa for a yummy sip.
Related: 10 times representation happened for Black women and why it matters.
A perfect start to a day includes Caribbean-inspired cuisine — all with delicious flavour explosions and authentic Grenadian style dishes.
With reggae and roti on offer on this Vancouver patio, The Reef Restaurant is a perfect place to chill and enjoy delicious Caribbean eats. In case you were wondering, this business also provided chicken rotis for Help Change My City last year.
Speaking of suya-styled barbecue, those in the east coast will have easier access to Mary’s African Cuisine in Halifax. This is where owner Mary Nkrumah serves up her suya-styled barbecue platters as well as West African favourites like jollof rice, lamb curry and more.
Combining Jamaican and Italian cuisine has never been tastier! Located in the heart of Kensington Market in Toronto, this innovative fusion restaurant is known best for their grilled jerk chicken and delicious dutch pot oxtail.
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More Black-owned businesses and directories: