BLACK FASHION WEEK FOUNDER CREATES BLACK BOUTIQUE GUIDE
Melody Boykin, founder of Black Fashion Week, wanted to highlight Black-owned fashion boutiques in the Chicagoland area. So, she decided to create “The Little Black Boutique Guide Book,” which will debut in February.
Boykin said 8 to 10 years ago, when she was in the fashion industry, she didn’t see a lot of Black fashion designers highlighted on a platform where they were recognized. She created Black Fashion Week because she wanted to see Black fashion designers promoted. She also wanted to create brand awareness for their work.
Boykin said five or six years ago, she was doing research and realized there was not a directory of Black-owned fashion boutiques.
“With every neighborhood I visited, I discovered, and I was mesmerized by the amount of Black-owned fashion stores in Chicago,” she said.
In doing more research, Boykin said she thought Chicago had more Black-owned fashion boutiques than any other city in the country. She said the idea came to her to produce a book, a travel guide to help stimulate the economy for Black-owned fashion boutiques, as well as inform others where they can shop Black.
Boykin has been interviewing Black fashion boutique owners for the last three to four years to create the directory. She said the Buy Black movement after the social justice movement and Black Lives Matter, really spurred her to finish the book. She said 2021 was the perfect time to release the book.
“The Little Black Boutique Guide Book” includes more than 60 featured boutiques, with a sneak peak of how each one looks inside. In addition, there are 50 Chicagoland boutiques, as well as 30 Black-owned boutiques listed from across the United States, from East Coast to West Coast. The book also has discount codes for first time shoppers to encourage people to explore neighborhoods and to support Black-owned fashion businesses.
Boykin said in interviewing the Black -owned business owners, she discovered there was a uniqueness in what those businesses offered. She said she learned there was a lot of creativity and the customer they catered to.
“No two stores are alike. There were stores that catered to the same market but in terms of fashion and what they offered in the store, it was so unique to each store,” she said.
Boykin said her guide book speaks volumes about where Black people have come from, when it comes to Black-owned businesses and entrepreneurship from the past.
“In terms of the saturation of Black-owned fashion business owners, it tells that more and more, people are establishing their business. The number of stores really mesmerized me because, I was like, wow, we have this many Black-owned fashion businesses in Chicago. So, that speaks a lot in terms of our capabilities in owning businesses,” she said.
Boykin said she also learned about the longevity of some of the Black-owned fashion business owners she interviewed. She said there are legacy boutiques that she features that inspired others to open brick-and-mortar fashion boutiques.
Boykin continued: “I really wanted this book to serve as a cultural gatekeeper for the accomplishments of African-American, Black fashion businesses to serve as a way to inform and inspire for generations to come to have an actual archive of Black-owned businesses here in Chicago and to contribute to that history.”
“The Little Black Boutique Guide Book” costs $24 for the print edition and $9.99 for the e-book edition. To purchase the book, visit www.blackfashionweekusa.com