Etsy is a great alternative to Amazon and other big retailers because it gives you access to small shops and handmade goods. Many of the small shops on Etsy are committed to sustainability or ethical production of their goods (or both!). Even better, you can directly support small business owners, especially people of colour (POC) by patronising Black and POC owned Etsy stores.
Why support small businesses owned by POC?
It’s well established that there is a wealth gap between white people and people of colour in the US. Directly supporting businesses owned by POC can help close that wealth gap. According to Score.org, small businesses are second only to homeownership as a means of building wealth.
Basically, #BuyBlack has an economic as well as a social impact. If every higher-income black household spent one of every ten dollars at a Black owned store, between half a million and one million jobs could be created, according to this study. These numbers are also only if higher-income Black families spent money at Black owned store. White families buying Black-owned products could increase the number of jobs even more!
Businesses owned by Black people and POC have a positive impact on local communities. A study by the National Minority Supplier Development Council showed that businesses owned by POC generated 2.2 million jobs and an economic impact of over 400 billion dollars. Minority businesses only account for 20% of small businesses, but they have a huge impact on the owners and their communities.
Let’s support these courageous Black entrepreneurs that have decided to build wealth on their own terms.
The Crafty Swirl
This Black owned Etsy business is known for its easy-to-install minimal hanging shelves. Los Angeles-based owner, Illana Mayes mixes rope, fabric, and paint to create a perfect “floating” shelf. The “floating” shelves are suspended on ropes and often feature cute succulents in two-toned pots. Many of the items are actually two-toned (white and wood), so they match anything.
How easy is the install? Most of them require one nail or screw to stay suspended. All you need is a hammer. There’s a single anchor at the top that holds everything together.
The shelves come in a variety of sizes and prices from a small $20 shelf perfect for a succulent to a $55 magazine rack. If you are looking for a custom order for a tricky space, be sure to drop these guys a message.
If you have enough shelving already, you can also check out the pretty wood trays with a similar finish. One of them slides neatly over your couch arm to provide an instant mini-table for your coffee.
“Man and Woman” (MAW) Supply is a Black owned Etsy business that sells quality vintage clothes. Rachelle and Norman Clark, a husband and wife team in Houston, TX specialise in bold pieces. Bright colours and big patterns are easy to find. But they also have more neutral pieces designed to stand the test of time. What all the clothes have in common is high-quality fabric that has been inspected, cleaned, and repaired to smell and look good for years.
While the company does have the typical men’s clothing and women’s clothing, they have a unisex section as well. Describing gender as “bookends,” Norman and Rachelle like to sell clothing that fits in the middle and can be worn by either gender. They even have a hashtag (#MAWSPOTLIGHT) to show off the trendy gender neutral outfits their customers design.
Check out their vegan leather bags or silk shirts. Since we’re dealing with vintage items, the prices are very reasonable. Many items are between $30 and $50. Plus, buying vintage is giving quality old clothes a new life outside of a landfill.
If you’re going to buy leather, you may as well buy a handmade leather item that is designed to last. Kingsley Thompson designs simple, durable leather items in his shop in Cheltenham, England. Inspired by his worn-out wallet, he wanted to make better products. Now he has a range of leather goods including wallets, belts and sunglasses cases. Leather working is his full time job!
He does make some unusual items out of leather, such as a bowtie. Kingsley is currently on iteration three of the bowtie, so you know he’s worked out all the kinks in the design. You can also find leather cufflinks in his store.
Quality does come at a price. The only items under $50 in his shop are a bookmark and a key fob. But where else can you get a leather bowtie?
Toronto-based Ashley Alexis McFarlane designs heirloom quality jewellery that celebrates African heritage. She was inspired to explore her own roots by a gold bangle she inherited. Now Omi Woods sells jewellery that represents cultures that aren’t typically represented in modern jewellery lines.
Importantly, all of her jewellery is fair trade. Your purchase can help support better wages and safer working conditions.
This is a very classic and timeless jewellery line, Ashley focuses on classical designs and shapes. Hoops have been worn for centuries and will probably never go out of style.
As you’d expect in heirloom quality accessories, most of the jewellery is $100 or more. But it may be worth it for a piece that is deeply connected to African heritage. History buffs will also appreciate the chance to wear a coin with Cleopatra’s visage on it.
Who knew that rope fibres made beautiful artwork? Candice Luted braids ropes into macrame-style art designed for large and small walls. A former staving artist, Candice started her shop in 2019 after using fabric scraps to fill the empty spaces on her walls. Now she has multiple people working with her on these clever designs.
The pieces definitely have a boho vibe, especially if you look at the ones dip-dyed in bright colours. All the designs are customisable, including the colours.
This is artwork that is designed to ship well. Even the extra-large $750 piece named “Vibrato” only weighs 15 pounds. The bestseller Lyric is closer to $300. Despite the diminutive weight, some of the pieces can dominate a big wall.
When browsing the shop, make sure to check out the melodic music-inspired names of the pieces, like Aria and Lyric.
Mind The Cork
London-based designer and craftswoman Jenny Espirito Santo elevates the humble and often underestimated material that is cork into modern, functional and eco-friendly pieces for the home. Her collection on Mind The Cork displays cork’s amazing versatility as a medium.
You’ll love the minimalist aesthetic planters that will make the perfect home for practically any plant. Brighten up a space with fun and colourfully lidded storage containers. There are even vegan cork leather cardholders that come in bold hues for trendy professionals.
Mind The Cork extends her business’s quest for sustainability through her operations. As her business grows, she strives to work with local workshops in the UK and Portugal while supporting fair wages and advocating transparency along the way.
I love all of these stores, and have my eye on a few of these items for suture gifts. These are all beautiful, unique black owned Etsy businesses. But they’re far from alone. I’d highly recommend losing yourself in Etsy – there really is something there for everyone, and most of the items are unique, original pieces, with a unique backstory and small business owner behind them.
The Eco Desk is your online home for all things sustainable fashion and lifestyle. New here? Check out our Start Here page to get the lay of the land. Dive into the Blog, browse our sustainable Resource Library, or head on over to the Directory to find great brands and discounts.
*Disclosure: We only recommend products we would use ourselves and all opinions expressed here are our own (denoted by *). This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, we may earn a small commission. See our full disclosure policy here