During last year’s BLM uprising, Google Trends Data showed a 300 percent increase in the search “How to find a Black-owned business in my area?” Khadijah Robinson, a lawyer based in D.C., makes this #BuyBlack lifestyle easy with The Nile List (thenilelist.com), a site she launched in March 2020 that invites users to “discover dope Black-owned brands.” Simply search for any item you need, from necessities like coffee or laundry detergent to fun stuff like lipstick or bath salts, and up pops a list of direct shopping links. You can even specify options with women-, LGBTQ-, or immigrant-owned filters. The Nile List also features discounts, a newsletter, and a community space where shoppers and business owners can connect and chat.
Robinson, who graduated from Spelman College and later Harvard Law, says that last summer’s protests sparked a much-needed change. “This is the first time I really remember seeing any widespread support for the concept of supporting Black-owned businesses outside of the Black community,” Robinson says. “Entrepreneurship and wealth building and the community building that comes along with that is so critical. It is one of the most traditional means in America to create more security for oneself and one’s family.”
Supporting Black entrepreneurship has been embedded in Robinson’s values since childhood. While every other family used Aunt Jemima’s syrup (whose racist branding is finally being redesigned), Robinson’s used Michele’s Syrup, a Black-owned brand. “My mom always bought this syrup and I would ask her, ‘Why can’t we have normal syrup?’ But I’m really thankful my mom continued to normalize these things created by Black folks,” Robinson says. “It taught me to appreciate that, no, this syrup is not something other than normal, and we are not something other than normal.” And though shopping at Black-owned businesses can seem like a relatively small action, Robinson—who highlights a few of her faves here—says it’s more important than ever: “There will always be folks who do what they can, and sometimes that is just supporting a Black entrepreneur.” –Madeleine Janz
“Naja Tea crafts over 30 blends of loose-leaf teas along with unique tea accessories. I absolutely love these teas—especially the Lemonade flavor. The smell of them alone helps me relax.”
Black Girl Spoken
“This empowerment-through-fashion platform sells chic T-shirts and accessories. I first fell in love with their shirts, and have since come to love both the brand and the visionary founder, Nitra Love.”
In My Heals
“I love how luxurious these all-natural bath, body, and feminine care products are, and the packaging is everything. Plus, they’re handmade in New York City!”
Elements of Aliel
“This plant-based beauty brand focuses on simple-yet-effective skincare basics. My skin is always up to no good so a brand that is healthy and helpful is a winner!”
Effie’s Papers Paper
“I love that Effie’s Paper—a lifestyle brand with cool accessories for work, travel, and daily life—is about female empowerment, advocacy, and promoting equity for women of color.”
Photo: CultureCon (Khadijah Robinson)
This article originally appeared in the Spring 2021 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!
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