Black-owned businesses face a tougher road to success compared to their white counterparts. Supporting these Made in USA brands can help close the gap.
Today, the United States officially recognizes Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States, as a federal holiday. At the White House on Thursday, President Biden signed into law a bill making Juneteenth an official federal holiday, saying that “all Americans can feel the power of this day, and learn from our history.”
Here at the Alliance for American Manufacturing, we’re marking Juneteenth by recognizing some of the amazing work being done by Black-owned businesses in the manufacturing space. Running a small business is always a challenge, especially for Made in America companies. But Black-owned businesses face an even tougher road – eight out of 10 Black-owned businesses fail within the first 18 months, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, Black-owned businesses closed their doors at twice the rates of their white-owned counterparts.
Choosing to purchase goods from Black-owned brands, like the 12 companies listed below, can really go a long way in supporting the Black community. Some of them we’ve featured before, while others are new to the blog. But all of them sell Made in America products, meaning that they also support job creation and provide a big boost to their local communities.
In the fall of 2014, custom designer Kiya Tomlin launched her clothing brand aimed at uniting style, function and comfort. Kiya Tomlin offers shoppers simple and elegant, yet incredibly functional, clothing pieces made from a blend of bamboo, cotton, and spandex. Styles can easily be taken from day to night with a simple changing of accessories. The brand also offers a Starter Capsule Lookbook to help customers build a cohesive wardrobe. All of Tomlin’s pieces, including tops, bottoms, jumpsuits, accessories and face masks, are designed in Pittsburgh and cut and sewn in the USA. “We are committed to supporting the resurgence of the American apparel industry,” Tomlin said.
Nicole Ari Parker realized back in 2011 that so many women avoid working out because they don’t want to mess up their hair with sweat. So she invented the Gymwrap, a workout head wrap that keeps sweat out of your hair and from running into your eyes. But Gymwrap isn’t just for women, as Nicole’s husband Boris uses them too, and the head wraps come in a wide variety of colors and styles to meet anyone’s tastes. Recently, the company started manufacturing face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic, and donated over $500,000 worth of masks to front line workers in hospitals. But the best part about Gymwrap – it’s Made in the USA!
Looking for a men’s personal care brand that offers products that leave you feeling moisturized, clean, and refreshed, all while promising clean ingredients? Then look no further than Scotch-Porter. This New Jersey based company provides beard, hair, face, fragrance, and accessory items for men. Each product not only lists out the ingredients – non-toxic, non-carcinogenic ingredients like turmeric root, white willow bark, and burdock root – but also describes the scent profile. And with scents like The Porter House, “an exquisite tailored blend of fresh green accords and warm spices that settle into a soothing warm base of cashmere musk, amber woods and vanilla orchid,” what’s not to love about this hand-crafted, Made in the USA brand?
A self-proclaimed beach bum, Kayla Bell founded Arrow+Phoenix to provide women of all body types and sizes with comfortable and fun swimwear. But as Bell told us last year, the company is also looking to become a full-fledged lifestyle brand. Arrow+Phoenix aims to “empower women, give back to the community, and provide creative, affordable, and comfortable swimwear that celebrates diversity, sustainability, positivity.” And the company offers shoppers a variety of swimwear styles, including everything from bandeau tops to fuller-coverage one-pieces. Although not all of their fabrics are sourced within the U.S., the fabric that is produced in the U.S. is eco-friendly and one of the softest on the markets. All of the company’s swimwear is constructed in Los Angeles.
Knotzland is dedicated to transforming materials that would otherwise become textile waste into fun and innovative accessories. Since 2015, Nisha Blackwell has worked to rescue high-quality pieces from landfills and promote a supportive work environment. Knotzland products, including the company’s popular bow-ties, are all handmade and locally produced in Pittsburgh. A self-taught seamstress herself, Blackwell saw it important to ensure her business was ran with the very same hyper-local, community-centric ideas she valued. Since each bowtie is unique, Knotzland’s products are listed with size approximations and textile notes that let you know where the material came from. Environmentally conscious? Super cool designs? Made in the USA? Needless to say, Knotzland checks all the boxes.
Just in time for outdoor picnics and post-pandemic dinner parties is Rochelle Porter Design’s collaboration with West Elm. Featuring pillow covers, tea towels, table runners, and face masks, Rochelle Porter Design (RPD) offers shoppers the chance to indulge in rich Caribbean, Scandinavian, and West African-inspired designs. All of RPD’s patterns are hand-designed by founder Rochelle Porter and printed on sustainable fabrics. RPD says fair pay, ethical manufacturing, and the use of sustainable materials have always been at the forefront of its business model. All RPD products are produced domestically, in Porter’s hometown of Atlanta.
This Black-owned company helps customers strengthen and grow their hair through a combination of serums, shampoos, and conditioners. Stormi Steele, CEO and natural hair care stylist, began Canvas Beauty after developing her own haircare products in 2012. After witnessing her own hair grow from pixie cut into mid-back length, she knew her products would help others. With products available for both men and women, Canvas Beauty’s mission is to “reach as many people as possible, and always provide the best quality products that actually produce results.” All products are made in Alabama using all-natural, organic ingredients. To commemorate Juneteenth, Canvas Beauty is offering a sitewide 70% off sale.
Belle Bar Organic is run by a mother-daughter team of Annette Bell and her daughters Tianna and Solange. Annette taught her daughters from a young age about the importance of maintaining the beauty and texture of their skin and hair, and soon, they created a line of hair and skincare products specialized for Women of Color. But Belle Bar Organic is unique in its focus on natural ingredients and focus on sustainability – the company’s packaging is made from recyclable materials, and it works to minimize waste at all levels of the supply chain. Belle Bar Organic products are mixed in Brooklyn, but do use ingredients imported from all over the world.
Onyx Ammons was a wife and mother of three working in corporate marketing when she started pouring her own all natural, soy candles for family and friends. This soon grew into the Karter L’Rose Candle Company, which makes natural soy candles by hand with melanin and love. Candles are chemical free, safe and sustainable. In August 2020, Karter L’Rose expanded into its first warehouse in the Bay Area, where their candles are still hand-poured in small batches and of course, still made with love.
Aliya Wanek is a school speech therapist in Oakland, Calif., by day. But since 2016, Wanek has also run an eponymous line of womenswear that’s produced, sewn, and dyed in the Bay Area. When Wanek started, she was working until midnight every night to develop a clothing line that was uniquely hers. Her line focusses on exploring the connection between one’s identity and style, using a muted color palette that highlights People of Color’s skin tones. Aliya Wanek garments are also sustainable – they’re made with natural and organic fabrics, workers are paid living wages, and Wanek works throughout her supply chain to reduce the brand’s environmental impact. Now, Wanek’s line has found success as a business, but she still works her job in school too, and has no plans to give it up either!
Green Regimen’s Elite Protein Powder
When Tyshawn Bryant’s mom was diagnosed with cancer and he moved back to Connecticut to take care of her, he started making green smoothies to help her lose weight for her treatment. The smoothies were a success, and helped his mother drop 50 pounds in just 60 days, but the secret to the smoothies was a plant-based protein he developed through experimentation and determination. Thus, Elite Protein Powder was born, a natural, organic plant-based product that’s great for working out, weight-loss as a meal replacement, or even just a great option for health-conscious people looking for a burst of energy.
Ellis Isle first started bottling its lineup of sweet teas made with hibiscus, rosehips, honey and mint in 2008. Founder Nailah Ellis-Brown started selling small batches of tea with a secret recipe from her great-grandfather, inspired by their family’s Jamaican roots. Ellis Isle teas are unique because instead of using cane sugar, the company uses cold-pressed cane juice, which is full of nutrients and antioxidants (they have a sugar-free line too!). The business has since grown to take over a 4,000 square foot plant in Detroit, and Ellis-Brown was even included in the 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30 for her contributions to a Detroit manufacturing renaissance.