It may not feel much like it this year, but in case the hanging of wreaths and Christmas lights didn’t tip you off, it’s once again the holiday season—in fact, we’re almost a week away from Thanksgiving, which means we’re just over five from Christmas. We know without the promise of family and friends, it’s a lot less festive this year—“doin’ it for the ‘gram” takes on an entirely different meaning when you can’t actually spend time with Gram and Pops. While we can’t endorse get-togethers in this COVID-covered climate, if you’re lucky enough to be in a gift-giving capacity this year, we are once again here to assist.
Over the next few weeks, The Glow Up will be rolling out our “Wrapping Paper Roll Call,” our running list of not only our favorite things (shoutout to Oprah and ‘nem) but our favorite Black-owned businesses and creators—because we’re The Root, and that’s how we roll (long before the rest of retail world encouraged you to “buy Black”). As it happens, November is also National Entrepreneur Month—and not only have Black women, in particular, been the fastest-growing demographic of small business owners in the past decade (h/t Forbes), but small business owners have never needed our support more than this year. Our lists won’t be exclusive to female-owned businesses (though they organically feature heavily), but as always, we’ve conveniently curated them by theme, specifically to meet the demands of this ever-demanding year.
First up? The home, of course—it’s where all but our incredible essential workers have spent most of their time this year, and the place we’ve most been inclined to invest in, as it’s become the center of our respective universes. We may not be able to invite the folks over, but with the help of these Black makers, there truly will be no place like home for the holidays.
Sometimes, it’s all about the details—and the Los Angeles-based Effortless Composition makes adding them...effortless. “Our decor is for women and men who don’t want to just live in their home, they want to love the hell out of every inch of it,” says founder and chief stylist Brittiny, who has assembled a collection of moderately priced, eclectic offerings that will warm up pretty much any home this season—as well as curating a gift section for shoppers. Not sure what to get? They offer gift cards, too.
We fell in love with a decanter from Estelle on Auntie Oprah’s “Favorite Things” list this year, but the gifts keep on giving from this upscale South Carolina-based brand, which was inspired by the colored glass pieces founder Stephanie Summerson Hall’s grandmother would bring out at Sunday dinners. Just because we’re all predominantly dining at home these days doesn’t mean it can’t still be an upscale affair; Estelle’s gorgeous candy-colored assortment reminds us there is still plenty to celebrate.
Beauty influencer Jackie Aina is a forever mood, and so is her line of lifestyle goods, which launched with a collection of instantly sold-out candles earlier this year. For the holidays, not only has the style star restocked her cleverly named, gorgeously scented and elegantly packaged candles, but she launched a mini gift set, so you can spread the love—and the mood—throughout the home. The only question? Whether you’ll give them, or keep them to yourself. As Jackie says: “You decide.”
There’s a reason we keep touting the virtues of this Chicago-based stationery boutique—and it’s not just because we’re papyrophiles. Under the impeccable eye of founder Chandra Greer, Greer Chicago’s globally-sourced selection of stationery, office supplies, greeting cards, gifts and more span from whimsical to heartfelt—but always with the highest quality, making the sending as fulfilling as the receiving. And with us all spending more time apart at home, we can’t think of a better time to start journaling, letter-writing and card-sending...just because.
If you became a “plant parent” amid the pandemic, you are not alone. While pet adoptions skyrocketed, plant purchases did as well (hey, you don’t have to walk or clean up after them), making our homes greener and healthier, thanks to those air-filtering leaves. Launched this April, Grounded was right on time, offering tastefully potted, low-maintenance but lovely houseplants (because some of our thumbs aren’t naturally green). To make it even easier, the business offers a subscription-based model of three plants delivered at three intervals, to grow the greenhouse gradually.
There’s a reason candles are the most popular gift of this and every season—they provide instant ambiance and it’s hard to go wrong. However, all candles aren’t created equal, and when it comes to gift-giving, we want to give to the best. Harlem Candle Company celebrates the rich legacy of some of our brightest luminaries...literally. Josephine Baker, James Baldwin, and Langston Hughes have all earned a place of honor on these luxury candles, some of which boast 22-karat gold gilded glass housing the lushly layered scents. For the candle connoisseur, we suggest the Ultimate Luxury Candle Gift Box, featuring four 12-ounce candles in a reusable box printed with the 1932 “Night Club Map of Harlem,” on sale now.
For the Black bohemian in your life, the eclectic aesthetic of Justina Blakeney’s Jungalow remains on point. The designer and creator’s textured and layered fabrics, ceramics, art, furniture and even wall coverings bring the world inside—which has become especially necessary when we have nowhere else to go. Infuse every room of the house with creativity and whimsy—with offerings at pretty much every price point—with help from this mood-lifting Los Angeles-based lifestyle brand.
It’s all right there in the name: Rituals and ceremony have become necessary coping mechanisms during a troubling time, and this Brooklyn, N.Y.-based home and lifestyle store of the same name has us covered. From home furnishings to self-care essentials, Rituals + Ceremony brings some much-needed grounding and positive energy through its range of products, thoughtfully curated by Sarah Williams. Let Spirit guide you to the perfect gift—or allow a loved to create a new ritual of their own with a gift card.
We’ve been admirers of famed interior designer Sheila Bridges for decades—but while she created a new classic in the now-legendary Harlem Toile, never let it be said she doesn’t keep up with the times. This summer, we delighted in her coveted collaboration with Converse, and while her online shop offers a variety of remixed delights (we have our eyes on a pair of Harlem Toile Moroccan babouches next—this unconventional season warrant a slipper upgrade), it’s her wall decal that feels particularly right for our now-Zoom meeting-filled lives. A Sheila Bridges-designed room may be an investment on our wish list, but thanks to this handy backdrop, we can now fake it ‘til we make it.
Minimalist, modern and melanin-rich? Mezay Ugbo’s nailed all three in her evocative artworks, available through her Etsy shop, The Everyday Print Co. Her “modern Afro wall art and prints” heavily feature Black women, themes of sisterhood, motherhood and relatable body types in a variety of skin tones, making her prints an affirmative, culturally conscious statement for any woman (or lover of women) in your life.
What’s home without our homegirls? One of G/O Media’s own, Melissa Henderson, has a home-focused side-hustle; Violet Summer is a lifestyle brand featuring “urban products and accoutrements” inspired by the favorite summer destinations of many city dwellers of color. While this past summer left much to be desired and next still hangs in the balance, bring some “lifestyle vibes home” with Henderson’s sustainable, soy-based candles featuring gender-neutral scents and quotes from inspiring ancestors—or her highly popular Purpose Interiors Spray, featuring sexy notes of leather, sandalwood, amber and musk.
Shannon Maldonado’s Philadelphia boutique is a bastion of young millennial-to-Gen Z style. Quirky and colorful, her highly curated home items, which include textiles, ceramics, are often small-batch, making them unique accents that will likely be cherished in years to come. Accessible to a range of budgets, Yowie’s mood-lifting selection adds an instant upgrade to first apartments and forever homes alike.