Photo courtesy EnJouli McGoogan.
August is the black business month, and while DC hosts many Black-owned spots, we’ve compiled a list of ten that opened relatively recently, with products ranging from CBD-infused balms to home accessories made in Africa .
Chaos Candle Company
The Chaos Candle Company was founded in January 2020 by Sophia Elizabeth Carter and offers both appealing fragrances and fascinating stories: each of their candles is inspired by a different myth from different cultures, from Greek to African. The latest collection, Timeless Tales, is aimed at people who do not like complex fragrances. All candles are handcrafted with coconut apricot wax and have wooden tube wicks that melt quickly with minimal carbon build-up. Carter is also planning two Halloween fragrances based on the myths of Medusa and Cerberus.
You can find the candles from the Chaos Candle Company here.
Founded in Fall 2020, Co-pothecary is a CBD-infused balm company founded by married couple Candice Pantor and Courtney Roberson. It started in part as a project for Pantor’s graduate marketing class. The idea for a product came from Roberson, who was experimenting with CBD and natural oils to relieve her sciatic pain, which had worsened during the pandemic. Co-pothecary currently offers five fragrances including lavender and peppermint. Each is made from organic and all-natural ingredients. The essential oils come from a women’s company in the United States and the CBD comes from a family business in Oregon. A cedar-scented balm will soon mark the transition from summer to autumn.
You can find the products of Co-pothecary here.
Elevated Tea is a CBD tea company founded by Opare Densua who hoped to alleviate the mounting attacks of anxiety and depression she experienced during the pandemic. Densua’s tea blends are made from organic, GMO-free and vegan ingredients in plant-based compostable packaging and come from Asia, India and the USA. Her company offers six tea blends, each containing 15 milligrams of CBD. Caffeinated teas include Ascend, a Japanese sencha green tea made with coconut and pineapple, Bliss, a white tip tea with several additional fruits, and Revive – the least caffeinated tea. Other teas are caffeine-free and come in a variety of flavors.
The Elevated Tea website can be found here.
Gemocracy is a jewelry and accessory brand founded by former Alexandria resident and now Baltimore EnJouli McGoogan. Each pair of earrings is handcrafted from polymer clay by McGoogan. She also sells products cut from Kitenge fabric imported from Tanzania in collaboration with a friend. Gemocracy, launched in October 2020, also offers household items such as tablecloths, placemats, table runners and aprons, as well as backpacks, laptop bags, makeup bags, purses and masks. McGoogan often visits local pop-ups or markets where you can find their latest stock. To find out where she’ll appear next, visit the Community tab on her website.
You can also see their goods in the Gemocracy online shop.
Founded in July 2020 by business student Shalini Gardner at the University of Maryland, KOA is a premium apparel company focused on the essentials of women. Born of Gardner’s own desire for more durable, longer-lasting garments, the company offers tracksuits, sweatpants, tank tops, hoodies, and sweatpants. With the creation of KOA, Gardner aims to create a body positive space where BIPOC women feel empowered.
Buy their online site here.
Mutani’s Pocket is a shopping platform promoting East African culture by helping local local artists sell their items in the US. The idea for the site, which was founded in August 2020, came about when founder Simone Smillie was chatting with a friend who had shown her several trendy items that he had brought back from his travels in Africa. Smillie then teamed up with artists in various East African countries to sell their products in the DMV. Currently the store offers accessories and home accessories such as baskets, aprons and pillow cases. Smillie works with each artist on the design of the individual product and gives African trends an American touch.
Shop their online site here or check out one of their local pop-ups.
The pandemic idea of the barista duo and the soon-to-be-married couple Ashley May and Brian Raupp, Others Coffee was launched on September 29th – National Coffee Day – last year. The company currently offers two options: a light roast with beans from Peru and a medium roast with beans from Rwanda. The boxes designed by the couple to store the beans have a scannable QR code that helps customers learn more about the origin of their coffee, sometimes with details as specific as the farmer who grew the beans.
Other coffee is available on their website and at Navy Yard’s Somewhere Cafe.
Patreat’s boutique started out as Patrice Peterson’s pandemic coping mechanism, and her soap-making hobby grew into a shop selling handmade soaps, sugar scrubs, body oils, and bath salts. Made with natural ingredients and essential oils sourced from a mix of online vendors and local markets, their soaps come in a variety of fragrances, including lemongrass, mango papaya, eucalyptus, and turmeric.
Patreat’s boutique can be found here, and Peterson also makes local pop-ups that she advertises on her Instagram.
After chef Branden Givand put his catering business on hold due to the pandemic, he focused entirely on his bottled mambo sauce. Sauce City was founded in March 2020 and sells two iterations of Givand’s Sauce: a regular 3-pack and a limited edition “cough not” super hot 3-pack. The site also features two iterations of a Bloody Mary mixture, a recipe made by Givand’s wife using the mambo sauce. Givand’s sauce is made with locally sourced ingredients including pineapple, habaneros, jalapenos and tomatoes. Givand hopes to bring its catering company Pelota back more fully this year. He’s also hoping to open a bar.
Buy Sauce City products online or in selected local stores.
Anna Cobb – a native DC American who now lives in Laurel – founded VeganQueenCuisine in January 2020 while studying at Tuskegee University in Alabama. It was originally a catering company serving their college campus, which is located in a food wasteland. When the pandemic broke out shortly afterwards, Cobb had to turn around, and now VeganQueenCuisine is selling a vegan, all-natural energy drink called Rejuvenation. It is currently available in two flavors: pineapple and apple. The main ingredient of the drink is guayusa, which comes from farmers in Ecuador.
Rejuvenation is online here. Cobb also occasionally makes pop-ups.
Member of the editorial board
Melissa Santoyo joined Washingtonian in July 2021. She is an aspiring junior at Northwestern University studying journalism and the arts.