Browse Tag


3 mins read

Black Owned Travel Related Brands For Your Next Trip

Ready to embark on your next adventure? Whether you’re a seasoned globetrotter or a weekend getaway enthusiast, this curated list is your one-stop shop for travel essentials by brilliant Black owned brands.

From sleek luggage to mood-setting candles, informative apps to head-turning bags, these brands will help you travel confidently and in style.

Black Owned Travel Related Brands

Take Off Luggage

Goodbye Baggage Fees: This Black Man Created A Carry-On That Converts To A Personal Bag - Travel Noire

Take Off Luggage empowers budget-conscious travelers. Their carry-on suitcases detach from their wheels, transforming them into free “personal items” that fit under most airline seats, potentially eliminating baggage fees.


Conscious Contemporary Lifestyle Brand – diarrablu

DIARRABLU injects a dose of sunshine into your wardrobe with bold, eye-catching maxi dresses and sleek kimonos designed for effortless style on vacation or at home.

Bright Black

Discover a world of fragrance with the Diaspora Discovery Set. Six mini candles, each containing 0.5oz of wax, offer a delightful 1-2 hour burn time, perfect for exploring a range of scents at home or away.


Trips – SquadTrip

SquadTrip is an online platform designed to make group travel planning a breeze. It caters to organizers by offering a central hub for managing everything from creating a trip website to collecting payments and communicating with participants.


Curiocity is a chain of hybrid hotels, hostels, and travel experiences specifically based in South Africa. They focus on connecting “curious travelers” to the unique experiences each location offers


Enhance your on-the-go style with a handcrafted KariAndGo messenger bag. Made in Ghana using vibrant African fabrics, these bags are the perfect companions for your adventures.


The Everything Travel Blanket by E Marie Travel

Designed for life on the go, this versatile piece effortlessly transitions from a blissfully-soft scarf to snuggly blanket in a snap.


The Akira Fanny Pack features a water-resistant coating and spacious pockets, making it ideal for keeping your belongings safe and dry during any activity.

Cincha Cincha Mini Travel Belt for Luggage - Stylish & Adjustable Add a Bag Luggage Strap for Carry On Bag - Airport Travel Accessories for Women & Men - As Seen on

Cincha Travel offers stylish and functional travel accessories, designed to make your journeys easier. Their signature product is a travel belt that secures your personal bag to your carry-on, freeing up your hands.


BlackTravelBox Offers Beauty Products for The Traveler on the Go

BlackTravelBox® hair and skincare products are made for life on the go, with travel friendly packaging and formulations that make packing, carrying (on), and using them simple and easy.

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6 mins read

L’esprit Cruises: Launching The First Black Owned Fleet of Eco-Friendly Super Yachts

Fueled by a lifelong passion for yachting and over 28 years of expertise in the cruise and tours industries, Gordon Merritt, co-founder of L’esprit Cruises, is setting out to redefine luxury experiences and make them more accessible.

Inspired by the comfort and customization of private yacht charters, L’esprit is developing a unique alternative to traditional cruises. This innovative concept reimagines the day cruise, allowing guests to explore the Caribbean coastline in style and comfort, all while enjoying the unparalleled amenities of a superyacht.

Currently seeking investors to fuel their growth and bring this unique experience to life, L’esprit Cruises aims to fill a gap in the travel industry, offering a more accessible and personalized option for luxury travel enthusiasts.

In this interview, Gordon Merritt shares his inspiration, the gap L’esprit aims to fill, and the unique offerings that set the company apart. Additionally, we’ll explore L’esprit’s commitment to sustainable practices and their vision for the future.

L'Esprit cruises

What is the inspiration behind L’esprit Cruises? 

Ever since I cruised on my first private yacht, I’ve been in love with the possibility of owning one myself. After I bought my first 36ft cabin cruiser, I wanted to learn everything I could about passenger boats and what I would have to do to become rich in the passenger cruise industry.

To learn the cruise industry in detail, I decided that the only way to do it was to start my own Travel Company. Debbi and I spent the next 27 years creating an award-winning company booking customers on the most reputable cruise lines, charter yachts, and arranging luxury Excursions and Tours all over the world.

We discovered that Charter Yachts gave the highest level of cruising pleasure than any other passenger ship. Chartering a yacht just for you and your guests to enjoy is very different from a cruise ship vacation, as it is tailored just for your preferences along with your itinerary, your excursions, your chef, a staff that waits on you hand and foot, and the ability to stay in one place longer if you like or leave early if a destination disappoints.

The problem is, chartering a yacht is expensive and, because of that, very few people will have the opportunity to experience it. BUT WHAT IF……Super Yachts were introduced into the Tours and Activities market? The answer to that question is what created the L’esprit  Superyacht Day Cruise concept.

What insights can you share about the Tours and Activities segment of the Travel Industry?

The Tours and Activities market is defined as the amount of money travelers spend on destinations while traveling – including tours, attractions, events, activities (not including dining and shopping), and transportation.

The global market for Tours and Activities bookings was $157 billion in 2022 and is projected to reach a revised size of $264.4 billion by 2030. In comparison, the cruise industry worldwide generated $13.6 billion in revenue in 2022, with the U.S. being the largest contributor in terms of paying passengers.

Many resellers of Tours & Activities have launched and online travel’s biggest brands (including Expedia, Airbnb, and TripAdvisor) have moved into this space. All are fueling astonishing sector growth and travel activities are positioned to reach $183 billion by 2020.

Vacationers want to experience something new and are tired of the same old tours and activities. The truth is, that the tours and activities space is undergoing a radical reinvention of what exactly it means to experience something new on vacation.

L'Esprit cruises

What specific details, services, or amenities set L’Esprit apart, especially for those seeking a refined travel experience?

L’esprit plans to offer an exclusive experience tailored for refined travelers. Picture indulging in the coastal charm of an island destination from the opulent confines of a super yacht, accommodating 300-500 passengers. With flexible boarding and disembarking via water taxis, guests can tailor their experience.

During the daytime cruise, guests can enjoy sightseeing, dining, entertainment, spa services, swimming, and sunbathing. As twilight descends, the Sunset Cruise will continue the enchanting journey along the shoreline, promising unparalleled luxury and leisure.

What environmental initiatives are in place or planned to promote sustainable operations?

To promote sustainable operations, L’esprit Yacht will implement state-of-the-art and eco-friendly measures. For example, each ship will feature hybrid electric main engines. Additionally, they will utilize Wingsail propulsion known as Oceanwings®, eliminating the need to activate main engines for propulsion.

Pod Propeller Systems and Bow Thrusters will enable the use of Dynamic Positioning Systems instead of anchors, preserving seabeds and coral reefs. Furthermore, a desalination plant will convert salt water into fresh water, and pump-out stations on land will be utilized instead of waste dumping into the sea.

What are your future plans for the company?

The big picture of L’esprit Superyacht Day Cruises is to build into the largest, and most profitable Day Cruise line in the world.

L’espirit Cruises Business Summary

4 mins read

Jnane Tamsna’s New Year’s House Party: A Cultural Extravaganza

Get ready for an extraordinary experience as Jnane Tamsna invites you to an African Heritage New Year’s House Party, set to take place in the captivating city of Marrakech from December 28, 2023, to January 2nd, 2024.

This curated event promises an enchanting journey deep into the heart of African heritage, offering a unique blend of cultural immersion and style.

Jnane Tamsna's

A Grand Welcome:

December 28th – Day 1

As guests arrive, they are greeted with a warm and breathtaking welcome. The festivities commence with a rooftop soirée featuring drinks and dinner, set against a backdrop of beautiful bonfires and a panoramic view of the palm tree canopy gracing the hotel’s grounds. Paying homage to the Senegalese roots of the hotel’s owner, Meryanne Loum Martin, the buffet menu and home-infused cocktails showcase rich Senegalese flavors and recipes.

Jnane Tamsna

Daily Delights

December 29th – Day 2:

The journey begins with a guided tour of the historic Medina, where guests explore iconic sites, including the Saadian Tombs and the newly opened architectural gem, the MAP. Afterward, a rooftop lunch at MAP provides breathtaking views. The afternoon offers free time for guests to discover the city, with personalized recommendations from the hotel’s Conciergerie. The day concludes with an exquisite dinner at Palais Soleiman, a 19th-century palace celebrating Moroccan craftsmanship. 

December 30th – Day 3:

Day three is filled with adventure, starting early with a hot air balloon ride over the stunning Moroccan countryside. Lunch is served in the mountains at Kasbah Bab Ourika, followed by visits to Anima, a sculpture garden, and Nectarome, an aromatic farm offering a traditional bread baking class. As the sun sets, guests gather for drinks on the rooftop terrace of the Nobu Hotel, followed by a magical jungle dinner party set on an estate adorned with hundreds of plant varieties. The night continues with drinks and dancing at Bo Zin, a lively restaurant lounge.

December 31st – Day 4:

The morning is free, allowing guests to prepare for the grand New Year’s Eve celebration. A costume and accessory corner provides the essentials for extraordinary party outfits. After a delightful lunch at Jardin du Lotus, guests embark on a visit to the Medersa Ben Youssef, a 14th-century Koranic school, and the verdant Secret Garden. The evening brings a unique desert camp experience at the hotel, complete with a “1001 nights” theme, camel rides, live music, and more. The night culminates with a gala dinner featuring an iconic long candlelit table nestled amidst lush trees. The celebration continues with an after-party at the owner’s private residence, complete with DJ sets and surprise performances.

Jnane Tamsna

January 1st – Day 5:

New Year begins with a spectacular and festive garden brunch, BBQ, and a pool party with live jazz. Workshops and activities, including pottery, weaving, and henna, offer engaging experiences. The evening is left open for guests to explore the city, with the Conciergerie available for restaurant and activity recommendations.

January 2nd – Day 5:

The second day of 2024 starts with a serene breakfast in the hotel’s dining room, offering a moment of reflection on the incredible journey that has been experienced. Departures take place throughout the day, and the Conciergerie remains at guests’ disposal, providing recommendations for activities and spa treatments for those with later flights.

As the event concludes, the memories forged during these six days are sure to remain etched in the hearts and minds of all who attended, echoing the spirit of Jnane Tamsna’s commitment to celebrating the rich tapestry of African heritage.

For questions and to secure your spot, email 🥂

2 mins read

Crossing Continents: Ashley Cleveland’s Entrepreneurial Journey from the U.S. to Africa

In this interview, Ashley Cleveland, founder of Ashley in Afrika and the Afrika Investors Academy, takes us on her transformative path from the United States to Africa. She shares the driving force that led her to make the momentous decision to relocate.

Delving into the origins of the Afrika Investors Academy, Ashley sheds light on its inception and how it has grown into a thriving online community with members from across the globe. She highlights the Academy’s mission of fostering entrepreneurship and investment in Africa, showcasing the remarkable businesses and projects being built by its members.

Drawing from her own experiences, Ashley identifies lucrative business opportunities and investment sectors in Africa, emphasizing the significance of staying attuned to geopolitical developments. With insightful anecdotes, she reflects on the reception of Black Americans in Africa and explores the evolving relationship between the diaspora and the continent, unearthing both the immense potential and the challenges that lie ahead.

For aspiring entrepreneurs and individuals considering a move or starting a business in South Africa or Tanzania, Ashley offers invaluable advice, drawing from her firsthand encounters and lessons learned. Furthermore, she shares her unique insights and experiences on dating and socializing in Africa, providing a captivating glimpse into the vibrant cultural landscape.

Join Ashley Cleveland on this entrepreneurial journey as she unveils the motivations, triumphs, and invaluable wisdom gained from her transformative move to Africa and the establishment of the Afrika Investors Academy.

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by Tony O. Lawson

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4 mins read

Crafting Words and Connections: Join Jnane Tamsna’s 2nd Writing Retreat in Morocco

If you’re a writer looking for an opportunity to connect with other like-minded creatives and explore the beauty of Marrakech, Morocco, then the PhiloXenia Creative Writing Retreat: Writing as a Catalyst for Community is the perfect event for you.

The retreat will be held on the grounds of the luxurious Jnane Tamsna resort, the only Black woman-owned luxury hotel resort in Marrakech. Set in the lush date palm oasis, the resort offers a serene and inspiring setting for the creative process.

Held from March 28th to April 2nd, this event is a chance to participate in generative creative writing workshops led by esteemed authors, learn about the editorial and publishing world, and delve into the true life of a writer.

The retreat will be led by three renowned writing professionals: Glory Edim, founder of Well-Read Black Girl, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Tyehimba Jess, and Senior Editor Yahdon Israel. Together, they will guide participants through a series of workshops that explore how we can use writing to create strong community bonds.


Glory Edim

Author and activist Glory Edim founded Well-Read Black Girl, a nationwide book club-turned-literacy non-profit that celebrates literature’s life-changing power. Well-Read Black Girl advocates and empowers through storytelling. Glory received the 2017 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes Innovator’s Award and the Hurston/Wright Foundation Madam C.J. Walker Award for her literary advocacy.

Yahdon Israel

Yahdon Israel, a senior editor at Simon Schuster, founded Literaryswag to make books accessible through fashion and literature. He writes for The New Inquiry, LitHub, Poets and Writers, Vanity Fair, and The Atlantic. He founded the Literaryswag Book Club, a Brooklyn subscription service and book club that meets every last Wednesday of the month, and teaches Creative Writing at City College’s MFA Program.

Tyehimba Jess

Tyehimba Jess is the author of two books of poetry, Leadbelly and Olio. Olio won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, The Midland Society Author’s Award in Poetry, and received an Outstanding Contribution to Publishing Citation from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. It was also nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN Jean Stein Book Award, and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. Leadbelly was a winner of the 2004 National Poetry Series. The Library Journal and Black Issues Book Review both named it one of the “Best Poetry Books of 2005.”

jnane tamsna

But the retreat isn’t just about writing. It’s an opportunity to discover Marrakech and its surrounding areas with private tours of the city’s majestic medina and sojourns to secret gardens and the Atlas Mountains.

Throughout the retreat, participants will have the chance to engage in cultural activities and develop relationships with people from different backgrounds, cultures, and countries. This is a space to connect, create, and reflect on the craft of writing in a supportive and inspiring environment.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced writer, this is an incredible opportunity to hone your craft, connect with fellow writers, and experience the vibrant culture of Marrakech.


Please contact for more information.


8 mins read

From Afrochella to AfroFuture: 4 Lessons in Navigating Trademark Law

To celebrate the New Year, I journeyed from New York to Accra, Ghana for “Detty December”, a pilgrimage of Black people from all over the world to celebrate all things Black and beautiful through cultural events, sightseeing, eating good food, and lots and lots of partying.

When I tell you everyone was in Ghana this past month, I mean EVERYONE.

My girls and I checked out a popular hotspot called, “FrontBack” where we ‘casually’ partied alongside some of the greats like Jidenna, Masego, and none other than Wizkid, himself. We also grabbed dinner where we spotted Chance the Rapper and the extremely talented Michaela Coel.

The energy was so exhilarating that I watched the sun come up on more than one occasion while dancing to Afrobeats. To say we had a time is an understatement!

While in Accra, I attended Afrochella – a 2-day festival celebrating Africa’s diverse culture and the vibrant work of African creatives and entrepreneurs. The people were beautiful and the vibes were unmatched. There’s nothing like hearing your favorite Afrobeats and Ampiano artists singing and dancing to your favorite songs along with thousands of other beautiful Black people!

Although I was having an amazing time on my vacation, it’s often hard for me to turn off the “lawyer” in me and I caught a few things that had me thinking.

First, I noticed that there was a huge banner at the festival that stated, “Afrochella is…AfroFuture.” Then shortly after Burna Boy’s electric closeout performance, one of the showrunners thanked the crowd for their support and stated, “This will be the last Afrochella you will attend,” which left everyone a bit puzzled.

Credit: Afrofuture(Twitter)

Then I remembered that Goldenvoice – the organizer of the Coachella Music Festival – filed a trademark infringement lawsuit in an attempt to block Afrochella from promoting its festival because it caused a “likelihood of confusion” with Coachella.

Upon hearing the news, I hoped that the parties would come to an amicable agreement that would allow Afrochella to continue the amazing work it has done for the African diaspora without going bankrupt with legal fees.

Thus, when I learned that Afrochella announced its official rebrand to “AfroFuture” and its commitment to continue producing amazing events in the name of African culture, I was relieved.

Though it is safe to say that Afrochella built an amazing brand in its own right, when the name of your brand can be considered “confusingly similar” to other brands that were in the marketplace before you, it is extremely risky business to proceed.

Here are a few lessons we can learn from the rebrand of Afrochella:

1. Conduct a Comprehensive Clearance Search BEFORE Launching Your Brand

The very first thing I ask my clients when they tell me the name of their brand is if they’ve done a search to make sure no one else already has their name. Before investing all of your time, energy, and money, make sure there is no one else that can stake a claim to your brand. And I’m not talking about a simple Google search. This search is best left to an attorney who understands the way intellectual property protection works.

2. Consider Rebranding Sooner than Later

If you conduct a comprehensive clearance search and find that there is another brand already using the name you chose for similar goods, it would be wise to consider rebranding before you’ve made those hefty investments we talked about. An alternative to rebranding would be to reach out to the brand owner and see if you can buy the brand from them. If you have the means to do so, then it’s worth a try.

3. OWN Your Brand

It may come as a surprise, but you don’t legally own your brand until you have a registered trademark that says so. A trademark is anything that you use to associate your brand with your goods or services. So, a trademark can be a word, slogan, tagline, hashtag, or even a color or smell. Once you register your trademark, you will receive a certificate from the federal government that states you are the exclusive owner of your trademark.

4. ENFORCE your Rights

Having your registered trademark will not, on its own, stop others from using your trademark for their own purposes. This is why you must monitor the market and make sure that you reach out to those who are using your trademark without your permission. Some websites and social media platforms even allow you to file a takedown request but only if you can show that you have a registered trademark.

Though I learned so much about my people and was reminded of how amazing and resilient we are while in Ghana, it was made clear to me how important it is for us to ensure that we own and protect what we create. At the end of the day, we are the culture and the culture must be protected at all costs.

by Ashley Cloud Esq.

Ashley is the founder of The Cloud Law Firm, servicing creative entrepreneurs in all 50 states. You can visit or follow @thecloudlawfirm and @yourfashionattorney on Instagram for more information.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only.  Information on this website may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information.  This website contains links to other third-party websites.  Such links are only for the convenience of the reader, user or browser; Ashley N. Cloud and The Cloud Law Firm PLLC do not recommend or endorse the contents of the third-party sites.
5 mins read

Black Owned Luxury Hotel, Jnane Tamsna Hosting Writers Retreat in Morocco for Black Authors

Jnane Tamsna is the only Black woman-owned luxury hotel resort located in the lush date palm forest of Marrakech, Morocco.

In partnership with Parea Books, Jnane Tamsna is launching the Philoxenia retreats, an Immersive Literature & Writing Retreat for four esteemed authors in a series of generative creative writing workshops that explore themes of self-expansion, societal revolution, cultural presence, and embodiment.

Jnane Tamsna

The workshops ( January 6th to 11th 2023) will be complemented by cultural activities, including private tours of the city’s majestic medina and sojourns to secret gardens within the city’s walls.

This will be a space to discover, create, reflect, and develop relationships with people across borders, cultures, and backgrounds.


Cleyvis Natera

Cleyvis Natera is an essayist, short fiction writer, critic and novelist. Her debut novel Neruda on the Park was an anticipated book of 2022 by TIME, the Today Show, Good Morning America’s Zibby Owens, ELLE. Upon publication, Neruda on the Park was selected as a May 2022 New York Times Editor’s Choice.

Camille T. Dungy
Camille T. Dungy is an author, poet and scholar. Author of four collections of poetry, most recently Trophic Cascade (Wesleyan UP, 2017), winner of the Colorado Book Award. Her debut collection of personal essays is Guidebook to Relative Strangers (W. W. Norton, 2017), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Dungy is currently a Professor in the English Department at Colorado State University.
Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah is the New York Times-bestselling author of Friday Black. Originally from Spring Valley, New York, he graduated from SUNY Albany and received his MFA from Syracuse University. His work has appeared or is forthcoming from numerous publications, including the New York Times Book Review, Literary Hub, the Paris Review. He is the winner of the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award.
Tanaïs is the author of In Sensorium: Notes for My People, a finalist for the 2022 Kirkus Prize, and the critically acclaimed novel Bright Lines, which was a finalist for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, the Edmund White Debut Fiction Award, and the Brooklyn Eagles Literary Prize. TANAÏS is based in New York City.


Meryanne Loum-Martin is the owner of Jnane Tamsna. We caught up with her to find out more about this exciting cultural experience.
Jnane Tamsna
Meryanne Loum-Martin

Why is this retreat important to you?

In a world where so many deserve to be seen but still are not, in a corporate space where to reach the same level, we are expected to stand out: we need our voice.

Curated by our mind, customized by our uniqueness, and enriched by our experience, our voice is our personal tool for change,  growth, and impact.

With our Philoxenia retreats, we want to learn from prominent storytellers and writers of color.

Jnane Tamsna is a space in which energy, style, and architecture have “ de facto” been a catalyst for transformative experiences. It favors a remarkable connection between people.

It is important for me to bring this efficient and educational tool to the immense construction site which is diversity, inclusion, and equity.

How can people support this event?

There are 3 ways:

  1. Individuals can book the retreat.
  2. Corporations can send employees. The unique bond of this shared experience will impact the conversation back in the office.
  3. Donations to The Global Diversity Foundation will pay for their airfare and a small stipend of up to 10 young writers. Most of them coming from HBCUs. Jnane Tamsna will offer them room and board.

Please contact for more information.


6 mins read

Nubuke Foundation: Fueling Ghana’s Art Ecosystem

Nubuke Foundation is a visual art and cultural institution based in Accra, Ghana. Founded in 2006, the Foundation serves as a nexus for the preservation, recording, and promotion of contemporary arts and culture through art exhibitions, book readings, art talks, film screenings, performances, seminars, and workshops.

Odile Tevie is the current director and a founding member of Nubuke Foundation. We caught up with her to learn more about the institution.

Nubuke Foundation
Odile Tevie, Co-Founder and Director of Nubuke Foundation

In what ways does Nubuke Foundation support artists?

Nubuke Foundation has a robust calendar programme within which artists are given opportunities to improve their artistic capabilities, showcase their work and build patronage with audiences.

There is a need for artists- budding, young, or mid-career and those contemplating art practice to be supported and given a platform not only to develop and showcase their works but to engage with art patrons.

The professional ecosystem that supports the career of artists is vital. Nubuke Foundation has provided the opportunity for many professionals to hone their skills-writers, curators, photographers etc.

Nubuke Foundation

What are your thoughts on the development of the art scene in Ghana?

I am extremely proud of where we are today. Nubuke Foundation had the foresight almost 20 years ago to lay the foundation for the artist’s career and future. However, so much more investment is needed to ensure more than 50% of artists graduating from art School continue into full-time practice.

The development needs to be holistic if it is to be sustainable. That means the entire ecosystem of the art scene should be invested in. The artists are ambitious, building on their talents and capabilities to compelling works.

This has brought worldwide interest to our art scene. We cannot ignore the role of other professionals who work with them to achieve this.

Nubuke Foundation

Which up-and-coming or established artists do you think we should know about?

There are several artists who are extremely talented and doing incredibly well with focus and drive. Several of the mid-career artists today would have had several opportunities in our exhibition programming in the last 16 years to strengthen and showcase their practice. 

I am extremely proud of the ones who have participated in our YGA programme in the last 8 years as well.

Na Chainkua Reindorf and Nana Opoku are showing in Ghana’s pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale. Eric Gyamfi is a beautiful photographer and Gideon Appah is also an artist to watch.

We are also very keen to promote artists whose works are priced affordably. This programme will be launched in November/ December 2022.

Nubuke Foundation

What needs to occur in order to develop the African art ecosystem?

It’s a very tall order! We need to intentionally focus and systematically build up the system by bringing more business and tech skills to the commercial side, engaging more philanthropy, patronage, and support to build career opportunities for artists, and strengthening the capacity of professionals.

Training is an essential first step. There is a need for criticality in academia and research, and to provide access to resources, libraries, etc. It should be noted that it was only in the last decade that the College of Art at KNUST started an MFA in Curating. In the same period, Ghanatta College, the school that Amoako Boafo attended in Accra closed.

Access to ongoing professional development, mentorship, institutional exchanges, and residencies is also important. We need to increase the number of professionals who shape and promote artists- curators, writers, and critics.

More platforms are needed (print media and online) to showcase and promote the incredible talent and work being done on the continent. Art institutions are important in recording history and providing access to resources and archival material. 

Lastly, there should be greater engagement with patrons, collectors, and buyers in the continent.

What does the future look like for the art scene in Ghana?

There is a lot of goodwill and keenness to see growth in the industry. This is a good thing for all of us. So far as we focus and invest in training, ongoing professional development, publishing, and creating more spaces within which we can showcase art.

I am confident that we will develop into a sector that offers career opportunities for artists and the surrounding ecosystem, build sustainable livelihoods, and creates fulfilling experiences for our audiences.

-Tony O. Lawson

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1 min read

Black Owned Abroad: They Moved to South Africa and Started a Luxury Travel Company

Mark and Dr. Latesha Blanton are the owners of The Real South Africa, a luxury travel company based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Their company offers a variety of services for those interested in expanding their knowledge of South Africa and what it has to offer.

In this interview with Mark, he shares his experience living and working in Africa.

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0:00 Introduction

0:38 – What does his business do?

1: 45 – What inspired them to start the business?

2:43 – Moving to Johannesburg

3: 25 – What do you enjoy the most about living in Johannesburg?

7:00 – Are there a lot of African Americans in Johannesburg?

8:32 – Relocation process

10:33 – Trends/Changes in perception

15:26 – Mindset shift

18:12 – Business goals

19:40 – Africans vs African Americans (Uber story)

22:20 – Contact info

Tony O. Lawson

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5 mins read

Mother Creates Baby Vend, a Vending Machine Business That Helps Traveling Families

Prior to the widespread COVID-19 shutdowns, the vending machine industry in the U.S. reached $8 billion, and global vending machine revenue topped $23 billion.

The vending machine industry took a hit during the beginning of the pandemic but is expected to rebound fully and even continue its pattern of growth now that more people are back to work and traveling more often.

Jasmin Smith is the CEO of Anchorage, Alaska based Baby Vend, a network of vending machines equipped with baby supplies. We caught up with her to find out more about her business.

Baby Vend

What inspired you to start your business?

I have always been involved in entrepreneurship and owned businesses in Alaska from business development consulting to coworking spaces and incubators but BabyVend LLC is truly special.

I found myself stuck in a mall with my twins who were babies at the time and I really needed a diaper because I didn’t pack as many as I thought.

I ran all over the mall looking for help to no avail and it was at that moment I thought I gotta do something about this. Not just something, but something unique. So, I did extensive market research to see how I could make a product that served traveling families.

Baby Vend
Baby Vend at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (Emily Mesner / ADN)

Tell us about being Black in Alaska.

Black Alaska is small and unique. People often forget and sometimes can’t believe we are here but there are many (like myself) who grew up here!

We have an extensive history and deep roots in Alaska to include business owners, elected officials, military, community activists, and more. We celebrate Black community milestones like Juneteenth and Black History Month, Kwanzaa and we also are n solidarity with movements like Black Lives Matter and had our own civil rights moments here.

We have organizations like the NAACP and Black Chamber of Commerce and Alaska Black Business Directory & Expo and many other organizations and we literally have Black community members from all walks of the diaspora. For folks who are new to Alaska, it can be hard to adjust but once you get acquainted with the community I think many see we have a lot to offer.

Being Black in Alaska is not for the faint of heart but we have a community committed to making sure we are seen and heard and empowered.

Based on research and feedback, what type of locations are these vending machines most in demand?

Definitely airports, trains, hotels, amusement parks, and anywhere else you may want to visit and don’t have quick access to leave if you find yourself without something.

What can we expect from BabyVend in the new future?

We recently launched new machines that take technology to a whole new level. We expanded to more locations and are currently in 8 states with 2 more on the way and aspirations to be in 15 by the end of 2021.

We finalized our supply kit division for locations that cannot accommodate a full vending machine. We also launched our own shipping and receiving department to get our machines placed faster.

In addition to that, we are in the process of holding a huge nationwide custom vending conference to help other people launch their own companies to include getting one of our machines.

baby vend

How can we support you now and going forward?

By investing and supporting our campaign, most importantly. We are one of the largest Black owned custom vending companies in the country and the financial support will allow us to grow, hire new key departments and finalize some much needed research and development

Lastly, if you know of any airlines, Amtrak, or other transit locations that would be interested in various sized machines and products kits, contact us!

Visit Baby Vend on FacebookTwitterInstagram, or visit their website.

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