Congratulations, you’ve made it to the end of 2023. It has been a year of regaining confidence in our strides in a post-lockdown society full of highs and lows. As 2023 comes to an end, it is important to reflect on the highs and celebrate the individuals who have gone out of their way to inspire us, make an impact and drive culture forward.
At REVOLT, it is an honor to showcase and congratulate the changemakers who’ve made remarkable power moves this year. We celebrate these key players with our Power List 2023 while spotlighting individuals and groups who’ve made significant contributions across various industries. We’re applauding visionaries in music, entertainment, sports, fashion and social justice who have taken up space and created lanes for themselves, their ideas and others’ dreams. While you may have heard of some people on this list, it’s our hope that you will be introduced to some new influential figures.
Presenting the REVOLT Power List 2023 below.
Hip Hop’s 50th Anniversary
Hip Hop’s 50th anniversary was a yearlong party and we all had an invite. Hip Hop fans celebrated the pioneers and legends who made the genre one of the most popular and influential in the world.
Rap was honored through tributes at awards shows, concerts, exhibits and more — including a Hip Hop birthday party hosted by Vice President Kamala Harris.
Award season also paid homage to the genre with curated tributes at the 2023 Grammys, BET Awards, VMAs and BET Hip Hop Awards.
After presenting a Questlove-curated anniversary celebration at the Grammy Awards, CBS and The Recording Academy aired “A Grammy Salute to 50 Years of Hip Hop,” a two-hour concert special with performances from artists across generations, including Public Enemy, MC Lyte, LL Cool J, Will Smith, Queen Latifah, Latto, Rick Ross and more.
Another memorable tribute was the Hip Hop 50 Live concert at Yankee Stadium. This event was particularly special since it occurred in the Bronx on Aug. 11, the exact date that Hip Hop was born. The concert featured performances from a long list of icons, such as Nas, Lil Kim, Snoop Dogg, Lil Wayne and Lauryn Hill.
The media also recognized this significant milestone. Publications like EBONY, Billboard, Men’s Health and Cassius published issues with Hip Hop icons on each cover. NPR compiled a list of its “Tiny Desk” concerts, including popular performances from Trina and Juvenile.
From the beginning of the year to its very end, Hip Hop and the artists who made the genre what it is were honored for their contributions. It was a pleasure to witness the culture receive the recognition it deserves.
Usher cemented his spot as the King of R&B as he crushed it every night on stage at the Park MGM in Las Vegas.
The R&B legend’s residency delivered big-budget, top-notch performances with crisp choreography, stellar vocals and even shirtless, old-school R&B crooner moments that proved exactly why he’s been in the game for more than 30 years. In 2023, Usher was in such high demand that he took the show overseas for a special four-night “Rendez-Vous Á Paris” at La Seine Musicale during Paris Fashion Week.
Along with the living legend’s unquestionable talent and hit songs, social media and fan appreciation played a significant role in making him a 2023 powerhouse. Since its debut in 2021, Usher’s residency has become a go-to stop for A-List celebrities. Clips of the singer serenading stars like Issa Rae, Gabrielle Union, Keke Palmer, Taraji P. Henson, Saweetie and Janelle Monáe showcased Usher’s magnetic nature and his ability to make women — whether partnered or single — feel like the only ones in the room. The fellas didn’t shy away from Vegas either; stars like Dwyane Wade, Kevin Hart, LeBron James and 21 Savage also attended Mr. Raymond’s shows.
The R&B vet’s star power and charisma are unmatched, and in what feels like an overdue request, he will be taking on one of the biggest stages as the headliner for the 2024 Super Bowl Halftime Show. The beloved recording artist made major moves in 2023, including the bittersweet conclusion of his three-year run performing in Las Vegas. However, Usher’s reign is far from over because he announced a world tour that will start after his impending halftime performance.
“Amapiano to the world” isn’t just a phrase; it’s Uncle Waffles’ mission. Hailing from Eswatini, formerly known as Swaziland, the 23-year-old DJ has dedicated herself to bringing the vibrant dance music of South Africa to the global forefront.
Amapiano, which translates to “the pianos,” is a genre of music that blends various styles like house, jazz and addictive rhythms that instantly make you want to dance. Uncle Waffles, born Lungelihle Zwane, has used social media to immerse us in her high-energy DJ sets, which also give us a peek into the incredibly lively party scenes in South Africa and other parts of the world.
What distinguishes Uncle Waffles from other artists is her undeniable stage presence, dance moves and ability to draw her audience’s attention, not only to the music but to herself as a performer.
2023 was an all-gas, no-brakes year for the young talent. The superstar made history as the first Amapiano DJ to headline at Coachella. She even performed as a headliner at the first-ever REVOLT WORLD.
In 2023 alone, Uncle Waffles received a GQ Men of the Year Award, was nominated for a BET Award, graced the cover of Forbes Africa and headlined her own tour. Her album ASYLUM received two Grammy nominations, and her hit song “Yahyuppiyah,” featuring Justin99, Tony Duardo and infectious choreography, took over the internet. We haven’t quite mastered it yet, but maybe in 2024?
Uncle Waffles is a unique artist who uses her talent to connect international audiences to African music, and fortunately, it doesn’t look like she’s stopping anytime soon.
To say that Beyoncé dominated 2023 would be an understatement. It all started on the first day of Black History Month when she announced the “RENAISSANCE WORLD TOUR“ without warning, which isn’t unusual for Mrs. Carter — she loves to shake the table.
Beyoncé’s seventh studio album, RENAISSANCE, earned nine Grammy nominations, including the most coveted, Album of the Year. That recognition alone made history, as she tied with her husband, JAY-Z, for the title of most Grammy-nominated artist of all time.
At the 2023 ceremony, Beyoncé won three awards, making her the most decorated artist in Grammy history. Following her multiple wins, she graced the cover of Vogue France to commemorate an exclusive collaboration with Balmain on 16 designs inspired by each song on RENAISSANCE. The looks provided great inspiration for the 32-time Grammy winner’s worldwide trek.
The “RENAISSANCE WORLD TOUR” was the hot ticket item of the summer, as Beyoncé fans and celebrities attended concerts across Europe and North America in their finest fashions. Queen Bey’s tour was particularly special because it was the first time she took the stage with her daughter, 11-year-old Blue Ivy Carter.
After grossing a whopping $579 million on the musical expedition, Beyoncé didn’t stop there. On Dec. 1, she released her concert flick, RENAISSANCE: A FILM BY BEYONCÉ, which encompassed the 39-city world tour. As if that wasn’t enough, the music mogul also announced the release of her final adidas x IVY PARK collection and a new fragrance called CÉ NOIR. Beyoncé kept our purses open this year, but every dime was worth it.
Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott made an indelible mark in history in 2023. This year, the rapper, singer, songwriter and producer was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, making her the first woman in rap to do so. The honor came right on time with Hip Hop turning 50.
The Virginia native received the recognition for her decades of innovation and creativity in the music industry. Elliott’s induction was introduced by fellow MC, actress and producer Queen Latifah.
“Trust me, nothing sounded the same after Missy came on the scene,” Latifah said. After the initiation, Elliott performed a medley of her greatest songs that included hits like “Get Ur Freak On,” “Pass That Dutch” and “Lose Control.”
The MC has kept her music fresh with imaginative ideas like reversing the track on “Work It,” releasing creative music videos for songs like “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” and more. Outside of her projects, Elliott’s delivered masterful songwriting and production with artists such as Beyoncé, Nas, Timbaland, Aaliyah, Mariah Carey, Ciara — the list goes on.
This year, the music titan also graced the cover of ESSENCE Magazine‘s 2023 festival issue, which spotlighted her as a headliner for the legendary event. There’s nothing Missy Elliott can’t do, which is why she’s on our power list.
Dr. Yusef Salaam
Dr. Yusef Salaam, one-fifth of the Exonerated Five, turned tragedy into triumph when he won a seat on the New York City Council in November. He ran unopposed and will be representing District 9 in Harlem.
In 1990, Salaam was wrongfully convicted of a 1989 rape that occurred in Central Park and served seven years in prison, along with four other members of the Exonerated Five –Antron McCray, Korey Wise, Raymond Santana and Kevin Richardson — who each served between five and 13 years. DNA evidence proved their innocence in 2002, and they received a $41 million settlement from New York City.
According to NPR, Salaam’s campaign was focused on combating gentrification and poverty in Harlem.
Lynae Vanee is a social media standout who uses her platform of over 1 million followers to inform others while “keeping it Black, but keeping it brief.” Using her famous “Parking Lot Pimpin’” series, she educates her audience on racial injustice, world events, politics and culture.
The Spelman College and Boston University graduate has an exclusive interview series titled “The Let Out,” which features special guests like Vice President Kamala Harris. Vanee also has a podcast, “Hold For Maintenance,” that she hosts with fellow content creators Obio Jones and Sim Simma.
Vanee’s informative and thought-provoking content has led her to be recognized by TikTok as a Black History Month Visionary Voice of 2023. Vanee has also been nominated twice for the NAACP Outstanding Social Media Personality Image Award. At ESSENCE Fest, Vanee was the 2023 winner of the well-deserved CROWN Reel Impact Award.
Her content showcases how social media can make a positive impact. The digital creator is taking her “Parking Lot Pimpin” series on the road and we hope she’s bringing it to a city near us.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis became a political icon when she led the prosecution in the racketeering case against Former President Donald Trump and his alleged attempts to change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. Willis indicted Trump and 18 other individuals, alleging that the group — including Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani — assisted Trump in an illegal attempt to rig the results.
While Trump’s legal counsel is pushing for the trial to take place post-presidential election, Willis is requesting to bring the case to trial in August 2024, according to Axios. Willis wasn’t elected as the first Black woman district attorney of Fulton County for nothing! She holds firmly to her decisions and isn’t afraid to go up against the powers that be to do so.
Keke Palmer doesn’t call herself the “Big Boss” for no reason. She is not a newcomer to hard work, as she’s been acting since she was 9 years old; however, this year was particularly special because the 30-year-old star gave birth to her son, Leodis Andrellton Jackson.
Since then, the new mother has been on fire. Palmer has her hand in many projects like the “Baby, This Is Keke Palmer” podcast — which featured an exclusive interview with Vice President Kamala Harris — and her show “Dear Keke” under her own production company, KeyTV. Palmer added the title “cover girl” to her resume as she showed out for The Cut, People, and ESSENCE with her fashion partner-in-crime, Sergio Hudson.
Music was another business venture that the multihyphenate embarked on. In May, the Emmy winner released her album, Big Boss, as well as an accompanying film that she wrote and directed. She also took her project on the road for “The Big Boss tour” across the country.
Palmer was also busy on the hosting front and was tapped to helm the 2023 Soul Train Awards. This upcoming year is looking fruitful for the longtime star, as she will be working alongside Eddie Murphy in an Amazon MGM Studios comedy, as well as heading to the Emmys with a second nomination in the Outstanding Host for a Game Show category.
Halle Bailey became everyone’s favorite mermaid as she starred in Disney’s live-action version of The Little Mermaid. Touching videos of young Black girls witnessing another princess who looked like them in the movie’s trailer flooded the internet. Bailey had an impeccable press run for the classic film, including covers on EBONY, British Vogue, V Magazine, Cosmopolitan and Vogue Arabia.
Despite the racist criticism when her role was announced, the actress and singer prevailed as the film grossed $560 million worldwide. 2023 was the year that Bailey stepped fully into her acting bag — she’s starring in yet another classic and highly anticipated movie, the musical adaptation of Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple.” She’ll play Young Nettie. While the multitalented star has established herself as an actress, she hasn’t stayed away from music in the slightest. In August, the young superstar released her very first solo single, “Angel,” which garnered her first Grammy nomination as a solitary artist.
Bailey is on the road to EGOT status and we’ll be rooting for her along the way.
Nicole Beharie’s artistry is unrivaled, especially when she has delivered impeccable performances in movies like 42 and Miss Juneteenth.
The Juilliard-trained actress is no stranger to witnessing her acting clips going viral on the internet; her stellar performance in an episode of “Black Mirror” resurfaces on the web time and time again. This year, Beharie joined the season three cast of popular Apple TV series “The Morning Show.”
Beharie had another viral moment this year with her episode three performance as Christina Hunter, a new anchor on the network. In the installment, Hunter faced off with older white anchor Cybil Richards (Holland Taylor) after an email leak revealed racist remarks Richards made about her. The scene dove into a disconcerting experience that many Black women face in the workplace — systemic racism and its byproduct, unequal pay. Beharie’s performance during the uncomfortable yet realistic episode was praised by many including EGOT-winner Viola Davis, who commented, “Awesome!!! Compelling!!! Honest!!!” on “The Morning Show’s” Instagram post of the clip. Beharie was recently nominated for a Critics Choice Award for her performance.
Many have followed Beharie’s career for years and we can’t wait to see her on the fourth season of the Emmy-winning series. She has also recently signed with new management, and we hope this means we’ll be seeing more of the one-of-a-kind talent in 2024.
Keith Lee has become a lifeline and beacon of hope for restaurants struggling to stay in business. The 27-year-old’s video reviews from his car are so respected that his name has become a verb. If a restaurant has been “Keith Lee’d,” there’s a high chance that his review will cause a significant customer increase.
Along with using his honest clips to increase customer growth for small businesses, Lee uses his influence to raise money for business owners. After reviewing Southern Taste Seafood, a Black-owned food truck in Las Vegas, Lee helped raise over $30,000, which assisted the owner, Gary Shanks, in regaining his footing after experiencing financial setbacks. Lee was also able to raise funds for another restaurant owner who was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.
The influencer’s TikTok audience of 15.4 million highly values his stamp of approval, and he does not charge a dime for a review. Out of the kindness of his heart, the rising star answers DMs from small business owners or employees and also finds places to review on his own.
As his foodie commentary captured public interest, the former MMA fighter took the show and his family on the road to try out different restaurants across the United States. They have created an anonymous system in which items are ordered under a different name, so that the now-recognizable food critic can give an honest review without any preferential treatment.
In November, Lee’s Atlanta, Georgia reviews caused a stir, which opened up a much-needed conversation about restaurant practices in the city. The viral visit to the Peach State resulted in outlets like Rolling Stone, CNN and The New York Times publishing articles that highlighted his impact.
If there is anything to learn from Lee this year, it’s that kindness, honesty and integrity can go a long way.
Isaac Hayes III
This year, Isaac Hayes III made incredible strides in the tech entrepreneurial space. Hayes III, the son of the late musician and actor Isaac Hayes, is the first Black founder to raise $10 million in crowdfunding.
His social media platform, Fanbase, is a subscription-based app that allows users to monetize the photo and video content they produce through engagement from followers.
The entrepreneur and record producer wanted to create an environment where Black creatives are given recognition and compensation for their contributions — especially since many non-Black influencers profit from trends started by POC content creators.
In a 2022 interview with REVOLT, Hayes explained why he founded Fanbase in 2018.
“It’s really important that everybody, moving forward, is able to monetize their content [and] capitalize off the new world that’s about to come in the next five or 10 years,” he said.
As many social media users are leaving platforms like Twitter, Fanbase has created the perfect space for their ideas and creativity.
Pinky Cole has been a force to be reckoned with in 2023. The 36-year-old founder of the Slutty Vegan restaurant chain grew into an entrepreneurial role model for many budding business owners.
In 2018, the former television producer founded the plant-based restaurant in a shared kitchen-turned-food truck after her Jamaican-American restaurant burned down in a fire in 2016. Five years after its start, the Slutty Vegan franchise is now valued at $100 million. The establishment, which was created to satisfy food cravings on a plant-based diet, has become a go-to restaurant with a creative social media presence and standout branding that makes people want to get #SLUTTIFIED.
There are currently 11 locations across Atlanta, Duluth, Jonesboro, Dallas, Birmingham and New York City. Cole is also the owner of Bar Vegan in Atlanta.
Because of her impressive entrepreneurial acumen, Cole is supporting budding moguls as a judge on REVOLT’s business competition show, “Bet on Black.” In September, the business maven was also recognized on TIME’s 2023 TIME100 Next list.
All in all, Pinky Cole’s entrepreneurial journey is inspiring and it’s only up from here for her empire.
Rashad Bilal and Troy Millings
Rashad Bilal and Troy Millings are making it their mission to ensure financial literacy is taught within the Black community.
The lifelong friends-turned-business partners launched the popular “Earn Your Leisure” podcast and business in 2019. Bilal and Millings have created a media empire surrounding wealth-building and more.
The partners have also founded Invest Fest, a business festival created for budding entrepreneurs to educate themselves on various topics like generating revenue, securing funding, and ownership. This year’s festival featured many keynote sessions, including a conversation with billionaire and philanthropist Robert Smith as well as entertainment mogul Steve Harvey.
The dream duo is currently providing many educational tools to reach one goal: Financial freedom.
The billionaire club gained another member this year — five-time NBA Champion and entrepreneur Earvin “Magic” Johnson Jr.
The former Los Angeles Laker has an expansive business portfolio that includes part-ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Sparks, and Football Club. In 2023, Johnson became a minority owner of the Washington Commanders, which increased his net worth to $1.2 billion dollars, making him the fourth professional athlete to achieve the monetary feat.
Johnson reached new heights in 2023, but the mogul has been sewing his entrepreneurial seeds for decades. The Basketball Hall of Famer is the former part-owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, and in 1998, he partnered with former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz to bring the cafes to under-resourced communities.
It’s safe to say the 64-year-old has always been ahead of the game in the realm of business and we’ll be expecting more moves from Johnson next year.
Arian Simone and Ayana Parsons
Arian Simone and Ayana Parsons’ bravery secured a spot for the entrepreneurs on our Power List.
Simone and Parsons founded Fearless Fund, an Atlanta-based venture capital firm created to assist businesses owned by women of color. The fund has invested in various projects, including widely known brands like The Lip Bar and Slutty Vegan.
The firm is currently under attack by Edward Blum — the man behind the overturning of affirmative action — and his organization, the American Alliance for Equal Rights. The AAER filed a lawsuit against the fund on Aug 2., claiming that the venture capital organization’s $20,000 Fearless Strivers Grant for Black women entrepreneurs is racially biased and a violation of the 1866 Civil Rights Act.
The grant was blocked in October, but Simone and Parsons haven’t been afraid to fight back. With the help of civil rights attorney Ben Crump, the co-founders are fighting against systemic racism and advocating for racial equity.
On Dec. 6, Crump and his legal team filed an appeal with the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Georgia to restore the grant program.
While we wait for a decision, we want to applaud Simone and Parsons for their resilience.
2023 proved that Simone Biles’ only competition is herself.
After taking a much-deserved two-year break to take care of herself and enjoy the sweet moments of life, like marrying Green Bay Packers safety Jonathan Owens, the seven-time Olympic medalist came back to the world of gymnastics with force.
In October, Biles had everyone talking when she competed in the World Artistic Gymnastic Championships in Antwerp, Belgium. Per NBC News, she earned her sixth all-around world title a decade after she won her first, on the same stage, at the age of 16. Biles took home four gold medals, increasing her number of World Championship and Olympic medal wins to 37. These medals broke and extended her world record as the most decorated gymnast of all time. As we approach the Paris Olympics in 2024, we expect that Biles will further cement her GOAT status.
As astounding as it is to witness the young athlete make history time and time again, she also showed that prioritizing self-care doesn’t have to stop you from getting back to doing what you love most.
Anyone who counted Sha’Carri Richardson out should be rethinking that decision.
After receiving a one-month suspension for testing positive for cannabis use in 2021, the ambitious Tokyo Olympics hopeful fell victim to intense public scrutiny. The young athlete also received negative comments about her appearance, personality and self-confidence, which is a familiar experience for many Black female athletes.
Richardson did not let those words get to her as she stepped back onto the track to compete.
At the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest, the 23-year-old won her first major World Championship title after completing the 100-meter race in 10.65 seconds. This win made Richardson the first American to earn a 100-meter world title in six years. Shortly after winning the world title in Hungary, Richardson competed in the Zurich Diamond League Meet and earned yet another 100-meter win with 10.88 seconds.
Fortunately, Richardson’s hard work is not going unnoticed as she received the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Athlete of the Year for Women Award at the USA Track and Field’s Night of Legends ceremony in December.
When Richardson said, “I’m not back, I’m better,” she meant it, and we hope she scores more wins at the 2024 Olympics.
It is evident that Angel Reese is a mega-talented athlete and the 21-year-old is becoming a brand right before our eyes.
The LSU star rose to fame during the 2023 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championships. During the final game against the Iowa Hawkeyes, Reese did John Cena’s famous “You can’t see me” wave, pointing at her ring finger in a gesture toward Iowa’s Caitlin Clark. Even though Clark performed the gesture earlier in the season, Reese was the only one criticized for engaging in behavior that is common in competitive sports.
The comments and critics didn’t stop Reese from celebrating the LSU Tigers’ 102-85 victory over the Hawkeyes. Ever since then, Reese has been booked, busy and receiving the recognition she deserves, including being honored as the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
Additionally, the ESPY Awards named Reese Best Breakthrough Athlete, and she has become one of the highest-earning student-athletes, according to USA Today, with $1.7 million in NIL deals that include endorsements with Reebok, PlayStation, Amazon and more.
With a nickname like “Bayou Barbie,” it was only right for Reese to step into her beauty bag this year. In May, Mielle Organics signed Reese as a brand ambassador.
The future is looking bright for the young star, and we’re excited to see what’s next.
NFL star Jalen Hurts made history during Super Bowl LVII, which was his very first championship game. Not only did he play in the first Super Bowl with two Black starting quarterbacks, but he also scored three touchdowns and broke the record for rushing yards by a QB. Although the Philadelphia Eagles were defeated by the Kansas City Chiefs, Hurts’ performance was one for the books.
Hurts is only 25 years old, and this year, he became one of the highest-paid athletes in NFL history. The quarterback signed a $255 million, five-year extension contract with the Philadelphia Eagles, making his annual salary $51 million. On the endorsement front, the athlete and businessman signed a deal with Jordan Brand.
Additionally, Hurts’ accomplishments are being recognized by some of the biggest legacy publications. The Philadelphia Eagle was recognized as one of TIME’s rising talents and also covered ESSENCE‘s May/June cover, where he embraced his new role as the internet’s latest crush.
Hurts is taking the NFL by storm and securing himself as a brand beyond football.
Coco Gauff left the junior leagues and started her career as a professional tennis player at the age of 14. Five years later, all of her hard work and practice paid off when she won her first Grand Slam at the 2023 U.S. Open. This historic win made the now-19-year-old the youngest American to win this title since Serena Williams in 1999.
Gauff’s work ethic and spirit make it clear that she’s here to say. At her young age, she was able to stand up for herself during her first 2023 U.S. Open match when she called out an umpire for failing to take action after she saw her 35-year-old opponent, Laura Siegemund, stalling between points. Gauff’s strength and confidence exemplify her love and passion for the game, which are necessary qualities for longevity as an athlete.
Gauff’s U.S. Open may have been her first major title, but it certainly won’t be her last.
A’ja Wilson led the Las Vegas Aces in a 70-69 victory against the New York Liberty in the WNBA Finals after scoring 24 points and 16 rebounds. The 27-year-old is familiar with this kind of victory because the Aces came out on top in the 2022 championship game, making their latest triumph the first time that a WNBA team has won two years in a row since the LA Sparks.
Wilson’s performance on the court showed exactly why she was selected as a first-round draft pick in 2018. Now, five years later, the Aces center was selected as an All-Star, named the 2023 WNBA Finals’ Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year, which makes her the eighth WNBA player to have more than one defense player title.
When she’s off the court, Wilson spends time attending Usher concerts and creating social media videos with her teammates. She’s just like us, which makes her super easy to root for. Hopefully, Wilson can break more records in 2024.
Milan Harris, founder of Milano Di Rouge, has become a hard-hitter in the luxury fashion space. The streetwear brand’s mission is to “Make dreams reality,” and the ambitious entrepreneur did just that. She started the brand in her mother’s house in 2012 and now, 11 years later, it has garnered $80 million in sales, according to Forbes. The luxury fashion label was also recognized in the 2023 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in the United States.
Harris is making major mogul moves and expanding her business portfolio. Along with investing in real estate, the Philadelphia native has founded other companies like the Womanaire and Mamanaire clubs in order to support entrepreneurial women and mothers like herself. Harris is also bringing a taste of her hometown to Los Angeles as the co-founder of College Boy Cheesesteaks.
Harris wears many hats as a mother and businesswoman and we have a feeling that more of her dreams will come to fruition in 2024.
Anifa Mvuemba is the mastermind behind Hanifa, the luxury fashion it-girl brand that has us running to grab our purses every time a collection drops. The designer uses her Congolese roots as inspiration for her colorful, intricate and high-quality designs that look great on everybody.
In April, Hanifa launched the Bloom collection, which included beautiful pieces in vibrant colors that were perfect for spring and summer. Later on in the year, during New York Fashion Week, the brand launched the Hanifa in the City collection, which was inspired by the major fashion city. Celebrities like Sheryl Lee Ralph, Cardi B, Jennifer Hudson and Coco Jones were spotted in the popular brand this year.
In 2023, the luxury label tapped into the wedding market with the launch of Hanifa Bridal in October. The ready-to-wear collection debuted with a runway show at the Salamander Resort in Virginia. Each piece in the collection is elegant with its own personality. Any bride-to-be will be able to find a Hanifa dress that’s perfect for their wedding day or their Pinterest board.
When we’re ready for the altar, we know exactly what we’ll be wearing. 2024 Fashion Week is on its way, too, and we’ll keep our wallets nearby for the next Hanifa launch.
Brandon Blackwood rose to popularity in 2020 after releasing the End Systemic Racism Tote bag, using fashion as an avenue for social justice. Since then, Blackwood has continued to release high-quality and unique bags that make a statement.
This year, he was nominated for Accessory Designer of the Year at the 2023 CFDA Fashion Awards. Although he’s built a brand known for luxury bags, Blackwood is expanding his empire with clothing, shoes and an outerwear collection. In March, Brandon Blackwood New York made its footwear debut, which earned the company a Launch of the Year Award at the 2023 Footwear News Achievement Awards.
More and more stars are being seen in his looks. At the 2022 Emmy Awards, Sheryl Lee Ralph wore a custom Brandon Blackwood gown and bag. He also dressed Beyoncé during the “RENAISSANCE WORLD TOUR” and Megan Thee Stallion at the 2023 VMAs.
The respected designer has been on a roll, and the bag — pun intended — will only get bigger in 2024.
Aurora James is a fashion designer and entrepreneur who is using her platform to advocate for inclusivity in the world of business. In 2020, she founded The Fifteen Percent Pledge, a nonprofit organization that partners with large retailers to offer 15 percent of their shelves to Black-owned businesses.
Since launching the pledge, the organization has been able to work with major companies like Macy’s and Nordstrom. The pledge has also produced over $10 billion in revenue for Black-owned businesses. The ultimate goal is to accumulate $1.4 trillion of wealth for Black businesses by 2030. Because of her hard work and advocacy, James was named one of TIME’s Most Influential People of 2021.
James has been a business owner since 2013 when she founded the luxury accessories line Brother Vellies. The fashion label is focused on upholding African design methods and prioritizing sustainability with many authentic, handmade offerings. This year, James was nominated for a CFDA Accessory Designer of the Year Award and covered the April 2023 Issue of FASHION Magazine. James also released a memoir titled “Wildflower” in May.
She continues to push the needle forward for change, which is why she has secured a spot on our list.