In honor of Black History Month, we’re sharing the incredible spirit and creativity of a few of our favorite iconic and contemporary trailblazing, history-making Black dancers, artists, chefs and entrepreneurs. Celebrating their legendary accomplishments gives us a sense of promise for generations to come. We hope you love their beautiful work and perspective as much as we do.

Dancers We Love

Charlotte Nebres
Contemporary American Dancer

Throughout the years, we have captured Charlotte's poetry in motion from Central Park to the steps of the Met and in front of the Sing Harlem Choir for the opening of our Madison Avenue store. This acclaimed ballerina, who attributes her love for the ballet to Misty Copeland, the first female African-American principal at American Ballet Theater, made ballet history herself in 2019 as the first Black “Marie” in the New York City Ballet's Nutcracker. A milestone for the production that dates back to 1954.

“When I saw Misty Copeland, someone who looked like me onstage, I thought she was representing me and all the people like me.”

Raven Wilkinson
Iconic American Dancer

Intrigued by ballet since she was a young girl, Raven was the first African American woman to dance full-time for a major classical ballet company, the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, in 1955. Having broken racial barriers in ballet, here and abroad, we celebrate Raven’s determination and devotion to the art she loved, which paved the way for future dancers. She became an important source of inspiration to Misty Copeland, and was featured in several of Misty’s books including the current NY Times Best-seller “The Wind at My Back. Resilience, Grace, and Other Gifts from My Mentor, Raven Wilkinson."

“You have to open your mind and heart, and you must believe in yourself and have faith and hope.”

Artists We Love

Jordan Casteel
Contemporary Artist

Born and raised in Denver, Jordan is an American figurative painter who grew up in a family with a strong civil rights legacy. She is known for her use of color as well as capturing a deep emotion in her intimate portraits of both famous and everyday people. She has had several solo exhibitions and her work is included in public collections in major museums all across the country. We’re mesmerized by her florals, as you would imagine.

“I would like to think that at a crucial moment, I was an effective voice of the voiceless, an effective hope of the hopeless.”

Laura Wheeler Waring
Iconic American Artist

An American artist and educator, Laura received a prestigious traveling scholarship to study art at the Louvre in Paris. Like us, she had a lifelong love affair with Paris, where she painted some of her most notable works over several extended visits. Later, back in the states, she became known for her dynamic portraits of prominent African Americans during the Harlem Renaissance, some of which were commissioned and are currently on display at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.

“I thought again and again how little of the beauty and with what ease the great masters paint.”

Chefs We Love

Chef Marcus Samuelsson
Head Chef of Hav + Mar

Having discovered this new restaurant at a pre-opening dinner last year, we fell in love with Marcus Samuelsson, his wife Maya, and their mission. As the most decorated Black chef winning 8 James Beard Foundation awards as chef, author and tv personality, to say he is making strides in the industry is an understatement. Marcus Samuelsson's latest endeavor, Hav + Mar, emphasizes Black creativity, soul food, sustainability and diversity, with women of color making up the restaurant's core leadership team, including executive chef Rose Noël.

“This is a place where Black excellence is celebrated, so our goal is to work with Black and BIPOC winemakers and farmers.”

Edna Lewis
Iconic Chef

Edna Lewis was a renowned chef and cookbook author known as the Grand Dame of Southern cooking at a time when female chefs were few and Black female chefs were even fewer. She became a head chef at a friend’s cafe in NYC in 1948 frequented by movie stars and celebrities. She spent her life honoring Southern cuisine, inspiring a generation of young chefs, and ensuring that the traditional foods and cooking methods would not be lost. She received the first ever James Beard Living Legend Award and her cookbooks can still be found on Amazon today.

“One of the greatest pleasures of my life has been that I have never stopped learning about good cooking and good food.”

Women In Business We Love

LaRonda Butler
Fashion Girl Turned Balloon Babe

Merging her unique eye for design with balloon styling, we have worked with LaRonda Butler (a total creative genius) on our balloon installations for events, openings, and brand parties for years. Mesmerized by her story as much as her creations, LaRonda Butler followed her dreams, launching Butler Balloons four years ago after 20 years in fashion and visual merchandising.

“A dream up above. The journey to this point has been one full of lessons, but I am so excited to merge my eye for design with balloon styling.”

 

Eunice Johnson
Iconic Business Woman

Co-founder along with her husband John Johnson, of Johnson Publishing Company, the home of Ebony and Jet magazines, Eunice Johnson was a fashion icon that taught the world how to dress with flair! She launched the legendary Ebony Fashion Fair, a 51-year traveling fashion show featuring African American designers and models showcasing haute couture and raising over $50m for scholarships and community-based causes. In 1973, she created the namesake Fashion Fair Cosmetics.

"Well groomed glamor signaled success."