If you’re reading this on Monday 8th March 2021, then first let us please wish you a bloody wonderful International Women’s Day. And if you’re reading this on any other day, then we hope you’re having a swell day too. To celebrate IWD we couldn’t think of anything that better shouts about the successes of women than a round-up of some of the most incredible female-founded businesses on our radar right now. But more than that, as part of our ongoing bid to continue to champion women who are often less represented within traditional media, we wanted to shout about the brands which have been created specifically by Black and Asian women.
From brilliant subscription boxes and sustainable fashion to mood-boosting accessories and super chic homewares, let us introduce you to some seriously cool businesses to shop from this year…
Say hello to the glorious independent lifestyle store that is ALKEMI. Physically based in Nunhead (and closed during lockdown), the store, which is the brainchild of Jeane Chung has a great online boutique which stocks beautiful products from independent creatives around the globe, from places such as Korea, Japan, Denmark and Sweden. Expect cool kids toys, homewares and accessories.
Bert and Roxy
Created by artist Jessica Yeong, Bert and Roxy is a print shop which “helps sentimental souls connect to their family roots and cultural heritage”. Jessica, who was previously an NHS doctor, sells a variety of prints and postcards which are often inspired by her own identity – her parents immigrated from Hong Kong. Prices start at £2.50 for a greetings card.
Native Mix Store
No-one does a hair accessory better than London-brand Native Mix store. We’re talking printed scrunchies, sweet-as resin slides, and our personal highlight – the scrunchie headband. HELLO! The business is run by Adanma who sustainably takes off-cuts of premium fabric and turns them into beautiful hair accessories. Expect dreamy headbands from £22 and hair slides from £6.
As far as elaborate gold jewellery that was made for layering goes – Misho is the celeb-loved brand you need to know about. Lead by creative director Suhani Parekh who studied Fine Art and Art History at Goldsmiths University in London, the designs feature everything from heavy chains and twisting metal to zodiac pendants and shell detailing. Everything is available in either sterling silver or 22k gold plated and prices start at around the £50 mark.
Vivian Xu Ceramics
Vivian Xu is a London-based potter with an online shop crammed full of downright glorious cups, bowls and planters. Everything feels super earthy and natural and plays into a slower pace of life which we love. Expect to pay £33 for a plant pot and £27 for a rice bowl.
This bi-monthly subscription box combines wxtchcraft and art, and send-outs include everything from spell ingredients to postcards. It was founded by Wingshan, a wxtch, artist, curator, and educator based in Nottingham who wanted a safe, fun space in which to build a digital coven community. Subscription costs £22 a month and theres also online tarot card readings which start from £20.
London-based artist Nina offers a variety of different creative products in her online shop – ranging from her infamous chunky hoops to bright coloured art prints, including digital portrait commissions. Everything she creates is fun, playful and full of energy and will inject an instant hit of joy – we particularly love her star sign cards.
Ace & Prince
From fashion influencers to fashion editors, everyone’s obsessed with Ace & Prince’s signature vibrant stripe tote bags. Founded by stylist Chloe Forde and former model Heidi Murray, as well as creating a very modern ‘It’ bag, Ace & Price offers cool loungewear (£5 from the sale of every sweatshirt goes to the Stephen Lawrence Foundation) t-shirts, accessories, kids and homeware. With pubs reopening and picnics to accessorise for, the handbag is about to enjoy a major comeback – make yours an Ace & Prince.
During lockdown, it’s doorstep deliveries and at-home pampering that have kept us going, and Tingle Box combines the two. A monthly subscription box of self-care products, the idea came when founder Natalie Jones ran out of her go-to products during the first lockdown. Unable to shop for anything but essential items, she began to discover new brands for her pamper time fix. Wanting to spread the word about her new finds and encourage women to take some much-needed self-care time,Tingle Box was born. Choose monthly, three-month, six-month or yearly memberships and receive 5-6 expert-curated, full-sized self-care products ranging from makeup and skincare to beauty tools, haircare, aromatherapy from brands like Eyeko, Balance Me and The Organic Pharmacy. There’s also a one-off taster box or £5 mini box if you fancy trying it out before you commit.
Chances are your lockdown ‘lewk’ falls into one of two camps: comfy loungewear or colourful clothes that spark joy. If you’re in the latter, you may already be familiar with Kemi Telford’s bold prints and vibrant hues. Founded by credit risk analyst-turned-designer Yvonne Telford in 2017, the brand has seen sales – and Instagram followers – soar during the pandemic as people look to support homegrown, sustainable businesses. Kemi Telford works closely with small, independent manufacturers in the UK, Nigeria and China who value the welfare of their employees, and designs are ade to last generations (just like Yvonne’s mother’s clothes did). The brand’s Insta-famous dresses – modelled by Yvonne herself – fuse flattering cuts and feel-good Nigerian prints with ante-upping design details like puff sleeves, tiered hems and shirred bodices. Your return-to-real-life wardrobe deserves one.
The Kind is the brainchild of Prisca, who, while pregnant, wondered how she could weave her half-Ghanian heritage into motherhood. Cue the most beautiful Moses baskets you ever did see, hand-crafted with kinkahe, or elephant grass, using a traditional skill of the people in Bolgatanga, Upper East Ghana. The Kind’s 100% natural rattan cribs are equally dreamy, while the woven baskets work double duty as chic toy storage or a stylish planter.
Championing artisinal craft in Ghana, creative director Phyllis Taylor founded Sika to prove that a fashion brand can have social and environmental responsibilities at its core. How? Fair wages, employment opportunities and supporting local communities. Designed in London and handmade in Ghana, Sika’s mood-lifting prints adorn everything from headbands to the kind of dresses that will have everyone asking “where did you get that?”.
If you rely on chic storage baskets dotted around to stop your house from looking like something from The Hoarder Next Door, you need to check out La Basketry. After completing a basket weaving course in Senegal, co-founder Tabara N’Diaye decided to set up a website celebrating the country’s craftsmanship. As well as the namesake baskets, you’ll find woven trinket dishes, tissue boxes, vases, bowls and placemats. Oh, and if lockdown has unleashed your crafty side, why not try La Basketry’s DIY weaving kits or sign up for one of their online workshops?
Our Lovely Goods
Natural wax candles, botanical skincare and raffia homeware handwoven by talented artisans in Nigeria are all on offer at Our Lovely Goods, the chic Edinburgh-based brand founded by Ebi Sinteh and her husband Emmanuel. As well as helping you fill your home with beautiful, sustainable buys, Our Lovely Goods host candle-making workshops – there’s still time to sign up for the Anthropologie X Our Lovely Goods workshop on 24th March.