by Christopher Blomquist

Southern department-store chain Belk is expanding its list of vendors with the addition of more than a dozen diverse-owned brands. The brands–which feature products across apparel, home, beauty and accessories–celebrate and honor the cultures of underrepresented communities.

“Diversifying our product offerings is a key focus,” said Chris Kolbe, EVP, Chief Merchandising Officer at Belk, in a statement. “We want our customers to feel represented and at home when they shop at Belk through the products they use and the clothes they wear. By partnering with a diverse group of business owners, we’re able to do just that, while also fueling the next generation of entrepreneurs.”

This Black History Month also marks the one-year anniversary of the launch of Belk’s Culture Shop, a curated boutique on that supports and celebrates the culture of underrepresented communities year-round, which includes multiple Black-owned brands. The initiative was created in 2021 by Belk’s Black business resource group, B.R.I.G.H.T., in partnership with its Director of Diversity and Inclusion, to build upon the diversity of the retailer’s product offerings and vendors.

Some Black-owned brands sold at Belk

“The Culture Shop goes beyond category growth and new offerings,” said Nir Patel, Belk CEO. “It’s about the creators and visionaries behind the brands and the communities they represent. We’re extremely proud of the expansion of our inventory, and will continue to actively add new diverse brands that best represent our customers and communities.”

Some of the new additions include Tones of Melanin, which was created by Norfolk State University grad Ashley Jones to bring awareness to more than 100 historically Black colleges and universities nationwide by merging streetwear with collegiate wear, and SPGBK Watches, which draws upon the strength and inspiration from the community, culture and childhood experienced by its founders growing up in Fayetteville, N.C.

Founded in 1888, Belk operates nearly 300 stores in 16 Southeastern states.