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8 Total Boss Women Running Small Black-Owned Businesses In Toronto Despite The Pandemic

COVID-19 has been tough for small businesses, with many being forced to close their doors and cease operations for good. 

However, many Canadians are holding on and some have even taken this opportunity to do something new. That includes many Black-owned businesses run by women in the product, service and tech landscape.

Eight women who kept their small businesses running despite the pandemic shared their stories with Narcity. Some even got started in the midst of COVID-19. 

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Quartzy Crystals

Instagram: @quartzycrystals

Why You Should Know Them: Danya Elsayed is the founder of Quartzy Crystals, a custom wire-wrapped jewelry business based in the heart of downtown Toronto.

She creates stunning statement earrings and necklaces that are all hand-made with intricate detailing.

She told Narcity that she kept her side hustle running during the pandemic to create "small pick-me-ups for people who still want to feel beautiful and shine during these trying times."

You can place your order via Instagram.

Website

Chapbook

Instagram: @victoria_mbabazi

Why You Should Know Them: Victoria Mbabazi is the author of Chapbook, a collection of poetry that is both witty and heartfelt and inspired by the no name brand's marketing campaign. The long-time poet and first-time author wrote the series of prose over the course of Toronto's lockdown for a school project, which later turned into a poetry collection.

"I wrote a series of poems using no name brand as a vehicle to talk about all the different ways a poet is expected to perform to be successful, even if the poet may be too overwhelmed by current events to make beauty of current events," they said.

You can purchase their poetry book online.

Website

Rate My Drip App

Instagram: @ratemydrip

Why You Should Know Them: Zenab Hassan is the CEO of the Rate My Drip app, a unique platform that lets users upload their most fashionable photos and be rated for them.

Hassan told Narcity that the business plan goes back to 2007, when her big brother had an idea to rank the style of his friends.

Now, over a decade later, she has taken the reigns on the idea during the pandemic and worked to bring her brother's idea to fruition.

"Rate My Drip is a new social media app for fashion. It lets you see different styles from people all over the world. We've cultivated a space where folks can get fashion inspiration and connect with other like-minded people across the globe," she said.

You can download Rate My Drip on Apple and Android app stores.

Website

Cooking With Anisa

Instagram: @cookingwithnisa

Why You Should Know Them: Anisa Abdulle, creator of Cooking With Anisa, creates a variety of dishes and sweets custom-made for her clients across the GTA.

She said that being home more than usual prompted her to hit the ground running with what she loves the most: cooking and baking.

"I have always been someone who loved the kitchen, whether it be trying new recipes or simply watching my mother at a young age. It was my safe haven, where I would go to feel therapeutic," she told Narcity.

You can place your orders via Instagram.

Website

Sugar Plum Scrubs

Instagram: @sugarplumscrubs

Why You Should Know Them: Eshe Simba is the mastermind behind luscious skincare brand Sugar Plum Scrubs. She says the idea was inspired by the "relaxation and rejuvenation needs of Black Women."

"As a Black Woman with curly and coily hair, I often struggled with ingrown hair and irritation from hair removal. I created Sugar Plum Scrubs as a solution and realized scrubs could also be moisturizing and therapeutic," she told Narcity.

Sugar Plum Scrubs offers many products including exfoliants, moisturizers, facial oils, body scrubs and body butter. All the products are vegan, non-toxic and all-natural.

She told Narcity that running her self-care company during the pandemic has been challenging in terms of motivation, but said having a growing business is exciting.

You can place your orders on her website.

Website

GreenHaus Vegan

Instagram: @greenhausvgn

Why You Should Know Them: Rachel Chin is a vegan chef based in Brampton who owns the catering company GreenHaus Vegan. She told Narcity that it's her strong Jamaican roots that have led her to create delicious meals infused with cultural flavours.

"GreenHausvgn started with the idea of incorporating my culture into different comfort foods that we grew up on, except this time with a vegan twist. I was raised by my grandmother in Jamaica where my love for cooking was triggered," she said.

Chin also said that although the pandemic has slowed things down for small businesses, she isn't letting that stop her.

"For me, this pandemic has driven me to work harder on marketing, explore new recipes for my customers, [and] get creative with offers and ways to give back to my community," she said.

You can place your orders via Instagram.

Website

S/O Photography 

Instagram: @s.o_img

Why You Should Know Them: Cassandra Esso is a self-taught fashion photographer and videographer based in Toronto who has worked with fashion brands for promotional videos, photoshoots and editorials.

"Continuing photography during the pandemic has been quite difficult. A lot of businesses are experiencing a drop in revenue so they aren’t as ready to spend as much money on shoots as before," she told Narcity.

Still, Esso is hard at work preparing for the summer season in order to focus on her projects and hopefully work with her clients when restrictions lift.

You can book a photoshoot with her via Instagram.

Website

Phat Beauty 

Instagram: @phatbeautyco

Why You Should Know Them: Amal Abdi is the owner of Phat Beauty, a vegan and cruelty-free cosmetics brand hailing from Toronto. She said that her company's main objective is to be inclusive and cultivate representation.

"Being a Black woman has blessed me with a perspective in life that I wouldn’t trade for the world," she told Narcity.

"That’s why as a company, we strive to make products that not only suit one range of skin tones but every single one. We believe everyone is beautiful and unique, and that should be showcased."

Abdi said that the pandemic has been a trying time for many, especially for the mental health of entrepreneurs.

"The key is to keep moving, even on your bad days. I want to genuinely encourage people interested in starting a business or working to become creative, to take that risk."

You can place your orders on her website.

Website

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