Shikira Allyene is here to share her top Black-owned designer-makers with you in celebration of Black History Month. Make sure you check out her Instagram @kre8iveshack – it’s full of gorgeous embroidery! But now it’s over to you Shikira…
Here is a roundup of some of my favourite artists, designers, and businesses all representing the best of African and Caribbean culture and heritage within the world of design and craft. The list comprises contemporary embroidery, pattern making, dressmaking, art prints, ceramics, in-person and online workshops, haberdasheries, and fabric shops. I hope you follow each of these designer-makers and buy from their amazing shops!
20 of the best Black-owned small businesses
One of my favourite embroidery designers I came across in the early days of my Instagram life was Ciara LeRoy of Pretty Strange Designs. Based in Cincinnati, her style is all about having fun with colour and inspiring life quotes. Her embroidery patterns would be a super cool addition to any room if bold is your thing.
Ethel & Em
Ethel and Em are a yarn lovers paradise based in Lancaster and owned by Melanie. It’s full of well know yarn brands and a huge variety of craft and pattern books. If you’re looking for a crafty social, Ethel and Em run zoom socials for people to come together and share their love of knitting.
Natalie Gaynor Designs
Natalie is so bubbly on Instagram and is a pro at making reels showcasing quick tutorials of stitches with the best music. Natalie has a huge range of embroidery kits available through her website. Designs feature classic floral’s with the best quotes and you can choose from PDF Downloads or full kits complete with all materials.
Dovetailed is one of the most exciting craft experiences right now. Shop for sewing kits featuring African wax print fabric combined with modern garment designs. If you’re familiar with buying wax print fabric you’ll know that in most shops its sold by 10 yards a piece. But at Dovetailed you can buy it by the metre or fat quarters, perfect if you just need a piece for an embroidery project. There is a haberdashery, books and sewing patterns which you can download or buy a paper version.
Set square patterns
This sewing Studio is based in Bristol and owned by Carla Diogo. She runs workshops in sewing and pattern cutting along with monthly sew socials where you can bring a current project you are working on, get help with it or just be amongst like-minded happy sewists.
Line and Honey
I met Amberlee at my print studio not realising that a) I follow her on Insta and b) we were both taking part in the same event the next day. I absolutely love her illustrations of the black female form and she has a delightful collection of these in art prints. It’s the perfect way to add beautiful black representation into the home.
Create The Culture Embroidery
These designs are another one of my favourites. Designed by Krystle Collins, based in New York, she sells a range of ready-made embroidered products such as tee’s and cushions but she also creates a range of DIY kits which feature icons like “In spirit of Angela” Davis, “It’s a SLAY” Beyonce, “Still I rise” Maya Angelou. My personal favourite of the collection is the DIY Bantu knot embroidery kit.
Sandra was my favourite contestant on the BBC’S The Great Pottery Throw Down in 2015. She has a pottery studio in her hometown of Leeds and runs a 1, or 2 day Throwing workshop and 3-hour taster session. Be inspired by Sandra’s creativity and the makes of those who have participated in workshops on her Instagram page.
Black Girl Knit Club
These ladies have really set the tone for creating a safe space for women of African and Caribbean descent, to discover, learn, and/or revive the knitting craft observed in so many of our elder’s homes. They’ve run exciting workshops during Black Girl Festival and featured in campaigns on the BBC. If you can snap yourself up a pair of tickets to one of their knitting workshops before they sell out it is well worth it.
This London-based primary school teacher, sewing enthusiast, and winner of the Great British Sewing Bee in 2019, now runs online courses to inspire more people to get into sewing. In her online shop, you can order pattern kits to get you started and she also runs a beginners sewing course on Domestika.org. Gathered interviewed Juilet about her time on the Sewing Bee to learn more about her time on the show and business!
Lucy Peltier creates beautiful embroidery projects which she sells as downloadable PDF patterns in her Etsy shop and she combines soft pastel colour palettes with uplifting quotes. Her designs have also been featured in embroidery magazines.
Celia creates the most divine beaded embroidery by combining colour, sequins, and a variety of different shaped beads to create texture. You will be inspired to recreate her methods with one of her bead box kits. You can also join her online beading workshop with new dates coming soon.
Pigeon Wishes is a family-run business that specialises in sustainable fabrics and handmade buttons. The button collections are vibrant and unique, adding a bold statement to any finished garment. You definitely want these to be seen!
Based in Wolverhampton and run by the vibrant creative Rachel, whose personality spills out into the FLYY way that she mixes colour to create her collections of whimsical yarns.
Chinelo was a contestant on the Great British Sewing bee in 2014 showcasing her method of dressmaking without the use of patterns. Her book Freehand Fashion gives you step-by-step instructions on how to create simple garments. In her lifestyle blog, she shares step-by-step tutorials on how to measure yourself and how to make a kimono using the freehand cutting method. Gathered interviewed Chinelo for their We’ve Made It podcast so go have a listen if you want to learn more about her and her business.
Hand of Gaia
This brand is created by a fellow printmaker, Bianca, who prints every piece herself. The contemporary collection is made with love and a passion for African and Caribbean heritage, bringing affirmation into our daily lives on t-shirts for children and elements of African-inspired prints on cushions.
This gorgeous business is run by a sister duo, inspired by their visits to Senegal and watching the community of women weaving baskets with their children beside them. What first began as an online boutique selling handmade baskets has branched out into offering workshops, inspiring others to learn this wonderful craft. It’s one that I will definitely be trying my hands at. Tabara has written a beginners guide to basket weaving here on Gathered!
On-trend, bold, and full of flavour. I first came across this brand at the Black Girl Festival. The creator behind these vibrant prints is Dorcas whose aim is to celebrate black women with illustrations that are modern and contemporary, reminding me of the pop art era.
Thimble and Doll
These dolls are the creation of Alisha. She creates bespoke diverse dolls which you can select up to 11 skin tones, hair types, clothes etc. You can also buy ready-made dolls from her collection too.
The illustration artist behind this brand is Nyanza who uses vintage pop art and comic book influences to depict women of colour doing day-to-day things. The way she uses colour is super exciting. Just one of these prints added to your room is sure to lift it. My favourite is a print called “1984”.
A big thankyou to Shikira for sharing her top Black-owned small businesses with us and you. We hope you support, buy and follow these accounts on social media and do share your favourite businesses in the comments below! Make sure you read our interview with Ciara LeRoy about craftivism with embroidery to learn about how craft can make its impact on the world of activism.