Culture

These Five Black Women-Owned Shops Are Disrupting Retail

A close look at five Black women-owned shops featuring carefully curated pieces, designer clothing, antique collectibles, and vintage selects.

Last year — and the years prior — ushered in a new class of Black women who chose to open brick-and-mortars as a means of pouring into retail markets throughout the nation. The pandemic might have eviscerated popular storefronts, but many consumers are steadily supporting shops in person, especially those that offer vintage goods and collectibles. On the other end of the spectrum, designer shops are also being supported heavily. t.a. in the Meatpacking District is a recent example, with buyer and owner Telsha Anderson stocking coveted pieces by Christopher John Rogers, Jonathan Simkhai, and more.

In addition to shops stocking newly-sourced selects, consignment stores are also experiencing robust growth. The founders of these spaces are staking their claim in a unique manner. Collectibles and vintage designer options are now affordable and accessible rather than hard to come by. 

The idea of the Black dollar being recirculated into the communities they are a part of is of the utmost importance. Supporting our own is pivotal since many Black neighborhoods are becoming gentrified. By disrupting retail, newer businesses have the ability to curate immersive experiences and activations and provide examples of entrepreneurship to younger generations. 

Below we’re taking a close look at five Black women-owned storefronts we believe are breathing life into retail in Bedford Stuyvesant, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and New York City. 

BLK MKT Vintage

Photo Credit: Courtesy of BLK MKT Vintage

 “Our motivation to build a collection that mirrors multifarious Black cultural expression is rooted in our love for Black people,” reads a blurb on BLK MKT Vintage’s website. Couple Kiyanna Stewart and Janna Handy specialize in selling curated pieces like Black Panther Party paraphernalia, vintage magazines, early editions of classic books by Black authors including Nikki Giovanni and Zora Neale Hurston, and much more. 

Nearly eight years ago, Stewart and Handy launched an Etsy to share the unique goods they’d come across at antique sales. Eventually, they decided to pivot and create an e-commerce site to have more control of their branding. By 2019, a brick-and-mortar in Brooklyn followed. The couple has always relied on Instagram to share their latest, which in turn has led to a loyal, robust following. 

“We source from literally everywhere — the side of the road to ‘mainstream’ auction houses to other collectors to folks who sort of stumbled into our shop, pre-COVID,”  Handy said of BLK MKT Vintage in a 2020 interview with  TZR

Photo Credit: Courtesy of BLK MKT Vintage

Where to view what’s available to purchase: blkmktvintage.com

Ways to receive purchases: E-commerce, in-store, domestic shipping. 

Pieces Currently Available To Shop: A Poetic Equation: Conversations Between Nikki Giovanni and Margaret Walker, Vintage Luke Cage Comic Books, and Vintage Dr. Martin Luther King National Holiday Pin (1981). 

Fun Fact: Stewart and Handy also offer prop and set styling. 

 

Yuris Market

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Yuri Carter

“I committed to the idea of a physical showroom pre-pandemic and once lockdown happened it stalled the process,” Yuri Carter said of her vintage showroom, which initially launched as an online store in 2017. “It [was] something that was always in the plan for us, and in September 2021 we had our official grand opening.” 

Located in Atlanta, Georgia, Yuris Market is the culmination of Carter’s years of expertise in the vintage and consignment industry. Her love for designer pieces began at the age of 11; by 14 she was buying pieces from a local consignment store. 

“Atlanta is somewhere I spent close to a decade now living in,” Yuri said. “It was the obvious choice being that I have roots here, as well as it being an established creative hub for all things music, art, and film.”

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Yuris Carter

Where to view what’s available to purchase: theyurismarket.com

Ways to receive purchases: E-commerce, private in-store appointments, domestic shipping. 

Favorite Brands Currently Available to Shop: Wilson’s Leather, Gucci by Tom Ford, and vintage leather pieces from Japan.

Fun Fact: Authentication services are also offered within the showroom. 

 

Yowie

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Shannon Maldonado

Shannon Maldonado, the founder of Philadelphia’s brick and mortar YOWIE, explained that the mission of her concept shop is “to connect people of all ages and backgrounds through design.” One walk through the space, and you’ll become enamored by her selection of whimsical homewares and unique postmodern pieces. Born in 2016 in Maldonado’s apartment, YOWIE became an official storefront the following year after a series of pop-ups she did.

“Before opening our storefront I did a series of pop-ups around Philadelphia to learn more about the community and the people I’d hope to bring into the world I wanted to create through YOWIE,” Maldonado said. “I love breaking new and emerging artists, having an ever-changing assortment, and creating fun events and workshops that show that we are more than just a storefront.”

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Shannon Maldonado

Where to view what’s available to purchase: shopyowie.com

Ways to receive purchases: E-commerce, in-store, domestic shipping. 

Favorite Brands Currently Available to Shop: Pantry items like Chili Crisp by Fly by Jing, hand-painted planter bags by Lauren Brown, and a new candle line from Mexico called Paisaje Sur

Fun Fact: Maldonado cut her teeth for a decade in the design industry working for Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, American Eagle, and Urban Outfitters.

t.a.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Telsha Anderson

Telsha Anderson’s eye for the womenswear market and her knack for social media is what led to t.a. making a splash online. Making its digital debut in 2020 and opening with an official storefront in NYC’s Meatpacking District in July that same year, t.a. has grown organically since its inception, with the store’s Instagram profile playing an important part in that. The account is a mashup of stunning imagery, eccentric graphics, and what she currently has stocked in-store. 

Anderson said transforming the market and encouraging intentional buying for individual purchases is what sets her store apart from others in NYC. She also added that the knowledge behind each garment is what makes t.a. an anomaly, too.

“I’ve lived in New York for almost seven years and that’s played a huge role in [t.a.], but New York is also a hub for sartorial lovers and discovery,” Anderson said.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Telsha Anderson

Where to view what’s available to purchase: shop-ta.com

Ways to receive purchases: E-commerce, in-store, domestic shipping. 

Favorite brands currently in stock: Julia Heuer and Mozh Mozh.

Fun Fact: Telsha Anderson worked stints at Hypebeast, Food & Wine, Purple PR, Atlantic Records, and more before she opened t.a.

IndigoStyle Vintage

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Sheryl Roberts

Originally from Texas, Sheryl Roberts moved to New York in the early ‘00s when she was a professional model. Her love for community and for vintage fashion led to the creation of her space, IndigoStyleVintage, in April 2017, with Roberts renovating a spot on Lewis Avenue in Bedstuy from floor to ceiling. From there, she went on to create The Collective — throughout her storefront, she also sells small Black-owned brands like KIC NYC and Effie’s Paper — this concept sprung from Roberts’ desire to sell other lines she felt were underrepresented. 

“I think what sets the collective at IndigoStyle and IndigoStyle Vintage apart is the personal touch,” she said. “We strive to offer quality merchandise that is unique, size and gender-inclusive at an affordable price point.”

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Sheryl Roberts

Where to view what’s available to purchase: thecollectiveatindigostyle.com

Ways to receive purchases: E-commerce, in-store, domestic shipping. 

Favorite Brands Currently In Stock: Mess in a Bottle apparel, Love Notes Candles, KIC NYC custom camo/denim, and Jam & Rico jewelry. 

Fun Fact: Sheryl moved to Brooklyn in 1995 after living in Harlem for a few years. She purchased her brownstone in Bedford Stuyvesant in 2000.

Robyn Mowatt

Robyn Mowatt is a Staff Writer at Okayplayer where she covers culture, music, and fashion. You can see what's on her mind on Twitter at @robyn_mowatt.

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