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Black History Month

Black History Month Black History Month

During Black History Month we’re celebrating, educating, and supporting some of the Black members of our community - business owners, creators, authors, artists and more.

Throughout February, we’re highlighting a few of our favorite Black-owned small business owners. We had the privilege of learning the stories behind their businesses and discussing ways to support black-owned businesses and creators year round.

Tell us about yourself and The Rooted Baby Co.
Motivated by the birth of my son, I wanted to share the legacy and traditions of my Ghanaian culture with him and others. My mission is to celebrate children of color and educate people about African history and culture, Ghana especially.

How long have you been in the children’s industry and what led you to start The Rooted Baby Co?
I started my shop while on maternity leave in October 2018. I never had any intentions of ever starting a baby business. All that changed when I had my son at 29 weeks by emergency c-section. I was looking for unique pieces that celebrated my Ghanaian culture and couldn’t find any. This sparked the idea to create my own line celebrating African heritage, patterns, and culture while also honoring our roots and educating the community about the origin of the patterns and Africa’s rich history .

Who are your biggest inspirations?
My son, my husband, my family, and my background. As the first country to gain its independence from European colonization on the continent of Africa, Ghana, has a rich, storied, and vibrant history. I draw my inspiration from the Ghanaian people, everyday fabric, landmarks, and the beautiful landscape that Ghana has to offer.

Tell us about yourself and Montessori in Color.
My husband and I own Montessori In Color, an online shop aimed at supporting the development of children of the global majority. We have two sons ages 2 & 4 and together run our business in Long Island, NY.

How long have you been in the children’s play industry and what led you to start your own business?
We started Montessori In Color in February 2021. I was interested in the Montessori method since the birth of my first son in 2018, and in 2020 I decided to implement the method in my home. I sought education in books, online and social media. I quickly became frustrated that most of the children featured in these spaces did not look like my own. Choosing “in color” was specific to include children of color. We started our brand to bring diversity to Montessori spaces and to create more awareness in our community.

We pursued the Montessori method to help create a better future for our boys. I remember looking at them and feeling immense sadness that this is the world they’re growing up in and that they will inevitably face discrimination. I wanted to raise confident, independent children that were sure of themselves no matter how they were treated or spoken to. The method not only instills a foundation of “I am capable and I am worthy” in them, but also sets the foundation for them to create & see beauty in the world.

Who are your biggest inspirations?
My biggest inspiration are my children. They drive me to seek continuous knowledge and implementation of the method. They give me hope that the world they grow up in will be better than the world that myself and those before me experienced.

Tell us about yourself and The Fresh Dolls
I’m a former academic professor who earned various accolades including becoming the first female professor to receive a multi-million dollar endowed chair, the first African American professor to earn tenure at Penn State University, and the first African American to receive a doctorate in Logistics from The Ohio State University. I left academia to become an entrepreneur and create dolls that honor the beauty and intelligence of multicultural children.

In 2009, I created Positively Perfect Dolls. These award-winning dolls have one-of-a-kind faces, custom blended skin tones, beautiful full lips, cute noses, with natural hair textures and styles. In 2017, Fresh was launched.  I wanted older girls to see their multicultural beauty reflected back to them during play.  They’re a new “Fresh” perspective on dolls.  Of course, I couldn’t leave out our young boys. So, two years later I created the Fresh Squad. These male fashion dolls represent the men in my life who are strong, smart and chivalrous. Fresh Squad allows little boys to see themselves and dream of what they can to become.

How long have you been in the toy industry and what led you to start The Fresh Dolls?
I have been in the toy industry since 2003. One day while watching an updated doll study, I saw a beautiful little dark-skinned girl say she didn’t think the brown doll was pretty because its skin was nasty.  She then touched her own hand indicating her skin was nasty, too.  I said to myself, “I have to do something. This can’t happen on my watch. A generation of children can’t grow up not knowing their true beauty and brilliance.” At that moment, the World of EPI was born. I knew I had to create dolls for multicultural girls.

Who are your biggest inspirations?
Our mission is to spread joy by providing children with dolls that inspire dreams, promote intelligence and build self-esteem.  We love all children and want them to see their authentic representation in toys and accessories.

Tell us about yourself and Tippy Tot Shoes.
Tippy Tot Shoes is everyone's favorite luxury shoe brand for little Tots - your all-in-one high-end boutique for one unique experience. Tippy Tot Shoes is the upper echelon for designer toddler footwear and accessories. We are independently owned, and were inspired to create the perfect pair of shoes that provide excellent foot support, comfort, and a foundation for healthy feet.

How long have you been in the children’s/footwear industry and what led you to start Tippy Tot?
We’ve been around for 10 years. We make shoes, accessories and custom apparel for occasions of any kind. We take the ease out of finding specialty pieces for parents seeking beginner walking shoes that support wobbly ankles, flat-footed steps, arch support, muscle tone and ligaments that strengthen legs and feet.

Who are your biggest inspirations?
My biggest inspirations are fashion designers in every genre alongside many retail giants that invest in the growth of small businesses. We are grateful for the opportunities to partner with a few prominent retailers who provide helpful resources in order to grow and expand within our industry.

Below are some of Alfreda’s, Kerimichelle’s, Yolandras’s and Dr. Lisa’s favorite Black-owned businesses, creators and authors.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read about these amazing Black-owned businesses! We encourage you to explore on your own as well — do some research and learn about what Black-owned businesses you can support locally, what Black creators you can follow on your socials, etc.

Although this month is Black History Month, our support and love for our Black communities should always stretch far beyond February.


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