August is Black business month, and though DC is home to many Black-owned spots, we’ve put together a list of ten that opened relatively recently, with products ranging from CBD-infused balms to home decor from Africa.
Chaos Candle Company
Founded in January 2020 by Sophia Elizabeth Carter, Chaos Candle Company offers both appealing scents and intriguing stories: Each of its candles is inspired by a different myth from various cultures, from Greek to African. Its newest collection, Timeless Tales, caters to people who dislike complex scents. All of the candles are handcrafted with coco apricot wax and have wooden tube wicks, which produce a fast melt with minimal carbon build-up. Carter is also planning two Halloween scents based on the myths of Medusa and Cerberus.
Chaos Candle Company’s candles can be found here.
Co-pothecary, created in the fall of 2020, is a CBD-infused-balm company started by married couple Candice Pantor and Courtney Roberson. It began partly as a project for Pantor’s graduate marketing class. The idea for a product came from Roberson experimenting with CBD and natural oils to remedy her sciatica pain, which had worsened during the pandemic. Co-pothecary currently offers five scents, including lavender and peppermint. Each is made using organic and all-natural ingredients. Its essential oils are sourced from a woman-owned business in the US and the CBD comes from a family-owned business in Oregon. A cedar-wood-scented balm is due soon to mark the transition from summer to fall.
You can find Co-pothecary’s products here.
Elevated Tea is a CBD tea company founded by Opare Densua, who was hoping to ease the increased bouts of anxiety and depression she was feeling during the pandemic. Made with organic, non-GMO, and vegan ingredients packed into plant-based compostable packaging, Densua’s tea blends are sourced from Asia, India, and the US. Her company offers six tea blends, each containing 15 milligrams of CBD. Caffeinated teas include Ascend, a Japanese Sencha green tea with coconut and pineapple, Bliss, a white-tipped tea with several added fruits, and Revive—the least caffeinated of the bunch. Other teas are non-caffeinated and come in various flavors.
The Elevated Tea website can be found here.
Gemocracy is a jewelry and accessory brand created by former Alexandria resident and now Baltimore transfer EnJouli McGoogan. Each pair of earrings is hand crafted by McGoogan using polymer clay. She also sells products cut from Kitenge cloth, which are imported from Tanzania in partnership with a friend. Gemocracy, launched in October 2020, also has household items like tablecloths, placemats, table runners, and aprons, as well as backpacks, laptop bags, makeup bags, wallets, and masks. McGoogan frequently attends local pop-ups or markets, where you can find her most up-to-date stock. To find where she’ll pop up next, check out the community tab on her site.
You can also see her wares at Gemocracy’s online shop.
Established in July 2020 by University of Maryland undergraduate business student Shalini Gardner, KOA is a premium-apparel business catering to women’s essentials. Born out of Gardner’s own desire for more durable, long-lasting clothing basics, the company offers sweatsuits, sweatpants, tank tops, hoodies, and joggers. In creating KOA, Gardner wants to cultivate a body-positive space for BIPOC women to feel empowered.
Shop their online site here.
Mutani’s Pocket is a shopping platform that promotes East African culture by helping small artists from the region sell their items stateside. The idea for the site, which was founded in August 2020, came when founder Simone Smillie was chatting with a friend who’d shown her several trending items he’d brought back from his travels in Africa. Smillie then connected with artists in different East African countries to sell their products in the DMV. Currently, the store offers accessories and home-decor products like baskets, aprons, and pillow covers. Smillie works with each artist in designing the individual product, bringing an American touch to African trends.
Shop their online site here, or check out one of their local pop-ups.
The pandemic brainchild of barista duo and soon-to-be-wed couple Ashley May and Brian Raupp, Others Coffee opened for business on Sept. 29—National Coffee Day—of last year. The company currently has two offerings: a light roast with beans imported from Peru and a medium roast with beans from Rwanda. The boxes that store the beans, which were designed by the couple, feature a scannable QR code that helps customers learn more about where their coffee comes from, sometimes with details as specific as the farmer who grew the beans.
Others Coffee is available for purchase on their site and at Navy Yard’s Somewhere Cafe.
Patreat’s Boutique started as Patrice Peterson’s pandemic coping mechanism, and her hobby of soap-making grew into a shop hawking handmade soaps, sugar scrubs, body oils, and bath salts. Made with natural ingredients and essential oils sourced from a mix of online carriers and local markets, her soaps come in a variety of scents, including lemongrass, mango papaya, eucalyptus, and turmeric.
After putting his catering business on hold due to the pandemic, chef Branden Givand started focusing full-time on his bottled mambo sauce. Founded in March 2020, Sauce City sells two iterations of Givand’s sauce: a regular 3-pack and a limited-edition “don’t cough” super hot 3-pack. The site also carries two iterations of a bloody mary mix, a recipe by Givand’s wife made using the mambo sauce. Givand’s sauce is made with locally sourced ingredients, including pineapple, habaneros, jalapenos, and tomatoes. Givand hopes to bring back his catering company, Pelota, more fully this year. He also hopes to open a bar.
Purchase Sauce City’s products online or in select local stores.
Anna Cobb—a DC native now living in Laurel—founded VeganQueenCuisine in January 2020 while studying at Tuskegee University in Alabama. Initially, it was a catering company meant to serve her college campus, which is located in a food desert. When the pandemic hit shortly thereafter, Cobb had to pivot, and now VeganQueenCuisine sells a vegan, all-natural energy drink called Rejuvenation. It is currently available in two flavors: pineapple and apple. The main ingredient in the drink is guayusa, which comes from farmers in Ecuador.
Rejuvenation is online here. Cobb also does occasional pop-ups.