It’s no secret that design and lifestyle magazines—Country Living included—need to do a better job of showcasing the wonderfully diverse makeup of our country, and the crafters, designers, quilters, and makers within our communities. And because we know many Country Living readers are looking to support Black-owned companies and Black voices—and, as always, are particularly interested in the people and the stories and the cultural influences behind the products—we’ve assembled a list of some of our favorite Black makers, crafters, designers, gardeners, musicians, and other country creatives you can follow on Instagram right now (some of whom you may even recognize from the magazine, like Michiel Perry, above on her South Carolina porch). From a mother-daughter duo hand-sewing linen heirloom-worthy keepsake dolls to a female entrepreneur making Tennessee whiskey, you’ll find endless inspiration for country living that more fully represents the country.
DESIGN & LIFESTYLE
Kay Volmar documents life, and easy DIY projects, in the 1912 Florida fixer-upper she’s restoring to its former glory. We’re big fans of her thrifted hat wall, iron bed, and minty-green front door. (Psst: It’s Waterscape by Sherwin-Williams.)
Husband-wife interior designers Bryan and Catherine Williamson love renovating old houses in the Columbus, Ohio, area and share their projects—that bathroom reno!—on their 100,000-follower-strong feed and blog of the same name. They’re also AirBnB hosts.
When interior designer @NicoleGibbonsStyle saw there wasn’t a particularly convenient way to shop for paint, she launched Clare, which offers ingenious (no mess!) peel-and-stick color swatches, 56 expertly curated colors, and easy mail-order delivery once you’re ready to roll. (FastCompany called it “The Warby Parker of Paint.”)
Blogger Shavonda Gardner lives in an eclectic and colorful Sacramento, CA, bungalow where she shares ideas for living big in small spaces, along with other style inspiration.
If you’re a bit of a traditionalist—think ginger jars, tufted headboards—take note of this “contemporary meets classic” Atlanta designer (and mother of five!).
After working for years as a photo editor in the publishing industry, this Washington, D.C.-based designer and upholsterer now applies her keen eye to furniture. (Warning: You’re probably going to want one of her meditation pillows, even if you’re of the can’t-sit-still camp.)
Louisiana designer Whitney Jones finds inspiration in the art, culture, and music of her home state.
This “bohemian modern” designer, artist, entrepreneur, and author—and founder of @TheJungalow—brings a fresh and vibrant POV (and, okay, a whole lot of houseplants) to interiors. You can even shop her aesthetic at Target. (We’re calling dibs on this blue quilt set.)
Attention, wallpaper-lovers! Lynai Jones’ custom and bespoke collection of wallcoverings (peel-and-stick included) will leave you wanting to recover every square inch of your home. You can also shop playfully patterned fabric, floor mats, and other accessories.
The Michigan designer, television personality, and rising star tastemaker—his work recently graced the March 2020 cover of House Beautiful—creates warm and layered, polished and patterned spaces that “don’t have an expiration date.”
Cheryl Luckett’s sophisticated, approachable, and resourceful aesthetic is why her name frequently bubbles up as one of the best designers in her home base of Charlotte, NC. In 2018, she launched her first licensed furniture collection, Belle by Cheryl Luckett. (That gingham wingback settee!) You may also remember Cheryl’s impressive Fiesta Ware collection from the pages of Country Living.
Raleigh, North Carolina, designer and blogger Niki McNeill Brown believes “every space needs a little bit of vintage and a splash of brass,” which is a philosophy we can get behind. After working as a production assistant for HGTV.com, she appeared as a featured designer on Design Wars, and now runs SingleBubblePop Design Studio.
If you love the country prep look—think Woody Wagoneers, weathered cedar shingles, plaid for days—then don’t miss lifestyle blogger Victoria Ford’s eye-candy-filled Instagram feed, which is like a modern-day Preppy Handbook. (Can someone give her a book deal already?)
Well who do you think is taking all those cute photos of Victoria (above)? It’s Marcus Ford, who also applies his keen eye to their travels, capturing dreamy exteriors and vignettes from their adventures along the coastline. (He shows up in a few photos too!)
Michiel Perry’s feed (and lifestyle blog of the same name) embraces everything from home decor to travel to fashion to food, all through a Southern lens. Her South Carolina home—which appeared in Country Living—also features one of the prettiest wraparound porches we’ve ever seen.
Mother of three Jessica Riley has an eclectic sense of style—vintage finds included!—that she documents on her decor-rich feed, blog, and her YouTube channel, which features practical how-to advice.
Resourceful lifestyle blogger Carli Alves is updating a 140-year-old Rhode Island fixer upper while preserving its 1878 Victorian character, and documenting the many “shenanigans” along the way. We’re loving her kitchen!
One of America’s best interior designers, Sheila Bridges has been designing spaces for bold-faced names for decades, while also writing books and designing home furnishings collections you’ve likely seen at Anthropologie and Bed Bath & Beyond. After searching for a toile wallcovering to use in her own home, she created the Harlem Toile De Jouy, a pattern now available on everything from fabric to wallcovering to apparel. (It’s also in the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum’s permanent wallpaper collection.)
With a Norwegian grandmother, British mother, and Jamaican father, Laura Hodges “developed an early appreciation for travel and diverse cultures,” which feeds into the aesthetic of her boutique interior design firm and retail shop in Catonsville, Maryland.
Dr. Kwandaa Roberts has always harbored a passion for interior design. So when the Fixer Upper fan stumbled across the Hearth and Hand dollhouse at a local Pennsylvania Target, she found a place to hone her chops. Her impeccably outfitted farmhouse—featured in Country Living‘s 40th anniversary issue—contains a soaking tub (spray-painted copper), waterfall-edge island (with contact paper “marble”), and a handmade bunk bed, all inspired by the show’s designs. But while she can build small, Kwandaa still dreams big: Her hobby inspired her to go to design school, and now the certified interior designer dreams up spaces large and small.
With more than 25 years of experience at esteemed design firms and fashion houses, Joy has designed residences for actors (Leonardo DiCaprio), musicians (John Mayer), and even royalty (HRH Marie Chantal of Greece). In addition to the interiors inspiration, her feed occasionally includes fun behind-the-scenes stories, including that time she designed actor Adrian Brody’s house, which is a former dairy barn.
Atlanta-based design duo of Tavia Forbes and Monet Masters met on a project and ultimately combined forces to create a full-service interior design firm tackling both residential and commercial spaces. (Check out this music room they created in Nashville!)
This Chicago-based designer and HGTV personality (Smart Home) shares everything from room inspiration to snippets of wisdom to the occasional HGTV casting call. (Pick us! Pick us!)
HANDCRAFTED & ARTISAN GOODS
After a career in public policy (including a stint working for the mayor of Nashville), Kelle Boyd took a creative leap of faith to pursue her ambitions as an illustrator, textile, and stationery designer. These days her happy designs—inspired, she says, by “all the things we loved as kids”—make for a delightful Instagram feed, as well as adorable art prints (think mixtapes, Polaroid cameras, retro sunglasses).
It’s no surprise that there’s currently a wait list for Ronni Nicole Robertson’s “floral-inspired fossils” and other botanical preservation-inspired pieces. (She has a new collection coming this fall, and Instagram followers will be the first to know.)
Robert Rising, who goes by the nickname “The Black Lumberjack,” creates beautiful furniture—chairs, stools, tables—from locally sourced native materials. He was also named one of “The Country’s Most Creative” by Country Living in 2018.
This self-taught artist and photographer draws on both traditional and contemporary sources—landscapes, pop art, advertising—”to express his poignant observations of life in the rural south.”
Sisters Carlene Browner and Cassandra Browner Richardson create colorful and sculptural polymer clay jewelry in Charleston, South Carolina.
Odin Clack’s small workshop in North Texas specializes in quality leather goods—bags, belts, accessories—all made by hand in Texas using U.S. tanned leathers.
Fair vendor Danielle Mathis’s vintage-inspired home goods company is beloved for its cute aprons, oven mitts, bow ties, and more.
Kalyn Johnson Chandler (@kalynjohnson) named her stationery company—which includes calling cards, boxed sets, desk accessories, and more—after her maternal grandmother, Effie Hayes, a thank-you note enthusiast.
Shannon Maldonado’s Philadelphia boutique is a beautifully curated mix of goods from friends, designers, and other independent artists. Also can someone please tell us when this cute bag will be back in stock?
Ashley Fouyolle loves the tangibility of paper, which is what led her to create a luxury gift-wrap company out of her Brooklyn bedroom. Her lively, graphic, and colorful patterns can now be found on everything from gift bags to wallpaper to throw pillows.
The fabric designer (Cotton + Steel Fabrics) and author (I Love Patchwork) and all-around creative powerhouse was highlighted as one “The Country’s Most Creative” in Country Living.
As a quilting instructor and quilt pattern designer, Nicole Neblett offers all kinds of useful tutorials for the aspiring modern quilter.
Graphic artist and craft curator Brandy Brown creates art prints and party decor from her Pacific Northwest design studio. Her pretty postage stamp collection was featured in Country Living.
Trisha “Tree” Hash hand-cuts and stitches these leather goods—bags, belts, wallets—in Roanoke, Virginia, using locally sourced leather.
Mother-daughter duo Cynthia Watkins and Kathryn Burnett launched this line of handmade linen keepsake dolls to represent underrepresented skin tones and hair textures in the toy space.
If you’ve tuned in to Making It on NBC, you may recognize Etsy’s resident trend expert as one of the show’s judges. Dana’s feed is a fun mix of behind-the-scenes from the show, highlights of cool Etsy vendors, and (of course!) trend alerts.
ANTIQUES, VINTAGE, & SALVAGE
A self-professed “avid hunter” at local flea markets and antiques sales, lifestyle blogger, gardener, and mother of three Paula Sutton writes about life in the English countryside—and English country style—from her seriously dreamy Norfolk, England, property. Her other Instagram feed, @cakeandcountryhouses, features just that. (Spiced fig and honey, anyone?)
When Bo Shepherd and Kyle Dubay started their “not-your-grandpa’s woodshop” in 2013, their city of Detroit had 80,000 abandoned buildings. Making the most of reclaimed pieces and salvaged materials, the company offers everything from stunning stained glass doors to hardware to gorgeous bars and islands.
If you’re familiar with the longtime reader-favorite Country Living column “What Is It? What Is It Worth?” then you’ve seen plenty of Bene’s antiques appraisals in the magazine (as well as her personal collection of equestrian prize ribbons). She’s also an auctioneer on the PBS show Market Warriors.
Keita Turner, a NY-based interior designer with Southern and Midwestern roots, created this pillow collection featuring vintage textiles (along with newer fabrics) inspired by her own extensive vintage textile collection. The company is named after her grandmothers, Olivia and Geneva.
As founder of boutique furniture shop Dressing Room Interiors Studio, Huntress Ariene Bethea has become well known for her artful mix of vintage and modern pieces. (Her Charlotte, NC, shop was also featured by our sister title House Beautiful as one of “50 Small Home Stores Around the Country to Support Right Now.”)
Kiyannah Stewart and Jannah Handy curate vintage collectibles that celebrate Black culture, from literature to vinyl records and much, much more. They have a brick-and-mortar shop in Brooklyn, along with a rotating selection available online.
Featuring globally designed, one-of-a-kind products made from vintage and repurposed materials (think shoes featuring an upcycled kilim rug or sneakers made of mudcloth), this company co-founded by former lawyer Odini Gogo (alongside Joshua Moore) champions handmade leisure goods inspired by their travels.
FASHION & ACCESSORIES
Charleston shop owner Mimi Striplin designs handmade tassel jewelry and happy rainbow-hued garments (sewn by her mom!) with colorful country charm. (But seriously we’re adding the Avery Maxi Wrap Skirt to our cart right now alongside the Rainbow Row top and Wraggborough Tassel Necklace.)
A move across the ocean—from France to Cleveland, Ohio—inspired the name behind this vintage-inspired jewelry line founded by Anne Harrill. (Eagle-eyed readers may also recognize Anne as a Country Living Fair vendor.)
As a woman working in finance, Rebecca Allen wanted a simple nude pump she could wear to look professional. As a Black woman, that endeavor proved trickier than she anticipated. So she started a shoe company featuring pumps and other silhouettes in a variety of shades that span a spectrum of skin tones.
When it comes to apparel, many a Country Living reader has told us they’d rather not bare their arms. Fashion blogger, personal stylist, and attorney Nneka Kanu is here to help! She doesn’t do sleeveless, and fellow #Sleevenistas follow her Instagram feed for clothing recommendations that feel fashion-forward but don’t leave arms exposed.
Situated in the Old Port of Portland, Maine, this well curated “general store for modern times” features men’s and women’s apparel, accessories, home goods, and apothecary items, as well as a selection of vintage wares.
With a background in fashion, founder Aurora James started sustainable shoe company Brother Vellies with the goal of keeping traditional African techniques alive. The company’s handmade luxury goods, including these picnic shoes and cowboy boots, are sartorial works of art. Don’t miss the “Bodega” section of the site, which highlights other favorite artisan brands.
After 30 years in the fashion industry, designer Tracy Reese created this Detroit-based line of apparel prioritizing the health of people, the planet, and equity in profit. Ten percent of sales go to Detroit Dirt to offset environmental impact. (Retailer Anthropologie was her exclusive partner on the first collection.)
Created by self-taught sewer Nnenna Stella, this fast-growing company makes headwraps and headbands from premium fabrics.
Italian and Haitian, Stella Jean is recognized as Italy’s first Black fashion designer and you can shop many of her colorful and feminine pieces on ShopBop or The Outnet. While you’re doing so, please send us this beautiful embroidered top and this blue-and-white dress.
BEAUTY & APOTHECARY
Co-founded by Holly McWhorter, this plant-based skincare line out of Brooklyn sticks to organic essential oils and botanical ingredients, all served up in bold and playful packaging. Check out the “Wakey, Wakey” body wash, which includes stimulating rosemary and lemongrass, or the lavender-infused “Calm Down” bar soap, which takes 8 weeks to make the old-fashioned way.
Co-founders Morissa Jenkins and Bonkosi Horn wanted to create a holistic beauty and wellness shop in Philadelphia that fosters a sense of community and empowers “anyone who has skin.” All of the lines they carry, in addition to their own Freedom products, are eco-friendly and female-founded.
“Chief Sleep Officer” Aycee Brown founded beauty and wellness brand Goodnight Darling Co. with the mission of “bringing sleep back” in our wink-deprived, burn-the-candle culture. Choose from hand-poured, natural soy artisan candles, bath soaks, and room sprays within the line’s soothing assortment.
First-generation Kenyan-American Nyakio Grieco says one of her earliest memories involves watching her grandmother, a farmer, exfoliate with natural materials. Now Nyakio’s line of skincare can be found at Target, and she offers a coffee scrub inspired by that very exfoliant.
“Clean, not complicated” is the motto of this bath and body line founded by Gianne Doherty (inspired by the beauty habits of her Belizean mother) and husband Jay Weeks.
East Orange, New Jersey, barbershop owner Calvin Quallis founded this popular line of men’s grooming goods—beard conditioner, hair wash, face scrub—when he wanted higher quality products to use on his clients. (CL brother titles Men’s Health and Esquire have both sung the brand’s praises.) Father’s Day is June 21, btw. Just sayin’.
FLORALS & GARDENING
Lifestyle blogger Shavonda Gardner (above) has a separate feed that documents her quest to build a backyard English potager garden from scratch.
Do you know your soil type? How do you sterilize your seed trays? Houston’s Timothy Hammond started Big City Gardener as a landscaping company, but soon found that educating people was his real passion, so now he simplifies the process in his popular feed and blog.
Founded by Jasmine Jefferson, this 100,000-follower-strong account provides support, inspiration, and education for Black women creating green spaces.
Organic grower Ashlie Thomas shares a wide range of tips and growing advice on her feed, but small space enthusiasts may also want to check out her impressive backyard she-shed.
Former Nike design director Angela Medlin couldn’t find sustainably designed products for her Old English Bulldog, Wubbi, so she went to work creating sustainable and nontoxic dog toys and accessories.
When MIT grad Renaldo Webb became aware of what he felt were inferior ingredients in some mass-market pet foods, he started cooking for his dog Winston and the idea of Pet Plate—vet-formulated, chef-crafted pet food with “human-grade” ingredients—was born.
Tailored to sartorially minded pet owners, this Chicago brand offers ready-to-wear clothing and stylish accessories for the most discerning dogs. Also, sometimes it’s just nice to have a dog in a turtleneck stop you in your scroll.
FOOD & DRINK
This sibling-owned and operated California winery is also the largest Black-owned winery in the United States. Surely you know a strong female who deserves to be toasted with a She Can?
Made in Tennessee, this premium whiskey brand founded by Fawn Weaver pays tribute to Nathan “Nearest” Green, a slave and master distiller who taught Jack Daniel a thing or two about Tennessee whiskey. (You can learn more about Nearest’s story in this short film narrated by Westworld actor Jeffrey Wright.)
New Jersey couple Summer and Kam Johnson started beekeeping after reading about how raw honey could help with their son’s allergies. Their 100% organic honeys, named after kids Zach and Zoe, come infused with flavors like lavender, blueberry, and matcha, and have created quite the buzz online and in New York City’s Chelsea Market.
Georgia native Jenné Claiborne is an L.A.-based vegan chef and author of Sweet Potato Soul: 100 Easy Vegan Recipes for the Southern Flavors of Smoke, Sugar, Spice, and Soul. Sweet potatoes (no surprise) are her favorite ingredient, and non-tuber recipes like Jalapeño Hush Puppies and Fried Cauliflower Chicken may just convince you to embrace more #MeatlessMondays.
Head distiller (and former lawyer) Chris Montana made the national news when his Minneapolis distillery’s warehouse was destroyed by fires during recent protests. After some cleanup, he and his wife Shanelle converted the space—which he had been using to make hand sanitizer during Covid-19 closings—to be the site of a community donation drive. He’s also started a GoFundMe to help other small businesses in recovery efforts. Oh, yeah, he also makes gin, vodka, whiskey, and liqueurs.
Denise Woodard, a former Coca-Cola executive, founded Partake Foods when she couldn’t find enough allergy-friendly foods for her daughter. Now her line of healthy snacks—in fun flavors like Carrot Cake and Birthday Cake—can be found at 1,600 Target stores nationwide.
Made in Frisco, Texas, these indulgent 4-ounce cookies come in creative, crowd-pleasing flavors like Brownie Nutella and Banana Pudding. Boss and baker Marissa Allen promises love in every crumb.
Registered dietician Dabrina Moore founded this company to provide consumers with all-natural mixers made from fresh ingredients. Small-batch offerings include Cucumber Lime (pairs well with gin), Blackberry Thyme (try it with bourbon), and Spiced Peach (just add Champagne).
Who’s getting hungry? With an impressive pastry chef portfolio, Brooklyn baker Auzerais Bellamy turned her attention to perfecting pecan and salted caramel blondies. She now ships those, along with other flavors, nationwide.
After Vallery Lomas won Season 3 of the Great American Baking Show, the lawyer-turned-baker (and, soon, cookbook author!) is pursuing food full-time, sharing recipes on her visual feast of a feed.
Jocelyn Delk Adams recalls visiting her grandmother’s Mississippi kitchen as a child and watching “Big Mama Maggie” bake cakes that would have neighbors lining up around the block. Now, Jocelyn revisits those nostalgic recipes and reinvents them in a “modern, accessible” way.
Self-taught baker Cheryl Day co-founded Savannah, Georgia’s Back in the Day Bakery with husband Griffith, and their menu includes Southern favorites like cathead biscuits, chess pie, and banana pudding. (Find some of their recipes in the Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook.) Fun fact: If you catch Cheryl dancing in the kitchen, there’s good reason. She’s a former Soul Train dancer.
Food stylist, author, and blogger Jerrelle Guy earned a master’s degree in gastronomy before launching her blog, Chocolate for Basil. Most recently she authored Black Girl Baking: Wholesome Recipes Inspired by a Soulful Upbringing, which earned a nomination from the James Beard Foundation.
Specializing in all-natural gourmet biscuits, IT Project Manager-turned-baker Leslie Riley (aka “Mama”) ships biscuits—available in 50 rotating sweet and savory flavors—nationwide. The brand is also available at Walmart and selected Whole Foods.
Based in Summerville, South Carolina, Chevalo and Monique Wilsondebriano started their family business in 2013 at the Charleston Farmers’ Market. Since then, their frozen burgers, sauces, and marinades have gained an enthusiastic following. This marinade and sauce combo pack also makes for the perfect summer hostess gift. (Hint, hint.)
Chauniqua Major-Lewis’ Orlando-based organic popcorn brand sticks to simple (recognizable) ingredients including organic cane sugar, organic virgin coconut oil, and Himalayan pink salt, and pairs well with Netflix binge sessions.
Recently named one of CMT’s Next Women of Country, Alabama-born singer-songwriter Tiera Leftwich has already performed at Stagecoach and opened up for Rodney Atkins. You can check out her YouTube channel for even more music and behind-the-scenes highlights.
An original member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, an old-time string band from North Carolina, Dom Flemons is a singer-songwriter who also plays the banjo, fife, guitar, harmonica, percussion, quills, rhythm bones…you get the idea. His 2018 album was nominated for a Grammy award for Best Folk Album. So yeah, he’s kind of a big deal.
Texas-born Mickey Guyton had a bit of a nomadic upbringing and always found music—Dolly Parton, Cece Winans, Leann Rimes—to be a reassuring constant. Billboard magazine has called her “one of country music’s game changers” and in 2016 she was nominated for an Academy of Country Music Award for New Female Vocalist.
We’re already huge fans of this Brooklyn (by way of Memphis) musician whose “organic moonshine roots music” (think a mix of folk, soul, Appalachian, blues, and gospel) has gotten the attention of everyone from the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach to Bob Dylan, who cited Valerie June as an artist he listened to and respected.
Nicknamed the “Queen of Country Soul,” Yola Quartey (known simply as “Yola”) is an English singer-songwriter who has already nabbed four Grammy nominations (Best Americana Album, Best American Roots Song, Best American Roots Performance, and Best New Artist). She’s also been cast to play Sister Rosetta Tharpe, known as the Godmother of Rock and Roll, in Baz Luhrmann’s upcoming musical drama on the life of Elvis Presley.
Kenyan singer-songwriter J.S. Ondara’s debut album, Tales of America, features 11 tracks based on an immigrant’s life in the U.S. The Minneapolis resident cites Bob Dylan as his biggest musical influence (hence, Minnesota), and has opened for both Neil Young and The Lumineers.
described this Nashville based singer-songwriter’s “gothic country music” sound as “PJ Harvey covering Loretta Lynn at a haunted debutante ball.” Listen to Stuck in the South and you’ll see what they mean.
And there are so many more. Enjoy following the accounts above, and please consider supporting these Black-owned businesses while you’re at it. Also: If you’re inclined to buy any of the books or cookbooks cited here, check out this list of black-owned bookstores you can support now. And, as always, please pitch ideas, houses, and products to [email protected]
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