Philadelphia is full of women-owned businesses that make the city more creative, fashionable, and unique. This list is just the start, but highlights some of Philly’s best — businesses that provide great products and services, and also make a difference in the community.
As a plus-sized woman, Mary Alice Duff built her online shop Alice Alexander as a response to a frustrating lack of well-fitting, stylish clothing options in the fashion industry. Duff describes the designs at Alice Alexander as “minimalist silhouettes meet maximum color and print to bring you bold, modern designs, expertly cut in an inclusive size range.” Everything is made with a focus on sustainable and ethical production and high-quality, durable materials (mostly natural fabrics such as cotton, linen and wool). In 2022, Duff announced that she will be developing just two collections per year.
🌐 alicealexander.co, 📷 @alicealexanderco
Ariell Johnson opened Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse in North Philly in 2015, making her the first Black woman to own a comic book store on the East Coast. Johnson’s own love for the genre started around the age of 10 or 11 when she discovered the X-Men character Storm, and finally found a Black, woman superhero she could identify with. In college, Johnson’s Friday routine was to visit the local comic shop and take her purchases to the coffee shop across the street to read with hot chocolate and piece of cake. Johnson knew she wanted to spread the warmth to others, so she opened Amalgam — a bookstore-coffee-shop hybrid that’s a welcoming, inclusive space for anyone who loves geek culture. Comic book fans, gamers, and movie addicts can unite over coffee and baked goods while shopping for comics, toys and figurines, magazines, and more. Amalgam also has a multi-purpose room that is available for birthday parties, meetings, screenings, and gallery shows.
📍2578 Frankford Ave., 📞 215-427-3300, 🌐 amalgamphilly.com, 📷 @amalgamphilly
After Art Star founders Megan Brewster and Erin Waxman graduated from Temple’s Tyler School of Art in the early 2000s, they started putting together small pop-up shops to sell their work. Over the years, the events grew to annual craft bazaars with 150 art and craft vendors and more than 15,000 visitors a year. Their bazaars aren’t quite back to pre-pandemic normal, but you can still shop for work from studio artists and crafters (many local) through their website and at a retail space at the Bourse. Buy whimsical kitchen items, art, apparel and jewelry; it’s a great spot for unique gifts (or for something for yourself). And, once or twice a year, the pair’s Art Star CRAP Bazaar (a funny, no-frills play on their Craft Bazaar) where artists sell overstock or discontinued items, samples, and more, for more than half off regular retail prices – and where 25% of the profits go to ACLU of PA and Modest Transitions: A Home for Inclusion and Healing.
📍111 S. Independence Mall E., 🌐 artstarphilly.com, 📷 @artstarphilly
Buddha Babe is a Black-owned luxury design studio with quality accessories for babies, toddlers, and the home. Founder, owner, and designer Tina Dixon Spence opened an online shop in 2014; six years later, she opened her West Mount Airy boutique and workshop to the public. All of the products are designed and made in Philadelphia using organic cotton and natural dyes in bright and cheerful patterns. (Bonus: Many of the prints are Philly-themed.) In addition to Buddha Babe’s line of blankies, swaddles, bibs and clothing, you’ll also find wellness products, gift sets, baby cards, and baby books. The 1,600-square-foot space is more than a retail boutique; the space also hosts group-sewing classes (for adults and children), private kids’ birthday parties, and community events.
📍7101 Emlen St., 📞 215-315-8430, 🌐 buddhababe.us
Established in 1985, Dock Street Brewery has several claims to fame: It was one of the first post-prohibition craft breweries in the county, Philly’s first microbrewery, and one of the few women-owned breweries in the country. Founder and president Rosemarie Certo was born in Sicily to an entrepreneurial family of olive oil producers and vintners. She attributes her love for high-quality and innovative beers to her family’s artisanal background. There are currently two Dock Street locations (West Philly and Point Breeze) where you can enjoy her beer and a bite while hanging out with friends. The menu includes hand-tossed wood-fired pizza, sandwiches, burgers, appetizers, and plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. Feel good fact: Dock Street’s brewery is 100% wind-powered. Another: you can donate pizzas to healthcare workers and homeless shelters from Dock Street’s website.
📍 2118 Washington Ave., 701 South 50th St., 📞 215-337-3103, 215-726-2337, 🌐 dockstreetbeer.com, 📷 @dockstreetbeer
Manayunk’s Crust describes itself as a vegan bakery with an emphasis on social justice. Owner Meagan Benz says, “a large part of Crust’s foundation comes from our connection to our community. There is so much value in making space within the business to be able to give back and connect.” A Crust purchase means you get a delicious cookie (Benz’s fave is the chocolate hazelnut), while also supporting a local cause. (The list of groups they donate to includes Attic Youth Center, JUNOS, Indigenous 215, Nationalities Service Center, The Philadelphia Bail Fund, Planned Parenthood, and many more.) This has been part of Crust’s mission since the beginning, but there’s a new twist in 2022: A pastry-of-the-month program where sales from a specific treat benefits a local organization. “We came together as a group to pick local organizations to support with this project and are super excited about it.”
📍4409 Main St., 🌐 crustveganbakery.com, 📷 @crustveganbakery
This crafty empire includes a crochet business, a website, and four yarn vending machines in the Philly area. (They’re actually the first yarn vending machines in the world.) It’s all the brainchild of Emani Outterbridge (who goes by Emani Milan), a Black Philly native, crochet designer, entrepreneur, and influencer (she has more than 46,000 followers on Instagram). Outterbridge first learned to crochet at the age of 12 in a facility for adolescent girls, and the hobby-turned-passion is now a successful business. At 15, Outterbridge started a crochet fashion line, ManiwearByMani, which has been worn by Cardi B., Megan Thee Stallion, Lil Baby, and Drew Barrymore. She also created her own yarn line called Needles Designer Yarn, which offers super-soft eight-ply worsted weight acrylic yarn as well as cotton T-shirt yarn. You can buy the yarn through her website or at one of the area’s bright pink vending machines. Outterbridge also offers crochet classes, patterns, and custom-made items.
📍(Cherry Street Pier) 121 N. Columbus Ave., Philadelphia, (Cherry Hill Mall) 2000 NJ-38, Cherry Hill, (Plymouth Meeting Mall) 500 W. Germantown Pike, Plymouth Meeting, (Oxford Valley Mall) 2300 E. Lincoln Hwy, Langhorne, 🌐 maniwear.com, 📷 @emani.milan
Co-founders Morrisa Jenkins and Bonkosi Horn opened Northern Liberties’ Freedom Apothecary in 2019 as “a manifestation of their life’s work — of creating a physical space for women, especially Black women and women of color, to find community, to find support and most importantly, to find ourselves.” They carry skincare, fragrances, and wellness products exclusively from women-founded companies, as well as their own house brand. According to their website, “we think that the products and foods we put into our bodies should be like our friends – non-toxic, so our partners are women we build relationships with and women we trust, making products we believe in so you don’t have to do the dirty work and you can leave that to us.” Freedom Apothecary offers in-store boutique shopping and facial treatments, virtual skin consultations, and online shopping.
📍736 N. Second St., 📞 215-982-2772, 🌐 freedomapothecary.com, 📷 @freedom.apothecary
Chartel Findlater launched her line of handmade body products in March 2019. She named the business as a nod to the Bible’s 1 Peter 1:6 and to recognize her own experiences with domestic abuse. The message: that, no matter what you go through, you can be cleansed (that’s the water) and better than you were (that’s the gold.) The products include body butter, beard balm, and soaps that resemble small slabs of Italian marble with accents of shimmery gold mica. Shop this Black woman-owned business online, or find her products in shops such as Vault + Vine and Art Star Philly (which are both also on this list.)
🌐 goldandwaterco.com, 📷 @goldandwaterco_
Kimberly McGlonn named her fashion company after the Milwaukee street where she grew up in the 90s. Today, she and her team of female designers use vintage and second-hand clothing along with new fabric to create one-of-a-kind, upcycled garments. Their chic line of tops, bottoms, dresses, skirts, and accessories are available online and in their retail space. McGlonn was a recipient of Beyoncé’s BeyGood grant, an effort led by Beyoncé and the NAACP which gave grants of up to $10,000 to Black-owned small-business owners to help with the economic impact of the pandemic.
📍3605 Lancaster Ave., 📞 215-970-9630, 🌐 grantblvd.com, 📷 @grantblvd
Jeannine A. Cook opened Harriett’s Bookshop in February 2020 as a space “for folks to come together, discuss ideas and debate in a healthy way.” The Fishtown space is named after Harriet Tubman and dedicated to Black empowerment, it’s a celebration of women authors, artists, and activists. (Cook considers herself to be all three.) Cook opened Harriett’s just before the pandemic; a year later, she opened Ida’s Bookshop in Collingswood, named for journalist, activist, and researcher Ida B. Wells, born enslaved in 1862 in Mississippi. Shop both bookshops in person or online.
📍 258 E. Girard Ave., 📞 267-241-2617, 🌐 harriettsbookshop.com, 📷 @harrietts_bookshop
Co-founders Rebecca Brett and Rita Greiman opened Minnow Lane to bring ethically sourced, sustainable, and non-toxic developmental toys, clothing, and kids’ products to Philly. Brett had the idea when she was expecting her first child, and found these products hard to find, especially if you wanted a physical store to see the items in person. Fast forward to 2015, both Brett and Greiman decided to team up (toddlers in tow) and the pair opened Minnow Lane six months later. Their bright and welcoming Fishtown store is well stocked with toys, clothing, and carefully sourced apothecary items. Minnow Lane carries a wide range of products for expecting parents, newborn babies, and kids up to age six, and also hosts recurring classes and workshops for new and expecting parents (including infant/child CPR training, breastfeeding 101, and infant care). Many of the classes are currently on hold, have limited space, or are being held virtually due to the pandemic.
📍2029 Frankford Ave., 📞 215-291-1875, 🌐 minnowlane.com, 📷 @minnowlane
Like many others, Cherron Perry-Thomas and her daughter Amma Thomas found gardening to be therapeutic and healing during the pandemic. They opened Plant and People to share those benefits with their West Philly neighborhood (and beyond). The Black woman-owned business offers workshops, events, consultations, and plant-based goods. In addition to houseplants, shop supplements, herbs, and nutritional products, all chosen to highlight fellow Black- and women-owned companies as well as local, fair trade, and environmentally friendly businesses.
📍1431 N. 52nd St., 🌐 plantandpeople.com, 📷 @plantandpeople
Adeline Koh, started Sabbatical Beauty while on academic sabbatical. She teaches the humanities and technology, but found herself frustrated with the ingredient lists of available beauty products. So Koh decided to make her own Korean-inspired skincare line, all handcrafted in small batches. Koh hopes that those who try her products will feel like they’re on a sabbatical: happy, relaxed, and refreshed. Sabbatical Beauty is currently only open for online shopping with delivery or contactless pickup. The website features a skincare quiz to help you shop, or you can request a personalized consultation.
📍The Bok Building, 1901 S. Ninth St. #308 (by appointment only), 📞 267-205-5529, 🌐 sabbaticalbeauty.com, 📷 @sabbaticalbeauty
Chef Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran are the entrepreneurs whose restaurants and boutiques on 13th Street in Midtown Village have helped transform the neighborhood into one of the most popular areas in Philly. Their restaurant empire includes Barbuzzo, Little Nonna’s, Bud & Marilyn’s; you can also shop one of their retail spaces (online or in-person) for gifts, jewelry, home decor, and artisanal chocolate. The duo have two coming-soon restaurants: Loveluck, a new restaurant in the welcome center at Love Park, and Detroit-style pizza shop Good Luck Pizza Co.
Peicha Chang originally founded her flower shop Fall Flowers in 2009 then renamed it in 2017 when she moved to East Falls. Chang describes the store as an “urban oasis”; a space for beauty, whimsy and rejuvenation. The shop is a full-service retail florist and greenhouse, but also sells gifts and homegoods, and has its own coffee shop. Most of the shop’s flowers are grown in and around Philadelphia at small farms and then harvested and delivered to the shop by the farmers. Find everything from full wedding flower planning to a tiny succulent for your home.
📍3507 Midvale Ave., 📞 267-331-6292, 🌐 vault.vaultandvine.co, 📷 @vaultandvine.co
Christa Barfield launched Viva Tea Leaf Co. in 2019 after falling in love with tea during a trip to Martinique, where her host would serve a steaming hot cup of tea every morning with breakfast. He’d take live herbs, like echinacea, grown in his garden, put them in a cup, and pour hot water over them to infuse. It changed the way Barfield thought about tea and became part of her daily meditative practice. Viva Leaf is a nod to that time in Martinique; Barfield offers hand-blended teas from herbs and plants that she grows from seed. There’s also a selection of raw unfiltered honey, sourced from a local apiary, and infused with herbs such as mint and lavender. Shop this Black-owned business online (there’s even a monthly subscription option) or visit the Mount Airy retail store.
📍6730 Germantown Ave., 🌐 vivaleaftea.com, 📷 @farmerjawncsa
Liz Sytsma refers to her Mt. Airy Village fiber supply shop as “a community that believes in the magic of fiber craft” and “a place that brings together people who share a vision of an imaginative and just world.” Find supplies for weaving, crochet, knitting, felting, spinning, dyeing, knotting, stitching, rug hooking, fleece processing, and more. But beyond that, you’ll find a welcoming space and community. One of the ways Sytsma gives back: through Wild Hand’s Little Free Fiber Library. (Picture those wooden boxes with free books, but with yarn.) Donate your unneeded yarn, needles, books, and fiber, or take what you need from the small wooden house attached to the shop’s exterior brick wall to take home. Wild Hand also offers Little Free Fiber bundles through the website where you only pay for the shipping.
📍606 Carpenter Lane, Philadelphia, 📞 267-766-5239, 🌐 wild-hand.com, 📷 @_wildhand_
Shannon Maldonado is the founder of Yowie, a Black-owned, artfully curated boutique in Queen Village. The bright, modern space with birch white walls, white floors, and colorful objects sells an ever-changing selection of goods. The products include textiles, ceramics, and art prints, as well as eclectic items such as fancy peanut butter, artisanal vinegars, and Filipino snack packs. Much of the work in Yowie comes from emerging artists, and you can even buy Maldonado’s own line of technicolor sweats. Maldonado started Yowie as a “nights and weekends” project while working as a designer for American Eagle and Urban Outfitters. When a friend asked if she really came home to work a corporate job, she turned her full attention to opening her creative studio and lifestyle boutique, which she opened in 2016. After Yowie’s success, Maldonado has gone on to design boutique hotels (the Deacon on Christian Street and Dye House in Providence, Rhode Island) as well as Ethel’s Club, a social club in NYC for people of color. Maldonado is growing on South Street and will open an expanded Yowie store, cafe, and Yowie-designed hotel rooms in 2022.
📍716 S. 4th St., 🌐 shopyowie.com, 📷 @helloyowie
Michelle Reese is a freelance writer who also runs the kids activities blog Sweet Mini Moments. She lives in Bucks County.