February 22, 2021
Last Updated:
February 27, 2023

IIN Staff Picks: Black History Month – Celebrating and Supporting Black Creators

In honor of Black History Month, we are celebrating and supporting Black creators and influencers. From health and wellness to beauty, food, literature, art and music, social justice, and everything in between, Black creators are contributors in every field.

Here are some Black-owned businesses and creators you can support this month and every month.

Poetry and Music

Jasmine Walker

“Jasmine is an extremely talented coworker and friend – I love and appreciate her positivity and passion! She has written books, performs spoken word, acts, and is a singer-songwriter. Her second hip-hop and R & B extended play is called Black Butterfly, a follow-up to her debut album, Believe. Be sure to check out her music on Spotify or anywhere you listen to music!”

– IIN Staff Member, Design

Rudy Francisco

“As an artist, Rudy is an amalgamation of social critique, introspection, honesty, and humor. He uses personal narratives to discuss the politics of race, class, gender, and religion while simultaneously pinpointing and reinforcing the interconnected nature of human existence.

“Rudy seeks to create work that promotes healthy dialogue, discourse, and social change. Furthermore, Rudy has made conscious efforts to cultivate young poets and expose youth to the genre of spoken word poetry via coaching, workshops, and performances at preparatory schools and community centers. Rudy has also received admiration from institutions of higher education. He has conducted guest lectures and performances at countless colleges and universities across the nation. Make sure you check out his poetry book, Helium.”

– IIN Staff Member, Design

Food, Wellness, and Skin and Body Care Products

Plush Skinn and Body

“Plush Skinn and Body is a hybrid business consisting of organic, green, handmade personal and skin-care products as well as mobile therapeutic massage services. Plush Skinn was created in Brooklyn, NY, in 2015. Paulette Jackman, founder and CEO, felt there was a lack of simple, nontoxic skin-care products on the market that were readily available to use, and so Plush Skinn was born! As a Black-owned business, Plush Skinn provides valuable products and services to all! Products range from a turmeric facial bar to Whipped Triple Body Butter, and all products cater to all skin types.”

– Sandia Paul-Waller, Operations

Bunna Cafe

“Bunna Cafe is a plant-based Ethiopian restaurant located in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Their brick-and-mortar spot has been around since 2014, and it's definitely a neighborhood favorite. Meals at Bunna are typically shared, and the overall experience feels very communal. This quote from their website perfectly embodies the spirit of Bunna Cafe: ‘Dining is more than putting food in your mouth. It is an event, a time to tell stories, to learn, to build.’ If you live in NYC, I definitely recommend a visit!”

– Rachael Colasanto, Marketing

JemJem Tea

"As a first-generation Caribbean American raised in New Jersey and currently residing in Harlem, NY, Jamelia started this business after pressure from her mother. After her mother’s diagnosis with breast cancer two years ago, Jamelia was in search of all things that brought her comfort; she realized the simple joys in life are what keep you going in times of hardship. Tea, crafting, plants, and herbs are all things she considers simple joys. Tea is the start and end to each of her days, and she often turns to it for comfort. I hope people find the same simple joy and comfort in these blends and boxes as I do!”

– IIN Staff Member, Design


“BLK + GRN is an online marketplace that features brands and products created by Black artisans and wellness experts. Their marketplace connects people with natural lifestyles to high-quality, nontoxic brands that share their mission of health, wellness, and community cultivation.”

– Amy Serafini, Education

Ras Plant Based

“Ras Plant Based is a delicious, all-vegan Ethiopian restaurant in Brooklyn, New York. Owners Romeo and Milka Regalli serve their interpretations of recipes handed down through generations, providing a place where modern meets traditional to create exceptional cuisine.”

– Lorraina Morrison, Project Management

Kreme & Krumbs

“Kreme & Krumbs is an artisanal ice cream brand, handcrafted in small batches using premium dairy, seasonal ingredients, and the finest chocolates and vanillas sourced from the world’s best artisan producers and Jersey's best sustainable growers. Their handcrafted ice cream sandwich, coined the Kremewich, is the perfect marriage of cake and ice cream. It is built on pure goodness and seasonal flavors.”

– Jim Turner, A/V

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Social Justice and Community Outreach

Soul Fire Farm

“Soul Fire Farm is an Afro-Indigenous-centered community farm in upstate New York, committed to uprooting racism and seeding sovereignty in the food system. The farm is managed by founding co-director and author of Farming While Black, Leah Penniman. She seeks to raise and distribute life-giving food as a means to end food apartheid. ‘We bring diverse communities together on this healing land to share skills on sustainable agriculture, natural building, spiritual activism, health, and environmental justice. We are training the next generation of activist-farmers and strengthening the movements for food sovereignty and community self-determination.’

“Soul Fire Farm's food sovereignty programs reach over 10,000 people each year, including farmer training for Black and Brown growers, reparations and land return initiatives for northeast farmers, food-justice workshops for urban youth, and home-garden tutorials for city dwellers living under food apartheid. The program’s outreach also includes doorstep harvest delivery for food-insecure households in Albany, New York, and systems and policy education for public decision makers.”

– Cheri Johnson, Education

“Leah Penniman is well versed in the history of food and farming in America. She brings a clear, African American perspective on the relationship our community has had with food, both in this country and before the country was established.

“Her work is both practical and spiritual as she tackles not only the conditions of food apartheid – where African Americans are logistically denied access to healthy food in areas often referred to as ‘food deserts’ – but also the mental and spiritual challenges that can come from confronting the idea of their ancestors being held in bondage to work land during slavery.

“Leah Penniman takes a holistic approach to community building around the work of food justice and sustainability. She is doing good work in providing hope for a workable future.”

– William Smith, A/V

Rebby Kern

“Rebby Kern is a race and equity educator, social justice warrior, and yoga teacher. As a queer, nonbinary person of color, Rebby is a fierce advocate for diversity, LGBTQIA+ rights, and anti-racism. Rebby's mission is to generate connection through understanding of social location to garner environments of inclusion, equity, radical love, and self-care. Rebby offers trainings for educators, corporate organizations, and yoga and fitness studios, as well as workshops for youth focusing on self-empowerment and identity.”

– Merritt Tracy, Education

Education, Psychology, and Literature

Dynamic Transitions

“Lisa and her husband, Rich, owners of Dynamic Transitions, work with clients to improve their mental health and deal with imposter syndrome. They aim to provide people with concrete, practical, and immediately useful tips and tools to deal with the stresses of life. Their content is perfect to help you embrace your core ‘enough-ness.’ They published a great book on imposter syndrome, Own Your Greatness, have been TEDx speakers, and have been featured in the New York Times, HuffPost, and Forbes.”

– Roxi Ocasio, Education

Here Wee Read

“Charnaie, the owner of Here Wee Read, has a beautifully curated online bookstore full of diverse and inclusive stories for children. I've shared many incredibly important messages with my boys through the books she has recommended.”

– Sheri Vettel, Education

The Personal Elevation Lab

“I first met Jennifer Ransaw Smith at a women's leadership conference. Everybody around me was super excited to hear her speak. I had never heard of Jennifer before, and I was curious. Jennifer's talk that day blew me away. She is a leader who shines her passion, authenticity, self-acceptance, and love for everybody she meets. Jennifer specializes in igniting the visibility, credibility, influence, and impact of professional female executives and entrepreneurs. She emboldens her clients and helps them own and shine their worth.

“Jennifer is the founder of The Personal Elevation Lab, a digital branding and professional development platform designed to leverage the skills, talents, and expertise of professional women who are ready to ‘make a name for themselves’ within their organization and industry. She is also founder of ‘The Undeniably Fierce Movement’, a soon-to-be global movement that challenges women to reinvent how they are currently living to improve all areas of their lives.”

– Rachel Lajoie, Admissions

Uplift and Amplify

This is just the start. Seeking out Black-owned businesses is one small way we can uplift and amplify the Black voices in our communities, contributing to health and well-being for all. Being conscious of where and how you spend your time and money takes just a little research, but can be the beginning of meaningful change.

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