Since our inception, FOUND/LA has been focused on supporting local businesses as diverse as the communities they serve. It’s an integral part of our mission. We know that oftentimes minorities have less access to the resources they need to succeed as business owners. When it comes to Black-owned businesses, despite entrepreneurs being seven times wealthier than their wage earning counterparts, they still have a harder time gaining access to funding. They get less than 1% (yep – you read that right!) of available venture capital, and are more likely to finance their business primarily via cash, loans from friends and family, and finally with credit. SOURCE
Given the pandemic we find ourselves in, we risk more at risk of losing the small businesses that make our neighborhoods feel like home than ever before. A recent survey by Small Business Majority found that 44% of small businesses are predicted to close. For those of you interested in supporting Black-owned businesses in LA, we’re shining the spotlight on a few of our favorites. From natural hair care to art and fashion galleries, check out the entrepreneurs we’ve FOUND.
Run by Jac and Arlington Forbes, Canvas Malibu is a unique combination of art gallery and retail space. They recently underwent a major remodel where they devoted the ground level of their Malibu space to their art gallery, and reserved the top level for men and women’s fashions, accessories, and footwear. “We want our client to buy less, but buy better,” they said. “Let’s focus on the customer and what really works for them today, and into the future.”
– Jac and Arlngton Forbes’ business, Canvas Malibu, @canvasmalibu
Lavena started her business in a homeless shelter, saving money on rent so she could pursue her dream while putting her daughter through college. She sells her handmade, all leather line of bags and accessories made right here in LA online. Pre-COVID, she donated 20% of all her profits to the Downtown Women’s Center but now has pivoted to sewing bamboo face mask covers for nurses, and she’s now collaborating with local farm to table stores. Lavena’s quality goods and community support are prime examples of how much small businesses contribute to our community.
– Lavena’s business, Vena Vena Handcrafted, @venavenahandbag
Robinne Burrell of Red Flight Mobile created a company that uses her corporate experience with companies like Tindr, Amazon, and Sony to develop mobile social apps for companies and events – all while embodying her commitment to social justice. With the start of COVID, Robinne has had to pivot. Thanks to her non-profit work, Robinne has been able to partner with a STEAM camp for kids to create an at-home kit to bring their camp experience into living rooms across the country. The three day experience, “Code.Chella” brings to life the STEAM elements that go on behind the scenes at our favorite festivals. Innovation is the hallmark of every entrepreneur!
– Robinne Burrell’s business, Redflight Innovation, @pixelenvy
SouthLA cafe is not just a place to get healthy, affordable food and drinks – it’s a place where the South Los Angeles community can come together. From book readings, workshops, art, music, and activist events, SouthLA cafe is dedicated to keeping alive the vibrant history and culture of South Central LA. Started by long-term South LA residents Celia and Joe Ward-Wallace, they wanted to provide their neighborhood with the fresh, healthy affordable food options their community deserves. Paying it back is what small businesses are all about.
– Celia and Joe Ward-Wallace’s business, South LA Cafe, @southlacafe
“There are no mistakes. Everything is aligned.” That’s how Branché Foston, Creative Brand strategist, Yoga instructor, Reiki practitioner, and Herbal wellness healer, found her own true path: making wellness and healing practices more accessible to millennials, especially people of color. A digital wellness bodega, The Honey Block offers classes, content and community all around the topic of Wellness as Restorative Justice. Proudly based in South LA, The Honey Block provides millennials of color with access to techniques, tips and guides to promote healing from the inside out.
– Branché Foston’s business, The Honey Block, @thehoneyblock
Lactose intolerant? Misha’s Cheeses are here to help satisfy those cheese cravings. Made from a cashew and almond milk base and blended with various locally-sourced fresh herbs, vegetables and spices, these “cheeses” are lactose free and a true delight. No vegetable oils, soy, fillers, starches, or nutritional yeast…it’s ever LA baby’s dream. Vegan cheese that tastes good? We’ll take it.
– Ian Martin’s and Aaron Bullock’s business, Misha’s Kind Foods, @mishaskindfoods
Recently accepted into Grid110’s newly open South LA cohort, Sole Folks is not only a shoe store, they’re also a retail incubator program for young designers and artisans from underserved communities. To a casual observer, it’s a retail store. Behind the scenes, it’s a campus equipped with a classroom. Set up as a high-end department store and pop-up bistro that sells participants’ goods, their real mission is to create a space where minority entrepreneurs can learn about bringing their products to market. From sourcing to brand identity, pre-production, e-commerce marketing, preparing for launch, retail and community investment, Sole Folks holds young entrepreneurs’ hands as they learn all steps of the retail process.
– Sole Folks’s business, Sole Folks, @solefolks
She’s been mixing natural hair home remedies for years, and at 38 weeks pregnant with her firstborn, she decided to share those mixes with the public. Mama Shye is an all-natural, Black-owned hair care line dedicated to the principles of wellness and transparency and helping people along in their natural hair journey. Mama Shye believes in growing and maintaining healthy hair however you decide to rock it. Plus, how cute is her family?
– Mama Shye’s business, Mama Shye, @mama_shye
“When I came across certain literature, I know it increased my self-esteem, my self-worth, and it gave me a new perspective on our people and our community,” Muhammad says. “I like to think Malik Books is an African American community bookstore, but with an emphasis on giving voice to the voiceless.” Malik Muhammad opened Malik Books in 1990, a few years after he graduated from USC, with the mission of making a difference in his community on a grassroots level in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. When Malik Books had to shut its doors due to the pandemic, the business was fortunate enough to have a web store in place. Thanks to the Black Lives Matter movement, Malik Books now has orders pouring in from all over the country supporting their wide selection of books, calendars, and gifts that speak to the experiences of the African diaspora.
– Malik Muhammad’s business, Malik Books, @malikbooks
“The Ivery Arie platform is a place for African & Black women to not only share their own authentic stories with each other, but have one on one opportunities with other successful women who can serve as mentors to guide their path. As a digital media company, they serve to empower women to own and control their narratives and personal experiences, through career development, business, health and wellness. Through technology, research and carefully curated content, they create intimate learning and networking experiences for women looking to be the best versions of themselves.
– Ivery Arie’s business, Ivery Arie Inc, @iveryarie
If you want to support Black-owned businesses outside of the Los Angeles area, you can always check out POST 21. Founded by Blair Paysinger and Juana Williams, POST 21 is a marketplace that creates a modern shopping experience celebrating modern and design-forward products, always from black-owned businesses. Check them out here: POST 21.