Brown Aspiration: Stationery with a Touch of Melanin

Beth Adams, founder of Brown Aspiration wanted stationary that was more inclusive and represented her culture with positive images. Brown Aspiration is a premier stationery marketplace that celebrates Black Culture with positive images. The collection features pens, planners, notebooks, and backpacks in addition to eco-friendly options for conscious consumers.

What is Brown Aspiration?

Brown Aspiration Chicago Defender
“Woman of Worth” Planner

Beth Adams:  It’s a passion of mine. I love writing and journals. At work, while everyone has their laptops, I usually have a notebook. I noticed I couldn’t go down the aisle at a store without purchasing a journal or notebook but there was a lack of diversity.  I wanted something that spoke to me that was more geared towards the African American community and experience. So, I started the stationery line. It started with me making custom notebooks as gifts for friends and they fell in love with them and asked for more. I would do local fairs near my home in Maryland, and I would sell out quickly. I could not believe the demand. I wanted to build something that little girls would aspire to be.

Your Collection Features many Positive Images of Black Women. Why Was That Important to You?

Beth Adams: I’ve always been a firm believer in seeing an image or a representation of where you want to be or what you envision for yourself. Many of my books are positive images of black women because I feel like we aren’t always portrayed in a positive light, especially in media. The response has been amazing. During our first year, our website almost crashed on Black Friday. It became so much more than the sales but just the message of positive imagery of the black and brown community.

Which Products Would You Recommend for This Holiday Season?

Beth Adams: I’m a planner by nature so I always suggest the planners, pens, or journals. The cool thing about our planners is that you can start whenever you want. You don’t have to start in January to use them.

Brown Aspiration Chicago Defender
“Brown Sugar” Notebook Set

It’s Been a Tough Year for Small Business Owners. How Have You Continued to Grow Amid a Pandemic?

Beth Adams: Part of it was learning different things and experiencing some growing pains. I had to find new opportunities or create opportunities for my business. I had to put myself out there by attending stationary shows and such. I also had to spend capital on PR and Marketing. It was also important to have a mentor to help guide me through these things. The greatest challenge was access to capital. Despite having excellent credit and great products it was difficult for people to invest in a startup that didn’t’ have a brick and mortar. I put quite a bit of my own personal equity into my business and started researching and obtaining grants and such. It’s been a challenge but I’m slowly making it through and it’s proving to be a success.

Brown Aspirations products are trendy and colorfully designed and make great additions to your home office, back-to-school needs, or gifts for the stationery lover this holiday season.

For a complete look at the Brown Aspiration Collection, visit their website at


Danielle Sanders is a journalist and writer living in Chicago. Find her on social media @DanieSanders20 and @DanieSandersOfficial.


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