Meet the Founders of Yard + Parish, an E-commerce Platform Focused on Black-Owned Brands. Jamaican Canadian cousins Alesha Bailey and Samantha Newell just celebrated a year in business with the launch of branded products.
Inspiration for the site “came from the frustration of not finding the right products for us,” Bailey says. The duo are from the suburbs of Brampton, Ont., And Bailey says that “although we live in a diverse community, local stores have never considered us in terms of beauty and fashion, and even food. We always felt that we had to do everything we could.
Newell remembers their eyes being opened to the world of possibilities in the fashion industry after they both moved to the UK to pursue post-secondary education – Newell for the Fashion Pattern Cut and Bailey for the Architecture . “London was an eye-opening experience for what is out there,” she says, adding that after completing her initial pattern cutting program, she then invested her time in studying the business side of the style.
In addition to their education, Newell notes that mentoring has played a role in the impressive growth of their business. “We couldn’t have made as much progress as in such a short time if we hadn’t been comfortable asking questions of more experienced professionals, family and friends,” she says. . “As busy as [professionals] are, don’t assume they’re too busy for you. It is important to know that you are not alone. ”
After conceiving the idea for Yard + Parish, Bailey and Newell scoured the internet for black-owned brands that fit their philosophy of “ discovering the diaspora. ” New to the website is its Find Your Nude component, which breaks down skin tone options for customers, and also provides a Color Match concierge service to select products such as Sheer Chemistry’s Ownbrown underwear and stockings. “Now that we’re moving away from this idea of ’nude’ as being a single color, we wanted to make it easier to find your specific match,” Newell says. “Buying underwear online is hard enough.”
In addition to underwear, you’ll find a range of vibrant scarves from Life Liveth, jewelry from Relic London and handbags from De Lovet. “We were mainly looking for clothes that we wanted to try on and wear,” says Bailey. “Products that bear witness to our Caribbean heritage, that are laid back and laid back but also luxurious.”
Newell notes, however, that through Yard + Parish, they are committed to redefining what luxury means. “It’s important to us that the store is accessible,” she says. “It’s not about how expensive something is, but how well done and well thought out.” For example, on the site you’ll find items from Toronto-based organic skincare brand Blumseed and Bohten, which uses reclaimed wood in their designs.
You’ll also find new items designed by the duo to mark their first year in business. The Island Tings capsule offers two styles of t-shirts and shares a name with the Instagram Live series the brand launched earlier this year. “We wanted to commemorate our anniversary the island way,” Bailey says, noting that the plantain image found on one of the shirts was created by Toronto graphic designer and photographer Emilie Croning. “It is a very unifying Caribbean and African fruit, and it is a great piece of heritage to bring together the diaspora community.
Bailey and Newell say they aspire to bring their community together in a physical way someday, with plans for a pop-up brewing concept – but on the back burner for now, of course. “When and where is a very good question,” Newell says, pointing to the setback COVID-19 has placed on this idea.
For now, they will continue to connect with customers online. “It’s really nice to be able to answer them ourselves and show them how passionate we are about our products,” says Bailey, adding Newell adds, “It’s heartwarming to know that what we’re doing is something. something our community needs and values. Even when everything is chaotic, people can count on us.
You don’t need to look any further than Yard + Parish’s Self-Care Sampler Set 2.0, which launched last week, to understand how much the founders care about their fans. “They’ve been organized so that it’s easy to take care of you,” Newell says of the sets, which include products from Tanaka, Afro Hair & Skin Co., and Dew Woods.
Indeed, personal care has been a priority for the couple in recent months. “As entrepreneurs and as black women, it’s hard to take the time,” Bailey says. With the momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement, the pair saw an increase in sales – one that highlighted the potential for black-owned businesses to cultivate their space in the design landscape. “The most important thing is to think through and consider the products you buy,” says Bailey, adding that consumers must also “recognize that [being] a mark owned by blacks does not necessarily mean that it is reserved for blacks. ”
“Now that we’ve seen what can be, it’s impossible to go back to the way things were,” Newell says to make sure that interest is maintained. “I encourage everyone who has supported over the past few months to know that it does not end there. We are very grateful for the attention that has been received recently and we want to make sure that it continues.
Photography courtesy of Yard + Parish.