For the past eight years, during Black History Month, Startup Slang has upheld a celebration of Black History by honoring black pioneers. As global rules don't exactly permit intimate gatherings, we've marked such a historic month digitally by celebrating our trailblazer of choice this year, Malcolm X, and reflecting on his fundamental teachings. We have also interviewed three Black-Owned Shopify businesses on what it means to be black in the digital space as a business owner, a brand, and what drives them.

We've always considered ourselves a hustling agency and our honoree, this year, is no different. Malcolm X was the ultimate hustler; towards the end of his life, he joked that he got his bachelor's degree on the streets of Harlem. His earlier ideologies may have been radical and incendiary at the height of his fight for equal rights. Still, his personal and public philosophy evolved and expanded to include a universal brotherhood against black people's dehumanization. Using the knowledge he gained while being scrappy, he honed his communication skills with people and press alike while understanding the purpose he was driven to accomplish. He knew that his life was a matter of survival as a black man and wanted to see change happen in his world and beyond. Though Malcolm's younger life differed significantly from his adult life, his desire and commitment to fight for survival in America's racist culture was and still is relevant today.

2020 shone a brighter spotlight on black people's plight with George Floyd’s loss, one name amongst many countless others who had previously lost their lives to excessive brutality and internalized hatred. Renewed fervor seized the world in demanding anti-racism to dismantle society's hierarchy of status that determined previously imposed identities based solely on skin color. The fight for equal rights is still ongoing, which reminds us of one of Malcolm X's last quotes before his tragic assassination on February 21st, 1965:
"You can't separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom."
- January 7th, 1965 - 
Our three honorary black-owned Shopify businesses know a thing or two about taking their own freedom into their hands; by exploring a new life of entrepreneurship, they've decided to create their peace and change their world and community. We're so proud to highlight the following businesses, from artists to fashion designers and jewelry makers. Let's get started!

Launched in 2019 by British-born Ghanaian designer Emefa Kuadey, the luxury made-to-order clothing and accessories brand redefines minimalism through structure and bold femininity. Emefa’s past includes a degree in civil engineering and draws inspiration from that, creating timeless designs that are ethically and sustainably produced.

Startup Slang (SS): What does Black History Month mean to you personally?

Emefa Kuadey (EK): There is an extensive amount of power in our history; it is up to us to create our own narrative and reclaim our own story. We have to tell our ancestors’ stories through our lens and not from the perspective that’s been force-fed. Black people have been groundbreaking in so many different fields, and our imprint matches our vast heritage.

SS: What does knowing your Black History mean to you? Is it part of the reason your brand now exists?

EK: Entrepreneurship has always been part of my family history, and it set personal standards for me to know that I was always capable of doing more. My aunt taught me how to sew and fueled my interest in going to fashion school. Working a corporate job was no longer my purpose as I wanted to create beautiful, classic silhouettes with a twist while minimizing the impact on the planet. There isn’t enough representation for black fashion designers that are also sustainable. 

SS: Is there a Black Hero that inspires you daily or who you aspire to be like?

EK: I know this may sound cliché, but my parents; they are beyond supportive. They’ve taught me the meaning of hard work, and they have invested in this journey. They are my great examples and my rock in life.

Check out Israella Kobla here or on the Black-Business page on Shopify.

"We need more light about each other. Light creates understanding, understanding creates love, love creates patience, and patience creates unity."
- August 25th, 1964 - 

Big Drip Jewels is a spiritual jewelry shop that just launched during the Chinese New Year! All of the pieces are handmade to help bring out your inner power and confidence. Their jewelry encourages you to vibrate high, stay positive and live in the present moment.

Startup Slang (SS): What's the story that has brought you to creating your eCommerce business?

Krystyna Black (KB): I was on a self-discovery and self-improvement journey when I realized that it's time to take action and do something to build generational wealth for my family. But, I did not just want this for myself. I wanted others to feel that same spark, to be the catalyst for change in their lives. That's why each product we offer has a specific intention behind it to help empower and encourage you to take the leap, be fearless and have faith.

SS: What does Black History Month mean to you personally?

KB: Personally, Black History month is beyond the 28/29 days the world feels obligated to acknowledge how powerful and beautiful the Black Community is. We're way more than a "featured museum exhibit." No matter how many times we get knocked down, we always rise by uplifting ourselves and others through our example. We always show that the stereotype is wrong, the narrative is false, and our strength will never be taken from us.

SS: Is there a Black Hero that inspires you daily or who you aspire to be like?
KB: Barack Obama - He just showed the world that you really could be a black president in a country that was built off of slavery. If you only work hard towards your dreams, nothing is impossible.

Check out Big Drip Jewels here.

"The future belongs to those who prepare for it today."
 - June 28, 1964 - 

Trevor Dawkins' vibrant, mandela-like tempera paintings incorporate praise for JAH and encouragement for humankind. Each vivid geometric design is an inspired mediation on the truth that joins a centre, through line and colour, to a higher source. They are excited to bring their unique Vibrant Graphic Paintings and Clothing Line to the public via Shopify.

Startup Slang (SS): What's the story that has brought you to creating your eCommerce business?

Trevor Dawkins (TD): Culturefresh was started in June 2017 out of God's Divine Purpose for my life, a Passion for Designing and Painting this Vibrant Colored Graphic Artwork. A vision which became increasingly stronger and motivated me to open Culture Fresh (Culturefresh), which has its own unique Logo, Original Vibrant Graphic Paintings, and a Clothing Line. Culture Fresh represents All People of Diverse Cultures as represented in our Multicolored Scheme of the Logo.

SS: What does Black History Month mean to you personally?

TD: A Recognition and Celebration of the History of Our Struggles, Achievements in the Diaspora.

SS: What does knowing your Black History mean to you? Is it part of the reason your brand now exists?

TD: My Black History is undeniably represented in my Vibrant Graphic Art designs, which reflects my African Heritage.

Check out Culture Fresh here or on the Black-Business page on Shopify.

A great thank you to the brands aforementioned for partnering with us on this Black History Month article. Thank you for sharing a little more about yourself and what Black History means for you. We’re proud to be a diverse agency and part of the Shopify ecosystem where new opportunities aren’t limited. If you’re a new entrepreneur and don’t know where to begin, let us help you get started! Click on the logo below or our Contact Us page here.
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We help brands grow by offering great creative services for businesses of all sizes. We offer more than just plug-and-play business solutions; with our years of expertise, we aim to be an accelerator program for eCommerce brands who want to take it to the next level.
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