When the women quilters of Gee’s Bend—most of whom are descendants of former slaves forced to work on the Gee family’s cotton plantation—first launched on Etsy, their handcrafted color-blocked quilts sold out overnight. This shouldn’t come as a surprise: The patchwork designs, often completed on a large scale, are historical works of art hanging in museums across the country.
This Etsy milestone—a partnership between Souls Grown Deep and the nonprofit Nest—is a prime example of how Black creators can thrive in not just an online marketplace, but any marketplace when given the opportunity. In this specific instance, Etsy trend expert Dayna Isom Johnson tells Glamour, access to the platform enables the women quilters of Gee’s Bend to sell their goods independently to a global audience while also preserving the history and cultural value of the community.
As a hub for diverse artistry, Etsy has always appealed to entrepreneurs looking to turn their passions into real, thriving businesses. And the women quilters of Gee’s Bend are just a few among many talented Black creators enriching the site right now. “Etsy’s community of Black sellers specialize in a wide range of art forms and creative mediums, from jewelry making to painting to woodworking,” Isom Johson says. “It’s so exciting to see what these makers create, especially with items that are influenced by our history and highlight the beauty of Black culture.”
In honor of Black History Month, Etsy has updated its homepage to feature popular Black-owned Etsy shops. Some of Isom Johnson’s favorite things on the site include spice blends inspired by Southern cuisine, carved pottery that embodies crafting techniques passed down from previous generations, artwork that depicts the importance of familial bonds, and clothing that incorporates wax print fabrics.
If you want to shop small and support Black-owned businesses, there are countless Black-owned Etsy shops worth checking out. Here is a sampling of some of the site’s most popular sellers. Get to know what they do—and shop their creations below.
Gee’s Bend Quilters
There are currently nine women quilters selling their works on Etsy—and more are coming. You’ll notice the shops are marked with the official Gee’s Bend Quilts logo on Etsy. For Kristin Pettway, one of the younger quilters at 23, this is an exciting opportunity to sell her quilts beyond just the small groups of people who make the trip to Gee’s Bend. She picked up quilting by watching her mom, her aunt, and her grandma, she told Glamour. Her inspiration tends to come from a color or fabric she likes, and she often uses old sheets or old clothes to fashion her quilts.
To facilitate this partnership—and ensure the Gee’s Bend Quilters have the resources they need to maintain and grow their own Etsy shops—Souls Grown Deep helped established the Gee’s Bend Resource Center, offering the first free public Internet access and laptop computers for the community. Nest’s support has also been crucial in getting the Etsy shops up and running—for instance, helping the women set up bank accounts to enable digital payment and offering personalized training on shipping logistics. Nest will remain active in the Bend, Isom Johnson says, to help with long-term strategy (including branding, product photography, and sales and marketing).
It’s impossible not to fall in love with Candice Luter’s macrame wall hangings. The artist uses natural cotton rope to create abstract designs that add texture to blank walls (or unexpected furnishings like mirrors). Each piece is handmade, and Luter works closely with customers at every step to create something that’s truly unique.
Industrial designer Blake Alexander plays with color and texture to create gallery-worthy home furnishings. His handcrafted squiggly coasters and candleholders are like mini works of art.
If you like to shop for gifts on Etsy, Lovely Earthlings is a great place to find colorful prints, notecards, and tote bags. Whether she depicts a plant mom or a dog lover, graphic designer Karina Daniel Parris uses female caricatures to celebrate diverse hair textures, shapes, and skin tones.
For heirloom-worthy jewelry, look no further than Omi Woods. The founder, Ashley Alexis McFarlane, says her designs are inspired by her African heritage and its diaspora. Her gold coin chains are best-sellers on Etsy, with each piece handcrafted from sustainable materials using the traditional lost-wax casting technique.
Founded in 2012 by Rachelle and Norman Clark, Maw Supply is another Black-owned Etsy shop worth keeping tabs on if you love vintage. The Texas-based couple isn’t fixated on a particular decade. Instead they curate pieces based on what fits the current mood, like the vintage lace blouse below, which could totally work as a Zoom top.
Made by Rheal
Made by Rheal’s handcrafted pieces are a total win among home decor enthusiasts. You can find everything from painted throws to marbled coasters and crystal-filled hands to add a bit of intrigue to your space. (The shop’s wares would also make perfect gifts!)
Look to Natalie Manima for vibrant African-inspired homewares—think pillows, throws, aprons, and oven mittens. Manima’s graphic wax-print lampshades also earned her a spot as a 2020 Etsy Design Awards finalist.
Patty Wack Vintage
Support the Black LGBTQ+ community—and really good fashion—by shopping with Sabine Maxine, a Black queer femme with a sprawling vintage Etsy boutique. Everything feels incredibly curated, even though Maxine sources pieces from different decades.
The Crafty Swirl
Ilana Mayes, the L.A.-based woodworker behind The Crafty Swirl, is known for her two-tone shelves that allow you to create aesthetically pleasing vignettes of your favorite treasures. She took on woodworking a few years ago when she moved into her own space and had a small budget for decorating. She started staining, sanding, and repainting cheap furniture—and hasn’t looked back since. Check her boutique out for any home decor and smart storage needs.
TW Aromatics & Co
Virginia-based Trenace Williams started selling handmade scented goods last June and has already gained a loyal following. Whether you’re into moody notes of plum and black cherry or prefer the freshness of tropical fruit and sage, “each scent has a purpose to bring about balance, peace, and motivation,” she writes on her website.
Dorcas Magbadelo is a U.K.-based artist who says she’s “passionate about representing and uplifting Black people—specifically Black women—through illustration.” Her designs (printed on totes, T-shirts, notebooks, and greeting cards) feature lots of bold colors and references to her Nigerian heritage.
Natalie Gaynor Designs
There are so many interesting embroidery designers on Etsy, and Natalie Blamire is one of them. Her hoops often feature pretty florals and inspirational messages (like “This too shall pass” or “You got this”). If you want to pick up a new hobby, Blamire also curates DIY kits that reviewers say are super easy to start with.
Tal & Bert
Geode planters are to 2021 what crystals and plants were in 2020. These small vessels are perfect for housing air plants, succulents, or candles, or just sitting prettily on your desk. Husband-and-wife duo Ray and Val Talbert, launched their business last February and impressively expanded during the pandemic into a two-studio company with a brick-and-mortar storefront.