According to Fortune, the number of businesses owned by black women has skyrocketed 322% since 1997. Black woman-owned businesses now top 1.3 million in the United States, employing nearly 300,000 workers and generating an estimated $52.6 billion in revenue per year. Below are some of our favorite black woman owned businesses.
Founded in 1997, Rideau Vineyard is one of the few black-owned wineries in the United States. Owned by New Orleans native Iris Rideau, the winery provides events that mix local wines with traditional Creole cooking. Despite being wildly successful in her events, Iris has dedicated herself to keeping Rideau Vineyard independent and a destination for people the world over.
Founded by Lauren Foster in 2012, Stretch Recipes seeks to empower people to eat healthy through cooking and meal planning demonstrations, intending to make eating healthy easy for those on tight budgets or low on time. Foster regularly works with youth groups and on outreach to minority communities. She is currently seeking to launch an app to help families set a meal plan and find coupons.
Lamenting the toxins frequently used in nail polish, Ginger Johnson and Liz Pickett turned their attention to creating their own brand of nail polish that is both vegan-friendly and non-toxic, as well as stylish, creating a modern line of nail colors for the modern woman. The women expanded their brand in 2015 with lip scrubs and toning creams.
Founded in 1978 by Janice Bryant Howard, Act-1 is a hiring firm that Howard founded with just a thousand dollars in a small Beverly Hills house; her first client was her brother. Today, her staffing firm works with companies in numerous diverse fields, from entertainment to financial services to medical professions. She is a board member of the Department of Labor's Workforce Initiative Board and, as of May 2016, the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, as well as numerous other distinctions. She supports numerous scholarships and organizations focused on empowering women and the African-American community.
Noticing a lack of nude lingerie for women of color, Ade Hassan founded Nubian Skin. “My nude isn’t the nude I see in shops,” she said. “Despite the reality that women of color have the same needs as all women when it comes to lingerie and hosiery, the industry simply doesn’t cater to us.” The line sells bra and underwear, as well as sleepwear, tights, and hold-ups in a number of different skin tones. The London-based line has recently gained attention for its use on Beyoncé’s Formation World Tour.
Brought to national prominence by Killer Mike and Solange Knowles, this Atlanta-based credit union aims to promote black businesses and create a stronger community. In the wake of numerous instances of police brutality and protests following, Killer Mike stated, "We cannot go out in the street and start bombing, shooting and killing. I encourage none of us to engage in acts of violence that will cause more peril to our community and others that look like us. I encourage us to take our warfare to financial institutions." He singled out Citizen Trust Bank as one institution, using the hashtag #BankBlackBankSmallBankLocal. Citizen Trust Bank is operated by CEO and President Cynthia N. Day, who thanked Killer Mike and stated, “Together, we can change the conversation.”
For a listing of black-owned banks, click here.
Dubbed an “incubator” for minority-owned start-ups, Angela Benton’s NewMe has helped hundreds of entrepreneurs obtain success, with venture capital funding in excess of $20 million. The company focuses on people from non-traditional backgrounds enter Silicon Valley, even if they lack the traditional education and experience the tech world generally requires, allowing anyone to achieve their goals.
Dedicated to promoting a cultural of activism, Philadelphia Printworks, owned by Maryam Pugh, has several lines dedicated to promoting black activism (including a line dedicated to black activists such as Harriet Tubman, Ida B. Wells, Marcus Garvey, and more), immigration reform, ending the military-industrial complex, and fighting back against catcalling. The shop’s website also features a blog focusing on the activism promoted by Printworks.
Originally a bookstore in Harlem, the physical store closed its doors in 2012 and was reborn in the online format. With a focus on the Diaspora market, Marva Allen intends for the new Hue-Man to pioneer a mix of traditional and forward-thinking use of technology, with the use of Pop-Up stores to create unique events, including a signing with Dwyane Wade. The Hue-Man Agency Services additionally provides opportunities for local authors to promote their works.
It’s not often that kids can expand their lemonade stand to multiple locations. Mikaila Ulmer is doing just that with an investment from SharkTank and an eleven-million-dollar distribution contract with Whole Foods. Mikaila’s lemonade is adapted from her great-grandmother’s recipe from the 1940s, which uses flaxseed and locally-sourced honey as a sweetener. After the initial $60,000 investment, Whole Foods devised a distribution plan to send Mikaila’s lemonade to 55 stores across Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. Mikaila uses profits from her lemonade stand to support the stability of the bee population and bee farmers through donations to Heifer International, Texas Beekeepers Association, and the Sustainable Food Center. Mikaila told NBC News that she learned about bees after being stung and her mother D’Andra made the experience into a research assignment on the insects. Learning of the collapse of the bee population, Mikaila now strives to save the population through donations, workshops, and other social entrepreneur activities. Mikaila was named one of the Movement50 Top 10 Innovators of the Year at the South by Southwest festival and served her lemonade at the White House Kids’ State Dinner and White House Easter Egg Roll. She continues to expand distribution and give speeches around the world.