Supporting local businesses has never been more urgent. This year, United partnered with the Colorado Black Chamber of Commerce and the Denver Metro Small Business Development Center to help support the makers and entrepreneurs—particularly women and people of color—who make the city unique. Here are four of our favorites.
Thirty years ago, Harlem native Ron Springer launched Akente Express with $800 worth of Afro-centric fabric, jewelry, and incense. His store was a hit, thanks in part to relationships he forged with local organizations such as the Denver Center for the Performing Arts Theatre Company and the Colorado Black Arts Festival. Over the years, the shop has expanded its offerings to highend hair and skin products. “Our goal is for every customer to leave with a smile on their face,” says current owner Ron Haynes, who took over in 2018. “Without the Denver community, we cannot function.” akenteexpressdenver.com
TeaLee’s Tea House & Bookstore
After recovering from leukemia, TeaLee’s owner, Risë Jones, followed her dream of opening a tea house that would cater to the historically Black Five Points neighborhood, as well as the broader metro region. TeaLee’s serves more than 25 drinks, ranging from loose-leaf teas to chai and coffee drinks, plus matcha shortbread cookies and salads with tea-infused dressing; it also sells jewelry, textiles, and art by Black artists. The bookstore carries a range of Black and female authors, and it hosts book clubs and health and wellness talks. tealeesdenver.com
XO Gift Company
Since 2013, this husband-and-wife-run boutique, located in the rapidly growing northwest Denver neighborhood of Berkeley, has focused on handcrafted gifts, with a majority of its wares produced by Colorado makers. The store’s selection includes everything from stamped copper jewelry and knitted hats to illustrated leather luggage tags and pithy-sloganed tea towels. xogiftco.com
According to owner Ali Duncan, Five Points’s Urban Sanctuary is the first Black-owned, woman-run yoga studio in Denver. The studio also offers Reiki, life coaching, and healing circles, and last summer Duncan launched a nonprofit arm to provide scholarships and workshops to marginalized communities. “We don’t think you can namaste away social injustice,” she says. “We believe that the fight for equality means hard work and showing up both on and off the mat.” usdenver.com