Black Makers + Creatives You Need to Know

FEB 19, 2018 updated Jun 2, 2021

Black Makers + Creatives You Need To Know

Today is an exciting day, but first, introductions! My name is Jenell, and I’m a graphic designer on the Spoonflower marketing team. Nice to meet you! Today, I’m bringing you some magic in the form of a few black makers and creatives you need to know. No seriously, they’re pretty magical. Together they offer a smorgasbord of talent that ranges from surface pattern designers and illustrators to interior designers and DIY bloggers. That’s right, I am hooking you guys up! Enough chit chat, let the fun begin.

Yetunde Sarumi - Black Sewist + Maker

What’s the best part about being a woman of color in your industry?
“I think the best part is that I have a different cultural background to tap into. I find joy in sharing that part of me with the world.”

Yetunde Sarumi - Black Sewist + Fashion Designer

Yetunde Sarumi - Black Sewist + Fashion Designer

What influences or inspires your work?
“My work is inspired by my culture and wanting to share it with the world. Being a Nigeria-born designer, I am motivated and inspired by the tradition, art and beauty of my culture.”

Favorite song to create or work to?
“I listen to Nigerian artists like Tiwa Savage and Yemi Alade when I create, I sometimes like to sing out loud and dance, especially when I’m sewing. But when I need to really focus (usually in the beginning stage of creating a design), I like silence.”

Share one of your 2018 business/design/creative goals:
“My 2018 business goal is to have my collection in more stores. So far I’ve been in five stores, but the goal is hopefully get into 10 more in 2018.”

Find more of Ye’s beautiful apparel on her website.


Treasure - Black Sewist + Maker, Nikki and Mallory | Spoonflower Blog

What’s the best part about being a woman of color in your industry?
“It is that I have a platform to not just create, but to enlighten, inspire and motivate women of color through my work and my journey while showing real-life visuals of proof that anything is possible with faith, hard work and dedication. So many of us [women of color] just want opportunities and answers.

Being that I’m a self-taught (black) independent designer/creator and entrepreneur, yes, I feel like it’s my job to empower women. But to also be accessible enough to answer those “how to” questions, provide reliable resources and give direction that so many others weren’t willing to help me with when I started out! It’s one thing to work towards success but I’m no good if I can’t extend my knowledge to the next woman of color.”

Treasure - Black Sewist + Maker, Nikki and Mallory

Treasure - Black Sewist + Maker, Nikki and Mallory

What inspires your work?
“I would have to say, a combination of décor, culture, fashion and style. They all have a “vibe” attached to them and levels of distinction. My vision is very broad so it’s usually one of these key elements that help me zero in on how my next design will look and feel.”

Favorite song to create or work to?
“I don’t have a favorite song to create to but my favorite genres of music would be downtempo, contemporary/alternative R&B, reggae and rap. In that order. I usually start with something chill/mellow, but by the end of creative process, I’m hype! So…yea, it depends on my mood. :)”

Share one of your 2018 business/design/creative goals:
“My ultimate and overall goal is continue to elevate and expand my business on all levels. Create opportunities for those around me, design more intricate pieces + start teaching leather crafting classes…ahh! There’s lots. Did you say one or three? [Laughs]. Seriously, God’s timing is impeccable. I’m happy working in silence until further notice.”

You can find Treasure on Instagram and be sure to check out her website.


What’s the best part about being a woman of color in your industry?
“For me, the best part is about being unapologetically fearless in the pursuit of what I know I was created for. From my mother, I learned the true value of hard work and showing up, even when things were not easy or ideal. I have chosen to allow those spaces of discomfort to mold me and push me beyond anything that I could have imagined for myself. Interior design speaks to my soul. I immerse myself in it everyday and strive to be the best at translating dreams into tangible spaces.”

Brandee Byrd - Black Interior Designer

Brandee Byrd - Black Interior Designer
“There’s nothing better than seeing someone’s face light up when their most personal and intimate space has been transformed to mirror who they truly are and how they live.”

What inspires your work and why?
“Your home should be an extension of you. Your dreams, your style, your inspiration. I am inspired by understanding what this emotional connection looks like for each of my clients. There’s nothing better than seeing someone’s face light up when their most personal and intimate space has been transformed to mirror who they truly are and how they live.”

Favorite song to create or work to?
“I’m kind of old school when it comes to music that moves me and puts me in a creative space. If I’m in the design concept phase of my work, I need more mellow tunes that allow me to think clearly and not be distracted, like Anita Baker or Lalah Hathaway. If I’m in the installation phase of my work, that’s where the upbeat, high energy music keeps me going. Queue Beyoncé or Bruno Mars, and I am good to go!”

Share one of your 2018 business goals:
“To be nationally recognized as an emerging interior designer.”


What’s the best part about being a woman of color in your industry?
“I’m keeping hope alive! I was blown away at how big the sewing community was when I started blogging back in 2013. I also noticed all the top sewing blogs were not black-owned; there were a few out there, but not too many. I am showing others who look like me that we really are out there, and we are creating amazing work at a stellar level. I have met, learned and taught so many people from all ethnic backgrounds, and it never gets old. I love sharing my culture and art to everyone.”

Michell Morris

Michelle Morris
“In November 2017, I self-published and released my very own multicultural bi-monthly sewing magazine titled Sewn Magazine and 2018 is going to be a year of Sewn magic.”

What influences your work?
“I am inspired everyday by lots of things. I am a people watcher, and I get a lot of inspiration from them. I am inspired by my own work: I try to make each piece more unique than the last. Gucci is giving me life right now. Their team is creating such off the wall fashions—it’s mind blowing and wonderful. Sometimes when I’m looking for something interesting to make, I just pull a bunch of printed textiles down from my shelves and in my Tim Gunn voice say, ‘make it work.’ That’s what I think when I see Gucci fashions featuring a bunch of mix-matched textiles, they are making it work!”

Favorite song to create or work to?
“My jam is Rapper’s Delight, but Audible books are usually playing in my sewing room.”

Share one of your 2018 creative goals:
“This one is easy. In November 2017, I self-published and released my very own multicultural bi-monthly sewing magazine titled Sewn Magazine and 2018 is going to be a year of Sewn magic. The cover story for my first issue in 2018 featured Latasha Henderson from season 15 of Project Runway, and it was a blast. The goal of this publication is to introduce ALL people to artists of ALL colors. We are just showcasing great work.”

Find Michelle on Instagram.


Janine Lecour - Black Surface Pattern Designer

What’s the best part about being a woman of color in your industry?
“I get the opportunity to represent who I am and share my voice through my art.”

What  inspires your work?
“I love color and a lot of times my prints are inspired by a color scheme. I can easily spend a few hours selecting and playing with different colors on a design. It’s my favorite part in the designing process, and it definitely influences my work the most.”

Favorite song to create or work to?
“‘I Like It Like That’ by the Rebirth Brass Band.”

Share one of your goals for 2018:
“I would like to do more collaborative projects with other artist and companies in 2018.”

Find Janine on Instagram and check out her website. You can also find her in the Spoonflower Marketplace as lapetitelecour.


Jo Kalute - Black Surface Pattern Designer and Maker | Spoonflower Blog

What’s the best part about being a woman of color in your industry?
“The best part about being a woman of color in my industry in Australia is that my perspective of design is different from white, mainstream culture. Therefore, my designs stand out and inspire dialogue in a landscape that is not always familiar with the African aesthetic. I believe my work helps facilitate a cultural exchange that amplifies a greater awareness and celebration of ‘otherness’.

I create prints and patterns that have a story or meaning behind them. For example, my Fibonacci pattern is inspired by spiral growth as observed in sea shells. Even our own personal growth is spiral, as we tend to come back and revisit the same points in our progression and evolution. As goes the African proverb, ‘We do not know where we are going if we do not know where we are coming from.”’

It is important for me to put out work that resonates with who I am rather than merely follow trends.”

Clovelly Cozzies™ is Jo’s print focused swimwear brand for women.

Who or what influences or inspires your work and why?
“Currently, I am inspired by the silhouette of the black female form. There is something magnetic about her poise, and I would love to create more work that celebrates ‘her’.

I am also naturally inspired by seaside living, having recently moved from Melbourne to sunny Sydney. I have been using a lot of blue hues in my work lately and I am gravitating towards watercolor as a medium of choice. There is a certain flow and ease to it that will inform the prints in my next swimwear collection.

I also look up to Mara Hoffman as a role model in the fashion industry. I am drawn to the aesthetic of her brand, her relatability and her sustainability. She is also very uber-cool.”

Favorite song to create or work to?
“In the studio, you’ll find me jamming to ‘Lady Powers’ by Vera Blue and ‘Woman’s World’ by Okenyo – female anthems by two dynamic Australian artists.”

Share one of your 2018 goals:
“One of my goals this year is to see my work in larger spaces and have it experienced by audiences who would normally not see it.

January started off brilliantly, as I was able to showcase my work alongside other artists of colour in the Future Culture Space curated by Grace Dlabik of Be. Collective Culture as part of the Sugar Mountain Music Festival in Melbourne. It was an empowering space created by/and for people of colour to celebrate themselves and be seen​​ in predominately white spaces.

I am very intentional about the work I want to put out this year. It should be conscious and have a social value.”

You can also find her in the Spoonflower Marketplace as jokalute.


What’s the best part about being a woman of color in your industry?
“The sisterhood. You don’t see many women of color sewing, but when you do, you are immediately attracted to one another and lift one another up. The support is very real!”

Tabitha Sewer - Black DIY Blogger + Maker

Tabitha Sewer - Black DIY Blogger + Maker | Spoonflower Blog
Tabitha’s Celosia Velvet™ DIY duster featuring adobo_multi_desert by holli_zollinger

What influences your work and why?
“My work is different from a lot of women on social media. Most women usually make garments that are wearable on a daily basis. I’m using sewing as an expression of my art. I scour the runways and magazines to find garments that stand out and are very expressive. When it comes to my fashionable makes, I look for bold colors, bold textures and bold prints. If I see a garment on the runway that’s way too out of this world to wear as an everyday piece, I’m making it!”

Favorite song to create or work to?
“Anything Beyoncé. I seriously tell myself that I’m going to be the ‘Beyoncé of DIY Fashion’. Is that corny? LOL! (Not corny at all, Tabitha!)”

Share one of your 2018 business goals:
“In 2018, I am really focused on my Instagram platform (@tabithasewer). I want to push myself and stand out as much as possible in showing my art of sewing and the way that I present the garments that I make. I want to be able to showcase sewing in a way that people of all ages, young and old, will want to pick up on this craft and see how much fun it can be.

I am all about change and challenging myself to do something different. 2018 will challenge me to the push the envelope and I’m ready for it.”

Visit Tab’s Instagram and her website for even more DIY inspiration. 


Sareka Unique - Black Surface Pattern Designer | Spoonflower Blog

What’s the best part about being a woman of color in your industry?
“I would say the best part is being able to bring a different perspective to the table. I am able to use the influences and inspiration from my background and my culture in my work, and it offers a unique take on art and design. It’s also a great feeling to be able to have a platform where I can inspire young girls to use their creativity and help them understand that their artwork and creativity matters and can make a difference. I think young girls of color need to know that there is room for them in the world of art and design, and that the world needs what they have to create.”

Sareka Unique - Black Surface Pattern Designer + Illustrator | Spoonflower Blog

Sareka Unique - Black Surface Pattern Designer + Illustrator | Spoonflower Blog
“I am drawn to color everywhere I go, and it is my favorite part of the creative process.”

What inspires your work?
“There are so many different things that inspire me but I would have to say the main thing is color. I am drawn to color everywhere I go, and it is my favorite part of the creative process. When you add color to a design or an illustration you are automatically saying ‘this is how I want people to feel when they see my work’. You can have the same pattern and change the color palette and it will change the mood of your pattern to a point where it looks like a different design and gives off a completely different vibe.”

Favorite song to create or work to?
“That’s a tough one because I love music, and the music I play typically depends on my mood that day. Right now I would say I have Jhenè Aiko, dvsn, HNNY and NAO in heavy rotation.”

Share one of your 2018 business/design/creative goals:
“This year I want to share more of myself. I want to engage more with my followers and share my knowledge. I just let them get to know the person behind the art work.

Creatively I want to incorporate more traditional mediums into my pattern designs. I have been working a lot with acrylic and gouache lately and I want to start working it into my patterns and illustrations.”

You can find Reka on Instagram and check out her website. You can also find her in the Spoonflower Marketplace as sarekaunique.

I really hope you guys enjoyed getting to know a few of my faves. Go check them out, and tell them I sent you!

About Our Guest Blogger

Jenell Gilyard - Black Graphic Designer + Maker | Spoonflower Blog Jenell of the Brooklyn Gilyards is a graphic designer on the Marketing Team at Spoonflower. Her power color is yellow, and she enjoys sewing, sci-fi, and day drinking, but not at work. She’s been hitting Command + Z for 10 years, and you can check out her Marketplace Shop + Instagram for all the latest things.

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  • PS A lot of the links in this article are broken! Could you please update those? I’m certain I’m not the only one searching for content about black creators….

    • Hi Hilde,

      Thank you for letting us know! Those broken links have been updated. 🙂

      Laurie @ Spoonflower

  • Could you maybe republish this and/or publish an updated list of pattern designers who are POC? I have committed to spending a (much) larger chunk of my sewing budget on (PDF) patterns and notions from businesses run by POC, but I’m having trouble finding patterns!

  • Thank you for this list. I was researching black surface pattern designers and it brought me to this article.

  • Thank you for this! I just happened to find this today while perusing the Spoonflower blog. I appreciate finding new people to follow, and new inspiration. PS your instagram is awesome!

  • Terri RaFalik

    I love the colors and the unique designs. I am inspired by designs from various ethnic groups–India, China, etc–to add beautiful \”art\” to my creative process. Thank YOU.

  • I searched for black creatives I should know about and found your blog! Gems of beauty creatives in the art world. I love it! As an artist and design I’m always trying to connect with more creatives and this blog was right on time. Thanks
    Addie
    AddieRawr.com

    • Hi Adrienne,
      That’s so great to hear. We are so inspired by all of these women and hope you are too!

  • Hi Janell, this article is OUTSTANDING. Thank you very much for sharing the stories from this group of dynamic, successful and smart women. I wish them all continued success. This is some serious black girl magic!

  • This is dope list of women!!! Thanks for putting this list together Jenelle & Spoonflower it’s super cool to be put on blast in the company of these ladies! I think I now have a new pool of candidates to interview for Sewn Magazine!
    Pssss…… Tabitha’s tulle skirt was a “Sewn Magazine” project, ain’t it pretty!

  • THANK YOU for this! I am so inspired and will continue to be by you and these amazing artists :)). Been a graphic designer for many, many years but very interested in surface pattern design.