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This year, we’re rethinking our shopping by buying more gifts from Black-owned and local businesses rather than sticking to the same big-box stores we’ve frequented in the past. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite Black-owned businesses making chic and useful travel products, from luggage and shoes to toiletries, to add to your arsenal—as gifts for others or for yourself. Fill your shopping carts up this holiday season with gifts that cater to your needs—candle sets from Forvr Mood, a satin-lined sweatsuit from KIN Apparel, or travel blankets from E Marie. Read on for our list of the Black-owned businesses making travel gifts we love.
Founded by beauty mogul Jackie Aina, Forvr Mood is a love letter to Black women. Aina wanted to give Black women an outlet to indulge in self-care. Along with 10 different collections that include room sprays and candles, Aina also offers satin pillowcases and a candle care set to keep your light burning bright. Forvr Mood is a one-stop shop for all things cozy.
Discontent with the clothing options for working women, sisters Christina and Philiscia Abayomi wanted a line that fit their busy lifestyles. The designs are created in Toronto before being manufactured in Bangladesh and China, where Re Ona produces products on a small scale so as to be conscious of its environmental impacts and not create unnecessary waste. With designs rooted in minimalism and simplicity, Re Ona is a ready-to-wear brand that is functional, versatile, and deserving of a spot in your travel wardrobe. Each piece can be dressed up or down and has a long shelf life.
Founded in 2019 by Haitian-American designer Arielle C Baril, Rielli is a handmade brand, built on helping customers feel comfortable in their own skin. With a wide range of show-stopping swimsuits and cover-up designs, you’ll find something that doubles as chic and comfortable for your next tropical vacation.
During her time at Princeton University, founder Philomina Kane struggled to maintain her natural hair due to stress, so she cut it off. After the big chop, her hair grew back thicker and healthier and she began to make videos on YouTube to help other women embrace their natural hair. In 2020, Kane launched Kin Apparel with just satin-lined hoodies that would help protect hair strands from the abrasiveness of regular hoodies. She has since expanded her business to include satin pillowcases, satin-lined hats, and matching joggers to accompany her popular hoodies—she even landed a Shark Tank deal.
Made Leather Company
Made Leather Co. founder Lenise Williams started her company after touring leather tanning sites in Morocco during a business conference. She wrote down a business idea on her flight home and seven months later, Made Leather Co. was born. These leather goods are processed through vegetable tanning and handcrafted by skilled artisans—upholding the same process that has been performed in Morocco for centuries. Vegetable tanning uses natural tannins to turn animal skin into leather.
For those who like to travel light, Ashya makes slim crossbody bags that double as belt bags, like the Passport Bolo, an adjustable leather passport necklace made chic with hand stitching and 14K gold-plated hardware. Use it to hold your important cards while you travel or as an everyday wallet. Co-founders Ashley Cimone and Moya Annece started Ashya in New York City in 2017, and in 2018 they were an award recipient of the Council of Fashion Designers of America and Accessories Council Elaine Gold Launch Pad Fellowship.
Childhood friends Sarah Ribner and Jess Edelstein launched PiperWai as an artisanal natural deodorant brand when they realized how many toxic chemicals are found in antiperspirants. After more than 100 test batches, Ribner took their all-natural charcoal-activated deodorant on a trip to Central and South America, where it held up in the steamy tropics. They also sell mint-scented hand sanitizer and a cute and functional Dopp kit.
Bright Black Candles
Founded in September 2019 by Tiffany M. Griffin, Bright Black Candles honors the African diaspora with its location-inspired candles. Addis Ababa combines frankincense, myrrh, milk, and honey to bring the Ethiopian capital alive, while Kingston features rum, grapefruit, and sweet pimento leaf to transport you to the beachy Jamaican paradise. Durham, where Griffin, her husband Dariel, and their daughter Elena reside, uses scents of tobacco, cotton, and whiskey to recall the North Carolina city.
How much do you hate packing piles of pads and tampons when you know you’ll be getting your period on a trip? Enter Ruby Love, which has expanded beyond washable period underwear (which it also offers) to bathing suits, activewear, and cozy sleepwear that absorb up to three tampons worth using organic cotton layers and Dri-tech mesh while helping save the planet from tons of waste. Founded by Crystal Etienne in 2015—when her daughter got her period and Etienne was disheartened by the decades-old products on the market—Ruby Love makes teen sizes, too, giving all women the freedom and comfort to always keep moving. Best of all, the designs are so chic you’ll want to wear them even when you don’t have your period. They also have great basics, like leak-proof leggings and seamless underwear.
Eula Smith started E Marie to create a product that combined portability, comfort, and style during her travels in her fashion career. She came up with the ultra-soft and packable Travel Blanket, which can double as a scarf, shawl, and neck pillow. E Marie also sells a travel blanket and eye mask set in a variety of colors, cozy ribbed knit beanies to keep you warm, and hoodies made from that same soft material.
Atlanta-based leather goods brand Mifland, started by Tobi Egberongbe, sells useful travel bags, wallets, and other accessories made with premium vegetable tanned leather—the kind that develops that awesome patina from daily use. We love the Deluxe Rucksack for an everyday backpack that can carry your essentials, but it’s hard to resist the paint-splattered special edition Rolltop Rucksack. The wallets make ideal stocking stuffers, too.
Sonja M. Salmon used to travel constantly as a senior executive in banking and was often frustrated with inadequate luggage options. In 2014, she left her job to create the ideal carry-on bag, and Ebby Rane—named for her two Jamaican grandfathers—was born. The signature Quartermaster contains everything we want out of a good carry-on: inner compression straps and pockets, top-quality leather trim and handles, a tough polycarbonate shell, and 360-degree spinning wheels. Plus, a few surprises: a water-resistant zipper, a hidden underside handle for easy overhead bin retrieval, and multiple separate bags and pouches for everything from laundry to shoes to liquids. Did we mention it’s only seven pounds? For your vegan friends, the Q2 features trim and tags in cork instead of leather.
Rochelle Porter Design
For those who like vibrant, funky prints, Rochelle Porter makes bold patterns inspired by her Caribbean background and puts them on everything from stretchy workout wear perfect for long travel days (available in kids’ sizes and adult sizes up to 6XL) to phone cases and sneakers.
Ever notice how the color “nude” is typically made for a white skin tone? Salone Monet did, which led her to leave her career in political public relations and become a shoe designer. Her brand makes shoes in six nude shades that match a wide range of skin tones. Each pair is hand-dyed and made from high-quality leather and silk by expert cobblers in Italy. Her chic shoes have been worn by the likes of Beyoncé, Gabrielle Union, and Keke Palmer, and the dressy heels will easily go with everything in your suitcase.
Johanna Howard Home
Johanna Howard is a Swedish Black designer who, after moving to the U.S., worked for fashion brands like BCBG and the Gap. Eventually, she started this homeware line inspired by her Scandinavian roots and worldwide travels, featuring cozy wool, cotton, and alpaca blankets and throw pillows. We especially love her hand-knit scarves, like the Aubrey Scarf/Snood, made from undyed fair trade baby alpaca yarn that will keep you warm on even the most frigid days. For warmer weather, the Whisper Weight Scarf is light and breathable.