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Virgil Abloh, Famed Fashion Designer, Dies At 41 After Cancer Battle

Virgil Abloh, the highly influential fashion designer, founder of Off-White and the Men’s Artistic Director of Louis Vuitton, died this afternoon.

The 41-year-old had cardiac angiosarcoma, a rare, aggressive form of the disease, according to an announcement on his official Instagram page.

“We are devastated to announce the passing of our beloved Virgil Abloh,” it said. “He chose to endure his battle privately since his diagnosis in 2019, undergoing numerous challenging treatments, all while helming several significant institutions that span fashion, art, and culture.

“Through it all, his work ethic, infinite curiosity, and optimism never wavered. Virgil was driven by his dedication to his craft and to his mission to open doors for others and create pathways for greater equality in art and design. He often said, ‘Everything I do is for the 17-year-old version of myself,’ believing deeply in the power of art to inspire future generations.”

Born on Sept. 30, 1980 in Rockford, Ill. to Ghanaian immigrant parents, Abloh studied civil engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, receiving a bachelor’s degree in 2002, and went on to earn a Master of Architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology in 2006.

Following his education, Abloh met rapper Kanye West, who would become one of his first major collaborators in the creative world.

Virgil Abloh is survived by his wife Shannon Abloh, his children Lowe and Grey,  his sister Edwina Abloh, and his parents Nee and Eunice Abloh.


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.

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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’

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Black Veteran & HBCU Grad Creates A Seven-Figure Clothing Brand

HGC Apparel is a Black veteran owned clothing brand founded by Marcia Smith,  a 90’s kid who’s passionate about the uplifting and expansion of the Black community.

black veteran
HGC Apparel founder, Marcia Smith

In this interview, we discuss how this mother and Howard University grad’s time in the military influenced her entrepreneurial journey. We also discuss what she has done to find success online and how she protects her intellectual property.

Don’t forget to LIKE the video and SUBSCRIBE to the channel!

Tony O. Lawson

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Black Veteran Owned Eyewear Brand Inspires You To Pursue Your Vision

SWAV Eyewear is a Black-owned inspirational eyewear brand that sells stylish sunglasses & frames to inspire you to never give up on the vision you have for your life.

SWAV is the world’s first inspirational eyewear company that creates products with a purpose.

The origin of the company began in 2011. While serving in the United States Air Force, company founder, Isaiah Fowler contracted malaria and almost died. He was in the ICU for nearly two weeks fighting for his life. It was then and there that he made a vow that if he survived, he would pursue his dreams fearlessly.

The company has been going strong since 2017 and has now launched its second collection of eyewear, the Trailblazer Collection.

Photo credit: Finny John

With this new collection, the company is on a mission to illustrate what being a Trailblazer is all about. The gold quote located on the inside of the frames is a reminder to “Be The First.”

SWAV Eyewear


The Trailblazer Collection comes as an Aviator Style and with five color options with different finishes.

swav eyewear

swav eyewear
Photo credit: Finny John

All frames carried by SWAV are made with Eco-Friendly material handcrafted with the intention of inspiring you on an intrinsic level.

swav eyewear
Photo credit: Finny John

Purchase from the new collection here!


Black Owned Vintage Stores You Should Know

You know what they say, “One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.”  That’s why we’ve compiled a list of Black owned vintage stores that offer one of a kind finds at great prices.

Black owned vintage stores


black owned vintage shops


Circ Antiques

Black Owned Vintage Stores

Fundinho Brechó

Tracy Chambers Vintage



Black Owned Vintage Stores


Stuck In The Nineties


Golden Bird Boutique

BLK MKT Vintage

Black Owned Vintage Stores

Nostalgia Boutique

Vintage and Soul

Black Owned Vintage Stores

Black Culture Vintage

Black Owned Vintage Stores


Tony O. Lawson

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This Black Owned Vintage Clothing Business Offers Cool ’90s Nostalgia

The ’90s were the best years of my life. I remember my obsession with all things Hip Hop, RnB, Black sitcoms, and the best Black movies.

That’s why I was excited to discover a Black owned vintage clothing business that specializes in ’90s era paraphernalia, and other cool items. We caught up Eric Brown Jr, the owner of Backtrack Vintage to find out more about his business.

black owned vintage
Eric Brown Jr, the owner of Backtrack Vintage

What inspired you to start your business?

I’ve always had an appreciation for great retail experiences and, initially when I decided to go into the business full time, I wanted to build an amazing brick and mortar location for people to get their vintage clothing fix. Unfortunately, I couldn’t land a retail location no matter what I did or where I looked.

So after months of searching and hearing about seven “no’s” from different landlords around the city, I decided to bet on myself and build my store inside an old school bus.

black owned vintage

I spent about 5 weeks from sunrise and sunset building the inside of the bus and I took it to the streets in April of 2019.

black owned vintageHow do you find the items you sell?

During the early days, I would basically spend an entire day inside different thrift stores, flea markets, and weekend garage sales. Now we have a great network of sellers who we source high-quality vintage garments from, as well as sourcing from some of the best vintage rag houses in Los Angeles.

In addition to those items being mindfully hand-picked to be a piece of nostalgia, we also go above and beyond to find items that are like new and restore items as needed.

What is it about the ’90s era that appeals to you?

Not only were the ’90s the era of my childhood, but it also represented a time in American history where there was a lot of abundance. For a young person during that era there was no shortage of wearable merch from movies, tv shows, and sports teams.
Black owned vintage
Plus the vast majority of garments were made here in the USA and that higher level of quality when it comes to manufacturing has really helped these vintage items last almost 30 years later. Not to mention brands like Tommy Hilfiger and Polo Sport by Ralph Lauren emerged as the trendsetters in what we would call “streetwear”.

How has business been during the past few months and what are you doing to adapt?

Initially we were definitely anxious during the beginning stages of Safer at Home Orders, and, much like most businesses, we’ve shifted to being strictly online. We’ve doubled down on the customer experience and branding, showcasing the uniqueness of our company.
Black owned vintage
Obviously getting your retail fix in an old school bus is an amazing shopping experience and we didn’t want the online Backtrack experience to be underwhelming.
Black owned vintage
Our goal is to make receiving an order from us a complete experience, from the artwork on the outside of the bag to the items they’ve purchased within it.

If you could wake up tomorrow as an expert in any area of business, which would it be and why?

I’d have to say “communication.” In all aspects of running a business, communication is key. Whether it’s with customers, vendors, or employees if you can effectively communicate you will be effective at getting your desired outcome.

It’s something that I’ve forced myself to become better at over the years and it’s definitely paying off.

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

The best advice I can give would be to realize that you don’t have to be better than the next person, but you do need to be different. Nobody likes a copycat.
You should try and figure out at least 10 things that make you different than the other businesses in your field, otherwise, you’re just another person selling the same old thing.
-Tony O. Lawson 

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Black Owned Face Mask Businesses

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has revised its face mask policy and is now urging everyone to wear cloth face coverings in public.

According to their website, “CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.”

This announcement has spurred an increase in businesses that offer face masks. Here are some Black Owned Face Mask businesses that are creating face masks for those in need.

We know we missed some and will continue to update the list!

Black Owned Face Mask Businesses

All Things Ankara

House of Nambili

black owned face mask businesses



Printed Pattern People

Black Owned Face Mask Businesses

Mujo Six

Figaro Apparel

Sue Rock Originals



The Happy Mask Store

black owned mask

The Boxing Kitten

Beautiful Curly Me

Ngozika Okeke

NSAA African Creations 


Frank & Myrhh


Eki’s Famous

Crown Inspired

Akese Stylelines

black owned face mask

Veronica Ariel

Candace Cort Designs

NSMITH Collection

Nuri Designs

Sun Gods

Face Masks by MNM

Shukuru Couture


ISG Solutions Group

black owned mask

Mckenzie Liautaud 

black owned mask



Sirani’s Fashion

black owned face mask

The Peoples Mask

Over The Moon


Jaelen of All Trades


Stay safe out there, fam!


Tony O. Lawson

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

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Feature image credit: (Gordwin Odhiambo / AFP via Getty Images)


This Mother Created a Clothing Line That Celebrates the Principles of Kwanzaa

Kinara Park Kids is a clothing line that promotes representation while celebrating the seven principles of Kwanzaa: Umoja (Unity), “KG” Kujichagulia (Self Determination), Ujima (Collective Work & Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity) and Imani (Faith).

We spoke to founder Noni Ervin to find out more about the brand and the inspiration behind it.

What inspired you to create Kinara Park Kids?

I was back-to-school shopping. And there it was…” the perfect shirt”.

It had these really cool silhouettes of kids–lots of kids. I was on my way to pick out one for my son, but as I moved closer, I saw that the silhouettes of kids (even though there were a lot of kids on the t-shirt), none of them looked like my son.

Noni Ervin

I was very disappointed and so confused. How could there be that many kids but none of them represent my child?! Especially in today’s age where kids arguably need more reassuring affirmations than ever?!

There had to be a solution.

To my disappointment, there was nothing readily available that had silhouettes of kids with textured hair.

I began brainstorming ideas on how to avoid this seclusion for other families like mine! What if I could create something that would have silhouettes that our kids could relate to as well as provide a positive movement in our community?

That’s when Kwanzaa and its principles came to mind. Then it hit me! What if I add Kwanzaa into what I am creating, what if each of the principles were a silhouette? Better yet, what if the principles were a kid and they were all friends?

From here, Kinara Park Kids was born. No longer will my children or any other child that looks like mine be outcasts. I am here to build unity in our community and find it my duty to fulfill this purpose.


All of the Kwanzaa principles are important but which do you identify with the most? Why?

I love all of the principles, but I think I identify most with Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems and to solve them together.

The thing that affects one of us really does affect all of us. The work that Taraji P. Henson is doing through The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation is in line with this. They are working to eradicate mental health stigmas in Black Communities. If we can take hold of different issues affecting one another, then we become our own source of strength. This is ujima and this is powerful!


What has been the most fulfilling and the most challenging thing about being an entrepreneur?

The most fulfilling thing has been watching my two sons experience this journey. It is profound for them to be able to see something created or begin as a thought and then move through the many stages of becoming a tangible thing. They have seen me up late working on the various parts of this business, so they know it is not easy. I hope they are inspired to create solutions as they mature into young men.

The most challenging thing has been visibility. Kinara Park Kids brings value to our community in many ways, but that means nothing if no one knows we exist. We are grateful for the social media marketing firm that is helping change this (Parris Gray, CEO & Co-Founder of I Use DMP). Also, we are very excited about SHOPPE Black for an opportunity to make ourselves known in the marketplace!


What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

You have to have some stick-with-it! Owning your own business is like farming versus landscaping–delayed gratification versus immediate gratification. For example, landscaping is when you see the weeds and overgrown lawn, get the lawnmower and weed wacker, and in a very short time, everything is neat and tidy and looks wonderful. Of course, it grows back, but not for a few weeks. When it does, you get out the lawnmower and weed wacker and repeat the process.

Being an entrepreneur means touching your business daily. It is waking up before the sun rises and going to bed after it sets. If you were on a farm, you would have to be mindful of seasons, weather patterns, critters, soil pH, seed quality, and timing for harvest.

For your business, this means being aware of all parts of your business, including product quality, scaling, branding, pricing, delivery, marketing, accounting, etc. I would tell aspiring entrepreneurs to make sure their “Why?” is big enough to last the full journey. If you’re going through the desert, you don’t take two water bottles. You will need to plan for time and obstacles. This owning-your-own-business stuff is not for the faint of heart. Brace yourself and get to work.

Where do you see the business 5 years from now?

In five years we are a household name. The outfits of each of the Kinara Park Kids is on clothing racks in Target and K&G. Elementary students will be at recess or on the playground and will pick teams by principles. It will be team Umoja and team Imani!!!

Kinara Park Kids is a billion dollar corporation. We practice cooperative economics which is to keep our dollars circulating within our community. When immigrants come to this country they typically have ties to their homeland, but African Americans do not have the privilege of those kind of resources.

Kinara Park Kids will be part of transforming that scenario. The money generated from sales is a point of capital distribution in our community–we are our own source of capital. We are like the elders in other communities that say, “We see you aspiring entrepreneur.

We have seen you grow up and we believe in you. We want to invest in you.” We infuse our community with capital and we are stronger. The revenue that is generated by Kinara Park Kids is a source of capital to further the start-up and growth of other Black-owned businesses.

Tony O. Lawson

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Black Designer Spotlight – WeWearWavy

“Black Designer Spotlight” is a segment that will focus on up and coming and seasoned designers in the fashion and design industry.

We’d like to  begin by introducing Amadi Rubie, founder of WeWearWavy. After his successful debut in New York City’s art scene, Amadi, an award-winning visual artist, relaunched WeWearWavy, a minimalist streetwear brand.

WeWearWavy is a counterculture brand that incorporates the emotional complexity of the human mind pulled from our thoughts, feelings, nightmares, and situations that we live in.

Amadi Rubie, founder of WeWearWavy

Family legacy

Entrepreneurship runs in Amadi’s blood. His great grandfather owned a hotel and restaurant in Costa Rica. His grandmother and grandfather created the Huggy Bean doll, the first black character doll to be mass-produced and sold in national retailers Toys “R” Us, Walmart, Kmart and Target.

His father, Osei, is the founder and president of National Standard Abstract (NSA), a full-service title insurance agency with expertise in residential and commercial real estate transactions.


“Musical artist XXXTENTACION was a huge inspiration for my clothing brand. His versatility in music, manner of speaking, and inspirational speeches spoke to me in a way nothing or no one else could. His personality and ability to be free, to be himself, empowered me to speak about my depression and express it effectively through my art in any way that made me happy,” said Amadi.

Rubie’s artistic eye and fashion sense caught the attention of LA model Ritta Kelly, fellow streetwear fashion designer Justin Noll, illustrators Nikolas Draper-Ivey and Christopher Cayco who have worn his designs. 

“Fashion is the creative freedom to experiment with colors and patterns that showcase your individuality. I wanted to create a brand that resonates with art enthusiasts by offering a unique fit and feel that is different from the norm. WeWearWavy was inspired  by my love of fashion and putting raw emotions into my clothing designs in the moment you feel them.”

Black Designer

Meaning behind the brand

“You are not alone” that is the message I want to send with my clothing brand. The things you think about those thoughts, other people have those same thoughts. When you express a certain emotion it expresses a certain level of comfort.

Dream Collaborations

There are only two designers that I admire the most and I’d really love to work with. Billie Eilish and Everard Best. As you may have seen Billie Eilish is a big advocate for fashion and has very interesting and different tastes in clothing and I’d love to see the ideas we could come up with if I ever have the privilege of working with her.

Black Designer

Everard Best is an amazing fashion designer known for working with Off-White under Vigil Abloh and Heron Preston. I think it would be really amazing to work with him as well.

His abilities to mend fabric with different sewing techniques and designs as well as his ability to dye fabric with interesting gradients is unique and I feel the collaboration would be very interesting if I get the chance.


Do what you want. Train your mind to deconstruct and reconstruct to see how things are made. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different materials and try to express your best and or worse self through your designs.



From Combat Boots to Pumps, How this Veteran is Taking the Fashion World by Storm

During her 20 years in the U.S. Army, Natasha Stanford jumped out of airplanes, led and developed multiple teams and was responsible for administrating a multi million dollar contract.

After each deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan, Natasha would to treat herself to a luxury item. Unfortunately, the shoes that she bought may have been stylish, but they were not comfortable. She became determined to find a way to create comfortable shoes of high quality.

This determination led Natasha to enroll in Arsutoria School in Italy, where she trained in the design, pattern making and manufacturing of shoes.

We caught up with Natasha to find out more about the inspiration behind her shoe company, Norie Shoes and her entrepreneurial journey in general.

norie shoes
Natasha Standard

How did your tenure in the armed forces prepare you for entrepreneurship?

In the military you learn and develop multiple skills and characteristics that and also beneficial in entrepreneurship. Some of these include leadership skills, discipline and tenacity. are among them. Other things I learned during my service were the importance of networking, financial skills and the ability to discern a situation.

norie shoes

What has been the most rewarding thing about your entrepreneurial journey so far? What has been the most challenging?

The most rewarding thing about my journey so far is being acknowledged by some celebrities, musicians, and athletes.

The most challenging is convincing people to believe in me and my vision. People will never believe in you the way you believe in yourself.

How do you select your designs and materials?

Because I am school trained, I follow the very important trend analysis process that is published on a bi-annual basis to the fashion industry. What most designers do not know, is that access to trend information is $25,000 a year.  That is technically a barrier to entry, because most designers cannot afford that expense.

This barrier allows a small designer like myself, to be in trend so that buyers will take notice and give my brand a chance because my style is similar to the larger designers they are used to supporting.

Where do you see the business in 5 years?

In five years, I plan on opening stores around the world (including an airport), and in two large retail stores.

I also see my company selling ten thousand pairs of shoes per year and becoming a household shoe brand name that is popular with celebrity designers and stylists. I would like my brand mentioned in a rap or R&B song.

In addition to all that, I will give back to the community by providing free shoes + backpacks to school age girls. My team is working on it, we don’t have the details yet.

norie shoes

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

My advice is to go for it and buy the best website, consultant and advisor for the lowest price.  For example, I spent $6,000 on a website and after it was built, the developer tried to charge me even more for something simple.  I fired him and started using Shopify.


-Tony O. Lawson

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