Browse Tag


4 mins read

IBest Wines: Championing Diversity and South African Vintages

Ingrid Best, a dynamic figure in the wine and spirits industry, has embarked on an exciting new venture by introducing her own wine label, IBest Wines.

Best’s 20-year career has been marked by pivotal moments in brand development and cultural transformation, and she is now infusing her passion for diversity and inclusivity into this fresh endeavor.

Ingrid Best, Wine Négociant and founder of IBest Wines

Ingrid’s journey was not without its challenges. She self-funded her wine venture, which was a significant financial undertaking. However, her investments in real estate, stocks, and art over the years provided the financial backing she needed. It wasn’t until recently that friends recognized the potential in her project and offered to invest, demonstrating the power of collective support, especially among Black women.

The talented team of founding members at IBest Wines, includes brand strategist Anna Miya, finance professional Chanel Floyd, sommelier Grace Mahary, and brand manager Rachel McKinnie.

IBest Wines initially focuses on South African wines, a category often overshadowed in the wine industry. Best is enthusiastic about championing it through her new brand, collaborating with accomplished South African winemakers to craft distinctive blends that showcase the nation’s rich winemaking heritage.

As a Black woman from America entering the world of South African wine, Ingrid recognized the importance of building connections and earning permission. She embarked on a journey to connect with the people of South Africa and share their stories through her brand. It wasn’t just about creating a wine; it was about respectfully becoming a part of a community with a deep wine tradition.

South Africa’s winemaking history spans over 350 years. The country’s diverse climate and soils yield a wide variety of grape varieties, including Chenin Blanc, Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Shiraz. South African wines are renowned for their bold flavors and exceptional value for money.

Despite this rich winemaking tradition, South African wines are often underrepresented in the United States wine market. This is likely due to several factors, including the country’s geographical distance from the US and limited awareness of South African wines among American consumers.

At the core of IBest Wines are two exceptional blends that encapsulate the essence of South African winemaking:

  • IBest White Blend: Peach, apricot, and lemon flavors meld with hints of basil, honeysuckle, biscuit, and soft cheese. Best enjoyed chilled a perfect companion for any gathering or time with yourself.
  • IBest Red Blend: Floral tea nuances meet rich notes of blackberry, cherry, blueberry, and blackcurrant, all underscored by warm spices. Whether paired with fine or casual dining, it promises a robust and balanced experience.

Both of these exquisite blends draw inspiration from South Africa’s fertile soils and offer accessibility in terms of affordability and taste, making them a delight for wine enthusiasts of all levels.

Ingrid’s journey is not a solitary one. She acknowledges the support and camaraderie within the Black-owned wine and spirits industry. Industry peers like the McBride Sisters, who have blazed their own trails, serve as sources of inspiration and guidance. Together, they’re working towards a more inclusive and diverse wine world.

Beyond championing South African wines, IBest Wines is equally committed to supporting underrepresented winemakers. Best holds the belief that everyone deserves a seat at the table, and she is determined to leverage her platform to amplify the voices and craftsmanship of underrepresented winemakers in the industry.

ibest wines

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by Tony O. Lawson

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10 mins read

Meet The Attorney Who Has Owned Her Own Vineyard for Almost 20 Years

Founded in 2003, Theopolis Vineyards is a small lot vineyard and hand-crafted winery located in California’s prestigious Yorkville Highlands of the Anderson Valley.

The vineyard is owned by Ms. Theodora Lee, a charter member of the Association of African American Vintners, a member of Delta Sigma Theta, and a senior partner, and trial lawyer at Littler Mendelson P.C.

We caught up with Ms. Lee to find out more about her and her business.

Theopolis Vineyards
Theodora Lee, Founder of Theopolis Vineyards / Photo by Jessica Chou

What inspired you to get into the wine industry?

My inspiration to get into the wine industry began when I moved to California from Texas in the 1980s when I was introduced to fine wine by my law firm mentors. Prior to that, I really did not drink wine because my dad picked wild Muscadine grapes and made home brew.  

Given that Muscadine was my first introduction to wine, and I found that sweet and syrupy wine nasty, I really had no taste for wine until I moved to California in the ’80s, and learned about fine wine.

In the 80s when I began practicing law, there were no fax machines, emails, Wi-Fi, or other means of electronic communications, so if I needed a law firm partner to review a brief or other legal document, and that partner was at his/her weekend home, I would drive it to that partner’s weekend home.  While the partner reviewed the brief, I would be invited to stay for dinner, and we would drink fine wine. 

Theopolis Vineyards

Also, I was allowed to walk the vineyards.  Given the fact that I learned to drive on a tractor at the age of 8 at my father’s cattle ranch that experience got me interested in grape farming.   At that point, I envisioned owning my own vineyard one day.  Having my own vineyard would allow me to combine my love for farming and the outdoors, and become a grape farmer. Also, I fell in love with the wine lifestyle – great wine, great food and being out in the vineyard. 

From 2003 until 2012, I was quite content being a grape farmer, plowing the land, pruning the vines, fertilizing the vineyard, mowing, chopping, weed eating, erosion control, tying the shoots up to T-posts, fruit thinning, and picking the grapes during Harvest.

As any wine maker will tell you, Great Wine starts in the Vineyard.  That is why vineyard management is essential to growing premium wine grapes.  As a grower, I along with my vineyard manager are intricately involved in all seasonal activities associated with the vineyard.  

Theopolis Vineyards

Initially, I sold my Petite Sirah to Carlisle Winery, Halcon Vineyards, and a few other premium wineries.   I was quite content simply being a grower. Indeed, Wine Critic Robert Parker bestowed upon wine made from grapes harvested from Theopolis Vineyards a stellar rating of 94-96 points, a spectacular showing for my first harvest in 2006.  That put me on the map.

Then, in 2012, an ill-timed rain fell during harvest and I rushed to pick my grapes at 23 brix. The buyer at that time (no longer Carlisle) had contracted for grapes at 25 brix, so they rejected the entire lot. Faced with no one willing to purchase fruit at a lower brix level at the last minute, I decided to have my fruit custom-crushed. 

I then bartered to get the wine produced.  Specifically, I gave the winemaker half of my harvest for free, if, in turn, he would process the other half and make my wines.   So, that 2012 vintage was bottled in 2014.

Fortunately, my 2012 Petite Sirah received a gold medal from Sunset Magazine and soon thereafter, Theopolis Vineyards was underway.  Since then, we have consistently produced 90 + point, Best in Class, Double Gold and Gold Medal wines.

Theopolis Vineyards

Can you describe the process you went through to develop your vineyard?

Well, to develop my own vineyard, I took several viticulture classes at UC Davis Viticulture School and learned about viticulture.  However, California land is not cheap.  Although I looked at properties in Napa and Sonoma, I could not afford land in those locations.  

My law firm and vineyard mentor suggested that I look at Mendocino County.   So, in 2001, I took the equity out of my home and purchased 20 acres in the Yorkville Highlands of Anderson Valley in Mendocino County, and began developing my vineyard. That process was intensive, as I had to do soil digs, clear the land, conduct land analysis to ensure the land was suitable for grape growing. 

Finally, in 2003, I planted my vineyard, adopted my Greek name, from pledging Delta Sigma Theta Sorority at Spelman College, and established Theopolis Vineyards.   So, my dream of being a grape farmer came to reality in 2003 when I planted 5 acres of Petite Sirah grapes.  

Theopolis Vineyards

How has the pandemic affected your business if at all?

Well, like others, living in the COVID-19 era is very stressful. Because I still practice law full time, I was able to offer free shipping during this ongoing pandemic, which eliminated the biggest hurdle to buying wines online.  As a result, our on-line sales increased.  

We have pivoted and do virtual tastings for sororities, fraternities, non-profit organizations, corporations, corporate boards, team building, leadership organizations, etc.   Thus, we have actually been able to expand our business.   In 2019, we produced and sold between 800-1000 cases of wine.   Since 2020, we have increased our production to 2500 cases annually and doing a decent job getting the wines sold.

What barriers have you encountered in the wine industry and how did you overcome them?

Well, unfortunately, racism exists in every facet of society, and the wine industry is no exception.   The wine industry is a white male dominated one.  The biggest barrier has been finding distributors and getting my wines in high end restaurants and wine bars. 

However, as a lawyer, I have been fortunate enough to overcome many of these obstacles by having my law firm partners introduce me to restaurant and bar owners, and that introduction has facilitated me overcoming those hurdles.  

I am happy to state that our wines are carried in some of the finest restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Also, I believe in hard work and grit, and I never give up.   Even though I produce award winning wines, distributors still reject doing business with me.  

Recently, one distributor told me he questioned the marketability of one of my varietals.  Despite the consistent rejection, I keep pounding the pavement.

Earlier this year, Southern Glazer’s, a premier beverage distributor for world-class wines, picked up our wines for distribution in Florida thanks to the demands of a prominent Florida Restaurant Group. 

Due to my persistence, I continue to be picked up by Distributors in Texas and Massachusetts.   

What advice do you have for aspiring vintners?

Pursue your passion, educate yourself, work extremely hard, be persistent and be very patient. Never give up and keep climbing and success is yours for the taking.


Tony O. Lawson

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1 min read

NBA Player CJ McCollum Now Owns a 300-Acre Vineyard

NBA star and vintner CJ McCollum has purchased a 318-acre property, located in Oregon’s Yamhill-Carlton appellation, for his Heritage 91 wine label.

The soon-to-be 30-year-old shooting guard for the Portland Trail Blazers appears to be the first active NBA player to own his own vineyard.

CJ McCollum

The still-to-be-named vineyard is a 318-acre property in the Willamette Valley’s Yamhill-Carlton AVA, located just west of the Chehalem Mountains where the label’s grapes are currently grown.

Related: Black Owned Wine Businesses You Should Know

According to an announcement, the farm — which borders Resonance Vineyard — features “multiple micro-climates, a five-acre reservoir, several irrigation ponds, a rock quarry, and a nursery operation.”

The Heritage 91 property is in the Yamhill-Carlton appellation, right next door to Louis Jadot’s Oregon vineyard. (Oregon First)

The McCollums say they are hoping to begin laying out the vineyard next year, working with local experts to find the best clones for the land, implying that it may be some time before the wine is actually produced from grapes grown on the site.

So in the meantime, McCollum Heritage 91 wines will continue to be produced with their current, founding partner, Adelsheim Vineyard.

Source: Wine Spectator and Food &Wine

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1 min read

She Owns Two 7-Elevens and is Achieving Record Sales With a Black Owned Wine Brand

Alyson Rae Lawson is the CEO of RaeLawson Enterprise LLC, franchisee/operator of two 7-Eleven convenience stores (with gas stations) located right across from each other in Arlington, TX.

In this interview we discuss:

  1. Becoming a franchise owner vs starting a business from scratch.
  2. How and why she uses her platform to be a positive influence in her community.
  3. The amazing response from selling a Black-owned Wine brand in one of her stores. (1100 bottles in two days)

…and more!

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

Tony O. Lawson


Related: Black Owned 7-Eleven Sold Over 100 Cases of a Black Owned Wine Brand Three Days

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3 mins read

This Black Owned 7-Eleven Sold Over 100 Cases of a Black Owned Wine Brand Three Days

Alyson Rae Lawson is the CEO of RaeLawson Enterprise LLC, franchisee/operator of two 7-Eleven convenience stores (with gas stations) located right across from each other in Arlington, TX.

One of her locations recently started stocking the “Black Girl Magic” collection from McBride Sisters, the largest Black owned wine company in the country.

The results have been phenomenal!

Black owned 7- Eleven
Alyson Rae Lawson

“It kind of blew out of the water,” Lawson told Fox 4 News. “I think my last order of the entire McBride collection was 80 cases.”

Robin McBride confirmed Lawson has become the highest volume selling retailer of their brand in the country.

“I don’t know that we’ve seen an account quite like this before,” Robin said. “But her for a 7-Eleven, they brought in 10 cases of Black Girl Magic and they sold out the first day. The next day, they brought in 30 cases and they sold out that day. Then 70 cases and it’s sold out immediately. She said I can’t even keep these in stock.”

“It started with the Black Girl Magic collection and that sold like crazy,” Lawson said. “Then once I bought out all of the warehouses in Texas, I said why don’t I get the rest of the McBride’s in stock until I get more Black Girl Magic.”

Across the miles, the two Black woman-owned companies feel something special helping one another.

“As soon as we’re able to move around, we are going to get on the first thing smoking to go hug her neck and congratulate her,” Robin said.

“It’s really about helping each other,” Lawson said.

Lawson is very social media savvy. That’s how she keeps her customers up-to-date on when they can expect each shipment the McBride Sisters Wine to arrive.


Lawson owns both of the 7-Eleven gas stations on the corner of Matlock and I-20. Currently, the McBride Sister’s wine is only stocked at the Shell Station.

RaeHive 7-Eleven
100 E I-20
Arlington, TX 76018


Tony O. Lawson

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4 mins read


Wine lovers like to talk about how wine brings people together. But in her years of experience working at restaurants in Philadelphia and Miami, Tahiirah Habibi saw something missing in the wine world. “I was working as a sommelier, and I was building a great career, but I didn’t see people who looked like me,” she says. “I always felt it was a stretch to see another person of color, and I decided to put my talents back into my community.”

tahiirah habibi
Photo Credit: Imbebe

In 2017, Habibi launched The Hue Society, planning events such as the annual Black Wine Experience in New Orleans, that helps connect the wine world with an African-American audience. “There’s a lack of opportunities to increase wine knowledge in the community, and there’s a desire for that knowledge,” she says. “I felt like it was time to focus on building up the confidence of people of color, and making sure they’re included in the conversations, and in the marketing.”

At events such as Charleston Food + Wine, Essence, and Aspen Food & Wine, Habibi breaks down some of the barriers that she sees as obstacles keeping wine from finding this more diverse audience. “It’s about creating experiences that people of color are able to relate to,” she says. “They can come and have fun and see people who look like them, and taste all these different wines—that’s how you learn.

It doesn’t have to be this in-your-face thing—it has to be about inclusion. I’ve always worked with all kinds of people, and this gives me the opportunity to uplift my community.”

Photo credit: Vine Pair

And the Hue Society’s mission isn’t just about opening the doors of the wine world to a wider, more diverse audience. Habibi highlights the work of other African American wine professionals, not only introducing them to a wider audience, but providing the kind of visibility and support that’s needed to make the larger wine world more inclusive. “The community is still very small, and building that up is necessary—you can’t be what you can’t see,” she says.

“When I was putting together the Hue Society, I found it important to have visuals—to show there are other people who look like you doing this, and that makes you realize that you can do it, too. This can be a career path for you, when you may not have realized there was even an open door before. The playing field is being leveled, and the only way to do that is to continue to create exposure, and make people feel comfortable with the topic of diversity in wine.”


Source: Imbibe

3 mins read

Delta Airlines to Serve Wine from Black Owned Winery

During a surprise wine tasting at the San Francisco Delta Sky Club, Delta today announced a new partnership with Brown Estate, the first and only black-owned estate winery in California’s Napa Valley.

And as a toast to Black History Month, Brown Estate is making its first onboard appearance today in a surprise in-flight tasting for customers on Flight 1473 from San Francisco to New York-JFK.

The innovative idea to partner with Brown Estate started with Carlyne Scott, a member of Delta’s black community business resource group (BRG) and BRG Program Manager. Scott originally suggested the winery as a special for Black History Month, and that seed germinated into a larger relationship between Delta and the winery. Delta will feature Brown Estate wines in the winter of 2019-2020 as part of its commitment to supplier diversity.

“Partnering with innovative, diverse suppliers from certified small-, minority- and women-owned businesses like Brown Estate is fundamental to Delta’s strategy to keep climbing year-round,” said Heather Ostis, Vice President — Supply Chain Management. “Seeking employee perspectives and leveraging unique ideas brings us closer to meeting that goal, while creating the highest quality experience for our customers.”

After Scott’s suggestion, a selection of Brown Estate wines were passed to Andrea Robinson, Delta’s Master Sommelier, for consideration in the airline’s seasonally rotating wine menu. Robinson’s year-round wine selection process – including both in-the-air and terra-firming tastings—culminates annually with a final tasting of more than 1,500 bottles over one week. Only the very best selections earn Robinson’s stamp of approval. Two Brown Estate selections made the cut.

Domestic Delta One customers will see two Brown Estate wines on the winter 2019-2020 menu: 2017 Betelgeuse Sauvignon Blanc and 2017 Chaos Theory.

“We are delighted to partner with Delta Air Lines,” said Deneen Brown, president of Brown Estate. “Delta’s all-in commitments to the spirit of inclusion and to their wine program are perfectly aligned with our core values at Brown Estate.”

Chaos Theory, a well-balanced red blend of Merlot, Petite Sirah and Zinfandel, greets the nose with a lively aroma of ripe Rainer cherries, blackberry compote, winter spice and heavy cream. Hints of Asian apple and Meyer lemon are followed by dark chocolate, tiramisu and fresh-baked croissants.

On a lighter note, Brown Estate describes its Betelgeuse Sauvignon Blanc as “endless summer in a bottle” — straw gold in color, with refreshing clarity. Tropical fruit comingles with subtle citrus, fever grass and lemon verbena, while night-blooming jasmine and honeysuckle are complemented by a cascade of stone fruit, lychee, pineapple and guava.


Source: Delta


1 min read

Black Owned Wine Businesses You Should Know

Black owned wine businesses are changing the face of the industry, bringing fresh perspectives and delicious new wines to the table.

From crisp sauvignon blancs to bold cabernet sauvignons, these wineries are creating waves and winning awards. Whether you’re a seasoned oenophile or just starting to explore the world of wine, there’s a Black owned brand out there waiting to be discovered. So raise a glass and join us as we celebrate these inspiring winemakers and their journey to success.

Black Owned Wine Businesses

Charles Wine Company

black owned wine

Abbey Creek Vineyard

black owned wine

Nyarai Cellars 

McBride Sisters

black owned wine


Brown Estate 

black owned wine

Corner 103 Winery

black owned wine

Earl Stevens Selections 

Edelheiss Wine 

Home - Edelheiss Wine

Mouton Noir Wines

black owned wine

P. Harrell Wines

black owned wine

Theopolis Vineyards black owned wine

Heritage Link Brands 

Indigenè Cellars 

J Moss Wines

L’Objet Noir

L’Objet Noir

Vision Cellars

black owned wine


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4 mins read

Brown Estate: Napa Valley’s First Black Owned Winery

Brown Estate Vineyards is the first and only Black-owned estate winery in California’s Napa Valley, and is best known as one of that region’s most well-regarded zinfandel producers receiving a score of 91 points by Wine Spectator.

brown estate
Brownestate Facebook

In addition to zinfandel, Brown Estate produces cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, and petite sirah.

This two-generation culmination is an investment made by parents Bassett Brown (from Jamaica) and Marcela Brown (from Panama) back in 1980. They acquired 450 acres in the Chiles Valley AVA of the Napa Valley after being informed by local family friends that the property was for sale.

Brownestate Facebook

Abandoned for some ten years prior, the land and its two structures – an 1859 stone and redwood barn and an 1885 Queen Anne Victorian home – were derelict.

The senior Browns cut roads and brought in plumbing and electricity, ultimately earning an award from the Napa County Historical Society for their restoration of the residence structure.

Bassett and Marcela Brown via Brownestate Facebook

They planted zinfandel vines, selling them to established winemakers (including Mike Grgich of Grgich Hills Estate) – for more than ten years.

Founded in 1995 by siblings Deneen, David & Coral Brown, Brown Estate produced its first Napa Valley zinfandel in 1996 and decided to move the winemaking in-house.

Siblings Deneen, Coral and David Brown

As of 2016, the Brown’s have bottled their 20th vintage and in April of this year they debuted their Brown Downtown location on the re-emerging First Street corridor in the heart of downtown Napa.

Brown Downtown Napa Location

The Brown Estate established themselves as a winery to watch in the arena of Napa Valley zinfandel. Simultaneously, in the January 31, 2000 issue of the Wine Spectator, the 1997 Brown Estate zinfandel received a score of 91 points.

In Fall 2010, the Brown family celebrated their 30th year in the Napa Valley, and Brown Estate’s 15th crush. The family posted the following message on their Website to commemorate these occasions:

“This year we celebrate our thirtieth year in the Napa Valley, and Brown Estate’s fifteenth crush. We thank all of you, with all of our hearts, for your continued enjoyment of our wines and your truly stupendous support of our once little endeavor. Each time you open and share a bottle of Brown Estate, you wrap your arms around us. It is an embrace that we cherish, a gesture that gives meaning to all of the passion and commitment we put into what we do. Thank you for making us a part of your lives, and for being a part of ours. Now onward & upward! The sky’s the limit!”

You can purchase here or visit them here:

Brown Downtown Napa
11-7 daily by appointment, walk-ins subject to availability
1005 Coombs Street (NW corner of First Street, 2nd Floor), Napa CA

Brown Estate Winery
Hours: 11-2 Th-Su, strictly by appointment
3233 Sage Canyon Road, St. Helena CA


by Sam Mathis


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12 mins read

Gift Ideas for Bae on Valentine’s Day

Before you hit up the usual suspects for your Valentine’s day gifts, check out these Black owned businesses that offer “romantical” products and services.


Black owned Valentine’s day


p is for pussy book cover -1

P is for Pussy is a raunchy alphabet picture book of double entendres. The creation of artist and curator, Elissa Blount-Moorhead and illustrator Meltem Sahin, it’s a hilarious tongue-in-cheek illustrations that are fun for parents…and for unsuspecting kids.

In The Spirit of Intimacy, Sobonfu Somé shares ancient ways to make our intimate lives more fulfilling and secure. Need we say more?

All About Love is a Bell Hooks classic. She examines her own search for emotional connection and society’s failure to provide a model for learning to love.


Jewelry & Watches

Lorraine West is a trained Illustrator turned Jewelry Designer and Jeweler. Her mission is to empower and make her clients look and feel extraordinary. Her nipple bangles above are sought after. We know firsthand how dope her work is.

Sheryl Jones started out working for a diamond manufacturer in New York City. Now she is currently the only woman of color operating her own jewelry business in NYC’s ‘Diamond District.’

Banneker Watches was founded by Derrick Holmes. This brand was created to “Pay homage to Benjamin Banneker by Integrating luxury woods into every watch and clock design.” History and fashion. Great combo.


Moijéy is the creation of Daniel Moijueh, a Sierra Leone native and Iraq war veteran. His company adhere’s to a strict zero-tolerance policy for conflict diamonds.

Randy D. Williams named Talley & Twine Watches after a neighborhood in Virginia that had a dark past but now revitalized, has a great future. “Talley & Twine represents that future.”

Pleasure Products


Nenna Joiner, owner of Feelmore Adult Gallery, is a sex educator and adult film director. Her business is “more than just traditional adult sex store, its a place that allows you to love on yourself not just with products but with an awareness of your needs.” Feelmore is located in Oakland, CA.

Nerissa Irving created NatuRotica Wellness to promote women empowerment and educate the community on healthier alternatives as well as sexual liberation. Her website offers products and unique insights related to this topic.

V for Vadge is the brain child of Kimi LeVadge. She created this web platform in order to educate men and women of all ages on sex, sexual health and sexuality. Her website also offers products and product reviews.





Bijte was founded by Diana St. Louis for the busty girl. She designs halters, flouncy babydolls, plunging neckline camisoles and more. “All designed to fit a full bust and a generous bottom.”


Candles and Smell Goods



A Proud Mother Candle Co. is a Detroit, MI based business owned by Bernetta Waller. Their products are hand poured with 100% soy wax. Their factory is located in an impoverished neighborhood and provides jobs as well as entrepreneurship mentoring.

Spa Creations by Christal is an artisan candle and soap company located in Medina, TN. As a retired Cosmetologist of over 21 years, Christal truly has a passion for creating beautiful things. “Our goal is to provide high quality products with respect for our environment and a healthy lifestyle.”

Mallang Candles is based in Hammond, IN and is founded by Katrina and David Jasper. In 2003, Katrina received a gel candle as a gift from her Mother. She was so impressed by it that she told David that she had found a new hobby. “My husband suggested I that I buy the material and make a couple. Those first few candles ended up being beautiful Mother’s Day gifts for my mother and mother-in-law that year. Those gifts were so well received, from that point a business was born.”

Wax Candle Co. was created by Howard University grad, Jennifer Bryant. This is a Washington, DC based boutique candle company that pairs all-natural soy candles with DJ curated mixtapes to create a unique aromatherapy listening experience.


No.9 Candle Co. is the passion project of best friends and business partners, Yasmine Parrish and Alicia “ChaCha” Rodrigo. All No.9 soy blend candles are custom made and hand poured with love in sunny Los Angeles, CA.

Nikki Makes Scents candles are all hand-crafted along with most of their Bath & Body products. They offer over 600 candle scents to choose from. They are described as a “small American company has the big candle factory feel.” Nikki started this business in 1998 in her native New York.

Houston-native, Shanquita Greggs started Simply Scents Candle Co. by making her candles in her grandmother’s kitchen and selling them out of the trunk of her car. Simply Scents Candle Company has several different products that consist of triple scented candles, room fragrant sprays, electric burners, bath and body products, accessories, and more. 


February 5, 2015 - Philip Ashley Rix creates designer chocolate candy made in a wide variety of shapes, colors and flavors with names such as Lotus Flower Bomb, What's Up Doc, Naughty Red Dress, and Bleuboi. (Brandon Dill/Special to The Commercial Appeal)

Phillip Ashley Chocolates is located in the Historic Cooper Young District in the heart of Memphis, TN. Founder, Chef Phillip Ashley Rix left a corporate job to become an entrepreneur and owner of one of the most popular chocolate brands in the country. His one of a kind combinations will have you scratching your head and reaching for more.

CamiCakes is named after Camille, daughter of founder, Andra Hall. Andra was inspired to bake at a young age by her grandmother and her Easy Bake Oven. “CamiCakes specializes in yummy gourmet cupcakes to enjoy daily or for birthdays, weddings, showers, and many other special celebrations.” They have several locations in Florida as well as Georgia. You can also order online for pick up or delivery.

Vivere Chocolates was created by Robert Bowden. Robert works with seasoned chocolatiers to produce handcrafted fine chocolates for luxury gifts and catered events. Their chocolates are made using a premium blend of all natural 70% chocolate and fresh cream ganaches made from cacao beans form Africa, Central America and South America.


Kristina Maury created LuxeLollies to prove that candy can be as elegant and beautiful as it is delicious. Bored with the traditional candy flavors, she decided to create a line of gourmet hard candies in more sophisticated flavors like Pear Rosemary Champagne Spritzer (best-seller), Lavender Vanilla Mint and Pistachio Rose Cardamom. 

Chicago native Maya-Camille Broussard (and Shantrelle’s linesister 38-A-00) picked up the art of baking from her late father, criminal justice attorney Stephen J. Broussard. Inspired by his love of both justice and sweets, she launched Justice of the Pies. Her pies, made from scratch are absolutely delicious.(First hand knowledge)


Bed and Breakfast


Akwaaba Inns is the upscale lodging collection owned by husband and wife team Glenn Pogue and Monique Greenwood. This couple owns a mini bed-and-breakfast empire! 

Don and the late Rose Hubbard built The Hubbard Mansion over 15 years ago. The mansion is an elegant Greek revival home located in New Orleans.

Black owned Valentine's day



New York-based illustrator, Instagrandmaw is the creator of some of the most hilarious and creative cards in the “creative card” game. Her hip hop/ pop culture inspired cards will definitely help you convey your message and give “bae” a good chuckle.

Ally Elle Cards is comprised of “A creative duo made up of two girls who cuss like sailors and create awesomeness in their individual fields.” Owner, Elle Lewis says “Ally Elle Cards started when yet another holiday passed and I felt I didn’t have the right card.” These works of art will have you clutching your pearls, LYAO, and applauding the ingenuity and wit behind them.

Black owned Valentine's day

Otis Richardson formed LavenderPop to offer a range of cards to celebrate relationships, friendships, love and pride. “Lavenderpop is inspired by pop culture, Black aesthetic, critical thinkers, revolutionaries, and a celebration of diversity.” Otis studied painting and illustration and obtained a Masters of Fine Arts from Northern Illinois University.



Black owned Valentine's day

Tres Lindas Cubanas is named after a Cuban song and celebrates the beauty of the Cuban woman. Founded by two Afro-Cuban, twin sisters, and two African-American cigar enthusiasts.

Started purely as a passion project by Founder and President Sean Williams, El Primer Mundo (EPM) Cigars has become one of the premium cigar market’s classic small-batch boutique brands. 


Don Abram Harris Cigars are the creation of Abram Harris. The brands corporate office in Lexington Park, MD and its plantation and manufacturing crew are all located in Puerto Rico.




Mouton Noir Wines, founded by iconoclastic sommelier André Hueston Mack in 2007, which incorporate his trademark attitude and personal perspective on wine subculture. 

Theopolis Vineyards is a small lot vineyard and hand-crafted winery located in California’s prestigious Yorkville Highlands of the Anderson Valley. 


Charles Wine Company is based in Inglewood, CS. The founding members are Cherise, Paul, and De’Ondre Charles. Before starting the company, Charles and his wife Cherise did their research driving back from Florida to California and stopping at wineries across the country.

-Tony O. Lawson

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