16 Businesses: The Empowerment Experiment

I was recently sent a video about an African American family who went on year-long mission  to shop only at black-owned businesses. Maggie Anderson, who developed the Empowerment Experiment made it a priority to buy products made from Black companies, use black professionals and shop in black communities. Her husband, Solomon believed the lack of Black-owned businesses was linked to the high unemployment rates in the African-American community.

This got me thinking about Britain, the Guardian reported there was a 50% rise in long-term unemployment for young ethnic minority people in the UK. Simon Woolley, from Operation Black Vote said, “It seems a generation of young black men – sometimes women – are being cast aside to the detriment of us all.” Additionally,  Black owned businesses make up 13.4% which is a very considerable amount of the business landscape, however majority of the businesses are registered as SMEs or Sole Traders earning between the £10,000 – £500,000k bracket, which sound like a lot, but I beg to differ, as the Black pound is worth 3BILLION POUNDS! Where is all the money in the Black Community going? As the Andersons found, Black businesses are the back bone of the black community as they are more likely to hire Black employees as discrimination based on race is eliminated.

In 2016, I want to see more Black British Millionaires, Billionaires. I also want to see more Black Businesses pass the 500, 000K threshold. With that in mind, can we in the UK start our own Empowerment Experiment?

Below, I have found a range of Black-owned or co-owned businesses all operating in a variety of different industries.

The challenge is slightly different from the Andersons, you must use or shop at three of the businesses listed below in 2016.

Don’t forget supporting Black Businesses means supporting the #BlackLivesMatter Campaign because economic liberation is paramount to the emancipation of the Black community. 


1. Creative Training Hub

Creative Training Hub deliverers professional development training to organisations and freelancers in  the Arts and Cultural industry. With a range of consultants specialising in business development,  marketing and project management, a CTHub programme is definitely something I am  recommending you do for career success in 2016.

Director Kemi Bamidele, keen to have a positive impact on the world,  has also set up  Creating Change, the community project helps teenage mothers, create crafty products and receive business and finance training. Kemi has proved the initiative will raise the aspiration of teenage mothers therefore alleviating the risk of the family unit facing poverty. Check out the crafty aprons all profits go back into Creating Change.

2. Morts and More

Sena Mortoo & Joshua Umoren are two suave, sophisticated  and well-dressed brothers specialising in tailoring  for men. Their collection of  suits is classic, stylish and sharp. They are both on the road to making sure the men are dressing right in 2016. I

The ladies at Shades of Noir, are wondering  if they will soon make the leap into the world of  women’s tailoring?


3. Maida

Maida is a movement to change the way in which we feed our skin. Curating the finest pure plant ingredients these natural products will leave your skin feeling absolutely fabulous from head to toe. The Maida, skin care range has not been tested on animals are free from synthetic chemicals, irritating preservatives and artificial fragrances oh and they smell divine.


Cute Fact: The CEO of Maida, Zoe Smith sister is Gabrielle Smith the founder of the award-winning blog the Nublk. Sisters stay Winning.

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4. Lenique Louis

Fabulous Fabulous Fabulous! The multi-award winning jewellery designer Lenique Louis specialises in organic hand crafted jewellery for men and women. She creates distinctive pieces using the ancient technique of Hand Carved Wax. Prices start from £120.


5. Black Ballad

An online platform dedicated to Black and Mixed Race British Women. Black Ballad is a visually beautiful site, with a variety of serious, funny and engaging content, centralising the voice and experience of Black Women in every piece.  The founder and editor Tobi Oredein, has a very clear vision of how she wants to empower Black Women, I can not wait to see her mission come into fruition and all the 2016 articles uplifting Black Women. #BlackGirlMagic


6. Jason’s Little Kitchen

This year was truly the rise of the African Supper Club, so many have popped up on the scene and I am loving them.  With a good combination of networking and a mouth-watering West- African menu, our favourite has to be, Jason’s Little Kitchen. Don’t believe me?  Check out this review to gain a little insight  of what you will experience  ‘A long table draped with vibrant kente cloth, tea lights and small trinkets set the scene for a memorable experience with Jason’s Little Kitchen….”


The next super club is on the 30th of January and tickets can be found here.

The founder Jason Obeng,  absolutely has  an entrepreneurial spirit, recently launching a new venture, The Red Cups Guy. I asked him what else he had in store for 2016, ‘ I have my heart set to do so much, I think having multiple businesses is really the way forward for me as I enjoy working on many different projects, I want to be  the UK’s version of  P-Diddy minus the rapping lol but you never know how my DJing skills will be put to use”.  I am really excited to see what the future holds for Jason and of course his announcements of any new business ventures in 2016.

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7. Generation Success

Generation Success, was an idea which started off as a student-led society in BPP University. James Adeleke wanted to inspire students at University; by bringing in industry professionals to do talks. This small idea  has now turned into James full-time career and he is now on a mission to  help more people enter the legal and professional industries. Generation Success have a variety of events which include, dinner with professionals in the city, workshops and industry events.  Each activity is bound to give you, invaluable knowledge and advice leaving attendees motivated and ready to grab success.  The full list of events for 2016 have already been announced, get your tickets now.

2016 will be a big year for Generation Success, the organisation will be applying for charity status and be getting 25 long-term unemployed into work. You can help support this goal by donating to the Go Get Funding campaign.

8. Kamaria Press

Excited cannot even describe how I feel about Kamaria Press, a new publishing house specialising and distributing original and uninhibited African and Caribbean literature. Siana Bangura,  discusses why the revolt against the whiteness of the publishing world is very much needed,  “Quite obviously the industry is not representative of the multitude of voices needing accurate and fair representation. This is why a bright new moon has found her way across the horizon and now aims to firmly place herself in the publishing industry, diversifying the literary landscape with brave new and bold voices of the African diaspora..” What is not to love? Fictional writing based on our experiences told directly from the lion’s mouth is a powerful uprising. The anthology of short stories will be released in 2016. Check out our interview with the Grace Kabeya, the founder and editor-in-chief of Kamaria Press.


Launch event at University of The Arts London

9. Bianca Miller London.

Yassss the gwaaads have answered every Black Women prayers. Bianca Miller, 2014 BBC Apprentice finalist, has launched her nude skin tone tight collection. Bianca Miller London includes tones for Black and Brown women foundation_guide_match_2who for years have had to go bare or wear colours which did not flatter their skin colour. What I love the most is the foundation tone guide, helping you pick the right colour  hosiery.





Now we can all have our pins out like Beyonce.  Shop the Bianca Miller London Collection.


10.  Sassy Tees

Sassy AF t-shirts, imprinted with politically left and anti-racist slogans. Our favourite slogan is: Speak Like Assata, March Like Angela. The owner, Barbara Ntumy,  is widely known in youth and student politics and wears a number of hats;  co-convenor of Student Board Left, a member of the executive committee of Abortion Rights and secretary of Kilombo UK a grassroots political organisation for Ghana, she  must really never have a day off from activism.  Shades of Noir 100% support her and this business,  especially as it is intrinsically tied to dismantling racism and the patriarchy.  Grab your very own sassy tee from here.


11. K Lani Kakes London

K Lani Kakes is a professional bakery/catering service whipping up some tongue-watering deserts.

Below is a, Ripe Plantain and banana loaf bread, can be served with dulce de Luce or salted caramel mascarpone frosting. You see why we are excited! YUUUUM For orders contact Mercy.


12. Ariatu PR 

The business world is really digging Public Relations right now! Public Relations was bypassed for years as businesses believed advertising was the easiest way to connect audiences to their products. Somehow, word got out that public relations is the way to build better and more meaningful relationships with stakeholders and consumers. Ariatu PR,  founded by Ronke Lawal who also serves us with PR advice has amassed a variety of high calibre clients, including the Black British Business Awards, Hona Africa and WOW Beauty. We will be surly looking out for Ariatu PR and can’t wait to see what PR campaigns they will be working on in the new year.

13. TRiBE 

Black Women face constant racialised microaggressions in the work-place, unequal pay and in order for them to survive their working environments, they assimilate as their culture is usually othered and mocked. TRiBE  wants to undo the damage by empowering and encouraging Black Women by offering  personal development and leadership programmes.  Seyi Newell, created  the organisation because was tired of consistently being the only women of colour in the workplace. With TRiBE, she aims to make women of colour more visible not only in the work environment but everywhere.

Or should we say, “Power to The WOMEN!”

14. Obi and Titi

Obi and Titi is the cutest book ever. The Nigerian characters continuously become unexpected hero’s in each book.  Obi and Titi however is more than a book, the husband and wife duo Mr and Mrs Begho , have created an onliobiandtitine presences demanding for greater diversity in children’s media and with the release of their third book,  they are not passively waiting for the mainstream to make it happen. Check out their website which features games for children, badges,  a great blog and don’t forget to buy the books for the children in your life.

15. Nuanced

Natalie Nzeyimana is breaking boundaries in the tech sector. She is the co-owner of Nuanced a digital strategy studio which helps businesses create strategy, design and build digital solutions to engage and expand their audience. For all your tech needs, check out, the full range of services they have on offer. Nuanced, also holds monthly networking dinners, with industry experts which brings out some of tech’s top talent.

16 . Bar Beauty Boutique

Bar Beauty Boutique is an online retailer, giving women of colour access to brands and products specifically formulated for their hair and skin. The online beauty store, is more like a department store harnessing a number of diffrent branded cosmetic and hair products from independent retailers. 


Kehryse Johnson, online editor stated, ” the cosmetic industry is occupied by people who don’t understand black skin or the black audience.” We concur, Black women in the UK spend 4times more money on cosmetic products than any other race, not because of our love of make-up but because cosmetic companies are not formulating the products which are right for our skin. Find the right skin care regime for you.

Any other black owned or co-owned British businesses we should be supporting  in 2016? Tweet us @ShadesofNoir

Remember, if you can’t buy Black make sure you demand the business you give your money to has racial diversity at the core of thier practices.

Written by Bee Tajudeen