SHOPPE BLACK

Nigerian Billionaire, Tony Elumelu announces the 2nd Round of his $100m Entrepreneurship Programme

1 min read

Last year, Tony Elumelu, a philanthropist and one of Africa's most successful businessmen, announced the creation of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP) for emerging African entrepreneurs. The goal of the program is to help up to 10,000 African entrepreneurs develop their ideas into sustainable businesses.   In 2015, TEEP empowered 1,000 African entrepreneurs, selected from over 20,000 applicants, with start-up investment, active mentoring, business training, an entrepreneurship boot camp and regional networking across Africa. The foundation invested a total of $4,860,000, including $1,405,000 in agriculture; $410,000 in education and training; and $365,000 in manufacturing.  The program funded start-ups across

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Cajun Fire Brewing Company: One of the Only Black Owned Breweries in the U.S.

5 mins read

Last year, the U.S. brewing industry contributed over $250 billion to the economy and is still growing. With 90% of the beer  made by only 11 breweries, you could say that this is a tough market to crack.

However, one company is ready to take on the challenge and is poised for much success. This company is New Orleans based, Cajun Fire Brewing Company. We chatted with Jon Renthrope, the founder and here is what he had to say:

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SB: Please tell us a little about yourself.

Jon: My name is Jon Renthrope, I am a husband, father, and entrepreneur.  I am a brewer by trade and founder of Cajun Fire Brewing Company.  Born and raised in New Orleans.

SB: You and your family were in New Orleans when Katrina hit. How did that disastrous event influence you?
Jon: Katrina was a breaking point for many.  In a span of ten years I have seen my community destroyed and all but forgotten.  For the sake of perspective, I was 17 when the storm hit.

It is ten years since that incident. Knowing what I know now, it is truly unfortunate that the truth has never received critical or empathetic thinking.  ‘Til this day, the event influences me to reinforce and advocate entrepreneurship.

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SB: Out of over 3400 breweries in the U.S., less than five are Black owned. That would discourage some people from even considering this market. What gave you the motivation and confidance to pursue this venture?

Jon: What gave me the motivation was the effort and commitment I made to focus research with a plan of action in mind.  Maintaining a discipline and reading other Black business pioneer chronicles and interviews eases most doubts.

The support is definitely appreciated and helps.  When digesting the statistics, I must say it can be daunting given the odds of success and the economic/demographic data available in the palm of your hand these days.

However, the main push from day to day comes from within.  You have to put yourself to action and go for what you want.

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SB: You operate the business with four friends. What advice do you have about successfully mixing business and friendship?

Jon: Operating a business in general is difficult.  Working with friends and family can further complicate those difficulties if you or your business models are ill-prepared.

Setting protocols in advance can save your company in situations when emotions and passion take precedence.  However, with the right discipline and plan of action in place, the loyalty and altruism that comes with working with a team that values one another past their pay check is invaluable to not only the efficiency of the business but also the psyche of those involved on the team.

Praline Ale

SB: What would you say has been the biggest obstacle in your business journey so far?

Jon: Ensuring that all of state, federal, and local permits and licensing are valid and in place.   Manufacturing alcohol is a highly regulated industry and it is critical that all your licensing and permits are current up to date and have not lapsed.


SB: Where you see yourself and your business in 10 years?

Jon: I am hopeful that I am in good health.  I see myself being a more seasoned professional in my crafts and Cajun Fire maintaining unique brand direction and delivering evolving experiences in the craft beer industry.

SB: Who has been your greatest inspiration in life or in business?

Jon: My grandmother, Annie Simpson-Bruner.  Her experiences and struggles paved the way for my opportunity.  She is a very strong person and being exposed to her courage has definitely left lasting impressions on my personal character.

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SB: What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Jon: Entrepreneurship is a journey that breads sustainability.  As mentally and physically engaging of a battle entrepreneurship can be it is without a doubt in my opinion one of the most fulfilling experiences you are likely to take part in.

Ultimately, it is the single most effective economic method to create a healthy and competitive community.  The most successful ideas are rarely validated in their infancy.  Proactive self determination is key to empowering your unique ideas.

 

-Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson

Coming to America: The Evolution of Oluwatoyin

9 mins read

Like a sizeable amount of other Nigerians, I was born in the U.K.  and actually didn’t move to Lagos, Nigeria until I was 5 years old. I cried my eyes out when I heard the news that I would soon be leaving my  friends and life in London to move to back home. I had no idea where this place was and my older relatives that visited us from there, “talked funny.”

I had no say in the matter, and made the 3270 mile journey, kicking and screaming, at least according to my adolescent memory.  When I arrived, it was a definitely a culture shock. The music was different, I could not stand the constant power outages and the lack of access to my favorite British foods was frustrating.

However, the transition into life in Lagos became much easier as I made friends at school and developed relationships with my grandparents and other relatives who I am very close to – cousins and children of family friends that I played with.

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My Mother still teaches at the grade school I attended, the American International School of Lagos (AISL). What was great about AISL was the fact that I was able to make friends with kids from all over the globe and learn about their cultures. During most summer breaks, my mom would take my two younger siblings and I, on a trip abroad, mostly to the U.S.

My Dad usually stayed back home to keep an eye on the house and car since he didn’t trust the driver or house girl to act right if the whole family was away for an extended period of time. (Still laughing about that). New York City!  As soon as we would land at LaGuardia, my siblings and I were ready to head straight to the mall to rack up on school clothes and party outfits to take back home. I couldn’t wait to get back to school and begin Operation Stunt 101 with my newly acquired gear.

The Secondary School I attended, Home Science Association Secondary School was at that time, a new private Nigerian school. My class was its first set of students. This was my first experience at a school where everyone looked like me. I immediately clicked with three guys, Ose, Ekene and Ejike. We were inseparable. Due to our self-identified coolness and rep, we saw ourselves as the Boys 2 Men of the school (definitely because of our style…not our singing ability).

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Heavily influenced by Black American culture that was exported overseas, in high school we listened to a lot of RnB and Soul, so Boys 2 Men, Jodeci, Silk, Blackstreet and Shai were in heavy rotation, especially at our house parties. This genre was most likely so popular at that time because it was the perfect opportunity to slow dance with the girls from my school and neighboring schools.

I remember watching the video for one of our favorites, “Baby I’m Yours” by Shai. The video was filmed on Howard’s campus and opens with a shot of the main Howard University sign. That was my first introduction to HU but I didn’t really take much note of it at the time. The next time wouldn’t be until I saw a Howard University sweatshirt being worn by Mohammed, a cast member on MTV’s Real World III: San Francisco and figured I would look it up because now I was curious and I was in the process of researching universities anyway.

At the time I was also watching “A Different World” religiously, complete with my own pair of Dwayne Wayne flip glasses. While I was living in a country of 170 million people who for the most part, looked like me [read: were Black], I never considered that going to a university in the States would afford me the same experience. After doing some research, I was excited about the possibility of attending a real life version of Hillman College. It was then that I made my decision to attend HU.

In 1996, I moved to Washington, D.C., from Lagos, Nigeria to attend college. This was a pivotal moment. Arriving on Howard’s campus was the start of a point in my life where I had moved out of my parents house, moved to another country and was learning more about myself. I met and befriended Black people from around the world. Up until then I had never met anyone from the Caribbean.

I had not even met that many Africans from countries outside of Nigeria. It was amazing to discover all the differences in our various cultures as well as all of the similarities. I hung out with everyone from bookworms to weed heads. Aspiring rappers to aspiring politicians.

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The more I learn about African history and the history of Black people in the Diaspora, the more I understand why people devote their lives to the study of this subject matter. It’s truly fascinating stuff and it has given me a new appreciation for my people and my own homegrown Nigerian culture.

The music that my parents used to listen to that was once unappealing was now the hot ish New Afrikans and Afropolitans were bumping, jumping and funking to. My love for all things Black American culture now included an appreciation for the fashion, music and style made in Lagos.

Nigeria is the new hot scene – the music dominates the African pop music industry. The fashion and the movie industries are also billion dollar money makers. Nigeria is HOT, pun very intended. Somewhat like my immortal country men before me, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, it took my Coming to America to change the game – shifting my entire outlook.

While I’m no scholar or historian, these topics have become an important part of who I am and I feel a responsibility to do my part to move us as a people in the right direction. Many people feel the same way and have a variety of solutions they feel are the way forward.

Just as I have an appreciation for our history and culture, I also appreciate the process of creating capital and how it can be used as a tool improve the lives of my family, friends and community. So, for me,  business ownership and group economics make the most sense, in the U.S., in Africa or in any other part of the world where a people with so much potential are on the bottom of the economic totem pole.

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This is a huge force behind what has led me to start my own business. It is what drives me start other businesses. It’s why I get satisfaction from encouraging  others who have started a business and those who are considering  doing so.

Everybody won’t get it. For some reason, the idea of shopping Black doesn’t sit well with everyone. However, what I do know is that for many compelling reasons, more people are Shopping Black than ever before. It’s time to get our wealth back, one Naira, Dollar, Pound and Yen at a time. #shoppeblack

 

-Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson

Artwork by Glen Marrero

BLACK LOVE IS…

2 mins read

black friday

Black Love is the exchange that happens when likeminded people – what we call our village – come together, spread love, resources, ideas and affirmation. Black & Sexy TV is all about that. Giving thanks for our homieloverfriends over there who are Spreading Black Love AND Money, each and every day.

“We have to live in this country and participate in it’s economic ecosystem like everyone else, but we are not helpless. You most likely work or are in business with a white owned entity. We cannot escape all association or control every dollar we make or spend. But what we can do is look at it in a holistic way by propping up black owned businesses every chance we get. Online and off. Not just on Black Friday but EVERYDAY. Just think before you spend — can this dollar go to a black owned business? Imagine if one thing we purchased everyday was from a black owned business? Just one thing! It’s powerful and will change our economic landscape and mindset if everyone made it their duty to just make that one thing a daily habit. More black business would pop up just from the demand. And it’s so simple. It’s not even that big of a stretch. Our own family at Black&Sexy is exploring the concept of buying black 365. It only makes sense, right? Start here by TAGGING your favorite black owned businesses. We got one – our friends at @shoppeblack A well curated blog promoting the unifying concept of buying black globally. Visit them at shoppeblack.com ???‪#‎blackdollarsmatter‬ ‪#‎buyblack‬ ‪#‎blackandsexytv” – Black & Sexy, November 27, 2015

Black Owned Businesses in the Diaspora: Buying Black Across The Globe

3 mins read

For the past few years, there has been a battle cry in our community to spend our dollars with Black owned businesses, as opposed to the usual suspects.

Well this year, we’re inviting you to take Black Friday a step further.  We created a list of Black owned businesses from various parts of the African Diaspora that would welcome your support, no matter where you are on the globe.

Take a look at our selection of some of the best of what the international Black community has to offer.

Black Owned Businesses in the Diaspora

 

1. The Continent

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  • KenyaTheMaasaiShop:  Handcrafted beaded jewelry
  • EthiopiaZAAF: Luxury apparel and leather accessories produced in Ethiopia.
  • South AfricaM’hudi Wines: Family operated a wine farm located in the Cape Winelands.
  • GhanaChristie Brown: Show-stopping fashion and accessories for women.

2. The United Kingdom

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  • Ohema Ohene: African inspired fashion brand for Men and Women
  • Bespoke Binny: An eclectic range of home furnishings.
  • Lela Bag: An exciting new character brand offering adorable Backpacks & Tees for girls.
  • Showerella: Uncommon party supplies and activity kits for bridal showers, weddings, parties, and events.
  • Sheabutter Cottage: Award winning, fair trade natural skincare products.
  • Crown Rose: Afro-contemporary Swimwear and loungewear brand.
  • BeUNIQUE: Natural hair care products.

3. Canada

custom eyewear

  • Bohten: An eco-friendly, luxury eyewear line.
  • Style Me Ankara: An online retail store that sells handmade  African inspired clothing for men and women.
  • Earthtones Naturals: Premium natural hair and body products.

4. The Netherlands

Amsterdam

  • Nomi by Naomi: Surinamese owned Dutch-wax fashion line for men and women.
  • Amsterdam Slavery Heritage Guide: Companion guide for the Black Heritage Amsterdam Tour, packed with amazing historical tidbits and research. A perfect book for your next European getaway to Amsterdam.
  • Maisa en da maan (Miesha and the Moon): A Black children’s book in Dutch about Sickle Cell. This a great opportunity to learn a new language and teach your child too!
  • Ubuntu-Wear: Culture inspired urban wear

5.  And last but not least, the good ole U.S. of Black A.

Bow Tie

Black and Sex

-Tony O. Lawson

If you would like to add your business to this list (or another) SUBMIT HERE.


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5 Black Owned Subscription Box Businesses

6 mins read
The subscription box industry has become extremely popular in the last few years. Many businesses, large and small, are getting in on the action. Some of these are Black Owned Subscription Box Businesses that offer great products and services. Check them out!

Black Owned Subscription Box Businesses

Ujamaa Box founder, Ebony Costain comes from a family of entrepreneurs, so it’s no surprise that she has created her own venture, Ujamaa Box.
This box contains goodies from black businesses across multiple industries e.g. beauty, food, health, fashion and more. The items included in the Ujamaa Box are meant to help the businesses increase brand awareness and encourage repeat purchases once you realize how dope the products are!
I met Ebony at their one year anniversary at MoCADA and I could tell how passionate she is about the issues of Black business ownership and supporting black owned businesses. Ujamaa Box also provides advisory services for aspiring entrepreneurs. Monthly subscriptions are $25.

Dapper Black Box was founded by Aaron J. Barnes and is the only Black-owned subscription box company I know of that focuses on products for strictly for men.

Currently, they offer quality accessories and toiletries in three different boxes, The Jennings Box, The Carver Box, and The Leidesdorff Box.

Each of their boxes will be named after a different black inventor or businessman. (The Douglass is on the way for December) Dapper Black Box says “Our subscribers share our mission to encourage investment into Black businesses.” We definitely support this message. Monthly subscriptions are $28 and the shipping goes for the low, low price of…FREE! If you are thinking of starting an online subscription business, you should find an ebay courier that provides speedy postage at a price you are willing to pay! eBay can be a great place to start marketing subscription packages because you don’t need to pay too much to start selling there!

black owned subscription box

black owned subscription box

Bevel, the brain child of Tristan Walker, is the flagship brand of Walker & Company and a shaving system created with the intention of preventing and addressing the issues of skin irritation like razor bumps.

They offer extensive grooming and shaving tips on their website as well as a directory of “Bevel Approved Barbershops” in 8 major U.S. cities. Your first Bevel shipment includes a Bevel Razor and Bevel Badger Brush plus 3-month supply of priming oil, shave cream, restoring balm and 60 Blades. Once you subscribe, a 3-Month Supply is shipped every 3 months.

The current holiday offer is $59.85 paid in 3 installments of $19.95. In September, Tristan announced that the company had raised $24 million and will soon be available in Target stores in the United States and on Target.com.

black owned subscription box

black owned subscription box

Curl Kit was created by Heather Cummings to help women find the right products for their natural “hurr”. The kit offers 6-9 samples (and full size products) of natural hair and beauty products.

It also comes with a zine, Curl Life that contains information and tips on all things hair and beauty. Take a look at one of the many “Unboxing videos” available on YouTube where users (some paid) give their reviews.

Definitely do your own research to find out if this is an investment you want to make. Subscriptions plans available are $20/month, $60 per three months or $120 per six months (shipping not included). You can also get 10% off just for liking them on Facebook.

black owned subscription box

black owned subscription box

WeAreOnyx started off as an online platform dedicated to teaching black women how to manage their natural hair. It has now morphed into all things beauty, hair, health and entrepreneurship for black women.

Their subscription box, ONYXBOX, offers four to six hair, makeup and skin products every month. The company founders, Delali Kpodzo & Myriam Bocobza came up with the idea in 2012 after an event involving a hairstylist, flat tire and cancelled hair appointment left Delali no other options but to figure out how to get her hair ready for work on her own.

Check out another “Unboxing video“, and of course do your research. Monthly subscription is $25 and shipping is Free99 aka music to our ears.

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So, there you have it! 5 dope businesses that are sure to introduce you to products you will enjoy. If you know of any that I missed, be sure to leave a comment.

Also, if you’re thinking about starting your own subscription business or would like to add a subscription service to your current business, I’ve got something for ya! It’s a book called The Automatic Customer: Creating a Subscription Business in Any Industry. That should get you going and steer you in the right direction, newbie or not.

The Busy African

Planning an All Black Everything Wedding in New Orleans

23 mins read

At the ripe young age of 37, dreams seem to be finally coming true. After years of clicking heels, kissing plenty of frogs, and mis-identified soul mates, my Prince Charming bka British-Nigerian Howardite come King of Zamunda finally graced me with his presence. While I’ve always fantastized about my life partner being an African man fresh from the continent, my wedding dreams have only led me to one place: New Orleans. There’s no place like home and when you’re from New Orleans…there’s no place in the world like home. And with that said, nothing quite like any of our celebrations. Those who’ve been to our weddings know, just like our funerals, we tend to THROW DOWN.

So, in the spirit of this whole concept of Shopping Black, I’ve begun to wrap my brain around what would a wedding, produced with all Black vendors, look like in New Orleans. Since there has yet to be a super sexy and comprehensive site for Black businesses, (you can hold your breath, it’s coming)…the first place I started was to consider different venues of which I’m already familiar. Then I did the next best thing – googled “Black owned business” and “New Orleans” to see what else I’d find. Of course, a vast majority of the businesses I came across either didn’t have a functioning website or their site was janky as hell…but I did discover a few gems and I must say, so far, so good.

If you’re thinking of doing a destination wedding in New Orleans and you have #allblackeverything on the brain, here’s a list of places and vendors to consider for your ultimate Big Fat New Orleans Wedding. Solange, my good girlfriend in my head, I’m coming for you honey…and those shut the innanets down wedding photos you took in my hometown.

In Black Love,

– Shantrelle, the Black genius behind A.P. Shantology

Venues

Congo Square

I’ve always envisioned getting married in Congo Square. Congo Square is perhaps one of the city’s and Diaspora’s holiest sites. During enslavement, it was one of the only places, perhaps the only site in the States, where enslaved Africans could gather in large masses publicly. We drummed. We danced. We invoked. We prayed. We bought and sold wares. It was here where the Bamboula was performed in fervor. Congo Square is right outside of the French Quarter and now nestled in the aptly named Louis Armstrong Park, it’s the perfect place for an open, outdoor wedding in NOLA. Apparently, one of my cousins beat me to the punch and jumped the broom here a couple of years ago. 

McKenna Museum

As some of you may or may not be aware, after getting my M.A. in African American Studies at Temple (TUMF!), I left the East Coast and reverse migrated back home to New Orleans to help rebuild and preserve the culture and history of my city Post-Katrina. While there, I had the amazing opportunity to serve as the Director and Curator of the George & Leah McKenna Museum of African American Art. During my tenure, the museum hosted its first wedding and reception (of attorney David Durand another New Orleanian and HU alum). The antebellum home was built after the Civil War and purchased by Dr. Dwight McKenna, an avid art collector who founded the museum in honor of his parents. The museum has high ceilings, gorgeous hardwood floors and exposed brick throughout.  Black Bride

La Musee de F.P.C.

Dr. Dwight McKenna isn’t the only museum founder in the city. While he was busy collecting art by African-American artists, his wife, Beverly McKenna was preoccupied amassing a massive collection of artifacts about and by free people of color. Le Musee de Free People of Color is a gorgeous, stately mansion that sits on the idyllic Esplanade Avenue in the historic Faubourg Tremé. The courtyard is gorgeous. It would be a majestic  place to have a good ole time.

Shoppe Black

Lodging

Hubbard Mansion

A mansion on St. Charles Avenue, the Hubbard Mansion is a beautiful place, filled with antique decorations and furniture. Consisting of six suites, it also has a formal dining room where guests are served meals. Given the fact that Black people were living in the Quarters behind the mansions owned by master enslavers and plantation owners whose mansions lined St. Charles Avenue, it’s an anomaly for a Black couple to have purchased and renovated one of these gorgeous homes. Your guests would love it!

Shoppe Black

Caterers

So catering is clearly a tricky aspect of this wedding planning, at least for me. While I’m a world traveling, Diaspora fiend, I’m a VERY picky eater. I also plan on having a turn up reception where we dance from start to finish. Who has time for a boring and drawn out formal dinner? I’m a lover of our traditional cuisine but also mindful of the fact that Bae is Nigerian. Not to mention, a gang of friends from whose diets are much “cleaner” – gluten free, vegan, etc…(hey Maori girl!) which means that I need a special mix of dishes that can satisfy a variety of palettes and lifestyles. Since the wedding will probably not be your average garden variety 100 person wedding, I’ll also need to think about how much money we will be spending per head. So what I’m going for is DELICIOUS (not fancy) and cost effective.

Byrd House Catering

I came across this listing in the Tribune’s Black Business Directory. Out of all of the catering companies listed, they were the only ones with a professional website. I contacted the owner, who was very sweet! Within a week, Ma Dukes was tasting her food. I asked her how was Byrd House’s gumbo. Her reply: “Like Mama’s.” That’s good enough for me.

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Rehearsal Dinner

Dookie Chases

A historic landmark, Dookie Chases has fed many a socialite and celeb. Apparently it’s one of President Obama’s favorite places to eat when he’s in town. Owned by the beloved and famous, Leah Chase, the restaurant is a family culinary heirloom. The food is typical New Orleans creole cuisine with all of the down home fixings. I’ve never been a fan of okra personally, I don’t care how many of my ancestors ate it. However, it’s still a favorite dish of many. This would be a nice place to have a rehearsal dinner, especially if your guests are coming in from up North and/or foreign lands.

Okra Gumbo. Leah Chase. A111005_FW_Icons_Jan2012

Bennachin

This quaint restaurant is located right on the outskirts of the French Quarter. I can’t remember how I discovered but it’s actually one of my daddy and I’s favorite spots to grab a bite. Featuring Francophone African food, it also offers a huge selection of vegetarian dishes. I’m thinking about how I can combine two different styles – New Orleans Creole Cuisine and West African Cuisine, to suit all of my guests. Of course I don’t know if I can have two caterers at the wedding (is that possible? It’s worth trying). Random cultural fact: the first wave of  enslaved Africans who were brought to Louisiana came from the Senegambia region of Africa’s west coast. Ever wondered why jambalaya tasted so familiar? Cause it is. It’s a direct descendent of Jollof rice. My inlaws make fun of me for preferring mild Jollof over spicy, but hey, it’s not my fault! Blame it on the acid reflux I developed after eating the spiciest jerk chicken in my life as a student at Howard. But I digress! This would be the perfect place for an informal rehearsal dinner if you have a small bridal party, or simply a place to direct your guests during their stay in the city.

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Lil Dizzy’s Cafe

Lil Dizzy’s is probably NOLA’s version of Cheers, where everybody knows your name. It’s a neighborhood staple. Any and everyone eats there from politicians, musicians and New Orleans’ who’s who, especially in the middle of the day. It’s a very casual environment with good traditional New Orleans food. This is a down home kind of place that would be cool for a morning after brunch or a place.

Lil Dizzy's

Coco Hut

If you’re on the go the weekend of and need to grab a QUICK bite, you HAVE to stop at Coco Hut. Don’t go if you’re a true Jamaican/Caribbean foodie. Go if you just like yummy and healthy food. Its owner, Pam, is the absolute greatest! I stop by at least once every time I go home. Especially because my hairdresser is two doors down. It’s one of several Black-owned businesses that occupy the economic corridor of Bayou Road (the landlord of these businesses are also Black-owned). 

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Snug Harbor

Snug Harbor is one of my favorite go to places when it comes to me taking out of town friends somewhere to eat. I namely go there because it’s a more upscale version of the best hamburger place in the world – Port of Call. Historically they were owned by the same people and then I believe at some point, the owners split up. That doesn’t matter…the burger and baked potato is my FAVORITE. There’s also a selection of seafood dishes. Upstairs there’s a bistro where you can catch some of the best live music in the city. I had no idea that they were Black owned so shout out to I Don’t Do Clubs for putting me on.

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Florists

I didn’t see a lot of florists on The New Orleans Black Book, there were only two. So I can’t PROMISE that I’ll use either one, simply based on their photos (again people, this is why websites are EVERYTHING in this day and age for businesses, Black or otherwise). However, I’m willing to give them a try. Again, I’m a HUGE flower person. My Grandma Gladys Ibaye always said, “give me my flowers while I’m alive, not when I’m dead and gone.” My mama adopted that creed and passed it down to me and my brothers. I buy flowers for myself (and my ancestors) weekly so I most definitely want my floral arrangements to be kick a**.

Mona’s Accents Florist and Gift Basket Company

Mona’s Accents definitely look like they have the capacity to provide what I’m looking for (but I can’t tell for sure). Their website offers a variety of different exotic floral arrangements which is a plus for me.

Black owned florist

LaMonette Flowers and Gifts

If you’re into roses and lilies, this looks like your place (at least based on what’s on the site). I’d be interested in knowing whether or not they offer different arrangements outside of your basic go to flowers and aesthetics.


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Cake and Desserts

Adrian’s Bakery

Based on their site (which passes our website test of aesthetics), I can’t tell whether or not they do wedding cakes. They do look like they specialize in a host of other sweets that would be great for a dessert table.

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Buttermilk Drop Cafe

What came first, the buttermilk drop or the donut hole? I’m not sure but buttermilk drops are a New Orleans delicacy and Buttermilk Drop Cafe specializes in them. These would be a great addition for a post-rehearsal dinner treat. Or even could be used as a special edible welcome gift for out-of-town guests.

Bakery

Royal Cakery

The website could uses a little work but this is the first bakery that I came across in NOLA that actually specializes in wedding cakes. The photographs of the cakes themselves aren’t necessarily the greatest but the cakes do look divine! I’m not really a big cake fan, in fact, I skip the cake at most weddings and events. If I do decide to go with the cake versus the dessert table option, I’ll probably give them a try. Mama, can you check them out? Please and thank you.

Black owned bakery

Tee Eva Praline’s

More than likely, I’ll have one of my aunts make my pecan candy because I’m the weirdo who actually prefer it without pecans. However, if you want to treat your guests (pun intended) to some traditional pralines (pronounced prah-leens), check out Tee Eva’s Praline’s.

Pralines

Brass Bands

Ain’t no party like a NOLA party cause a NOLA party won’t stop! We rock, we roll, that ____ (insert ward here) got control! Buck jump time! So yeah um, did I mention that I was from New Orleans? In my opinion, music is EVERYTHING at a wedding. If the music is whack then um…no. Despite the fact that a “New Orleans” cultural tradition – second lining – has been co-opted by white brides and their families, it’s still ours. Second Lines are a BLACK, a very African tradition, rooted in our jazz funerals that can be traced back to funerary rites in Mali and other parts of West Africa. Second lining at weddings is more than just doing a side to side two step and pumping an umbrella up and down, it’s about that foot work, and getting DOWN. So, I’m keeping this in the forefront of my mind as I select a dress because my wedding won’t be a wedding without some footwork involved. I won’t go through a description of each local brass band here because there are zillions. I’ll just recommend three –  my favorite band since childhood, a group I’ve grown to love as an adult and group of younger cats that are making a name for themselves. Enjoy and don’t hurt nobody! If need be, get someone local to show your bridal party the proper art of second lining. Trust me, I plan to.

Rebirth Brass Band

The Soul Rebels

To Be Continued

Photographers

Abdul Aziz

My homeboy Aziz is really a photojournalist, so he actually could do both – portraits and those buck jump time shots. Check out his work. Since he’ll be a guest, I’m not sure I’ll put him on photography patrol.

Black Photographer

L. Kasimu Harris

Another NOLA socialite, homeboy and dandy, Kasimu’s portraits are attracting a lot of buzz both in and outside of New Orleans. He’d be great to get photograph those wedding portraits and group shots. His shoot with former New Orleans Saints turned Philadelphia Eagles player Malcolm Jenkins and his wife (oo-opp!) are simply stunning, and also featured in The Dandy Lion Project.

3/19/2015 Wild Magnolia on St. Joseph Night

Hair Dresser

Beauty on de Bayou

Apparently since leaving New Orleans for the second time in 2009, NOLA has opened a few new natural hair salons. I believe one is even on the West Bank. Well until I can actually experience any of the new shops, I’d strong suggest going to get your wig did (especially if it’s natural) at Beauty on de Bayou. Dwana Makeba, a brilliant entrepreneur and maverick, has been here for years. She takes care of her clients, even when they’re away.

Beauty on de Bayou

Accessories

William + James

I was about to press “publish” on this post and almost forgot…to shamelessly plug myself. Approximately one year ago, I launched William + James, a Haberdashery for the Smart Man. Named after W.E.B. Du Bois and James Baldwin, it features limited edition, custom bespoke bow ties. I’ve already outfitted two weddings and counting. For two collections straight, our ties have SOLD OUT. Need some fresh neckwear, holla at me! XO, The Haberdasheress

Bow Tie

Wedding Coordinator

Last but not least…the most important aspect of putting together a wedding – the Coordinator. So my mama has been meeting with different people but um, the court is still out. My cousin just got married last year and apparently had a not so pleasant experience with her planner. So, basically, if you know of any DOPE and PROFESSIONAL (not saying that we aren’t) wedding coordinators based in my hometown, holla at your girl.

Resources

Books

Clearly it’s time for someone to do a Black Bridal book, one that doesn’t just focus on the African-American bride but the African Diasporan bride (Soror Harriet Cole’s last wedding book was over a decade ago). We’re a lot more conscious and Pan-African nowadays, thanks to how many of us are traveling abroad and connecting globally with like minded sisters and brothers via the innanets. I have no desire to write a book about the modern Black bride but someone DEFINITELY should.

Jumping the Broom: The African-American Wedding Planner

Vows: The African-American Couples’ Guide to Designing a Sacred Ceremony

African-American Wedding Readings

Websites

blackbride.com

munaluchibridal.com

blackbrideandgroom.com

idontdoclubs.com (for a list of NOLA restaurants and bars)

Featured Brides in this post: My cousins and homegirl in order of appearance – Mrs. Rashida Poole, Mrs. Jamila Pecou, and Mrs. Danielle Scott-Johnson

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