With Christmas just weeks away, the hunt for the perfect gift is in full force. With black folks’ buying power expected to rise to $1.3 trillion this year, according to a Nielsen consumer report, the importance of buying from black-owned businesses is growing as we grow.
An analysis of black entrepreneurship suggested that if we just invested 9 cents of every black dollar in a black-owned business, we could solve the unemployment problem in our community. The study, conducted by the Center for Global Policy Solutions, concluded that it would take the addition of 1.1 million businesses owned (and staffed) by people of color to match POC’s overall representation in the American labor force. This seems like a big number, but with 2.6 million black-owned businesses created between 2007 and 2012—with a number of those years falling during a recession—we are closer to that goal with every new business created.
So keep creating, keep circulating those coins within the community and keep “gifting black” to spread the wealth. And since we like to keep our curls covered and protected, these headwear businesses make a great place to start.
This versatile satin-lined beanie was under my Christmas tree last year, and I have been loving it ever since! Slap (a portmanteau of the words “satin-lined” and “cap”) was founded by Grace Eleyae in 2014, after a hair-wrecking eight-hour car ride in Kenya that resulted in broken strands from friction against the headrest. She got home from that trip and designed her first cap so that she could keep her hair “moisturized, protected and knot-free” while out and about.
This satin-lined beanie is the glow up of our satin sleep bonnets, with the same interior as our go-to bonnets, but a chic exterior that also makes it the perfect on-the-go accessory. I often wear mine under cotton head wraps to keep my hair from being rubbed or dried by the fibers. It really is a hair-care must-have.
Of the growth of her brand, Eleyae says, “100,000 happy customers later, Slap has become a successful, family-run, female-owned business that provides modern hair protection for modern women.”
Started by best-friend duo Blaire Brown and Jordan Wallace, this brand is the manifestation of the saying “Necessity breeds invention.” These Philadelphia natives saw a lack of offerings in the headwear market from those concerned about hair health, noting that the wool and cotton of typical hats would cause breakage and damage. They created Natural Born Hats LLC in 2013 to fulfill these needs, and have been going strong ever since. Each hat in their collection has a satin lining sewn in. No need to double up on do-rags or bonnets under your hats—this all-in-one solution takes care of all that.
With beanies and brim, bucket and baseball hats, these ladies have really thought of everything when it comes to the needs and wants of their hair-conscious clients. “Satin-lined & peace of mind” is the mission of the two business owners, and they do just that through their online store and Philly-area pop-up shops.
I stumbled upon this brand’s Instagram page while searching for gifts last Christmas. Founded by Shawn Clarke, Constant Covering is a gorgeous line of pretied, satin-lined head wraps. Yup, you read that right. All those hours of watching YouTube tutorials to get the perfectly knotted wrap are no more—these ready-to-wear statement pieces are truly an innovative need met.
Each pretied wrap has an elastic band to keep the piece secure all day long. With self-tied, hemmed-edge head wraps and reversible satin-lined head ties, this online store is a one-stop shop for all of your fashionable head-covering needs. The small business has started to get the attention of celebrities, with Jilly from Philly often seen rocking the “Lisa Headwrap.”
While I was chatting with Clarke about the growth of her brand, she shared that the brand really started from a personal need in her own life to have an on-the-go alternative to the head wraps and scarves that she usually tied (and retied) before heading out in the morning. “Our products provide trendy and chic designs on the outside, while the satin-lined interior protects your tresses ... I call it the protective-styling hack.”
Besides having a truly amazing product, Clarke is a humble and thoughtful CEO, giving personal shoutouts and thank-yous to all of her customers. Her mission for Constant Covering is to “help women recognize their beauty through covering,” all while becoming a global go-to for women who are conscious of the health of their coils and desire the intricate look of head wraps without spending the time. Clarke shared her perspective on the importance of buying black while being a black entrepreneur: “[The black community] is the most influential consumer on the planet. Why not show how strong we can be together?”
Have you ever looked at something and asked yourself, “Why didn’t I think of that? That’s genius!” These were my exact words when I clicked on Layd’s beautiful website. This innovative brand is bringing both fashion and function in its stylish, yet classic headwear with removable silk linings. The site truthfully states that “sacrificing the health of your hair for style should not be the norm”—and I couldn’t agree more.
With Layd gaining attention from multiple media outlets, it seems that everyone is recognizing that this headwear makes the perfect gift for the lady in your life who cares about fashion and follicles. The zip-out high-quality silk lining not only protects your hair from the friction of coarse fibers like wool and cotton, but also allows you to wash and dry the lining to keep your strands buildup-free. With all products made in and shipped throughout the U.S., you can’t go wrong with ordering a hat (or two) for this cold winter ahead—one to get, and one to give.
While this brand is not headwear exclusive, Black Owned Outerwear is a company worth knowing. This Cincinnati-based brick-and-mortar store has thankfully brought its collection to the masses with the launch of an online store. With “Black Owned Est. 19XX” etched on every item in their collection, there is no doubt that this brand is making unapologetic pride in being black a serious fashion statement.
Its ready-to-wear collection offers jackets, sweaters, legging sets and accessories for men, women and children—enough options to have the whole family “Black Owned” from head to toe. Recently, the brand has been seen on TRL, at Afrotech, and on celebrities like Tank, DC Young Fly and dancing duo Ayo & Teo. Black Owned is gaining popularity by the day and showing the fashion industry the power of black business.
Buying black isn’t just about retail; it’s about wholesale, too, and using black suppliers to manufacture the products we make. The Rev. Georgiette Morgan-Thomas recognized this importance when a well-known hat factory in Philadelphia—S&S Hat Co.—went up for sale.
Morgan-Thomas, a Harlem resident and owner of a hat showroom on Strivers’ Row, personally owns over 100 hats and wanted to expand her lifestyle of hat wearing beyond just buying them for herself. She purchased the Pennsylvania hat factory and renamed it American Hats LLC. As Morgan-Thomas told the New York Times, “The hat is empowering. ... It gives a woman good posture. When something is on your head, you hold your head up straight.”
Her blossoming brand has an online retail store and wholesale offerings for those interested in buying in bulk for their businesses. With styles ranging from Dapper Dan to church-lady chic, American Hats has all of your headwear needs covered.