Summer is officially here. And along with soaring temperatures, the season brings with it a host of activities for kids: summer camps, trips to the pool, playdates in the park and field trips galore. Of course, that also means picking up new backpacks, lunch bags, sunscreen and other summer supplies for kiddos. There are plenty of existing companies catering to kids’ summertime needs – but a scant few that consider Black and brown children specifically.
Several women entrepreneurs have set out to change this. From pool inflatables with cultural flair and apparel featuring a wide mix of faces, to mineral sunscreen designed for children with darker skin, their products aim to bring representation, inclusivity and joy to children often forgotten by the mainstream market.
Warm-Weather Duds That Celebrate Diversity
Cara Johnson-Graves and Jenae Johnson-Carr founded EPIC Everyday with one goal in mind: increase representation for underserved children. The Johnson sisters, who are Black, both remember rarely seeing children who looked like them on toys or TV. Once they both became mothers and began raising children of their own, they were shocked to see that not much had changed – and decided to do something about it. In 2017, Johnson-Graves and Johnson-Carr launched EPIC Everyday, which sells clothing, accessories and home goods featuring kids and families of color printed on them, and they haven’t looked back. The Bowie, Maryland, entrepreneurs are proud to say they now have customers all over the U.S. who appreciate the much-needed diversity they see on every bag, hoodie, sheet set and more the duo sells.
Swim Accessories, Support for Black Pool-Goers
In the summer of 2020, Danielle Hodge’s work as a freelance event producer had come to a Covid standstill. She was staying with her mother, and decided to take a dip in her pool to unwind. While later browsing online for inflatables, Hodge quickly clocked how whitewashed the stock photos on swim accessory sites were. That’s when Hodge, who herself almost drowned in the pool as a child, had her epiphany: Generations of Black families have faced discrimination at pools and beaches, leading to racial disparities in drowning deaths – but she could do something about it. She launched Alma Ocean that same year. It’s a two-pronged operation. On one side, she’s designing and selling culturally-inspired pool inflatables and aquatic accessories. Sales from those items support her nonprofit, Alma Swim Foundation, and the water safety education, free swim lessons and more it offers to children and adults.
Sunscreen Made With Darker Skin in Mind
Dalaise Hickey’s entrepreneurial journey was inspired by significant loss. Over the past few years, several close female relatives of Hickey’s passed away. Their deaths hit hard, and inspired a fundamental reevaluation of her life. Hickey, a mother of two, decided that she “couldn’t keep putting off what was important,” and wanted to prioritize spending time with her children while pursuing her goals. In 2022, she launched BabyDonna, a company that sells sheer, reef-safe, mineral sunscreen sticks for Black and Brown babies, toddlers and children. Today the Shelton, Connecticut, entrepreneur is figuring out how to get the word out about her product – especially because the more she sells, the more she can give back. Hickey donates 5% of all sales to nonprofits benefiting youth in the U.S. child welfare and juvenile justice systems.