Blow A Band On A Local Black Retail Business (You Were Going To Spend It Anyway) This Holiday Szn (Or Anytime)

Written by Jamése Ellis
Edited by Mark Franklin
Photography by Jasmine Willams

What change can any group of people make if collectively they move as individuals? What if we were a group of individuals who moved collectively as a community? What could we change then? The absolute foundation locking in the value of Black bodies, especially to those who would not care otherwise, resides solely on the collective power of the community, and a code of conduct to align that community:

“It is inside the community where you store your values, your history, your culture, your wealth, and your leadership. If you have no community, you have no place to store those items, retain them and pass them on from one generation to the next.”

– Doctor Claud Anderson

We have seen how the community has been collectively disrespected all year, all five hundred of them. So this holiday szn, let’s gift ourselves a first step into our power. This year, “Support Black Businesses” has flooded our social media timelines, but let us not think so superficially of the matter that we drown out the prime purpose of “buying Black.”

“It is important to build unity in what we do. Denver lacks unity; there is a bunch of micro movements looking to achieve the same things but no unified action, and that’s what needs to change.”
-Jevon Taylor, owner of False Ego

You see, the goal is not to move as a collective on the basis of fear, hate, exclusivity or even our favorite: for the flex of it.

Buying Black is about power for the collective.

May I challenge you? Why not equate supporting a Black business with supporting yourself? When you spend money in a Black business, why not feel rewarded; not simply based on the fact that you’re helping your brothers’ or sisters’ individual prosperity, wealth and growth, but that you’re helping the collective, and in that, your own individual prosperity as well?

“We didn’t start our business from a bank loan, we started our business from investing in ourselves and had a couple of friends and family who invested in us as well.”

– Keyonna Chapman, co-owner of Lawrence & Larimer

As a non-Black individual buying from a Black business, you are liberating yourself from choosing to live in a reality of lies. You are acknowledging your genuine history and who paved a foundation for your privilege. You are releasing curses and welcoming blessings. Deading darkness and embracing your light.

Black entities that make it their business to curate community, are the real G.O.A.T.s. You know, that same community that paid and paved a way for that Black business to open, and in return, those same businesses circle back, supplementing and strengthening the community with:

Resources and Time:

We incorporate the community and have worked with the Gill Community Center on downing before COVID, doing workshops with kids who were getting out of jail teaching them a trade and skill set in fashion.”

– Iman Saks, co-owner of Victory Clothing

Safe Spaces, Commodities, and Access:

“We have had multiple cookouts giving back and we are always giving clothes. We are starting a non-profit for the studio in the back to help kids get out there with their music. We also have a halfpipe in the back that kids can skate off. It is definitely about the atmosphere and trying to create a safe spot.

– Mitch Vanlandingham, co-owner of Gold Boys Clothing, Gold Girls Clothing

Representation and Role Models:

“ We are hands on, we are not just selling clothing that says something cool on it. We are actually hands on in the community, with the people.

– Jevon Taylor, owner of False Ego

History and Economy (our POWA):

“Absolutely recognize that we are a Black-owned business, but at the end of the day, we offer a different type of service to the community;one that services everyone. Black history is White history, Hispanic history, Asian history, especially if you live in America. It is History and it is something we present through the clothing.

-Keyonna Chapman, co-owner of Lawrence & Larimer

Encased under the reigns of these Black Businesses, the community is given the grace to endure past simply surviving and evolve into a flourishing state soaked in our values, our history, our wealth, and our leadership, each interlocking in an essential part of our community, and defined by Doctor Claud Anderson as our first step into our power, based on the five story building plan found in his book, Powernomics.

All of our creative minds can collectively come and grow together and share our experiences, and brainstorm and grow ourselves. That has become who we are. We became a hub for that.

– Keyonna Chapman, co-owner of Lawrence & Larimer

Collectively stripped from our original culture, we have become what we are. Beautifully resilient. Beautifully building. As this economic downturn proceeds in whichever way it will go, may the Black community use it as an opportunity to build and fill in the gaps not as individuals, but as a community, a collective made up of those same beautifully resilient people.

When they see you, I need them to see me, and the collective of a united community who will act up if anything inappropriate happens to you, I, or us.

Collective wealth equates to power, because if something happens to one of our wealthy individuals, we still have a community of wealthy people with power (economy) to hold someone accountable.
Accountability for the wealth of life lost in Sincere Pierce, Angelo Crooms, and Casey Goods due to the chaos called police brutality. Sadly, only to name a couple of the recent tragedies. We still haven’t gotten justice for Breonna Taylor.

“As a Black person you can’t have any wealth and power in getting away from everyone who looks like you. You cannot start a business and operate without a community: without a community, you have no market.”

-Doctor Claud Anderson

The following businesses are a list of local Black owned retail businesses who have intentionally embedded themselves into the community because they know the importance of not only circulating the Black dollar and establishing power (respect for Black bodies and lives) but a code of conduct that enforces normalizing safe spaces to learn, grow, and enrich our values, history, culture, wealth, and leadership. Not only within our own lives but for future generations to come.

So, if you are gonna blow a band this holiday szn (or anytime): Blow it at a Black business. One who is embedded in the community.

ABG$ owned by Stacie Drake (E-Store)

“I want Black women to feel comfortable with their unique vision on changing the world.” – Stacie Drake

@artsybitchgetmoney

Artsybitchgetmoney.com

ABG$’s first collection (you know I got that sneak peak) is a big ethereal hug to all the women who have thugged it out this year. Reminding us that we are exactly who we think we are. BIG WAP ENERGY and the beginning of something beautifully unique.

Jamése: Vibes we should expect from ABG$ this holiday szn?

Stacie: The vibe encourages women to be authentically who they are. The first featured collection is inspired by the most used word this year, “WAP,” putting a fresh perspective on what this new energy looks and feels like.

False Ego, owned by Jevon Taylor (Brick and Mortar)

“False Ego is the platform that brings unity, people, and businesses together and directs energy towards initiatives that benefit the greater good.” -Jevon Taylor

@false_eg0
sociatap.com/FalseEgo/
falseego.eco

False Ego is a cool cohesion of, in Jevon’s words, “minimalism with a pop of color.” With a feng shui of harmonized soothing tones, electric highlights and geometric shapes; it is an essential stop for the minimalist who craves creativity over basic tendencies and takes good care. These essentials range from the most aromatic candles, to durags, facemasks, inspiring art and journals. Fun fact: most of the vendors found in False Ego are Black women. As they should, and we clap because we are all the way here for it.

Vibes we should expect from False Ego this holiday szn?

Jevon: Every artist or vendor we have here is either black or some type of minority, you will feel the community vibes, and all of our items are embroidered so they last forever.

Jamése: What values, history, culture wealth or leadership does False Ego represent in the community?

Jevon: We are a staple; a staple that represents the community and the culture. We represent the culture in a very organic way, through the vendors and also the engagement activities we hold. We have educational programs that tap into individualized learning with DPS. We are also doing community development projects that are going to add more greenery to urban areas in Denver. We are hands on, we are not just selling clothing that says something cool on it. We are actually hands on in the community, with the people.

Jamése: What does it mean for you to pass this knowledge on to the next generation?

Jevon: It’s important. With social media being a thing, it’s so easy to hide behind a camera or a profile and not interact with people around you. It’s important to let people know, to dive into connections and let people know about the resources that exist around them. A lot of people aren’t aware of the resources that are down the street from their house, especially now, because they don’t even get to go to school. Right now it’s more important than ever.

Gold Boys Clothing & Gold Girls Clothing, owned by Julian Rose and Mitch Vanlandingham (Brick and Mortar)

“Gold vibes, happy vibes, joyfulness, we need a lot of that this year and Gold Boys is here to offer that.” – Julian Rose

@goldboysclothing
@goldgirlsclothing
goldboysclothing.com

Gold Boy’s Clothing is truly an experience. Step into GBC, and have all of your senses entangled with all those golden vibes and incense. The shop is enriched with history displaying the great’s in vivacious art and quotes that drop some major gems, all the way down to the clothing. The store serves as a living reminder of how Black people have in many facets and dimensions made something out of nothing, which breeds the question: why can’t you do the same?
Fun fact: if the mood for creation wasn’t set enough already, they have a studio in the back for you multidimensional artists, down for those golden vibes.

Jamése: Vibes we should expect from Gold Boys & Gold Girls this holiday szn?

Mitch: New items dropping just in time for Christmas.We have a compilation CD coming out on the music side too with all the top artists in Denver.

Jamése: What values, history, culture wealth or leadership does Gold Boys Clothing represent in the community?

Julian: I mean we got Muhammad Ali on the wall, Erykah Badu, Oprah, a lot of great leaders from both a woman and man’s standpoint, that all represent the black culture.

Mitch: Each person on the wall represents them showing their gold in life in their own way. We are all about finding our gold and helping people find their gold.

Jamése: How do we shift and uplift each other, as individuals, towards a united collective?

Julian: Striving to be the best version of you, whatever that might be. Our slogan is “Living Gold.” Your gold might be your family, your fitness, or giving back and serving people.

Mitch: There’s different golds. What’s your gold? Find your gold; find what’s important to you.

Jamése: How do we normalize equating supporting a black business to supporting community, and self?

Julian: We are in a very high poverty area. We put a trash can in front of our spot to try to show the community that you don’t have to litter, this is mother nature, don’t treat it like that.

Mitch: We have had multiple cookouts giving back and are always giving clothes. We are starting a non-profit for the studio in the back to help kids get out there with their music. We also have a halfpipe in the back that kids can skate off. It is definitely about the atmosphere and trying to create a safe spot.

Infinity Shoetique, owned by G’vanti Carter and Brittany Paris (launching January 1st, 2021)

“Throughout history, women walked a powerful path fashionably, and with attitude to provide opportunities for the growth of future generations. Each individual shoe is inspired by women who have impacted us and influenced our creativity.” – G’vanti Carter

@infinity.shoetique
Infinityshoetique.com

Infinity Shoetique offers a surprise aesthetic for a new year, through the collection these two queens have created. What we do know is, when two conscious black queens come to collaborate, nothing short of magic happens. You better believe we will be ready to dip in these divine feminine vibes on the official launch date: January 1st, 2021.

Jamése: Vibes we should expect from Infinity Shoetique this holiday szn?

G’vanti: We want to create a vibe that empowers women of all walks. With our brand we want women to feel like they are worthy of luxury and comfort. We want to provide the opportunity for women to feel sleek, sexy, and powerful in our footwear.”

Lawrence & Larimer Clothing + Supply Co., owned by John Chapman IV and Keyonna Chapman (Brick and Mortar)

“From a cultural perspective, We are Black Denver. We have grown to be a community brand that supports the creative” – Keyonna Chapman

@lawrenceandlarimer
lawrenceandlarimer.com

Lawrence & Larimer is a whole vibe. Immersed in their new space it is very intentional. Signed with a stance of healing, tribute, curiosity, and ofcourse creation. In the back of their space I got a sneak peak of where they lay, chop, and stitch their customs (so fire). Right around the corner is a dressing room filled with the cutest quotes, and across the aisle is a whole wall paying tribute to our struggle through photographs of protests post George Flloyd. Beautifully embodied you can reflect all while having a dance party (socially distanced of course) to full bass beats they play outside and within the store.
Fun fact: they carry plants now y’all! Need I say more?

Jamése: Vibes we should expect from Lawrence & Larimer this Holiday szn?

Keyonna: New crop tops, polos with all their individual styles, colors, and patterns. Exclusive deck the hall hoodies with our Bee mascot wrapped in lights! We’re still in a pandemic so everything is super comfy.

Jamése: What values, history, culture wealth or leadership does Lawrence & Larimer represent in the community?

Keyonna: Both myself and John Chapman are Denver natives and we are standing here after five years of growing this brand,and it is a community oriented brand. When we started this brand, we knew we wanted to pay tribute to the city of Denver, but our city. Our Black Denver. Also, something that could be global.

All of our creative minds can collectively come and grow together and share our experiences, and brainstorm and grow ourselves. That’s become who we are. We became a hub for that. We have the ability to allow every creative person to come in here and share their creativity with the community and we grow that way. Clothing is how we get our creative flow out, but it extends beyond the clothing.

Jamése: What does it mean for you to pass this knowledge on to the next generation?

Keyonna: It’s a lot of pressure. I was raised by my grandmother and she was a creative for real. There’s a lot of things that I do in this store that growing up I didn’t realize she was giving to me. She was a true phenomenon and loved by her community.

We have kids that come in from different programs and we teach them. We have kids that want to be designers and we teach them how to screen print. We have kids who want to be models and we have them model in the clothes. It’s important for us to show the youth that while you do have a talent, it is your responsibility to grow together so that we can sustain. There’s no way that we could have this business and not have the mentors that we have.

Local Love, owned by Nigel Hines (Brick and Mortar)

“Our space connects directly with the youth of the Aurora area.” – Nigel Hines

@followlocallove

Local Love is just that, support of local creators,designers, and cash come ups. The aesthetic is a curation of the community. It’s sleek and modern vibes draw us in, while the quality keeps us coming back. You are sure to catch a pop-up featuring a local gem on any given day. Fun Fact: Local Love holds an assortment of Funko Pop collectables that may just have you geeked.

Jamése: Vibes we should expect from Local Love this holiday szn?

Nigel: Local Love is a buy, sell and trade space. Our main purpose is to serve everyone’s love for sneakers. We provide an energetic environment in addition to supplying vendors, music, and pop-ups for people of all ages.

My Ancestors Garden by CK Skin, owned by Latoya Alyce (E-Store)

“Our goal is to educate and influence the culture that Mother Earth has provided us with through every natural thing we will need to thrive, survive and evolve through the creation of handmade skincare, body care, candles, loose leaf tea blends, and more!” – Latoya Alyce

@_shopckskin_
Shopckskin.com

CK Skin embodies an aura of solitude and self-care. Their luxurious products normalize the daily indulgence of self. The presentation of ALL natural products makes you melt and when I get my hands on some of theirs, I’m sure all of my stress and tension will do the same. Have you ever salivated over body products? Fun Fact: CK Skin’s Instagram will make you do just that!

Jamése: Vibes we should expect from CK Skin this holiday szn?

Latoya: The vibe we are bringing this season is essential selfcare infused into your skin care routine, creating effective energy and healing vibes from the inside out by including ingredients you can actually pronounce and understand, to our products. In addition to luxury skin care, we have incorporated a healthy and holistic twist with the anointing of our ancestors! We are our ancestors’ garden and wildest dreams!

Jamése: What values, history, culture wealth or leadership does CK Skin represent in the community?

Latoya: We value holistic self care and skin care. Since I was a little girl, I imagined my future self as “the healer,” providing natural remedies for anything you could imagine. We are an active resource in the community of products infused with the best healing herbs, pressed seed oils and plants that have been personally researched and incorporated for their holistic and organic benefit.

Jamése: What does it mean for you to pass this knowledge on to the next generation?

Latoya: In 2019 I lost my mother, and the basis of her passing was an effect of medication she was taking. The medication was prescribed by her trusted doctor and was the very thing that took her life. After that I made it my personal mission to educate the masses about natural healing and historic remedies created to cater to the health, wellness and healthy alternative education & edification of all! My Ancestors Garden™️ was curated with the woman or man making the switch to a more holistic approach inspired by ancient practices, in mind.

Shop At Matter, owned by Rick Griffith and Debra Johnson (Brick and Mortar)

“What’s happening here is, it’s not a black owned bookstore, for black people alone. It is a black owned bookstore for people who LOVE black people.” -Rick Griffith

@shopatmatter
shopatmatter.com

Shop at Matter’s energy is the materialization of every safe space I yearned for growing up. The knowledge encapsulated in that space is a huge reassurance that we as a people gone be alright. It is a beloved reminder that there are those both in the struggle and allies of the struggle that genuinely want to do the work. To have a space where we can have easy and explorative access to our real history is everything. Fun fact: co-owner Rick is an acclaimed graphic artist and screen prints all of his art in shop.

Jamése: Vibes we should expect from Shop at Matter this holiday szn?

Rick: Between the two of us, we care about queer people, and we care about indigenous people and we care about so much more than just ourselves. What a great point of reference you have there for a woman owned and a black owned space, and between the two of our sensibilities we’re able to reach through and be, also, for everyone. Which is what makes most sense for us. There are good times to have these particular boundaries; Black, woman, queer, this, that, trans, etc. There’s good times for those things to show up, because critical dialogue needs to happen around that. But there is also a good time to make a space where black people can shop next to white people and queer people and so on and so forth. So everybody here wants to do the work and everybody’s in it together. It’s also a black owned book store for people who love queer people, and it’s a black owned book store for people who love Black Trans people and so and so forth. That is the energy of this place.

Unkommon, owned by Marlo Proctor (Brick and Mortar)

@unkommon_shop

Unkommon embodies what it means to be both quirky yet stylish. A store of many facets the space also encasses a studio and a workplace for consignment restoration. Fun fact: there is no stain Marlo can not fix, I have seen it with my own two eyes.

Jamése: Vibes we should expect from Unkommon this holiday szn?

Marlo: Unkommon is an exclusive boutique set with apparel, sneakers, accessories, music, technology, art, and consignment restoration. Why be normal, when there is Unkommon?

Victory Clothing, owned by Iman Saks and Jarrett Beasley (Brick and Mortar)

victoryclothingboutique.com

@victoryclothingboutique

”It doesn’t matter what you look like, what kind of style you have, we try to make sure we treat everyone the same.” – Iman Saks

Victory Clothing is no doubt for the individual. The store is super interactive and intimate as the owners have no problem listening and engaging with the people on what they would like to find or see next. With an ever rotating array of street wear vibes, you, your girl or your man will definitely walk out with a piece that will get you noticed. Much androgynous vibes (his or hers wear) for the low-key eccentric who enjoys color and comfort.

Jamése: Vibes we should expect from Victory this holiday szn?

Iman: Great customer service and overall individuality because you’ll come out of here not looking like everybody else. We keep a limited quantity of things because we don’t want everyone running around looking like clones of each other. We try to have people create their individuality in their own way. We don’t want them looking like a mannequin. We are introducing a lot of stacked pants, denim, and street lifestyle wear for women who want to be comfortable but can still look presentable if they have to go to work. We’re fitted to people’s lifestyles.

As a Black individual buying from a Black business, you are not simply “buying Black.” You are buying back your perceived value. You are taking a stake of what is rightfully yours, what has been denied, and what is feared.

And that is your power.

You are instilling back a code of conduct that acknowledges not only your worth, but your allegiance to the worth of the collective and securing the safety of your brothers and sisters. We invest in ourselves to hold those accountable who threaten our safety. If and when they can’t “tell us apart”, when your brothers and sisters are safer, you are as well. If we are really a community, when we win, you do too.

Stay connected with these local Black businesses doing the work:

ABG$ owned by Stacie Drake (E-Store) 

@artsybitchgetmoney

Artsybitchgetmoney.com

False Ego, owned by Jevon Taylor

@false_eg0

sociatap.com/FalseEgo

falseego.eco 

Gold Boys Clothing & Gold Girls Clothing, owned by Julian Rose and Mitch  Vanlandingham 

@goldboysclothing 

@goldgirlsclothing

Goldboysclothing.com

Infinity Shoetique, owned by G’vanti Carter and Brittany Paris 

@infinity.shoetique

Lawrence & Larimer Clothing + Supply Co., owned by John Chapman IV and Keyonna Chapman

@lawrenceandlarimer

lawrenceandlarimer.com 

Local Love, owned by Nigel Hines

@followlocallove

My Ancestors Garden by CK Skin, owned by Latoya Alyce

shopckskin.com

@_shopckskin_

Shop At Matter, owned by Rick Griffith and Debra Johnson (Brick and Mortar)

@shopatmatter

shopatmatter.com 

Unkommon, owned by Marlo Proctor (Brick and Mortar)

@unkommon_shop

Victory Clothing Boutique, owned by Iman Saks and Jarrett Beasley

victoryclothingboutique.com

@victoryclothingboutique

Down for more Black healing? Follow me on Instagram:

@goldenhoopswrites 

Edited by:

@thesalientpunk 

Photography by:

@j.laree_photography

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