11 Boston-Based, Black-Owned Brands to Support this Valentine’s Day
Keep it local while keeping the romance alive.
Romance may not have been your top priority during these continually strange times, but Valentine’s Day does happen to be quickly approaching. While the holiday may just be another corporate ploy to convince us all to buy unnecessary items that probably won’t get eaten/watered/worn/etc., we suggest taking the opportunity this year to put some love back into the local economy. Lots of small brands are depending on holidays like Valentine’s Day to keep their businesses afloat during the pandemic, so let’s skip the pharmacy greeting cards and stale Russell Stovers—plus all of the retailers that regrettably haven’t taken the 15 Percent Pledge—this year. Instead, put your dollars towards a pair of matching sweatshirts that you and your S.O. can steal from each other’s closets or even a work of art to spruce up your shared Zoom office space. The gift ideas are endless, which is why we’ve put together a guide to Boston’s finest offerings from Black-owned brands that will instantly impress your loved ones no matter how much time you’ve spent glued to the couch together these past few months.
Vermajé Tea Co.
Vermajé Tea Co. has a tea for every taste, from fermented oolong blends to an aromatic Bengal chai. Or you could try Vermajé’s very own line of “EqualiTeas,” which sends 15% of every purchase towards local non-profits fighting for social and economic justice. If your partner considers tea their caffeine of choice, try signing them up for the “Pause & Sip Tea of the Month Club,” which includes three new loose-leaf teas each month plus a guide to brewing the perfect cup every time.
In-store shopping available Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at Vermajé’s tea boutique, 6 South Main St. Randolph, 02368. Visit vermaje.com to shop online.
Giselle’s Flowers and Gifts
For over 20 years, Antonietta Barros has been brightening up the Boston area with her one-of-a-kind arrangements filled with local and exotic blooms. Ditch the classic rose bouquet and go for one of Barros’s original designs that will definitely score you some major brownie points. The Julia is a sweet and elegant option (perfect for new relationships), but if you’re looking to make a serious impression, go for the New Sensations. If you’re totally clueless, the Designer’s Choice arrangement will save you the stress of Googling, “what’s the difference between a lily and calla lily?”
In-store pick up and same-day delivery available. Visit gisellesflowersandgifts.com to shop online.
After interning for a jewelry designer and a life-changing trip through Southeast Asia, Jessenia Landrum started designing her own line of wanderlust-inspired wares. From necklaces influenced by the art inside India’s Junagarh Fort to earrings designed in honor of Costa Rican flora, each of Landrum’s pieces makes a truly remarkable statement. International travel may be on pause for now, but these gorgeous additions to your jewelry box should be able to hold you over in the meantime.
Visit jevelajewelry.com to shop online.
Established in 2017, Hope Design began as an idea to merge fashion with community service. The Roxbury-born lifestyle brand’s minimalist aesthetic focuses on the company’s main mission: inspiring change by spreading hope. Keep it simple with the brand’s signature box logo t-shirt or get a pair of matching sweatshirts emblazoned with the label’s uplifting messages. Consider investing in some of the brand’s other items like their “Stop the Violence” long-sleeve t-shirt—50% of all proceeds made from it go towards the Movement for Black Lives.
Visit hopedesign.work to shop online.
If multiple Harvard School of Public Health studies have shown that eating dark chocolate has some health benefits, then who’s stopping us from buying a few of Chocolate Therapy’s truffle collection boxes? No one, that’s who. While replacing actual therapy for chocolate is not typically recommended, we think that popping a few of the shop’s “Stress Reliever” truffles—laced with lavender, sage, and a touch of honey—may just be able to momentarily keep your anxieties at bay.
Visit thechocolatetherapystore.com to shop online.
Whether your boyfriend decided he’s suddenly keto or your wife is trying to cut out refined sugars, there’s a sweet gluten-free, vegan decadent treat from Chef Angela Hofmann that will satisfy every sugar craving. Take your pick of Hazelnut, Mint, or Almond truffles or go the citrusy route with the Lemon Ginger Squares. If you can’t be bothered to cook your beloved a fancy multi-course meal for Valentine’s Day, go for Chef Angela and Chef Suzi Gerber’s romantic fondue basket with wine.
Visit nussli118.com to shop online. Fondue basket orders can be placed online and will be ready for pick-up at 2259 Mass. Ave., Cambridge, MA 02140 on February 13th between 3 p.m.-6 p.m.
Now that double-masking seems to be the new droplet protection plan, you’re probably going to need a few more cloth masks to add to your rotation. Made-to-order double-layer cotton masks from Schnelle Cares come in classic patterns like plaid and camo and more adventurous prints like cheetah and rainbow confetti dots. The brand also offers masks made from African wax prints and Batik quilting cotton that come in an array of brightly colored dotted and striped designs. The best part, though, is that a portion of all mask sales is being donated to the Boston Resiliency Fund for COVID relief. Nothing beats a gift that gives back.
Visit schnellecares.com to shop online.
Since your partner has been stealing your fancy moisturizer since you started dating, why not make some room on the shelf for a few new products they can claim as their own? Let’s face it, dry winter skin is not cute, but that’s where krio comes in. Tony Johnson experimented in his tiny Somerville kitchen until he crafted the perfect plant-based formulas inspired by traditional African skincare methods designed to combat ashy skin. Cranking the heat up in your apartment is not doing anyone’s skin any favors, so consider gifting a duo of the Tacugama body oil and broccoli seed oil-infused Kono body butter to really lock in your partner’s moisture barrier during these next few blistering cold months.
Visit getkrio.com to shop online.
This Black-owned community bookstore has a fantastic selection of titles that will satisfy any avid bookworm. Your loved one can bury their nose in Kiley Reid’s pageturner, Such a Fun Age or perhaps brush up on their history with Peniel E. Joseph’s, Waiting ‘Til the Midnight Hour, which documents the rise and fall of the Black Power movement. The Roxbury-based shop’s owners Clarissa and Leonard Egerton focus their inventory on amplifying Black and brown authors so keep an eye on Frugal’s Books We Are Talking About Now page for the next literary megastar.
In-store shopping available Monday through Saturday at 57 Warren St. Roxbury, MA 02119. Visit frugalbookstore.net to shop online.
Elisa H. Hamilton Art
This multimedia artist is taking the Boston art scene by storm with her neon still-life drawings and interactive community projects. While Hamilton is known for her whimsical works depicting everyday objects and spaces, her new series, “Love Bravely” shows layers of abstracted hearts in contrasting warm and cool tones. These works are all about channeling positivity and hope, which are two things we could all use a little more of these days. Valentine’s Day is just as good an excuse as any to start living out your shared fantasy of becoming rich patrons of the arts who own galleries around the world.
Crayon and black gesso on paper works range from 8″x10″ ($150) to 14″ x 22-1/2″ ($450). Contact [email protected] to find out which pieces are currently available, and shop online at elisahhamilton.com.
David HD Photography
When was the last time you had a professional portrait taken? Since your friends don’t take the best photos of you and your partner, a cute photoshoot with a professional is in order. It may have been a hard year, but why not capture a moment with the person who’s helping get you through it? David H specializes in wedding photography and family portraits, so he’s got plenty of experience working with young couples and kids, too.
Email [email protected] for booking inquiries.
Bonus: Bites of Boston Black-Owned Boston Gift Box
When you have no idea what else to get your special someone, go for something that already has a lot of thought put into it—like a gift box. This one, curated by food tour company Bites of Boston, includes a selection of products from seven local Black, woman-owned businesses. It’s got a mix of gourmet food items like pineapple chutney from Lyndigo Spice and self-care essentials like vanilla fig lip balm from Layo Handmade. Plus, $5 made from every box goes towards supporting Boston-based Black youth programs.
Visit shop.bitesofbostonfoodtours.com to shop the box online.