Culture Con is a hub for Black changemakers to come together and discuss shifting the culture and creating a legacy. There’s panels where celebrities drop gems on how to hone your craft and create cutting-edge content. It’s the ultimate opportunity for networking and learning key marketing strategies for your business. There’s also a Small Business Marketplace where Black-owned businesses are spotlighted and have goods for sale. I spent a good amount of time (and coins) in the marketplace area and got to chat with the CEOS of these businesses. Take a look at what they are about below.

nappy head club, rachel toppng, CultureCon

Source: Tanay Hudson / MadameNoire

Nappy Head Club, Rachel Topping

What made you start a business?

So it started as an Instagram. We were just re-sharing posts and having conversations and dialogue. And then we started with one piece. My background is in graphic design and my sister’s is in style. So we couldn’t just do one [piece]. So then it was like, Okay, let’s try a bucket hat. Let’s try a crewneck. And then it got to the point where I was just designing the things that I wanted to wear. And I really liked the intersection of thoughtful conversation and starting pieces but that are designed first.  So really wanting to make sure that the materials and the qualities and the cut  was really thoughtful, but that it was for us. And the thought being we don’t have a lot of things that are made nicely for us. So let’s do something that’s for us that is beautiful and aspirational.

What does ‘Nappy Head Club’ mean?

That word used to have so much stigma and so much control over me. Growing up with 4C kinky hair I felt ashamed. And for me, reclaiming nappy is a mood. It’s a feeling. I have people who are bald who ask can they wear Nappy Head Club. And like, it’s the experience of being told that something’s wrong with you and being like, Nah, there’s nothing wrong with me. It’s actually fire. And you should be kind of jealous about how awesome I am. That’s the spirit. That’s why we use that word. And we claim it because it’s like let’s take this take back the power.

Why CultureCon?

There’s not as many things that really give us opportunities to connect and build resources. I think, especially for a lot of people of color, resources are very scarce. So having this opportunity to hear from our thought leaders or creative leaders is honestly an unheard of opportunity. Even as somebody who’s attending and meeting and collaborating with people that may have seen me creating content or seen me working at this agency and we’re now finally having this opportunity to build in person. And I think a lot of meaningful partnerships and relationships with come out of like an event like this.

Inperfect Denim, Brandon, CultureCon

Source: Tanay Hudson / MadameNoire

Inperfect Denim, Brandon

What made you start a business?

I started the business for a lot of different reasons. [I originally started it] to create something unique and special for myself. And it started to get a lot of attention and that question, where’d you get those? So I thought that I was on to something so I created the brand in 2019 and then the pandemic hit in early 2020. And that got me to focus and do my business.

What does ‘Inperfect Denim’ mean?

It’s embracing the mistakes that I thought I was making with the bleach (his apparel is designed using bleach).  Creating something that is perfect, but spelling the word imperfect wrong is a play off of that. Spelling that wrong to play off the mistakes quote, unquote. These designs are made with bleach.  So it’s permanent. And once I put that brush down on the jeans, it is a wrap, so I’m gonna have to just go with the flow.

Why Culture Con?

It felt so right. I’m still new. I’m almost three years in the brand and it felt like the best place for people to see the see me grow creatively and just to expand the business.

margie merritt selfish candles, CultureCon

Source: Tanay Hudson / MadameNoire

Selfish Candles, Margie Merritt

What made you start a business?

I love candles. I am a self-proclaimed candle connoisseur. I was spending so much money on candles. When it’s fall and it’s time for your fall scents to come out, you stock up on all these fall scents. I was buying all the candles so I wouldn’t have to be hunting for the other scents throughout the year. And then I was like, maybe I could figure out how to make them.

I’m a TV producer during the day. And so I was like, I don’t know anything about science. I don’t know about mixing these days. Like I don’t know anything.

What does ‘Selfish Candles’ mean?

“I feel like being selfish is such a bad like connotation. Sometimes you need to just like be a little selfish with yourself. For me personally the best way to start that off is to set my space and light a candle. I need to just take a minute to just breathe. You just light this candle and then like, exhale for a second.

Why CultureCon?

So I actually attended CultureCon as an attendee for the last like three years and it was the people that I met in this space that really would empower me to take my candle business [to the next level]. It just means so much because I don’t normally sell my candles in person like this. I’ve always felt like candles in person maybe three times. It’s such a full circle moment.

alchemy body shop, veronica smith morales

Source: Tanay Hudson / MadameNoire

Veronica Smith Morales, Alchemy Body Shop

What made you start a business?

I was a product junkie at one point. But I was a product junkie was really a sensitive skin. So that combination isn’t the best. Because I would always go in and, and on the hunt for products that worked for me, but I never found anything. So I decided to formulate my own product. And that’s how my body shop came to be. I started making stuff with myself, then my family caught on to it. And then my friends, and I was like, You know what, maybe I’m on something here. Maybe I’m sure it’s in the world and see how they respond to it.

What does ‘Alchemy Body Shop’ mean?

So it actually came from the book, The Alchemist. It had a very, very profound impact on my life. And it really did inspire me to go after my heart’s desire. And at that moment, expanding and creating for other people and also for myself was that desire.

Why CultureCon?

Why not CultureCon? It’s for the people. It’s for us. It’s by us. We’re surrounded by other amazing Black creators, which is a dream for us. There’s nothing but love going around. And it’s just always good to be surrounded by your own community because we really are here for one another. It’s our intention is always to build each other up.

Aunts Et Uncles

What is Aunt Et Uncles?*

It’s owned by a married couple, Nicole and Michael Nicholas. This is a plant-based restaurant in Brooklyn. Their merchandise is very historically driven. Mike had his own line back in the day called Brooklyn Sky. When they opened Aunts Et Uncles, they intertwined the clothing brands and the bringing culture and that in that community.

Why CultureCon?

To make it in. It encourages our community of individuals who are full of creative ideas. It shows what it means to choose your community to give back to.


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