Commerce of Color is a HuffPost series dedicated to showcasing, spotlighting and highlighting brands and communities that are often ignored in the commerce industry despite their massive buying power and influence.
A study released in 2020 showed Black Americans spent an estimated $109.4 billion on leisure travel in 2019, representing roughly 13.1% of the U.S. leisure travel market. The study also revealed 54% of Black travelers in the U.S. agreed that they are more likely to visit a destination if they see Black representation in travel advertising.
With such large buying power and the seemingly easy fix of simply showing more Black faces in travel imagery, many Black travelers are becoming the change they want to see. One of them is Skylar Marshai, a New York City-based content creator and frequent flyer.
“I love seeing myself in different spaces. I feel like I found some of the most beautiful pieces of myself in the pockets of the world,” Marshai told me.
“I love the surge and visibility of Black people traveling the world and taking up as much space as possible and reclaiming ground that was taken from us,” she said. “It is such a privilege to take up space and to see myself in spaces, but then allow other people who don’t look like me to see me.”
Marshai’s vibrant, often viral Instagram photos show her traveling with her partner, Temi Ibisanmi, in various scenic destinations including the Maldives, France and Puerto Rico.
“When I first started to travel, Black people were not a part of these travel and hotel agency campaigns; even for tourism boards and Instagram pages, we didn’t see ourselves,” Marshai said. “When it came to influencers and bloggers, it wasn’t the norm to see Black skin across the world, even though it is. We live in these spaces, but for some reason the representation of how it was being captured wasn’t there. So when my partner and I started traveling, people just ate it up and they were such avid fans of it.”
Marshai’s Instagram followers are also fans of her travel accessories and outfits, as evident in the many comments under her posts asking where she gets almost everything. And to spread the wealth, I asked her her to share the must-have travel essentials she can’t leave her house (or country) without. Check them out below.
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Away’s cult favorite carry-on suitcase
Calpak Hue toiletry bag
Marshai said she uses Calpak’s toiletry bag to store her makeup and other small items. It comes in colors like moss and pink sand, is made of scratch-resistant faux leather and has multiple pockets to store your tiny essentials.
A GoPro dome port
A first aid kit
Marc Fisher’s Chiara strappy sandal
“I love sandals that have a little heel, like the Marc Fisher ones,” Marshai said. “This is also why I take a first aid kit because I stay messing up my feet wearing sandals, and I need Band-Aids all the time. That is the part of Instagram you don’t see: my limping around after.”
Black Girl Sunscreen
Topicals skin care
“I recently got literally every one of Topicals’ products for all the women in my family, because I was trying to only shop Black-owned for Christmas. They have a brightening and clearing serum, that’s what I use on my face. And then for my body I use the hydrating and soothing mist,” she said.
Riot Swim swimwear
Sony Alpha a7 III mirrorless 4K video camera