If you’re looking for a gift for your loved one, look no further than Harlem’s own gift shop, NiLu, located at 191 Malcolm X Blvd. in Central Harlem. After shopping at NiLu we think you’ll not only leave with a unique gifts and items for your home, but also a sense of community.
The shop, owned by husband and wife, Mark Pinn and Katrina Parris and named after their children Nigel and Luke, opened its doors in 2015. They founded NiLu to showcase independent makers, introduce their works to conscious shoppers that care about the meaning and impact of the products they buy, and create a vibrant space for the community. Many of their products are made locally in NYC and most of their products are made by BIPOC makers and artists.
As NiLu had to close during the height of the pandemic, they used the disruption to revitalize their brand and deepen their relationships with Harlem artists and makers who were also facing challenges. It’s hard for any business to bounce back from no revenue for four months, but with support from their landlord, Columbia Harlem-SBDC, loans like the one from Columbia University, and longtime customers, they not only survived but thrived.
After reopening in June of 2020, NiLu used the summer to promote the work of artisans and makers. This includes the start of the NiLu Village Market that uses the ample space outside the store to create a regularly occurring outdoor shopping experience that invites all artists to sell their creations, commission-free. Their new website also provides features that tell artists’ stories and highlight their works.
Speaking of their website, NiLu believes Black and brown makers need more representation in media and retail and their website helps promote just that. On ShopNiLu.com, which ships internationally, you can explore artist profiles, shop for items by lifestyle and product categories, or explore a curated collection, like the one created for Black Love Day on February 13th, a holiday founded by author Ayo Handy-Kendi. Below are a few gifts curated by Katrina and why she thinks they are great for all types of Black Love relationships.