Browse Tag

ethical fashion

/

ArtistsUntold, a Black Owned Clothing Brand that Empowers Black Artists

ArtistsUntold is a Black owned clothing brand that fuses art and fashion. The online retail platform provides up-and-coming Black artists with the opportunity to promote and monetize their artwork through apparel and fine art sales.

We spoke with co-founder, Jordan Abdur-Raoof to find out more about the company and its mission to empower Black artists.

Black Owned Clothing Brand
ArtistsUntold co-founder, Jordan Abdur-Raoof

What inspired the creation of ArtistsUntold and its business model?

I had followed this woman on Instagram for years and she was selling her artwork on apparel. I bought a shirt of hers, and it was just poor quality to be frank. It was then that I was like, you know this is something that I can do. 

I could share the artists’ story, their art, and their mission by creating a platform to pay the artists a portion of each sale. It had everything that I was looking for in a social venture.

Black Owned Clothing Brand

I talked with 30 to 40 people who critiqued it here and there, but generally speaking it seemed like a value proposition that a lot of artists really needed. The one thing that I think is unique to us is that we pay multiples higher than the industry standard to artists. Also, a lot of companies will make artists sign exclusivity agreements where they do not own their artwork anymore, but with us they still retain ownership.

Use code SHOPPE10 for 10% off

Essentially the artists are licensing the artwork out to us, and if they one day decided that they did not want the artwork on ArtistsUntold anymore, easy enough; we will take it down. We are trying to be as pro-artist as possible.

Black Owned Clothing Brand

How do you select which artists to work with?

It’s been quite a process. When we first started I’d send out 20 messages a day to different artists who had a few hundred to thousands of followers. And 99 percent of the time you wouldn’t get a response. That has now shifted since June with the Black Lives Matter movement, as it accelerated people’s validation of our value proposition and the service that we’re providing.

Now, some artists will reach out to us such as Brandon Brewer. Brandon reached out when he had about 75 followers. I thought to myself, ‘This is unbelievable. I love the work he’s doing, and I love his creative process along with what he communicates through his art’

Use code SHOPPE10 for 10% off

Another example is Uzo, who had only a few thousand followers when we first partnered but now has about 50,000. Seeing them grow exponentially has been really exciting, and I am happy that I was able to see artists and their vision, discuss with our team, and run with it.

Now, it’s almost 100% inbound and we have artists apply and unfortunately, we need to turn artists down from time to time.

Use code SHOPPE10 for 10% off

What is the most rewarding and most challenging thing about being an entrepreneur?

The challenges and rewards go hand in hand. The hardest part of this is not having a blueprint, but that is what makes this so much fun. Everyday there is a new challenge, or idea, that we need to handle or implement. We are a smaller firm so we are extremely receptive and work hard to pivot quickly depending on customer feedback.

There is no direction list or manual, so you need to figure everything out for yourself. I make a joke that Google is my best friend, but honestly almost every problem I am confronted with I turn to Google and my partners Xander and Steven and we find a solution.

Whether it’s measuring sales taxes, hiring a marketing firm, figuring out Facebook ads, affiliate programs, shipping, how to best respond to client emails and provide excellent customer service, setting up an EIN & business bank account, accounting, or social media aesthetic we are able to learn, adapt, and implement on the fly.  

Where do you see the business in 5 years?

In 5 years, we hope to be recognized as a premier socially conscious and sustainable streetwear & fine art brand. We would like to have a flagship store/gallery in New York and LA combining streetwear, fine art, music, and of course an amazing coffee bar.

We would also like to have a large enough following where any artist on our platform is making enough passive income to pursue art full time whether they have 50 followers or 50,000 followers.

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

First and foremost, is to stop talking about it and actually do it. Create a business plan, share your plan and get as much feedback as possible and adapt on the fly because it will not be perfect. While at Cornell I took a lot of classes on Entrepreneurship that have acted as core pillars for this business.

The most important takeaways for me are to listen and ask for feedback & to adapt quickly based on these ‘interviews’ you are conducting. Lastly, there is a huge component of ‘Grit’ which is a passion and perseverance for long-term and meaningful goals.

Use code SHOPPE10 for 10% off

Black Owned Clothing Brand

You have to have the ability to persist in something you feel passionate about and persevere when you face obstacles. I know every day when I wake up, I am going to work on ArtistsUntold whether I want to or not, because I have a commitment to empowering underrepresented communities both financially and by sharing narratives in a positive light that can challenge the stereotypes that exist in today’s society.

I know we have the potential to create hundreds of thousands of dollars in wealth for Black and underrepresented communities and the power to plant hundreds of thousands of trees. This drives me forward, so whatever you create, create it with the right intentions and try to put more good into the world.

Use code SHOPPE10 for 10% off

/

Black Owned Ethical Fashion Brands from the Continent

In response to growing demand from socially conscious consumers, ethical fashion brands are popping up around the world and established brands are developing eco-friendly lines. The brands below are just some of several that are empowering economically disadvantaged artisans in communities across several African countries.

Ethical Fashion Brands

The Haute Baso vision is to promote Rwanda’s ability to produce high-end and functional products that are able to compete on local and international levels.

12347649_423030851241108_5805599414640411456_n

Anita Quansah creates unique and stylish one-off pieces of clothing with matching neckpieces using vintage and recycled materials which beautifully meld into a look of classic sophistication.

ethical fashion

 

KIKI Clothing is the brainchild of Titi Ademola, a fashion designer who is devoted to creating ready-to-wear collections that are meticulously made in Ghana.

14358959_1195665703830041_6273106777562087375_n

Améyo is a Ghanaian womenswear clothing brand founded by Klekleli Dzidzienyo. The brand is inspired by the natural diversity in culture with exotic playful and sublime aesthetics.

13483125_978290888957713_1207239635428025277_o

Sonia Mugabo is a Rwandan fashion brand that was born out of founder, Sonia Mugabo’s strong interest in design; and the desire to tap into the existing local artisan talent to make high quality men and womenswear.

2_3-930x524

Studio 189 is a fashion brand based in Ghana created by Abrima Erwiah and Rosario Dawson. It provides a platform to promote African brands through worldwide distribution and manufacturing of their artisan produced collection.

13932723_1132054710200835_8715305053848065499_n

U.Mi-1 (pronounced you.me.one) is a contemporary brand that appeals to people who judge luxury from the finishing inside to the detailing on the outside.

13102642_1001221333298071_2868699724111648855_n

Sophie Zinga is a Senegalese fashion brand. The collection features exquisite and the finest materials and fabrics namely silks, hand made Senegalese cloth and semi-precious stones.

black owned Ethical Fashion

Duaba Serwa is a Ghanaian womenswear brand founded by Nelly Hagan-Aboagye.  Initially starting as a jewelry designer, Duaba Serwa then developed its trademark of applying jewelry to clothes.

duaba-serwa-8
ZikoAfrika is a contemporary accessories brand. Each product is handcrafted in Kenya and reflects both European and African design aesthetics for a modern take on traditional forms and materials.

tisket_stack_black_product_shot_copy

Mimi Plange is a modern women’s wear brand launched in 2010 by American-Ghanaian designer, Mimi Plange. Lost African civilizations inspire the Mimi Plange clothing and give the collection depth of meaning.

black owned Ethical Fashion

Mina Evans is a Ghanaian womenswear brand that designs a cool, playful and colorful collection. Mina Evans also designs a menswear line.

black owned Ethical Fashion

-Tony O. Lawson

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


Subscribe and Follow SHOPPE BLACK on Facebook, Instagram &Twitter


 Get your SHOPPE BLACK Apparel!

/

Black Owned Ethical Fashion Brands from Across the Globe

A growing number of consumers worldwide are becoming more conscious of which businesses they spend their money with.

Whether it’s with a Black owned business, an eco-friendly business or a business that creates jobs in developing countries, consumers want to create positive change by supporting brands that know how to “act right”.

This practice is commonly referred to as conscious consumerism, social consumerism or ethical consumerism.

socially-conscious-consumer-1

Ninety percent of U.S. consumers say they would switch brands to one associated with a cause, given comparable price and quality.

Forty-two percent of North American consumers reported they would pay extra for products and services from companies committed to positive social and environmental impact.

One third of U.K. consumers claim to be very concerned about issues regarding the origin of products.

eco-shopper

One organization that is committed to the creation of jobs, ethical products, and profits is The Ethical Fashion Initiative. Through their network, fashion brands can manufacture ethical fashion items produced by some of the most talented artisans in the world.

According to the EEFI, “Artisans are the key to a fashion industry that has ethics and aesthetics. Sweatshops and workers trapped in an endless cycle of creating cheap fast-fashion is not true fashion.”

Christie-Brown-Ghana-©-ITC-Ethical-Fashion-Initiative-1

Artisans

“If you’re looking for innovative ways to help developing countries flourish, artisans are a terrific place to begin,” stated U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

12079710_10153026834526331_3648995425387219408_n

Although the artisan industry is not recognized as a major influencer on economic growth, artisan activity is the second largest employer in the developing world, only behind agriculture.

Globally, artisan production is a $34 billion industry. Even during the 2008 economic crisis, when most markets fell, the demand for artisan crafts continued to grow.

artisans_2

Supporting these craftsmen and craftswomen is a proven way to create employment opportunities and pull families out of poverty.

Our support also provides them with the means to educate and feed their children. It can revive entire communities by stabilizing local economies.

IMG_3111

There are several Black owned businesses that use artisans to create dope products. Here are a few that are based across East Africa, West Africa, the U.S. and the U.K.

Black owned ethical fashion brands

Brother Vellies is based in Brooklyn. Aurora James created the brand with the goal of creating artisanal jobs within Africa while introducing the rest of the world to her favorite traditional African footwear.

Black owned ethical fashion brands

Sole rebels was created by Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu. This is a sustainable footwear company that offers ethical, eco-friendly & vegan shoes handcrafted by Ethiopian artisans.

Black owned ethical fashion brands

FOMI was created by Afomia Tesfayeo. They offer handbags and shoes that are handcrafted in Ethiopia.

Black owned ethical fashion brands

A A K S is a Ghana and U.K. based brand created by Akosua Afriyie-Kumi. The pieces incorporate the use of raffia and leather to create bags hand crafted by the best artisanal local weavers in Ghana.

Black owned ethical fashion brands

Coins were used as jewelry in ancient times. They were passed from generation to generation as a special memory from loved ones. The Coins Shop is a family owned business in Zanzibar, Tanzania.

Black owned ethical fashion brands

Sindiso Khumalo founded her fashion label with a  focus on creating modern sustainable textiles.  Sustainability, craft and empowerment lie at the heart of the label.

Black owned ethical fashion brands

 

Alaffia’s goal is to alleviate poverty and encourage gender equality. Their Empowerment Projects include several Education-Based Projects, Maternal Health, Eyeglasses and Reforestation.

Black owned ethical fashion brands

Lemlem offers hand-woven cotton scarves, women’s clothing and children’s dresses made by traditional artisans in Ethiopia.

ethical fashion

Kenya-based Adèle Dejak creates handmade luxury fashion accessories for the modern woman.

Adèle’s collection expresses her appreciation for African-made fabrics and a dedication to using recycled materials including rice and cement sacks, brass, and glass.

ethical fashion

There you have it. 10 Black Owned Ethical Fashion Brands. Get your Shoppe on!

 

-Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson (IG @thebusyafrican)