One year ago, excitement was in the night air. No one knew what to expect when Black Excellence was christened at neighborhood barbershop, HWhite Men’s Room. Showcasing style both in the shop and online, the lifestyle and brand officially began its journey into launching entrepreneurs and bringing the black community of Minneapolis together. May 22nd, the shop was flooded with an unrivaled positivity in people coming out, eager to help further what would become a national movement.
“We have to have our own space and support our own.” Owner of HWMR, Houston White first started on building this brand after being interviewed about the 2012 hip hop art mixer with Kenny Caldwell. Guided by the definition of affluence as self-worth derived from community and what you can do to improve it, Black Excellence as a movement is reminiscent to the multilayered success of the Harlem Renaissance. Politicians, music, film, art, and fashion flourished in the New York City borough and capturing and replicating that is at the heart of Black Excellence.
When asked what this looked like, Richard Moody, founder of iammoody.com and The Dandies Project said, “Black Excellence looks like a community coming together to support one another to make an impact on their environment, for themselves and the young people who are our future.”
Yet, true to the values of Black Excellence, Houston says, “It’s not my thing; it’s the creation of synergy; of all talents coming together. [Black Excellence] is more than a transaction; it’s a platform to showcase the talents of our people.”
In its first year, the lifestyle has seen success thanks to the support of friends, neighbors, and legislators. In September, Minnesota’s school board candidates were invited to hold a town hall at HWMR to connect with their future constituents.
One crowning achievement in the spirit of Black Excellence and Kwanzaa was the Afrocentric Holiday Market in December. In honor of Ujamaa, building and maintaining our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together, HWMR hosted five vendors like BowTie Billionaire and Chocolate Chick Apparel and Jadeite Shutter. Despite Minnesota winter conditions, the community came out in droves and bought black for the holiday.
With the tumultuous times of 2017, Black Excellence has proven to be a game changer. In a year it has proven to be more than just a wardrobe line, but a lifestyle, an inspiration, and an aspiration. Houston White and the black Minneapolis community are tirelessly working to continue the success of Black Excellence.
It's been almost a year since I set out on the journey to build the brand - the new social construct entitled Black Excellence.
The idea is to raise the collective conscious or in the words of Dapp (Lawrence Fishburns character from Spike Lee's film School Daze) get our people to WAKE UP!!!!
We as a collective have been asleep far too long and I just wanted to do my part in inspiring change.
Through the art of fashion, collective economics and social enterprise we have sparked a renaissance that resembles the promise of realizing our ancestors dreams deferred.
Our history did not begin with slavery ... and we reject the notion that a strong Black community is not viable OR necessary.
The systematic degradation of our people is real, but I feel an awakening amongst our young folks thats driving the new mindset that says unapologetically - we are BLACK and PROUD, we will be heard and WE are EXCELLENT!!!
I am hopeful. I am energized. I can feel it ... The re-writing of the Black American story has begun.