10 Canadian BIPOC Brands That Elevate Creativity and Craftsmanship
While Black History Month is often a time meant to emphasize Black excellence, those actions mean little if reserved to just one month of the year. Instead, Canadians need to instil these celebratory practices into our everyday lives in order to assist in sustainable change. And while activism and resisting racist infrastructures remain integral pillars of allyship, it’s easy to forget how crucial it is to financially support BIPOC brands and projects as well.
Over the past couple of years, Canadians – and most of the world – have found themselves falling back on the sheer convenience of online retailers such as Amazon, leaving quality craftsmanship and creative ingenuity as afterthoughts. But as a country that prides itself on its diversity, it’s imperative that we emphasize supporting BIPOC business owners throughout our everyday lives, not just through February.
So, to offer just a small sample of the BIPOC business excellence and creative talent we’re privileged to up North, we’ve put together a list of 10 Canadian BIPOC businesses that offer high-quality products to replace your influx of Amazon packages. From health food alternatives to innovative clothing companies, we recommend these 10 BIPOC brands as your future year-round necessities.
Founded nearly a decade ago, Brother Vellies crafts artisanal, luxury accessories for its valued customers. Stationed all across the globe, its sustainable practices and attention to detail make them stand out among many. Due to the high demand for products like the Brother Vellies’ Cloud Socks, the brand has created the Something Special Subscription. By subscribing, it ensures the shopping community that they will each receive a “sustainable and ethically-made comfort item,” delivered right to its door. As Brother Vellies’ works with the goal of shaping African design practices into unique pieces, it’s sure to celebrate the importance of culture and timeliness with each creation.
The Chevron Heart
If you like graphics, this one is sure to pull on your heartstrings. The Chevron Heart is a minimalist, all-inclusive clothing brand working to build confidence and shape character for the future generation. The brand, set to appeal to toddlers and children, is both stylish and based in Toronto. By crafting standout, affirmation-oriented t-shirts, sweatshirts, and jackets, The Chevron Heart hopes that kids will find what truly makes them extraordinary. By putting empowering messages and quotes on non-gender specific clothing, The Chevron Heart is asking for one thing from its shoppers: for everyone to be exactly who they want to be.
The Beyoncé-approved, Vancouver-based brand, founded by Lilian Umurungi-Jung offers hand-crafted, nutritious nut butter, perfect for new moms across the globe. Mumgry was created for postpartum women facing dietary restrictions who, at the same time, were craving something yummy! Not only does it supply delicious dips, but the brand also aims to build an inclusive community. With its initiative, #MUMGRYMONDAY, the company is able to give back to frontline workers and grocers. The plant-based treats work to improve the health and lifestyle of mothers, keeping them nourished and energized long after playdates are over.
In 2017, siblings Byron and Dexter Peart curated an online marketplace, offering lifestyle products for conscious consumers. Driven by sustainable values, items found on Goodee are all “ethically sourced and designed to last.” With storytelling at the forefront of Goodee, Byron and Dexter hope that by focusing on what’s important, it can best amplify diverse voices within the industry. Each brand represented by Goodee has a cultural and artisanal feel to it, each one working to support different causes. With the toggle of a button, consumers are able to understand the brand for what it is, and what it supports: gender advocacy, recycled materials, and poverty reduction, to name a few. By using these buttons to identify where your values align, you can find the perfect item for your home, an item that’s uniquely yours.
Montreal is home to this artisanal line of small-batched, gender-neutral fragrances, created by perfumer Dana El Masri. With each scent release, she hopes to further empower the community while educating her audience on the importance of culture and identity. One day, El Masri hopes to “bridge the gaps between scent, sound and culture, enlightening people on its own sense of smell.” For now, she works to source ethically-conscious materials in order to create to-die-for scents, perfect for everyone. Carrying both perfumes and scented oils, Jazmin Saraï has a scent for each workday or night out.
Three Sisters by Emma
When Emma-Love Cabana decided to create earrings for each of her three sisters, she had never thought it would become a full-time job. Little did she know, it reminded her of her talents and she was encouraged to put her work out there. This eventually led to Three Sisters by Emma. The brand identifies true relationships and reflects Cabana’s care for individuality and sustainability. By using traditional Métis crafting techniques, Cabana is able to tell stories through beading and embrace her heritage. As bright colours and lots of time go into crafting these intricately-designed pieces, Emma is certain each one embodies love and sisterhood.
Based in Montreal, this accessory brand is home to “casual, chic fashion,” designed for those looking to dive deeper into other cultures. Coo-Mon prides its brand on being a safe space to explore cultural diversity. If you look closely, most Coo-Mon accessories will contain a plain textile bought in Montreal and a printed textile, with another origin, offering a “trip around the world through textiles.” This is done to symbolize a world where all would live in harmony. From bowties to headbands, this brand is family-oriented, trendy, and timeless. The best part? It’s inclusive.
Arlokea makes some of the most gorgeous ethical and sustainable jewellery on the market today. Each piece, both dainty and practical, is produced with minimal environmental impact. It partners with artisans from all over the world who believe in conscious living and social change. Additionally, Arlokea donates to organizations working to build community support and healthy living, which makes for the cherry on top.
The name of the handmade jewellery brand, Omi Woods, pays tribute to founder Ashley Alexis McFarlane’s Jamaican-Ashanti-Indigenous-Maroon heritage. At Omi Woods, the brand crafts contemporary heirlooms with fair-trade African gold and globally-sourced metals. Omi Woods assures buyers that the miners sourcing the gold are making a livable income, while the extraction has a low impact on the earth. Each piece is dainty, practical, and is encompassed with African ties to represent true culture.
Cup of Té
Cup of Té is a premier online retailer of loose-leaf organic teas and teaware. Based in Ontario, Cup of Té began in 2008, when founder and aspiring Olympic gymnast, Taylor Lindsay-Noel, suffered a horrible accident that left her paralyzed. This then fuelled a greater passion to carry out a meaningful life, regardless of the adversity she’d faced. By launching Cup of Té, her goal was to provide customers from across the world with ethically-sourced premium teas of varying tastes. Additionally, with each Starter Kit purchased, Taylor will donate $1 to mental health awareness. In creating Cup of Té, she hopes to enrich the lives of others through great-tasting, organic teas with a story in every sip.