The Bespoke Black Book has always been an equal opportunity magazine; we believe in championing all brands whether female owned, LGBT or BAME founded brands. As March 8th celebrates International Women’s Day we asked all our female editors and writers to nominate their favourite female owned business that deserves your support.
I nominate Four London, CYC:D and Boomcycle
Four London has been my hairdresser for the last 2 years and have helped me immensely on my hair journey back to full hair health. My hair had been a bit of a mess after years of bleaching and then due to surgery and medication it was seriously damaged, but thanks to Four London’s knowledge in both cuts and colour my hair has come back from the brink and is now healthy. I am astonished at the 4 women who own this salon, they started it all on their own with very little help or guidance in a very tough and competitive market but they have grown it to become one of the best hair salons in central London. My nomination goes out to them not only because they have helped me with my hair but for their tenacity to overcome the struggles of 2020/21 and remain positive despite so many lockdowns and restrictions on the beauty industry. I for one cannot wait to get back into the salon to finish my hair journey when restrictions allow.
My other nomination goes to CYC:D and Boomcyle, both female owned spin studios, one in my hometown and one in London that meant so much to me on my recovery from a horrendous ski accident. After a huge skiing accident in 2016 my physiotherapist suggested I spin, I had already been bitten by the spin bug after finding Boomcycle, which was founded by Hilary Rowland, but after moving to Surrey there were no options locally so I bought my own bike. As good this was it was not the same as being in a class with banging tunes, and instructors egging you on and that feeling of comradery and then my prayers were answered, CYC:D opened in my town, founded by Faye Walton. Both these female owned spin studios mean so much to me as they both helped me on my journey back to physical fitness and I again, like Four London, I think they should be applauded for getting through the hardships of 2020/21 with the restrictions on gyms and fitness studios. The future is female and I will certainly be supporting these brands as they have supported me for many years to come.
I nominate McBride Sisters Winery
Since 2005, the McBride Sisters winery has been telling us to ‘break the rules, drink the wine’. I don’t need telling twice. As the largest Black-owned wine company in the USA, the McBride sisters are continuing to pave the way for more diverse vintners across the world. Their Black Girl Magic collection of fine wines celebrate the strength and resilience of black women and has been highly acclaimed; at the San Diego International Wine and Spirits Competition they snared a gold medal for their 2017 Red Blend and a platinum medal (Best Riesling) for their 2018 California Riesling, which was also awarded gold in The Fifty Best Rieslings 2020. The McBrides believe in sisters helping sisters too, using some of their profits to fund scholarships for women overcoming gender biases in all industries, including winemaking, with their SHE CAN Professional Development Fund! Grab a can of wine (break the rules, remember) from their SHE CAN Collection and support these wonderful women to support others. Plus, you get to drink it.
I nominate Myristica and Code 8
As a woman who used to be a chef I know full well how hard it can be to thrive in a male dominated environment, so I wanted to highlight someone who I think has excelled in what they do. During lockdown, Michelle Trusselle from London based supper club Myristica came up with the ‘At Home by Myristica’ concept, a more casual version of their supper club but with undeniable flavours of the Caribbean done well, and with a few modern techniques. She started off delivering flyers locally and was often found on her bike delivering Caribbean food to neighbours in London’s Caribbean cultural home: Notting Hill. But thankfully it is now available nationwide and my partner and I were lucky enough to try one. In true Caribbean style there is no shortage of food in the kit and it looks more like a feast than a meal. They even send you a Caribbean inspired playlist to listen to while you prepare and eat your food which I thought was an inspired touch and made the whole experience that bit better. This was a flavour sensation, with no shortage of spices and herbs to awaken the senses. My favourite kind of food is a variety of flavours and textures that are made for sharing, this ticked all the boxes and was one of our favourite meals we’ve had all year. Bravo Michelle!
I also want to nominate Code 8 because their founders, Nadine Ayache and Sophia Chikovani, view it as more than just a brand but a life mission to spread positivity on self-image and self-worth to all women of all ages. Calling out for a change in the beauty industry, their 8 point beauty manifest encourages women to make time for themselves, love the skin they’re in and be confident in their appearance. But what makes the brand special is more than just their cruelty free production, inclusivity and dedication to limited edition and bespoke pieces, it’s that their products are genuinely good quality, innovative and made with women in mind. I absolutely loved their online beauty lab in which I created my very own shade of lipstick ‘Bespoke Realness’ and have been using their incredible BB cream everyday throughout lockdown.
I nominate Röhnisch
This Swedish active wear brand has been leading change in their field for over 75 years. Röhnisch is a brand designed by women for women and they honour the fact we all come in different sizes, their clothes run from xs to 3XL. And they always have sustainability at the front of their minds hoping to be fully sustainable by 2025. In addition to this they are giving back, they work closely with Hand in Hand International, a Swedish based non profit organisation that empowers poverty-stricken women in rural India through micro finance business training and entrepreneurship.
I nominate W;EAR
Gilly Woo is a couture dressmaker from Bristol who made thousands of women’s bespoke outfit dreams come true before realising, after two decades in the industry she used to adore, that her own dreams had been neglected and that her soul was left longing. W;EAR exists because Woo couldn’t find jewellery that was stylish and went with any outfit from Wellington boots to stilettos and beyond, so she decided to create some. Before Covid Woo regularly volunteered for charities sharing her skills to help disadvantaged women improve their self esteem. Now she donates a portion of profits to local charities. Her soul is happier now. I love W;EAR for their easy-to-wear style and that they support local Bristol charities. Creativity and Kindness.
I nominate Juvia’s Place
As a child in the 80/90s finding the right makeup for my brown Nigerian skin tone was incredibly exhausting. But luckily for my girls who are of African and European descent, their treasure hunt has been made very easy by a brand called Juvia’s Place. Juvia’s place is a bright, bold and beautiful collection of make up for not just African shade of skin but for all beautiful skin tones. My 21 year old daughter discovered this strong independent brand in her late teens and has passed the pubertal torch to her little sister who has recently entered the world of facial artistry. But why do I, as a mom, have a warm spot for this brand? Well it’s because creator Chichi Eburu, who is Nigerian, has solved the problem that most girls with melanin have, which is sourcing trustworthy make up products easily. But she hasn’t just inspired those particular girls, she has also kicked the door open for all races and genders to relish in her colourful pigmented palettes and provides an extensive range of glamorous products. I am so happy to see a female business woman show my girls that “inclusivity” is the new black.
I nominate Frida Rome
I love Frida Rome because it is owned by two friends, it is also because it’s chic, simple and vegan. I also love that it’s made from cactus leather which is so unique. This material is soft, eco-friendly, and a perfect imitation of high quality leather. It’s not only cruelty-free, but is sustainably made in Europe, too. It is partially recyclable and is manufactured using only water based pigments, with low solvent and energy use. Their bags are also a bit punky, edgy and they come with a sexy surprise!
I nominate Sienna Alexander
I’ve known Sienna for a few years now, I love her brand and I’m the proud owner of a few of her sunglasses. Why do I nominate her though? Countless fast fashion brands have taken advantage of cheap labour in the emerging Asia market, manufacturing their products in places with little or no regard for working conditions and their negative impact on the workers and the environment. Sienna Alexander makes their glasses in Italy from bio based plasticizers from natural sources instead of oil based and even the packaging is recyclable, they are also made in the most ethical way to European standards. As well as doing all of the above, for every pair of sunglasses sold, they donate to Vision Aid Overseas.
I nominate Samudra
My nomination for the female-owned and run business you need to know about is Samudra – a young ethical activewear brand born out of lockdown 1.0. Best friends and yoga buddies Katie and Margot are on a mission to protect our oceans and support women around the world through their sustainable and beautiful legging-bra sets made out of regenerated ocean plastic and manufactured in the UK. It’s a brand built wholly around sustainability as we look at changing our consumer habits in the face of the plastic pollution, fast fashion and climate change crises. Also noteworthy on this day celebrating the movement of women’s rights is Samudra‘s policy of donating 5% of profits to female-focused conservation projects worldwide. And, certainly not least, is the look, feel and comfort of the yoga-cum-swim-cum-activewear that I’ve practically lived in this past year and has made me feel elegant and confident when it’s been much needed!
I nominate WholyMe
I picked WholyMe because of their mission to help ease pain and stresses on the body in a fully natural and organic way, using ingredients beautifully sourced from all the thousands of nutrients that plants hold. Celine and Quitterie create amazing products that have been born from personal experience and knowledge of what chronic pain is and can do to peoples lives both for body and mind. You can see the entire process of creating the products, from start to finish in full transparency and they teach you what the ingredients are and what they are there to do. WholyMe is more than just a product, it’s a community where everyone can feel supported. For years I have personally lived with chronic pain myself and haven’t wanted to rely on painkillers and as such have struggled to find products that help ease the pain. WholyMe relief balm is my favourite product and has helped my joints recover after movement and sport. To know it’s fully natural and safe is such a relief and the fact it is female founded and run just makes it even better!