Lately, the conversation of cultural appropriation has found its way back to centre stage with the release of products from Kylie...

Lately, the conversation of cultural appropriation has found its way back to centre stage with the release of products from Kylie Jenner and Khloe Kardashian. While both have been questioned about the inspiration behind their latest designs, the argument issued by the public was that the sisters stole the designs of Tizita Balemlay and Destiney Bleu.

Although I believe that it is imperative that we keep the conversation on cultural appropriation vs. cultural appreciation going, I also believe that sometimes, the best thing to do in order to defend people of colour whose works keep getting taken is to invest our time, energy and money back in their businesses.

So I have compiled a list of businesses that deserve to be recognized for their great products. These businesses range from beauty brands to artists that you may want to check out.

1. IMAN Cosmetics

One of the biggest frustrations as a woman of colour is finding foundation that not only matches your skin type and complexion but also your budget. While non-people of colour have access to brands like Maybelline and Revlon, most people of colour must resort to pricier brands like Mac (who seems to believe everyone women of colour is NW45 or wishes to be an NC45) or Sephora brands. This brand allows you to find your perfect true-to-tone shade match and desired coverage and all for a reasonable price. Not only does this brand have great foundations, concealers, powders and BB creams for women of colour but it also has a huge range of bronzers, lipsticks, blushes and much more that are specifically black girl-friendly!

2. Juvia’s Place

This black-owned business is known mainly for its highly pigmented eyeshadow palettes that feature images of the Egyptian Queen Nefertiti. Now offering blush palettes, this brand has taken social media by storm in its few years of being on the market.

3. Beauty Bakerie

This brand is mainly known for its liquid matte lipsticks and has been in the game longer than Kylie Jenner and her lip kits. This brand is known for its long-lasting formula and wide range of colours and has now branched out and is working on a new affordable line with Forever 21 as well as other cosmetic endeavours.

4. Tufafi Fashion

This brand is an Ottawa-based clothing line that has taken Canada and the States alike by storm with its African-inspired prints. Tufafi Fashion focuses on casual wear that combines vibrant colours and unique patterns. The 21-year-old designer, Sharifa, has designed amazing prom dresses, wedding dresses and one of my favourite - bikinis and skirts for the summer time- that celebrates and merges cultures with the help of tribal prints and urban wear individuality. This business is bound to go places; celebrities are also wearing this brand!

5. Jessica SpenceShannon Wright and Asiey Barbie

These next artists I discovered while browsing on twitter and quickly found their Instagram for me to be able to view more of their art pieces. Jessica Spence created an incredible series called “the Art of Hair braiding” that examined the societal standards of natural hair as well as black womanhood. You may find her work on her instagram: @jessmyart

Shannon Wright is an illustrator and cartoonist that explore social issues like race and gender in fun and quirky ways. She draws from her real-life experiences and brings it to life for us to share along with her.  You may find more of her work on instagram : @shannondrewthis

Asiey Barbie is a self-taught character art Artist who makes some of our favourite artists look like real-life superheroes (my favourite is her Beyoncé drawing!) Check out her instagram: @asieybarbie as well as her online shop.

These artists do work on commission and sell prints of their work but their quantity and time is limited so following them on their social media pages allows you to know when their stuff is up for sale again. I guarantee that all their pieces will be great staples in your spaces and a reminder of just how magical black girls truly are.

If we are fighting the war on cultural appropriation vs. Appreciation, it is time we invest our money in feeding the economic and social growth of black-owned businesses and brands instead of using them as a stepping stone to point out the success of their oppressors. Next time you get a gut feeling that something like the product you are trying to buy, try doing a quick google search and you’d be surprised by how many Black owned hidden gems with great and affordable products you’ll find.