In light of Forbes’ recent 30 Under 30 list last month – possibly the most diverse yet – we thought it. Find a summary of 30 of the most influential Black British creators and entrepreneurs that made the list. They’re all individually currently making their mark on our country’s culture. While there still aren’t enough faces in industries such as tech and business, we’re sure this will change in the coming years.
It’s also pleasing to see that, despite the pandemic, Black creators and businesses continue to carve out spaces for themselves and reach their audiences. Hopefully, this year’s list of influential Black creators under 30 will lead to even more being featured on next year’s list.
ART AND CULTURE
Fisayo Longe, 28
Founder, Kai Collective
Fisayo grew up in Nigeria, where marriage is intrinsic to culture. After dropping out of college, she set up Kai Collective, a size-inclusive fashion brand built around female confidence.
She has turned her $11,000 loan into a $550,000 a year business with more than 60,000 customers. Kai Collective supports two Nigerian organisations, the Mirabel Centre and STER, that help domestic abuse survivors. In only a short time, Longe has collaborated with Nike, Lancome, Shopify, and Google, among others.
Nicole Crentsil, 29
Co-founder, Black Girl Fest
Nicole co-founded Black Girl Fest, an organisation for Black women and non-binary people. It empowers them through education and by providing tools for professional success. The site currently has around 50,000 members.
Campbell Addy, 27
Founder, Campbell Addy Studios
Campbell is a Black queer man, and his artistic work centres around showcasing role models for all people. He has published a book, Unlocking Seoul, and started Nii Journal, which is a biannual art and culture publication and a modelling agency.
He has collaborated with Time, Vogue, Dazed, and the Wall Street Journal. His first solo show was in 2017 and he has taken part in a number of group shows.
Lungile Mhlanga, 28
Founder, Treats Club
Lungile founded Treats Club as a Black- and women-led desserts company. They make everything in-house and in small batches both for sale in their shops and online. Treats Club focuses on DIY baking kits and hot donut kits.
They have a physical store, which has opened in the last 12 months and sees massive lines whenever it’s open.
Jadé Fadojutimi, 27
Jade is a painter whose work focuses on memory and how we go about preserving and dealing with it. She had her first show at the Pippy Houldsworth Gallery in London in 2017, and continues to be represented there. She will participate in the upcoming Liverpool Biennial and has a show at the Hayward Gallery.
Her work has since been acquired by the Tate London, Walker Art Center, Baltimore Museum of Art, ICA Miami, Studio Museum in Harlem, Dallas Museum of Art, and Hepworth Wakefield.
Travis Alabanza, 25
Travis is an award winning writer, performer and theatre. Their pieces have been featured in the Guardian, BBC, Vice , metro and Gal-Dem. Other works in theatre and live performances include Royal Court Living Newspaper, Plaines Plough, Free Word Centre and more.
Jedidiah Duyile, 26
Founder, Loudbrand studios
Jedidiah started LoudBrand studios while working full time as an events coordinator. She was inspired by her African heritage and the fashion of the early 2000s. She committed to her brand full time when the pandemic forced her to stop working.
Aindrea Emelife, 26
Aindrea is an art historian whose work focuses on highlighting the impact of females and people of colour in the artistic world. She wrote a column for the Financial Times at 20, and has since been featured in GQ, ArtNet, and Vanity Fair, among others.
She was also appointed to the Mayor of London’s Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm.
Mariam Jimoh, 28
Mariam founded Oja as a delivery service specifically for local ethnic grocery stores. Its model focuses on providing fast, convenient, and eco-friendly deliveries from stores typically underrepresented on commercial delivery apps.
She previously set up another business while at university, WCAN. This was a network for Black women designed to tackle diversity and inclusion in the public world.
Tobi Ajala, 28
Tobi previously worked for Apple as a software engineer and used her experience and business knowledge to found TechTee in 2017. It’s a digital agency specifically for luxury products and high-end fashion companies.
It has been a major success, generating more than £300 million in revenue for its clients. TechTee has contributed content to more than 57 digital platforms, accruing 43 million visitors from more than 80 countries. Its clients include big names like Apple, Gucci, Deutsche Bank, M&S, and more.
Marcus Rashford, 23
Football player, Manchester United
Marcus’s success on the pitch is one thing, but perhaps his more notable success is his significant influence in philanthropy. Almost everyone will know about his impact on the Free School Meals fiasco in 2020, alongside which he raised more than £20 million for FareShare, a food charity.
He has since secured funding for 15 youth centres and is currently writing a series of children’s books.
Maro Itoje, 26
Rugby, England National Team
Maro plays lock in England’s national rugby team but has been equally important off the pitch. During the pandemic, he has helped secure laptops for homeschool learning and has shined light on the UK’s history curriculum, calling for reform.
Maro is very vocal about his identity in rugby and what it means to be Nigerian and English when playing what is a very patriotic (and somewhat racially charged) sport.
Nate Macabuag, 25
Nate founded Koalaa, a prosthetics company, after realising how restrictive the current system is for many people. Due to the cost and nature of prosthetics, around 35 million people don’t have access to the right equipment.
His company creates prosthetics that are modular, lightweight, and made from soft material. This design not only makes them easier to wear, but also means they can be fitted at a virtual clinic, which improves accessibility.
Tolúlope Ògúnremí, 22
Founder, Codes of Colour
Tolúlope founded Codes of Colour as a service for young Black people aged 11-25 to provide access to computer science courses such as app development and machine learning. She taught herself to code at the age of 13 and, upon entering the industry, realised how few Black people there were in professional roles.
Along with providing access to learning courses, Codes of Colour also supplies laptops and broadband accessibility to those in need.
SCIENCE AND HEALTHCARE
Tremaine Richard-Noel, 28
Head of Emerging Technology, Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust
Tremaine developed a digital service designed to monitor oxygen tanks. He created the technology in response to market gaps highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
He is also fronting an automation pilot across the NHS, which uses robotics and chatbots to reduce patient waiting times.
Sigourney Bell, 28
Co-founder, Black in Cancer
Sigourney is a PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge, where she is researching a specific type of paediatric brain tumour that involves testing novel compounds and therapies.
Alongside, she co-founded Black in Cancer, an organisation that highlights and promotes Black excellence in research and medicine. It also provides education to Black communities about early cancer diagnosis and advocacy.
RETAIL AND ECOMMERCE
Reece Wabara, 29
Founder, Maniere De Voir
After retiring from professional football, Reece founded Maniere De Voir in 2013. It is an online-only fashion retailer built on a direct to customer model, supplying items such as jeans, jackets, and casual wear.
He founded the business without any outside capital and has since generated more than £23 million in revenue across 1 million orders.
Cherish Reardon, 29
Co-founder, Popsy Clothing
Cherish co-founded Popsy Clothing in 2017 to supply vintage-style dresses and womenswear. It produces all of its items in the UK using ethical practices and generated a seven-figure turnover in 2020. In its short lifetime, the company has grown to 34 main employees.
MEDIA AND MARKETING
Timothy Armoo, 26
Timothy created Fanbytes as a social media marketing agency that has a specific focus on TikTok. The company has worked with brands including Nike and McDonald’s and mainly targets a GenZ audience.
During the last 12 months, the company has grown from 27 employees to 57, and recently launched a fund for Black businesses and creators.
Bolu Babalola, 29
Bolu released her debut novel, Love in Colour, in 2020 and it quickly became a Sunday Times bestseller and earned a placed on the Waterstones book of the year shortlist.
Bolu also serves as an ambassador for The World Literacy Foundation, which helps supply children with access to books and reading equipment.
Christian Facey, 28 and Wilfrid Obeng, 26
Christian and Wilfrid founded Audiomob as a novel form of mobile gaming advertising. Their platform allows ads to be played during gameplay rather than interrupting the flow.
They have managed to raise £2 million in funding for their business and have already worked with clients including Ministry of Sound and Warner.
Yomi Adegoke, 29
Yomi is a journalist whose work focuses on race, feminism, and popular culture. She is a regular columnist for The Guardian and British Vogue and has written guest columns for a range of other publications.
Alongside, Yomi has also co-written several books: Slay in Your Lane: The Black Girl Bible, Loud Black Girls and 20 Black Women Writers Ask: What’s Next?
Jessica Morgan, 27
Staff Writer, Refinery29
She also founded the Journalism Mentoring Scheme, a pro-bono platform designed to support student journalists.
Nadine White, 28
Journalist, The Independent
Nadine made history as Britain’s first race correspondent before joining The Independent. She works as an investigative journalist and is the voice behind such groundbreaking stories as mock slave auctions in British schools and anti-Black racism in the Labour Party. Her work on this subject led to party reform.
In 2020, Nadine became the first Black journalist to be shortlisted for the Paul Food Award, which is for significant contribution to investigative or campaigning journalism.
Hannah Ngakane, 28
Strategic Partnership Manager, Pinterest
Hannah manages partnership campaigns between Pinterest and brands like GUAP and Black Girl Fest that focus on social impacts. She also launched Pinterest’s first UK Black History Month campaign, Black Gold, in 2020.
Hannah hosts the podcast Walk the Walk, which discusses the successes and careers of Black leaders.
Simone Sargeant, 29
Commercial Director for Europe, Middle East and Africa, McCormick
Simone works as the commercial director for food manufacturer McCormick across its European, Middle Eastern, and African regions. She manages the commercial strategy for a business turnover of $100 million.
Alongside her professional work, Simone has founded an initiative designed to provide coaching for female entrepreneurs.
Shamillah Bankiya, 28
Vice President, Dawn Capital
Shamillah is VP of investment firm Dawn Capital, and is in charge of the company’s UK and Irish operations along with managing its developer tools and data infrastructure.
She was previously an investor at Softbank Vision Fund where she led investments in software and healthcare across Europe, the US, and Asia.
Olajide Olatunji, 27
Better known by his stage name KSI, Olajide released his debut album, Dissimulation, in 2020. It reached number two in the UK album charts and has had more than a billion streams to date. On the back of this success, KSI recently launched his own record label.
He is currently working on his second album, which features collaborations with artists including Yungblud, Craig David, and Anne-Marie. His 2021 tour is already sold out.
Bukky Bakray, 18
Bukky’s debut performance was in the independent film Rocks. Her role led to two British Independent Film Award nominations and two BAFTA nominations, including the Rising Star award.
Her next role is in the Netflix adaptation of Imran Mahmood’s novel, You Don’t Know Me.
Ms Banks, 26
Thyra Oji, known by her stage name Ms Banks, shot to international fame when she performed on Cardi B’s 2017 UK tour. She has performed on BBC radio and at the BRIT Awards.
During the pandemic, she launched a vlog series called BankOnIt, in which she performs music and discusses her upcoming career moves.
Jasmine Jobson, 25
Jasmine has won several prestigious awards in her short career so far. In 2019, she won Best Emerging Talent at the MViSA for her role in the Netflix series Topboy. In 2020, she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the BAFTAs. The same film, Surge, was selected to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.
Uzo Emenike, 26
Better known as MNEK, Uzo is a music producer and LGBTQ+ advocate. He has already worked with major musical names including Beyonce and Kylie Minogue, and was featured as a judge on series one of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK.
He released his debut solo album, Language, in 2018, but has an extensive discography to his name. His single, Head and Heart reached number one on the UK singles chart in 2020.
Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn, 26
Amarah-Jae found fame in Steve McQueen’s series Small Axe and has since starred as the lead in the film Lovers Rock. This film was chosen to premiere at both the Cannes Film Festival and the New York Film Festival in 2020. She was also nominated for the 2021 Broadcasting Press Guild Breakthrough Award and was labelled as a Star of Tomorrow by Screen Daily.
Arlo Parks, 20
Arlo’s work is inspired by her Black heritage, GenZ perspective, and mental health advocacy. Previously a poet, she released her debut albu, Collapsed in Sunbeams, in 2020. It peaked at number three on the UK album chart and led to her performing at the Glastonbury Experience in the same year. She has since become an ambassador for mental health charity Calm.
Temi Wilkey, 28
Temi has written for Netflix and is currently adapting the book Girl, Woman, Other for the screen. Her debut play, The High Table, won the Stage Debut Award for Best Writer in 2020. She is now working on a number of other projects in both the UK and USA alongside her work with the drag king company she founded, Pecs.
Lydia West, 27
Lydia has been featured in a number of high-profile TV shows, including It’s a Sin, Dracula, and Years and Years. She has also done voice work as Dorothy on an Audible version of The Wizard of Oz and will be shortly appearing in the film Text for You and the TV series Suspicion.