How 5 Atlanta-Based, Black-Owned Businesses are Celebrating Black History Month
Black History Month is an annual observance that originated in the U.S. in 1926. February was initially selected because it coincided with the birthdays of Abraham Lincon and Frederick Douglass. The remembrance has since grown to a month long celebration and has received official recognition from Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, and the U.K. Black History Month is celebrated in February in the U.S. and Canada, but in October in Europe. The purpose of the month is to remember important people and events in the history of the African diaspora.
Every year since 1976, the president designated a specific theme for Black History Month and for 2021, President Biden has chosen “Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity” to explore the African diaspora and the spread of Black families across the country.
These 5 Black owned, Atlanta based companies are using their voices to celebrate Black History Month in different ways.
Zeniobia Skin is a line of natural products intended to pamper melanin-rich skin. The products contain antioxidants and natural alternatives to harsh chemicals. The company is based in Atlanta and has been in operation for over 30 years with values of quality, authenticity, integrity, innovation, and respect.
“We mostly operate online, and we donate a portion of our sales to benefit HBCUs and their students, so for the month of February we are spotlighting influential individuals that attended HBCUs in our IG story,” Managing Director Ashley Renee said.
Arm of Casso is run by Atlanta based artist, Antonio Mcilwaine. He has a background in fine arts and believes his experiences in Philadelphia, Miami, and Atlanta have shaped his style. Mcilwaine coined the term “Sharpism” as a way to describe how he waves sharp, intricate, and contoured lines into all his pieces. Arm of Casso’s goal is to express Mcilwaines culture through drawing and painting and to show that Black people have real intellect and skills.
“I am celebrating by donating 20% of all sales this month to a local org; PawKids. The best way to honor those who came before us is by supporting our future leaders,” Mcilwaine said. “Most of the work I create naturally celebrates Black culture, so providing financial resources is the best way for me to celebrate this month.”
Funderburg Law is run by mother of two, Lerae Funderburg. She is the founder and managing partner of the boutique law firm that specializes in copyrights and trademark law, business law, and estate planning. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the nonprofit organization, Girls of Excellence, that provides supportive services for girls ages 8-18. Funderburg strives to be the go-to trademark and business law firm for Black and Brown people, as well as to help those who are unfamiliar with laws to ensure they are not taken advantage of.
“Outside of the legal sphere, I work almost exclusively with Black business owners, especially mothers, in helping them to create their businesses, protect their brands, and build their legacy,” Funderburg said. “With mothers all over the country trying to create opportunities, and raise families in the midst of so much global uncertainty; I am passionate more than ever about teaching other working mothers how to navigate through both of their worlds.”
Founded in August 2020 by three sorority sisters, Box of Zeal is an online gifting platform that offers curated and personalized gift boxes for various occasions. The three women began their company during the pandemic and strive to build authentic connections through gift giving.
“We’re looking to amplify the voices and brands of black-owned products we sell in our marketplace,” Co-owner Ashley Blakely said. “We’ll also be doing social posts all month long to highlight black owned brands and we’ll be pushing all of our black owned products to the top of our marketplace, post-Valentines Day.”
85 North Clothing is a homegrown, Black-owned streetwear company that aims to share the best things about Atlanta and Atlanta culture with the world. The company is an online-based business owned by a couple, John and Jennae Petersen, who are originally from the U.S. Virgin Islands. The two have been in Atlanta for the better part of the last two decades and hope their company can give something back to their favorite city.
“We are focusing our efforts on educating our audience about Black Atlanta icons via social media. We’re calling February “Blackity Black History Month,” and each day we’re sharing a quote from a famous Black Atlantan on our Instagram and Facebook pages to show how much Black folks have contributed to our city specifically, but also Black culture as a whole. We’re also offering a discount for the entire month of February to our email subscribers.”