Friday, February 26, 2016

Shoes Clues: 5 Black Shoe Designers to Shop Now

Sole Sistas

Yesterday we covered wine and spirits companies owned by black people, so today we'd be remiss if we didn't let you know about some amazing black shoe designers. Whether your style is conventional or daring and your shoe budget is conservative or considerable, there's a designer who's in step with your preference. This is by no means a comprehensive list. However, these are a few of our favorites.

Marion Ayonote

Popular among celebrities from Kelly Clarkson (which we covered here) to Gabrielle Union, London-based Marion Ayonote creates shoes and bags with timeless, independent women in mind. Her shoes are available at shops around the globe, and shoe prices tend to range from a little over $100 for flats to about $820 for booties. The above pictured "Conqueror" has been spotted on screens and red carpets quite a bit and can be purchased via the company's website. (Oh, and Issa Rae was recently spotted carrying one of her bags.)

Becki Coackley

We paired Becki Coakley's "Tanaia" sandals with a cocktail featuring her One80 Vodka (mentioned in yesterday's list) last spring, and we've been keeping an eye on her shoes since then. Her designs blend classic styling, high-quality leather and modern accents for a timeless look that exudes feminine confidence and uniqueness. Prices range from $407 to $574 and can be purchased here.

Heather Hightower

Feminine, flamboyant and fun, Heather Hightower Miami's shoes are made for the girl who makes an entrance. The brand's owner and designer, Heather, creates her collections with an eye on the trends and her mind on keeping things affordable for her customers. The above pictured "RiRi" sandal retails for $130, and prices top out under $200. Shop here.

Tiannia Barnes

Oklahoma native, Tiannia Barnes actually started her career in IT/ project management. However, having long loved fashion and sketching, she eventually left that industry in pursuit of a career in shoe design. In 2013 she attended shoemaking school in Cleveland, Ohio, where she studied footwear design and pattern development. Not long after, her namesake brand was born. Tiannia still encourages young girls' interest in math and science through her mentoring of S.T.E.M. programs. Tiannia Barnes prices range from $350 for flats to $595 for the above pictured "Jackie" fringe sandal (available here).

Aminah Abdul-Jillil

Professional dancer and shoe designer, Aminah Abdul-Jillil is a favorite among boldfaced names. She's not only toured the world with Janet Jackson and Britney Spears as a backup dancer, but also seen her footwear on the likes of Rihanna and Miss Universe. Her bow pump rose to street style fame (and unfortunately became fodder for the knock-off set). Abdul-Jillil's shoes range in price from $165 for flats (and $185 for the above "Love" sandal) to $385 for crystal-embellished pumps. Shop here.

So, did we miss your favorite designer? Is there someone we need to add to our list? Please feel free to let us know!

*All images courtesy images unless otherwise noted.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Booze Clues: 6 Black-owned Wines & Spirits to Sip

Lift Every Glass and Sip

February is coming to a close, but before Black History Month ends, we want to make sure you know about a few Black-owned wine and spirits brands making history of their own. Whether you're into organic, gluten free, easy sippers or are riding the moonshine wave, there's something for you.

One80 Vodka

A bottle shot of black-owned One80 Vodka
Image via @One80Vodka on Instagram 

Founded by shoe designer, Becki Coakley and her husband, One80 Vodka is an ultra premium, small batch spirit distilled from corn and produced in Denver, CO. They've recently jumped into the flavored vodka fray with their blood orange offering. We actually paired one of their cocktails with a Becki Coakley shoe here.

Mouton Noir Wines

Black-owned Mouton Noire Wine
Image via @YouKnowMouton on Instagram

Sommolier Andre Hueston Mack initially founded Mouton Noir Wines in 2007 to provide distinctive garage wines for some of New York's best restaurants. Now available nationwide, the brand creates critically acclaimed wines, many with names and labels that infuse elements of skateboard, punk and hip-hop culture.

Still Moon Moonshine

Black-owned Still Moon Moonshine
Courtesy Image

Still Moon Moonshine bills itself as the "sophisticated sipping shine." Its 100% corn-distilled recipe originated long ago in the Carolinas, and has since been refined for a more delicate palate. Available in 100 proof Special Reserve and 60 proof flavors such as Strawberry, Peach Cobbler, Lemon Drop and Apple Pie, Still Moon is currently sold in Texas and Indiana. We're hoping it'll be sold in more areas soon.

Truvee Wines / Eco.Love Wines

Black-owned Truvee Wines
Courtesy Image
Black-owned wines
Courtesy Image

We originally told you about the McBride Sisters, the uncanny story of their connecting and their Truvee Wines last year in this post. Since then, they have not only expanded the team at California-based Truvee Wines and introduced new vintages, but have also added a new brand, Wines, to their portfolio. Made in New Zealand, operates with a focus on sustainable, environmentally friendly pracitices and offers Sauvignon Blac, Reisling and Pinot Noir varietals.

Bou'Jae Vodka

Black-owned BouJae Organic Vodka
Courtesy Image
Author, serial entrepreneur and divorced mother of 2, Stephania Laguer founded Bou'Jae Vodka in January 2015. Soon after, fellow mom-preneur, Nisha Ray partnered with the brand to help streamline operations while growing its distribution. As the first 100% organic, non-GMO, allergen-free vodka, Bou'Jae is currently launching in North Carolina and New Jersey, with plans to go nationwide soon.

Shoe Crazy Wine

Black-owned Shoe Crazy Wine Bottles
Image via @ShoeCrazyWine on twitter

Shoe Crazy Wine is the manifestation of founder, Gwen Hurt's tragedy-to-triumph story. After being laid-off and then getting into a debilitating car accident, the shoe lover and then-casual wine aficionado was inspired to turn her wine hobby into an actual business. In 2013, Shoe Crazy Wine was born, and it now offers a wide range of varietals from France and California.

Is there a black-owned wine, spirits or beer brand you love that we missed? Feel free to share in the comments! Maybe they'll appear in a pairing post or one of our round-ups.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Do Try this at Home: A Vday Cocktail from the Heart

For John Watson

My mother's father, John Watson was born in rural Alabama during the early part of the 20th century. He was a passionate storyteller, a loving grandfather, and a fan of the sauce, especially (as I recently learned) Four Roses Bourbon. He coined the term "hoop-n-doop" for his bourbon or actually any soothing drink, even going so far a jokingly applying it to a baby's bottle. So when I learned Four Roses was having a Valentine's Day cocktail contest, I jumped at a chance to pay him a bit of posthumous homage through a passion we share. A riff on the Old Fashioned, it includes one of his favorite condiments, Alaga Syrup. Without further ado:

Hoop-N-Doop for the Heart

2 oz Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon
2 teaspoons Alaga Syrup
2-3 dashes orange bitters

Blend Alaga and Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon over ice and add bitters. Stir with a barspoon and then pour over large ice cube into rocks glass and garnish with orange peel.

In this picture, I used a glass from my grandmother's house. I'm pretty sure he sipped from it at some point. I also chose four small rose buds because his nickname was Buddy. Cheers, Granddaddy!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Go Drink Here New York: Prosecco Pop Up

For the Love of Bubbles

Glasses of bubbly for Prosecco Pop Up

CitySip and New York Champagne Week founder, Blaine Ashley (who's also one of Shoes N Booze's fave bubbly personalities), is shining the spotlight on another sparkling wine with the first annual Prosecco Pop Up. This year's event will feature a month of curated Prosecco promotions at East Village restaurant & bar, IN VINO. Throughout the month of February the menu will feature suggested antipasti pairings and specially selected by-the-glass and bottle options. During Valentine's Day weekend, all guests will receive a complimentary glass of Prosecco to enjoy with their dinner.

Additionally, Blaine will partner with owner and beverage director, Keith Beavers to co-host IN VINO's Drink Lab on February 2nd and February 16th, entitled Prosecco: Getting to Know the Bubbs You Love. A $25 ticket will offer attendees the chance to sample a variety of Prosecco brands while learning what the fizzy sipper is all about. Snag your ticket HERE.