The beauty of Waterloo Region lies in its increasingly diverse, multicultural community and the small businesses that serve it. These establishments – some of them old and emerging are the heartbeat that keep the region’s economy alive. Hence, buying from your local vendor is very important. It helps to boost prosperity in the land, foster a sense of belonging and keep our neigbourhoods thriving. In addition, buyers stand to benefit from the much better customer service and genuine hospitality that shopping local provides.
So, think about that local business in your own neck of the woods. Are they on your shopping list? Become part of the #shoplocal movement by becoming an advocate of small businesses and especially, those owned by Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC). Minority owned and led businesses matter because they are at the core of our vibrant society. And they need our support, especially in these times.
The Region is bustling with some of the finest shopping opportunities that are BIPOC-owned. Here is a quick round-up of some of these ventures to help you in your unique discovery (and, if you know of a local BIPOC-owned business that should be on this list, share it at #ExploreWR !)
Fashion and Wearable Art
Artisanal Design Co. (Instagram)
Artisanal Design Co.
2157 Kingsway Drive, Kitchener.
Located conveniently close to Fairview Mall in Kitchener, Artisanal Design Co. serves as a welcome alternative for style-savvy shoppers who are looking to reduce their consumption of fast fashion, help the environment and find unique treasures that are unavailable elsewhere.
13 King Street North, Waterloo.
Explore some of the most stylish streetwear brands at Loop Clothing. Shop online or book an in-store shopping consultation. Known as an exclusive streetwear clothing boutique for men, the store prides itself in offering friendly customer service and prioritizes quality over quantity.
Little Wolf and The Willow
Inspired by the acts of resilience of Indigenous peoples, this brand is highly known for its jewellery that is “made by hand with love for the land.” Their intricate pieces, especially the earrings are made from materials such as brass, leather, crystal, clay and beads.
1429 King Street North, St. Jacobs.
This market is more than just a gift shop – it is a hidden gem located conveniently in St. Jacobs that prides itself in its careful curation of fair-trade wares from different parts of the world. Their retail products include accessories, jewellery, home décor and clothing amongst others.
As a Kitchener-based artist, Trisha often depicts a minimalist, yet striking image of the female portrait form that radiates an infectious feminine energy to the observer. Again, this motif is seen throughout her work on murals and even on clothing items such as t-shirts and denim jackets.
Trends for Men
1400 Ottawa St. South, Kitchener at Sunrise Shopping Centre.
Looking for the perfect suit? Look no further! Trends for Men has got you covered. Through years of experience and customer service, the family owned and operated fashion store has built a loyal following of clients since it began serving the Waterloo Region over 40 years ago.
Shyne Body Butter (Instagram)
Shyne Body Butter
Indulge your senses in the aroma and wrap yourself skin-first in a signature blend of shea butter, lavender oil and Jamaican allspice, all made in nearby Guelph. Shyne body butter is whipped to the perfect creamy texture and consistency such that it glides on effortlessly and leaves you feeling moisturized.
This Guelph-based beauty business delivers stunning looks at affordable prices. Get noticed for your hair and slay your look on a budget with the help of EM Wigs. Change your look on the fly from curly to straight and from short to long with ease using their selection of quality and affordable wigs. The wigs are also a perfect solution to hide hair loss, while looking good.
Beauty Club Outlet
100 Sheldon Drive, Unit 29, Cambridge.
Search no more for an outlet that offers products and care for kinky, afro-textured hair. Level up your personal grooming with Beauty Club Outlet, which offers curly hair products, wig extensions and hair accessories for men and women. They also offer curly hair consultations online.
LenJo Bakes (Instagram)
132 Ahrens St. West, Kitchener.
LenJo Bakes makes a variety of sweet treats from scratch and for every occasion such as weddings, birthdays and more. The menu is inspired by the owner – Lenore’s travels around the world. Their hot apple cider serves up a delicious delight for cold and wintry days. When in doubt, try their signature #WRUnited treat – cinnamon rolls!
Four All Ice Cream
75 King St. South, Waterloo.
Satisfy sweet cravings and experience the joy of ice cream in an array of rotating flavors like maple crème brûlée and gingerbread cookie dough handcrafted from all natural and locally sourced ingredients. Meanwhile, staple favourites include salted caramel and vanilla bean.
Bliss Creations Baking Co.
Desserts do deliver the joy at Bliss Creations, which was founded by a self-taught baker who proudly serves Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge. Check them out for events or holiday themed treats.
Start a culinary conversation in your kitchen pantry with foodstuffs from the premier online African grocery store in Canada. When driving to your local African grocery store becomes inconvenient, you can rely on MyChopChop’s Canada-wide delivery service to save you both time and effort so you can focus on the things that matter most to you.
Zero Waste Bulk
110 King St S, Unit B, Waterloo.
As the name suggests, zero waste is the name of the game as it pertains to making sustainable choices for grocery shopping. Where possible, Zero Waste Bulk carries a range of products that are local, organic, vegan, plastic free, palm oil free, and packaging free to enable shoppers reduce their waste and thus lessen impact on the environment.
SMK African Foods
206-C King St. East, Kitchener
This family run business is conveniently located near the Kitchener Farmer’s Market and is a hotspot for African food lovers in the area. It was born out of a need for a one-stop shop for all African groceries ranging from general goods to meat products and much more.
Oma Fresh Foods
200 Highland Road West, Kitchener
Formerly known as Kishki World Foods, this grocery store is the largest halal supermarket and butcher shop with a location in Kitchener. They also offer some Indian and South Asian grocery food items. Their motto is to offer products that bring back the memories of a “taste of home.”
Ok’s Tropical Supermarket
2399 Kingsway Drive, Unit 5A, Kitchener
Beyond just the Jamaican patties, Ok’s Tropical Supermarket carries all your other favourite food products from the Caribbean and West Indies. You can find fresh ingredients and meats like goat, chicken and oxtail to cook up some great tasting meals at home.
To find more BIPOC businesses in Waterloo Region check out Listening, Learning and Reflecting: Indigenous-Owned Businesses of Waterloo Region
Jamila Kyari is a local communications strategist and blogger who is passionate about inspiring others to live a colourful, vibrant and bold life. When she is not creating content for her social media channels, she can be found writing blog posts for her eponymous African fashion, beauty and lifestyle blog! Connect with her on: Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
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