Dec 5, 2022
The Building Black Bed-Stuy holiday gift guide
A guide to some of our favorite mostly-local brands for your stocking stuffing, curated by Building Black Bed-Stuy's market coordinator
If you visited the Tompkins Avenue strip in Bed-Stuy this summer, chances are you’ve seen what looks like a party out in front of popular local lifestyle boutique and coffee shop Sincerely, Tommy. But something deeper is going on than just a block party: Building Black Bed-Stuy, a local community group, has been hosting weekly markets there to support Bed-Stuy businesses and organizations in need. So after you catch a two-step, and with your matcha in hand, you can dive into a well-curated array of local brands with a bevy of products — and support local businesses.
With the holidays approaching, Brooklyn Magazine asked me, as Building Black Bed-Stuy’s market coordinator, for the rundown on some of our favorite products from the markets. Get started on your shopping now … and maybe pick up a little something for me while you’re at it at the Brooklyn Magazine Holiday Market on December 16 and 17 in Industry City.
Skin & body care
One of my favorite brands of the year, Bklynbarsoap has created a range of vegan and handmade products including a face oil, body oil, scrubs and a large range of soaps that hang on a handy cord — perfect for shower use. The scents for all the products are light and nice and not at all overwhelming. My top pick is the vegan body butter, but pro tip: It’s very rich, and a little goes a long way.
This one is for all you CBD lovers out there. Hue is a Brooklyn-born line by Justin Hyacinth. He was inspired to handcraft and distribute all-natural skincare goods by his mother, who made her own products as a natural hairstylist for well over a decade. Created with sensitive skin in mind, Hue’s products blend proven ingredients, including CBD isolate — a natural, non-psychoactive, plant-derived compound with endless benefits for the skin and body — as well as essential oils and natural moisturizers. Bonus: The packaging is cool and modern for a quick, no-fuss gift option that doesn’t need wrapping.
Xxvz founder Tasha Simmons is a nail fanatic who would spend her last dime to keep her manicure together. So when she couldn’t find a vegan and cruelty-free nail polish line with enough color options to satisfy her shifting moods, she did what any boss would do and started her own. Red is her signature color, so if you’re a fan of all shades of rouge, then you won’t be disappointed.
The minute I saw creator Mia Wright Ross pull up to our market on her Honda Shadow 350 motorcycle (named Cleopatra Stella Jones, I later learned), I knew that she was not coming to play — and that her product was going to be absolute fire. Her beautiful leather goods with amazing artisanal finishes are all hand-produced in her atelier studio in Bushwick. Her collection of luggage, bags, shoes and small leather goods is an ode to elegance, sculpture and utility.
Veronica “VV” Patchouli with her namesake bag line has been a brand known to Bed-Stuy’s coolest since 2014. My favorites are her Moss bags, which are both interesting and beautiful, combining traditional leather with a clear textile that contains live moss, giving her designs a lightness and ethereal quality. Her latest collection caters to the all-black- everything outfit lovers with its hard- edged holster and cross-body styles with massive grommet detailing.
Sarep and Rose
If you’re shopping for a thoughtful gift that also provides opportunities to underserved communities, this is for you. Robin Sirleaf has created a line of bags that are not just beautiful and functional, but also honor the sacrifices and strength of her Liberian grandmothers, Sarep and Rose. Sirleaf travels to Africa regularly to work directly with local artisans in Nigeria, Liberia and the Ivory Coast to design and produce her leather accessories and home storage baskets. She specifically works with small manufacturers who hire and train local residents at fair and livable wages. Her dust bags are made at a local trade school by the students there, and funds earned from sales allow them to attend almost tuition-free.
Heavy Metals NYC
For folks who like to look as if they live dangerously. Heavy Metals is a Clinton Hill-based jewelry brand fronted by local sculptor and general badass Shanel Odum. Her line is an eclectic mix of fashion- forward and avant-garde designs that scream don’t fuck with me. Think pierced- nipple necklaces, hand-forged sterling silver swords, brass blunts, knuckle dusters, various plays on my “Wolverine” favorite, and a ton of other off-the-cuff and in-your-face designs. (Just make sure you pack her jewelry in checked bags when traveling because it is not TSA friendly, boo.)
Part of the original crew of brands featured at our very first Building Black Bed-Stuy market in 2020, Edas was “Created for the Eclectic Being” in 2015 by Sade Mimms. (The name “Edas” is Sade spelled backward.) Originally known for her jewelry that features interesting and organic sculptural lines, she has since expanded into apparel, handbags and artful home decor. If you’re shopping for me, just choose anything. I’ll take anything from her … literally anything. Please. Anything!
Let’s be clear, everything this Bed-Stuy- based founder, Brandon Hosley, creates is perfect. He sources deadstock and uses black denim to create his wares, with hand-drawn artwork created for each pair of jeans. His hats and bags are cut from excess denim pieces, so nothing goes to waste. My favorites are his denim vests, but those are on a limited release. So whenever he drops them, you have to move quick!
Founder and sustainable designer LaMicah Hughbanks is a regular feature at our events and is one of our most popular brands. This Bed-Stuy resident uses deconstructed ribbed tanks and reworks them into super-cute dresses and matching sets, and then hand-dyes them using natural pigments. But it doesn’t stop there; she also reworks thrift store finds into one-of-a-kind new, and very cool, pieces. Her reworked blazers and sweatshirts are always a hit for fall. This year she has moved into doing more- inclusive sizing. For someone like me who enjoys the odd cupcake or two … or five (see the “Treats” section below), I have a new place to shop.
A Bike Brand Called Comm
This very Brooklyn brand is a newcomer at our markets but always manages to have a crowd at their table. Finding inspiration in Black biking culture, A Bike Brand Called Comm boasts a collection of tees, sweatshirts and tote bags that’s a winner for the avid riders in your life. My pick off their list is the often-sold-out orange “Community” tote.
Patsy’s Rum Cake
Delicious. That’s it. That’s the write up. Full disclosure: I get four mini cakes up front because why would I lie to myself and think I’ll only eat one? Kathy-Ann Elise’s classic rum cake (her mom’s nickname is Patsy) is also fine for the kiddos to eat since it’s not too rummy, but is still damn tasty. She also makes a few different flavors in both minis and full size just in case you need a custom order on the fly.
Real Butter Bk
Launched during the pandemic by Rashay Maxwell, Real Butter Bk started as a side hustle, satisfying our sweet tooth by delivering B.I.G. Butter Crunch and Fox Boogie Brown Chocolate Chip Cookies while we were locked up at home with nowhere to go. Since then, Maxwell has expanded her offerings to include donuts and pastries that sell out in what seems like seconds at our markets. Once, I bought her last two donuts, and as she was packing them up, the person behind me was so upset about it that he offered to buy one off me for twice what I paid.
Solo Scoop Creamery
Dennine Dyer is the creator of this pandemic-born ice cream baby. An avid traveler, she finds inspiration for her flavors in her journeys. Her cookie butter ice cream is top-tier deliciousness. She also has a mobile ice cream cart that is available to book for parties (and I am available for invitations … but only if she’s there).
Wordy Toys was started in Brooklyn when founder Axel Avin, Jr. was teaching his daughter to read. He’d place labels on her toys, but she would peel them off, or worse, try to eat them. He tried finding toys that already came labeled, but when he couldn’t find any on the market, Wordy was born. The mission is to create a “World of Words” where kids learn to love languages and cultures through engaging toys that fill their environment. To be more accessible to children of all backgrounds, they are also available in multiple language options, making Wordy Toys a perfect gift for any household.
Mila Cristina, started by Ollie Njibaloho, offers the cutest cashmere baby and kids line you have ever seen. They have plenty of solid-color basics, but they usually introduce a few new prints as the season changes. Better yet, they even have some mommy-and-me sets. We’re all about the two-in-one gifts.
Fifth Sister Candle Co.
The youngest in a five-daughter household, founder Mecca Springer is a literal fifth sister. She makes all her candles herself in small batches in Bed-Stuy — and they are easily among the most popular brands at our markets. Her jar candles are made with luxury coconut apricot wax, which is gluten- and phthalate-free. The decorative candles are made from soy, which is clean-burning and promotes sustainability. And fellas, please don’t think it’s just for the ladies: Her husband is always on deck to tell you about a little something you might want for yourself.
A newbie to the market this year, Plaster Works is launching their first home goods capsule collection inspired by the music of N.E.R.D. The idea for the brand came to founder Gabrielle Peete in a dream this year, she says. Combining her love for interiors and curation, she wanted to create things she felt were true reflections of her interests. Her capsule collection includes dishware, bedding, rugs and a few other clutch home pieces you didn’t know you needed.
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