Black History Month 2022

A decorative image with a light pink background with sketch renderings from left to right of Shirley Chisholm, Madame C.J. Walker, Angela Davis, Bessie Coleman, and Maya Angelou, with text that reads "Black History Month 2022"

Yesterday we rang in the Year of the Tiger, and in today’s post, we’re kicking off Black History Month 2022. Last year, we talked about Black History Month and Library Lovers’ Month, and the importance of diversity in literature.

This year, we’re gonna talk about about Black-owned businesses. I’ve talked about this a time or two before, but here, we’re all about supporting small businesses when and where possible. Our patronage is our vote to keep them in business, and on a personal note, I strive to avoid Amazon when and where possible. If I absolutely can’t find a suitable alternative available elsewhere, then (and only then!) will I recommend them.

Instead of supporting exploitative bigwig companies like Amazon, who only treat their applicants well because they know it’ll result in a huge dent in their business numbers, let’s support small, women-owned, Native-owned, AAPI-owned, Latine-owned, and Black-owned businesses this month, and every day after.

[EDIT 5-23-2023: I’ve changed the nomenclature from the previously included “Latinx” to a more inclusive term, “Latine.” Reason being is accessibility and inclusivity.]

First up, we’ve got Madam C.J. Walker, one of the women depicted in the featured image above. Sarah Breedlove, also known as Madam C.J. Walker, was born in Reconstruction-era Louisiana in 1867, on the same plantation where her parents were enslaved prior to the Civil War. In her late teens and early 20s, she noticed that she’d been losing some hair. Sarah married Charles Joseph Walker, and took on his name, adding “Madam” to it, and went into business for herself. Her mentor, Annie Turnbo Malone, had created a haircare line specifically for those with hair in the type 4 range. Madam C.J. attended the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, and sadly, the sales weren’t what they expected.

Sarah worked on her own haircare line while she was working with Malone, and they’d go on to become industry competitors. After she married and became Madam C.J. Walker, she and her family grew the business across states and countries.

By the time she passed in 1919, her business had taken off, and her daughter took over the business. Since then, business took a hit in the 1930s, and A’leila ended up selling the business. It went in a completely different direction than C.J. would’ve probably taken it, according to this article.

In 2016, Sephora had a Madam C.J. Walker lineup, however, it was fairly short-lived. Enter Madam C.J. Walker’s great-great-granddaughter, who set up the successor! Madam by Madam C.J. Walker can be found at Wally World. This stuff sells out quickly, so double-check to make sure it’s in stock beforehand.

In recent years, we’ve seen a whole slew of Black-owned businesses come onto the scene. In 2017, Zoe and Co. Candle Company got its’ start, and has become a thriving enterprise. Their newest addition to their line, Roxanne, is in honor of their mom, who I’m sad to report has recently passed. The fragrance is a mix of jasmine, lavender, musk, cedar, and Asian sandalwood. This would be up my late mom’s alley, so I’m totally gonna get this in honor of her.

I haven’t yet had a chance to get any of the candles, but when I get another job and get some money coming in, that’s on my to-do list. When I do, I’ll be reporting back for sure.

Shea Makery is another one. I believe I talked about them here before. Wait a sec, I have! They had some difficulties during the pandemic, and nearly went out of business altogether. However, a Kickstarter campaign brought them back on their feet, and from the looks of it, they’re doing better than ever, which I’m stoked af to see. I was able to pick up the cast-iron skillet wax melter a few years back, and I love it to bits. It’s in the living room on the table right now. I’ve got my eye on the Sunday Waffles candle, but the cinnamon roll body souffle looks awesome too. I even see they do refills!

OMG, I’m so here for it.

Over to you, readers. Got any Black-owned businesses to share and recommend? Tried anything by Madam by Madam C.J. Walker, Zoe and Co. Candle Company, or Shea Makery? Got any favorites by them? Drop ’em like they’re hot below, and let’s talk. I’d love to hear your thoughts and takeaways.

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