These local boutiques keep heritage at the forefront of their mission.
Stevonne Ratliff of Beija-Flor Naturals
When founder Stevonne Ratliff discovered Brazilian botanicals at an apothecary when she was living in Rio de Janeiro, it gave her the inspiration to create her own natural brand that catered to women of color. Suffering from hypo- and hyperpigmentation and skin sensitivities herself, Ratliff found the nutrients in the Brazilian ingredients beneficial. As the first American beauty line to use Brazilian fair-trade and nutrient botanical ingredients, Beija-Flor Naturals has a full range of hair, face and body products. Ratliff says her favorites are the Maracuja Milk for Kinks, Curls and Coils for hair and The Amazon Antioxidant Treatment for the face. Ratliff additionally plans to create a wellness studio within her retail space, Concept 47, for yoga, acupuncture and treatments that are led by people of color.
Ade Dream fashions are designed in the Bay Area and made in Senegal
After failing to find any baby accessories that reflected their family’s African heritage, Pierre and Jennifer Downey Davis made their own with traditional fabric from Pierre’s home country, the Gambia. With Jennifer’s background in fashion merchandising and product development, Ade Dream was born. West African artistry products include tote bags, bib necklaces, adult and children’s backpacks, clutches and pocket squares. With products designed in America and made in Senegal, the bright designs of the bags are named after small towns symbolic to the family: Bakau and Fajara. In giving back to the community, Pierre and Jennifer donate a portion of their bags’ proceeds to help further children’s education in the Gambia.
Godfrey’s eponymous handcrafted jewelry brand brings together African patterns and the talismanic power of gemstones to make beautiful accessories with rumored healing powers. With each piece handmade one at a time, Godfrey’s collection ranges from literary references to the four elements that bring her African roots and history to the present. Godfrey recently created a black onyx and 18K gold heart pendant with 100% of profits going to the NAACP and has raised more than $80,000 already. With a dual symbolism, the black onyx represents a tribute to Black lives and the grounding strength of the stone.
Glow Kington tote bag, Iva Jewell
Naming her brand after her mother, Iva Jewell by Dionne (), Dionne McCray took cues from her mother’s and grandmother’s grace and beauty as the motivation for her handbag collection. McCray’s mission is to make women feel more confident and daring through her colorful accessories. Her handbags have bold names to match the energy of the designs: Blaze, Spark, Glow, Regal and Ambition. Utilizing her trips to take cues from Africa and India, all of her bags are made from ankara (African wax fabric) and sari lace.
McMullen founder Sherri McMullen
Opening her shop McMullen in 2007, Sherri McMullen has long been known in the Bay Area as the champion of embracing diversity in luxury womenswear. McMullen created an inclusive shop to shine a spotlight on emerging designers from all over the world. While carrying more established brands such as Jacquemus and Proenza Schouler, McMullen specifically partners with Black brands as one of the major pillars of her ethos. Those highlighted include Christopher John Rogers, Aisling Camps, Harwell Godfrey, Zashadu, Lisa Folawiyo and Khiry, along with home objects from Bole Road and Estelle glassware. McMullen says, “It is important that I support the work of Black designers as a Black woman in fashion and a buyer in my position.”
Although they might seem simple at first glance, Taylor Jay Collection’s pieces are anything but basic. Founder Taylor Jay, a fashion industry veteran with 12 years of experience, created a brand that was inspired by her personal journey and body challenges—inclusion of all body types is a pinnacle value. The company consciously pursues slow fashion by making clothes that are ethically sourced, produced in a fair- labor factory in Oakland and utilize eco-friendly textiles. With different ways to wear the pieces, the clothes are versatile and can be styled to work for casual, business, formal or fun social occasions.
Bintu barrel fanny pack, UnoEth
Inspired by their travels and Ethiopian roots, father-daughter duo Dagne Tedla and Xiomara Rosa-Tedla created UnoEth, a collection of handcrafted leather goods, including handbags, totes, backpacks and more designed by Xiomara. The duo work with artisans in Addis Ababa, the nation’s capital—a partnership that helps empower and give back to the local community. And the timeless pieces have had their place on the small screen: The Hanna tote was worn in three recent episodes by Issa Rae’s character in HBO’s Insecure.
Photography by: From top: Ashleigh Reddy; courtesy of Ade Dream; Burgundy Visuals; Tricia Turner; courtesy of UnoEth