Six Black-Owned Sustainable Small Businesses to Support

At Rubicon, we are firm believers in using our purchasing power to make conscious consumer decisions to help brands that are helping others.

In celebration of Black History Month, Rubicon’s African American Affinity Group has curated a list of six eco-friendly and black-owned businesses to consider supporting:

1) Hamilton Perkins Collection Bags: Norfolk, Virginia

In 2014, Hamilton Perkins founded the Hamilton Perkins Collection (HPC), an independent brand designing bags, apparel, backpacks, and accessories from recycled materials. The company boasts a line of sleek and modern styles of “Earth Bags” made from pineapple leaf fiber, plastic water bottles, and even old museum banners. It is because of these unique sustainable material sources that no two products in the line are identical. The mission behind the brand is inspiring; creating affordable and timeless products while simultaneously reducing waste, cutting carbon emissions, utilizing a sustainable and transparent supply chain, and conserving water.

Winning “Best for the World Overall” by B Corporation in 2017, Hamilton Perkins and his team are ushering in a new generation of style and sustainability. To help customers stay safe amidst the pandemic, HPC has also created double-layered face masks made from 100 percent recycled materials and adhering to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) safety guidelines.

Listen to Perkins himself tell his inspiring sustainability story on Rubicon’s Town Haul Podcast.

2) BLK and Bold: Des Moines, Iowa

Fellow B Corp BLK and Bold hold both their coffee beans and their community to a higher standard. They were honored with their certification in August of 2020 for the incredible outreach work they are doing to inspire and impact the lives of the next generation. Headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, founders Pernell Cezar Jr, and Rod Johnson turned their passion for top-shelf tea and coffee into a purpose; a brand that gives back a portion of their profits to different organizations that provide care, employment, and guidance to at-risk and homeless youth around the country.

All of the great decisions the team is making also spill over into their supply chain, providing environmentally friendly business practices. BLK and Bold only launched in 2018, but have taken the specialty beverage world by storm in just a few short years. With lines of loose leaf teas and different blends of java, the BLK and Bold team has found themselves on the shelves of major retailers and the radars of major organizations.

Winners of the 2020 “Black Entrepreneur of the Year Award” by Official Black Wall Street, the brains behind BLK and Bold are doubling down on diversity, donations, and deliciousness with every sip.

3) Knotzland Bowtie Co.: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Self-taught CEO Nisha Blackwell founded Knotzland Bowtie Co. seven years ago to fill a necessary need in the market: An environmentally conscious brand that creates quality accessories and takes care of its customers and employees equally. Blackwell has become an expert in upcycling as she repurposes and refreshes fabric scraps from local retailers.

Blackwell taught herself how to run a sustainable business and also taught herself how to sew. She now gives back that knowledge to women in the community with her “Sewcial Network,” a cleverly named organization of hard-working women that are paid fairly and that can work flexibly and learn balance. These women are encouraged to chase entrepreneurial goals and are given both the practical skills and environment to thrive.

Knotzland is bringing new meaning to the adage “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.” Besides breathing new life into the tossed textiles, Nisha and her team have rescued over 3,000 pounds of wearable waste with over 2,000 pounds of it becoming bowties.

4) Proclaim: Los Angeles, California

Ethically made on the west coast since 2017, Proclaim is a female-founded lingerie line with shade inclusive and sustainable styles that is garnering tons of press for their plush and popular products. Founder Shobha Phillips and her team work to support smaller supply chain operations to ensure transparency, safe working conditions, and fair compensation. The brand was ultimately designed to include women of color, who oftentimes have difficult experiences finding tone matches that celebrate their beauty.

The ultra-plush undies are made from a unique material known in the eco-friendly fashion world as Tencel. The fibers are made up of wood pulp and eucalyptus which in turn cuts emissions and closes the loop. To reduce their carbon footprint, all of the dye houses and fabric mills are in LA. Recycling water to process, polyester to produce, and 100 percent recyclable paper to package; the women behind Proclaim are aiming to support the solution and not the many problems associated with textile waste.

5) Goodee: Quebec, Canada

Twin brothers Byron and Dexter Peart founded Goodee in 2017 to curate a space to easily find and procure environmentally friendly essentials and home goods. Sustainable storytellers in their own right, the Goodee team gives a powerful platform to artisans around the world. Goodee has become a one-stop-shop for eco-friendly furnishings, services, and zero-waste wholesalers.

Goodee is best summed up by the brothers as a “global marketplace that fosters transparent sourcing, upcycling, ethical treatment of its employees and waste reduction.” Members of the 1% for the Planet organization, Goodee has committed to donating one percent of their annual revenue to environmental non-profits. They also volunteer their time with a boots-on-the-ground effort for local cleanups.

The umbrella brand houses all sorts of local collectives and even boasts a powerful portfolio of certified B Corporations as sellers. Goodee became a certified B Corp themselves in the winter of 2020.

6) Aya Paper Co.: New York and New Jersey

In the summer of 2019, SaVonne Anderson took on three titles: New small business owner, creative director, and a warrior for environmental justice. Aside from the emphasis on eco-friendly practices because it’s the right thing to do, Anderson realized that impact issues like climate change and plastic pollution would impact her community as well.

Aya Paper Co. is a paper goods collection with a card for any occasion. The brand carries custom calendars, meditation journals, non-traditional notes, and traditional holiday greeting cards all made from 100 percent recyclable materials.

“We create paper goods and gifts that resonate with all people especially women of color while encouraging them to be conscious buyers and make a positive impact on the earth,” said Anderson.

To learn more about Rubicon’s work transforming the entire category of waste and recycling, be sure to download our inaugural Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Report.

Editor’s Note: References made to businesses/companies in this post are not meant to convey affiliation with or endorsement of Rubicon by those companies in any way.


Irwin Anderson Jr is a Vendor Relations Associate and Co-Founder of the African American Affinity Group at Rubicon. To stay ahead of Rubicon’s announcements of new partnerships and collaborations around the world, be sure to follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, or contact us today.

Stay Connected

Sign up to receive Rubicon news and blog content directly in your inbox.