It’s the first Tuesday in November and, though my timeline is chock-full of TikToks and Insta reels from people watching CNN with bated breath, I’m sitting in my apartment in Toronto dodging US election night news like the draft. Of course I keep up-to-date, but nights like these give me heart palpitations, and I, like many of you, am hoping for the best but expecting the worst. Either way, it’s the end of the world as we know it. But perhaps, in this case, that’s a good thing.
FEAR NOT, however! This post, the first inaugural blog post on my website, is NOT about the election. Y’all can follow Angela Rye for that. Instead (semi-election inspired, I guess), this post is about making change.
Over the last few months, I’ve been trying to find a way to profile things I like. Specifically, things I like that are made by (or for) people who look like me. Given my love of spending money I don’t have, I’ve had so many friends ask me where they can buy a black-owned this or that, and I realized that I have the opportunity to use my site as an excuse to a) SHOP and b) spread the word about things I've enjoyed. Sure, I write for media outlets, but until now, I haven't had my own space to share my personal findings in a way that might help amplify the voices (and pockets) of black creators and entrepreneurs. Plus, I need a reason to keep writing on my blog, so writing about shopping seems like a natural fit.
Thus, here we are -- the first post in my new monthly series: Emily’s All Black Everything - Black-Owned Brands, Businesses & Books. Every month, I’ll profile and review a black brand, product, business, podcast...anything (and no, it doesn't have to start with a b)! I’ll also try to share a promo code or two, if available, because God knows I love a discount.
First up for November 2020: Kai Collective
If you haven’t seen the Gaia dress on any of the socials, you have been living under a damn rock (DO YOU NEED HELP, GIRL?!). This dress is what black girl magic dreams are made of. Made by Kai Collective, a brand founded by fashion and travel blogger Fisayo Longe (self-described single mum of three plants), the print of this dress puts you on the psychedelic wave you didn’t know you needed. I literally blocked off time in my work calendar for the restock of this dress last month (sorry/not sorry, to my boss, if you’re reading) and despite a few glitches on the site during checkout, I regret nothing. Seems like I wasn’t the only one who wanted in on the Gaia, and it was well worth the wait.
The brand describes themselves as one with “a deep passion for women and equality... KAI seeks to create clothing for multidimensional women who embrace their femininity in all its various forms. Through clothing, [they] communicate with women and inspire that extra dose of confidence.”
There are several ultra popular items, such as the Babita dress and the Beebeeta Dress (similar names for similar, but different dresses), but the Gaia is the stand out. With its media footprint and internet-breaking popularity from it’s most recent restock, it has been proclaimed the unofficial dress of the year. If you don’t know, now you know.
Well, to begin, this dress makes me feel like I am the favourite child of Aphrodite and Shea Coulee. Despite being in lockdown and having nowhere to go, I bought this dress with the explicit purpose of bringing my spirits up. I needed a reminder of what it felt like to put on real clothes and feel good about myself again after months of looking too ashy for my own good, so for me, this dress was an absolute must.
Each Gaia dress is unique -- to keep sustainable and reduce waste, Kai collective has chosen not to use a placement print, which means that no two Gaia dresses are exactly the same. It’s almost as if the dress was made just for you! Even better, in my case, the dress also comes in two lengths - regular and tall, which worked out swimmingly for me and my long-leggedness.
This dress is also semi-sheer -- you can see it styled on the site and on various celebs with nothing underneath, but for those who want to keep the mystery of their wobbly bits, just know you can’t get away with going commando in this one. It’s also available in two other colorways, and as a top and mini dress.
Where to buy: www.kaicollective.com
Cost: £129 (~ $220 CAD)
Cons, if any:
The cost of international shipping to Canada is always no bueno (~$40 in this case), though somehow the customs gods took mercy upon me and did not charge me any additional duties.
The fit of the dress is phenomenal, but it is a bit hard to put on over my head(yes, I accept that perhaps I may have a large head). The site suggests that you size down if you want a body con fit (I got XS tall for this reason), but that also might have been the reason it fits this way.
Well friends, there it is! My first post in my All Black Everything series! I hope you enjoyed the read, or at the very least learned about a new brand. Feel free to send me suggestions for black owned brands, books and businesses you think I should feature next month.
(For those in and around Toronto,Canada, follow @blackowned.to for a regular one stop shop for black owned businesses).
Until next time,