Wrapping Paper Roll Call: To Market, to Market

Photo: Love Dot

OK, kids—we’re now officially five weeks out from Christmas—and only a week from Black Friday (or, as we’ll be calling it here at The Glow Up, the Blackest Friday). But the pre-deals are already out there and in full effect as TGU rolls out our Wrapping Roll Call—our running list of our favorite Black vendors to visit this and every season (conveniently arranged by theme).

Speaking of visits, traveling is one of our favorite pastimes—and something none of us are doing much of these days (our poor passports and suitcases are literally gathering dust). Aside from seeing new places and cultures, we love hitting a marketplace or boutique in a far-flung locale and stumbling upon incredible finds that we—or a lucky recipient—can treasure forever. But just because we’re grounded for the time being doesn’t mean we can’t still shop the world—or the universe that comprises our own neighborhoods and cities, thanks to a number of Black entrepreneurs who’ve thoughtfully curated their selections to make an impact, locally and globally.

One such retailer is Love Dot, a Chicago-based digital marketplace that features a tightly curated collection of sustainable and handmade, ethically-sourced apparel and accessories from around the globe (heavily featuring African countries and Black artisans).

“Love Dot was a platform that was really designed for women like me,” says founder Nneka Ude. “[They] have a different flair and want to discover things that are part of how they live, and a huge part of how they live is travel—connecting the culture, this ability to be able to support and expand the definition of what is unique and what is actually coming from different parts of the world that we are exploring and love.” 

Image: Love Dot

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The scope may be global, but the inspiration is deeply personal; Ude named the company for her late mother Dorothy. “Love Dot is meant to reflect all the places in the world that ‘Dot’ would have loved to experience but didn’t have the time to,” before cancer claimed her life in 2016, Ude’s site explains. And as COVID-19 is affecting economies—and especially entrepreneurs—at home and abroad, Ude recognizes new purpose in her growing enterprise.

“So many people want to be able to have items that have a story to tell behind them…and, you know, wouldn’t mind being able to also reach across to the diaspora to support brands and individuals,” she says. “And so for me, the international part is just playing the role that we’re meant to play. This world is super-small; everything that we purchase right now, it’s essentially purchased from global markets, whether we recognize it or not…Why not really think about how can we make sure that our dollars have an impact?

“How do we move away from the things that are actually killing our wallets and also killing the Earth and killing local economies to be able to reverse that equation and start to support growth in different markets?” Ude continues.

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