This past summer I attended the Black Owned Summer Market – the brainchild of Black Owned Unity founder, Sepo Achampong. You might remember that I featured Sepo’s work as an African designer on Words With Michelle 4 years ago (click here to read the post), but he has recently branched out and hosts a variety of Toronto-based events that focus on strengthening and spotlighting black businesses.
So far he has organized a Black Business Mixer, Black Owned Food Market, Black Owned Holiday Market and countless pop up shops.
Since it’s been years since I attended the very first pop up shop, I was curious to see what I’ve missed.
As soon as I entered the venue and looked around the room, I was impressed to see how much it has grown. The venue was bigger (the event was at Exhibition Place) and there were more vendors involved than from the first time I attended.
Everywhere you turned, there were tables displaying beautiful African art, African jewelry, hair and beauty products, among other must-have items.
I made my way to each and every stall because I needed to see everything. There were vendors that I was already familiar with, but lots more that I was happy to discover. I didn’t have a lot of money on hand, but thankfully everyone took debit.
After walking through the aisles a number of times, I made note of the steady amount people attending the event. I was glad that there was a big turn out, and I was happy knowing that we were all there to contribute to the success of black businesses and show our support.
Even though I went to every stall, I wanted to share with you 5 Black Owned businesses that you need to know:
Natural body butter, herbal oils and creams for the face, herbal oil for the hair and herbal facial mask
I’ll be honest…. Nicole and I go way back. But I didn’t know that she was a business owner until a couple of years ago. I started to see her posts on Facebook and Instagram and I became curious about her products.
About 2 years ago, I bumped into her at the Natural Hair Fete event and I tried one of her body butters. Loved it….but don’t ask me why I never bought it.
When I attended the Black Owned Business Summer Market, I made it my mission to pick something up.
I bought the Tropical Coconut Body Butter – which is good for skin tightening, skin toning, relief of muscle tension, and eczema – I don’t have any of those skin issues, but I did fall in love with the smell. To me, it smells like coconuts and marshmallows!
The body butter has the consistency of a mousse or a soufflé. It’s soft and light and just glides on your skin. Doesn’t feel greasy – just luxurious.
Took a couple of years for me to actually purchase something, but so glad I did.
Custom dessert tables, custom cakes & cupcakes
This business has been on my radar for a while too. I learned about the company from Amanda Hamer of Edible Bliss – one of the most dynamic and innovative chefs/bakers in Toronto (click here to read my past interview with her).
If running her own business wasn’t enough, Amanda has also collaborated with Shikor Cupcakes to form Shikor Bliss.
Confession time – one of the reasons why I went to the Summer Market was that I had to experience the rum cake cheesecake that is the creation of Amanda and Shikor. I know that it sounds like an unlikely combo, but it works! Essentially it’s a cheesecake with tiny bite-sized pieces of rum cake sprinkled into it. It is next level! This cheesecake actually exceeded my expectation.
Surprisingly it wasn’t exceedingly sweet. The tanginess of the cheesecake toned down the sweetness of the rum soaked rum cake. Who knew that rum cake and cheesecake would be a match made in heaven! It was so good that I haven’t stopped talking about it since I tasted it! (My friends can attest to that!) Thanks for satisfying my sweet tooth!
Canadian made headwraps
I’ve watched a number of YouTube videos on head wrapping, but never applied the knowledge. I was nervous that I would do a bad job and look silly. Yes, I know, that’s a pathetic excuse, but it’s true. Lucky for me Tignon Headwraps was at the summer market, and I asked for a demo.
I sat in a chair and watched as the scarf was twisted and turned and placed on my head. I decided to get a headwrap after seeing how cute I looked and still able to protect my curls. Let me tell you, it wasn’t easy to make a decision which one to get. There were tons of vibrantly hued, and finely detailed prints to choose from – all in different sizes. I took my time selecting one, but I finally chose this one. Can’t wait to rock it soon.
Custom Personalized Handmade Gifts
Thank God for Instagram. Not sure if I would have found out about this company if it weren’t for my fave social media.
What got my immediate attention about M and K Creative Designs is that beautiful, black faces are adorned on all of their products. Women with big Afros, locs, and headscarves are beautifully captured on books, bags and mugs. After creeping their IG account and watching their Insta-stories, I knew which one would be mine.
My decision changed when I visited the table at the summer market. I was surrounded by way more products, which made my decision very difficult. After staring at the table for about 10 minutes, I chose this notebook, and coffee mug. No explanation needed. Just look at them!
Specializing in selling beautiful handmade Kenyan/African art
Right after I bought the headwrap from Tignon Headwraps, I walked directly to this stall. I really had no intention of buying any jewelry, because I have enough already, and truthfully, my hands were getting kinda tired from carrying all my purchases.
But I couldn’t walk away from the stunning African jewelry. The pieces were eye-catching!
I came very close to buying a waist length necklace (yes, waist length) because it was just so different from anything that I own. It looked ah-mazing, but I ended up buying this green necklace that I originally saw. I put it on, and it was meant to be, so I bought it. End of story.
The 100 Miles brand makes high quality, concept-driven, original urban designs
I give honourable mention to this brand because Garie Adamson – the Toronto designer of the brand, was literally the nicest, sweetest person ever! While I was looking around his booth, I watched while he gave each and every one of his customers his attention, and the friendliest customer service. He was even patient enough to pose with me while I took a billion selfies of us. Thanks!
Believe or not, this brand has been around since ’92 (Tupac rocked the brand back in the day), but saw a resurgence in popularity after Drake wore their hoodie at the NBA playoffs this past season. #drakeeffect
Those are just a few businesses that I enjoyed. Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what other businesses I need to know.