Online Holiday Market Highlights Black Women–Owned Businesses

This Friday and Saturday, more than 50 Black women–owned businesses will gather for an online holiday fair known as For the Culture Market. Eight of the 50-plus vendors specialize in jewelry, including acclaimed jewelry artist Karen Smith, Metal Artist, who is known for her sculptural, geometric, and handhammered statement rings, cuffs, earrings, and necklaces. Smith is also the founder of We Wield the Hammer, a metalsmith training program for young women and girls of the African diaspora in Oakland, Calif., and, eventually, Senegal. (As such, she was recently featured on a Building New Futures panel during NYC Jewelry Week.)

Karen Smith earrings
Mask earrings in sterling silver, $195; Karen Smith, Metal Artist

The holiday shopping event is hosted by Just Be, an Oakland-based, Black women–led business network that provides Black women entrepreneurs access to a collective marketplace and networking ecosystem. Since 2016, Just Be has engaged more than 500 Black women entrepreneurs in the Bay Area and beyond, and it recently  launched a membership program that connects Black women to training programs, funding opportunities, clients, and, most importantly, to one another.

“Thanks to community support and patronage, last year’s For the Culture Market generated over $45,000 for nearly 60 Black businesses in Oakland,” said Just Be cofounder and small business owner Marisol Catchings in a statement. “This year’s goal is to exceed $100,000 in online sales to help sustain our wonderful community of Black entrepreneurs.” COVID-19 has devastated the health and wealth of Black communities across the country. “Now more than ever, Black business owners are in need of sustainable sales and visibility,” added Catchings. “We need our communities to support and shop Black this holiday season.”

Given that Just Be is largely focused on the Bay Area, most of the participants in the For the Culture Market are likewise based in this region. But with national organization Runway cohosting the event, some of the participating makers are based in cities from San Diego to Atlanta to Cambridge, Mass. “We’re cohosting the For the Culture Market with Just Be to create a space to support, celebrate, and uplift Black women entrepreneurs,” said Nina Robinson, the organization’s director. “Our investment in the marketplace infrastructure provides Black artists and makers the type of holistic support that this moment in time calls for.”

Some of the jewelry vendors to check out at the market this weekend—or at your leisure—are below (and up top). Admission to the market is free but registration is required. There are also paid ticket options that grant attendees access to market-related events while allowing them to support Just Be’s ongoing efforts and programs.

Nikki Michelle necklace
Nikki Michelle is a graduate of Hampton University and the Gemological Institute of America, and realized her true calling as a jewelry designer while accessorizing for the wardrobe departments of various film projects. Olympus Collection XII necklace with chrysocolla and green crystals, $295.

Latisha Baker Artworks consists of wearable art jewelry that incorporates a variety of metals and colors.


Candid Art squiggle earrings
Candid Art encompasses the work of Candice Cox, who works with an assortment of metals, semi-precious stones, and recycled materials. Squiggle earrings in 18k gold fill with pearls, $164. (Image via @candid_art.)
Fulaba 22k gold Fulani earrings
Fulaba’s statement jewelry is connected to and inspired by African culture. Fulani earrings in 22k gold, $6,295.

Azteca Negra celebrates African influence in Latin American cultures through handcrafted jewelry and other accessories by artist Marisol Catchings (who is also a Just Be cofounder).

Fresh to Def Collective earrings
Fresh to Def Collective accessories are handcrafted from cherry, maple, and walnut wood combined with African fabrics and paint. Made by designer (and Just Be cofounder) Hope Henson-Lehman, the jewelry is rooted in feminist, African/Black patterns; hip-hop culture; and social justice themes. Unconditional Love big glitter earrings in cherry wood, resin, and stainless steel, $45. (Photo at left by Karla Flores.)


Top: For the Culture Market vendor Breanna Douglas, who owns  Journey of My Love Poetically with her mom, Brandy Douglas, wears hot pink leather tassel earrings in 14k gold–plated silver, $28


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Amy Elliott

JCK Contributing Editor

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