By Kristin Dvorak | Photos by (L–R) Hillary Schave, Swurly Curls and Shalicia Johnson
At BRAVA, we’re always pushing our readers to buy local, but more critically, we’re encouraging you to buy Black. In honor of Black History Month, we’ve decided to republish our list of Black-owned businesses in Madison with new additions in retail, food and customer service.
Looking for a high-end bartender service? Bartender 608 Intoxicologists is the team for you. They’re perfect for weddings, anniversaries, company parties, whiskey, wine and beer tastings, and more. With over 25 years of experience in the food and beverage industry from New York City to Wisconsin, you can put your faith (and drinks) in their hands.
bartender608.com | 6516 Monona Dr. Ste. 133
Madison’s premier jazz club, Café CODA, has steadily been hosting virtual events due to the impacts of COVID-19. When their doors are open for business again, rest assured you’ll find yourself moving and grooving to traditional, contemporary and creative music. Enjoy sips from their distinctive drink menu complete with a great wine list, unique spirits, French press coffee and more. You can find details about upcoming events and RSVP on their Facebook page.
cafecoda.club | 1224 Williamson St.
The number of five-star reviews online won’t surprise you as you bite into one of CocoVaa Chocolatier’s expertly crafted pieces of chocolate. Flavor combinations ranging from apricot and caramel to coconut and lemongrass are what truly set this chocolate-making mama’s treats apart from the rest. Find updates about new flavors, no-contact pickup options and more from owner Syovata Edari on CocoVaa’s Facebook page.
cocovaa.com | 1815 E. Washington Ave. Suite 100
The Just Veggiez menu is where fair food and vegan dreams collide. Think saucy hot wings, BBQ sandwiches and gyros with a plant-based twist. This local pop-up was founded by James Bloodsaw in 2018 after he saw space in the Madison restaurant scene for an entirely plant-based menu. With his children as his biggest critics, Bloodsaw has been able to perfect American favorites with vegan ingredients. For updates on when, where and what they’re serving, follow Just Veggiez on Facebook.
Marie’s Soul Food
The motto at Marie’s is “Home-cooked meals made with love away from home” — and if you’ve ever dined here, you know it’s true. Think comfort food, like corn muffins, ribs, fried chicken and baked macaroni. Is your mouth watering yet? Get in line and place an order for curbside pickup Thursdays through Saturdays.
mariessoulfood.godaddysites.com | 1637 Monroe St.
Mo’ Betta Butter Cookies
There’s just something about an old-fashioned butter cookie that takes you back. Mo’ Betta Butter Cookies do just that and more. Owner Latisha McDuffy has been baking cookies and sweet treats for over two decades and with her distinct butter cookie recipe, she’s grown quite a fan base. You can place a special order just in time for Valentine’s Day!
Happily Ever After Children’s Boutique
Style your kiddos by shopping secondhand at Happily Ever After Children’s Boutique. This upscale children’s boutique sells new and gently-used items like clothing, books, shoes, Melissa & Doug puzzles, décor and more. You can also sell your gently-used items, but it does require an appointment. For more information about this family-friendly boutique, give them a follow on Facebook.
happilyeverafterchildrensboutique.com | 708 S. Whitney Way
Hey Sugar Snap
There’s nothing better than a mother-daughter duo behind a business. Photographer Marla Bergh (mentioned below!) and her daughter Layla run Hey Sugar Snap, a company that makes photo-related crafts for purchase, like picture frames, journals and more. Sign up for their Weekly Photo Club and get fun surprises in the mail every week.
Lilada Gee, Artist
Artist and community activist Lilada Gee was one of several local artists commissioned to paint murals on State Street following the Black Lives Matter protests across the globe last summer. Long before that, though, Gee has been creating art that reflects Black girlhood and womanhood. Through her expressive use of color and subject matter, Gee’s hope is to get viewers closer to Black girlhood, Black women, Black beauty, Black femininity and to ultimately gain a deeper understanding of Black girls. You can find Lilada’s art online and on Facebook and Instagram.
Marie Hunter Beauty
Founder KéNisha Ruff believes in simple, clean beauty, as we all should. It’s with this concept at the forefront that Ruff established the framework for Marie Hunter Beauty’s nontoxic cosmetics, skincare and fragrances. From the packaging to the product, each aspect of Marie Hunter Beauty is carefully created with eco-friendly and naturally derived ingredients like argan oil, rosehip oil, vitamins C and E, shea butter and more. Support MHB by shopping online, in-store and of course, following along with company updates on Facebook.
Jasmine Banks, one of our 2021 Women to Watch, is also CEO and founder of Perfect Imperfections, a clean body product brand based in Madison. From soy candles to shea butter body lotions, oils, soaps and scrubs, there is most definitely a clean alternative that you can purchase from Perfect Imperfections to begin your own journey to a nontoxic lifestyle.
QB’s Magnetic Creations
The age-old conundrum of making your mandatory work badge or lanyard fashionable is solved with modern, yet timeless pieces by QB’s Magnetic Creations. Owner Judy McNeal realized early on in her professional career that her standard name badge just wasn’t cutting it, so instead of seeking a solution, she created one. Popularity of her magnetic jewelry grew into a full-blown business that now accessorizes even the most mundane uniforms. Add some bling to your face masks, your office attire or outfit for any other occasion.
The Sophisticated Lady
Valencia Riley, also known as The Sophisticated Lady, is another proponent of simple, clean beauty. What began as a personal journey to soothing eczema and psoriasis led to the development of a company dedicated to nourishing all skin types. The core ingredient in many of The Sophisticated Lady’s products is organic shea butter, which has historically been known to protect the skin from UV rays, provide essential fatty acids and nutrients necessary for collagen production, and reduce inflammation. In addition to shea butters, Riley also makes beard oil, sugar scrubs, bath bombs and other self-care products. Did we mention it all smells great? Shop online and some love to The Sophisticated Lady on Facebook.
Founded in 2018 by Dione Laufenberg, Swurly specializes in pieces crafted out of Mulberry silk, like sleep bonnets, turbans, scarves, masks, pillowcases and more. Silk is commonly confused with satin, and though the two are often used interchangeably, only one fabric is truly good for your hair health. Style preservation of blowouts, extensions and curls; edge protection; growth; length; strength; and shine are among the list of benefits that Swurly’s silk bonnets provide. The silk pillowcases are great for skin (they’re antimicrobial and can minimize sleep wrinkles!). Each luxurious piece is not only functional but stylish, featuring rich colors, flowers and prints.
AT YOUR SERVICE
ArrowStar Photography is owned and operated by Shalicia Johnson, a treasured member of the BRAVA Magazine family. Johnson specializes in newborn, child, family and event photography. Due to the impacts of COVID-19, many photographers had to put business completely on hold; however, ArrowStar is back behind the camera – from a safe distance, of course. Her services are available in-studio, as well as on-site. Show your support to this amazing photographer by following her on Facebook.
EQT By Design
Inclusion is the name of the game at EQT By Design. Woman and BIPOC-owned, EQT By Design is a strategic advising and planning service that aims to help organizations and communities develop their diversity and inclusion strategies. Founder and CEO Annette Miller is committed to the deconstruction of processes and practices that create inequity within communities.
eqtbydesign.com | 6709 Raymond Rd.
Foster Funeral Home
Foster Funeral Home & Cremation Services has been a cornerstone in the communities of Rock and Dane County for a long time. The thought, respect and care that goes into each of their services is truly unmatched. Foster is proud to embrace traditional values and diversity in honoring the spirit of life and each person they serve. For more information, you can follow Foster Funeral Home on Facebook.
fosterfuneralhomes.com | 2109 Luann Ln.
Kneaded Relief Day Spa & Wellness
Kneaded Relief, located in Fitchburg, is a full-service wellness spa that specializes in therapeutic treatments like massage, facials, hydrotherapy, personal training and more. Following Dane County’s lead post-quarantine, the spa reopened on Monday, June 1 to serve its customers with some (arguably) much-needed pampering and relaxation. Stay up to date with hours and services on Facebook.
kneadedreliefdayspa.com | 5500 E Cheryl Pkwy Ste. 126
La’Karron Skin Boutique
Another female-fronted local biz, but this time, make it pampered. If you’re looking for a little zhuzh this winter, consider visiting La’Karron Skin Boutique. The spectrum of services available at La’Karron is broad; a variety of facial treatments, dermaplaning, teeth whitening, lash extensions, waxing and more.
lakarronskinboutique.com | 433 Grand Canyon Dr.
Madison Black Chamber of Commerce
The Madison Black Chamber of Commerce works with Black-owned businesses to “provide tactical solutions that help our businesses reach their clients, and continue to help elevate their brand in the process,” explains CEO and president Camille Carter. The organization also lends business development expertise and technical assistance to the companies they serve.
Carter is proud of the Black Chamber’s recently-launched Soul Food Sundays, an online marketplace that people can order to-go meals from Dane County Black-owned businesses (the next ones take place on March 7 and April 17). “We worked with closely with that market sector … to launch a solution of an online marketplace for our food service professionals to be able to connect with their clients [to order] online and with [food] pickup.” Read more details about Soul Food Sundays on the Black Chamber’s website or Facebook page.
Marla Bergh Photography
Marla Bergh Photography is another great local photographer and creative services guru who specializes in styled photoshoots and content development for culinary and lifestyle brands. That doesn’t mean that family photos and headshots are off-limits, though! This team does it all. MBP has worked for some big clients, such as Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Marie Hunter Beauty and many, many more. View Bergh’s work on Instagram.
mberghphotography.com | 834 E. Washington St. Suite 302
* We realize that every Black-owned business in the Madison area is not listed here, but we’ve done our best to point you in the direction of some lovely restaurants, shops and useful services. If we’re missing someone important to you, please email [email protected] so we can update this list.