Marquita Pring may have just made her SI Swimsuit debut in the 2020 issue, but the model has been making her mark on the fashion industry for years, having started her career 16 years ago. Today, the 31-year-old uses her knowledge and status to help break barriers for models. From shape and size to skin color, the New York native proves beauty comes in many forms. We chatted with Pring in honor of Black History Month to learn about some of the Black causes and companies she supports.

What are some Black causes and organizations you support?

One organization that I am very passionate about is called Soul Fire Farm. They are located in upstate New York and are dedicated to ending racism and injustice within the food industry. That is so important, especially within the Black and brown communities. So often, white people have access to grocery stores, farmers markets and fresh produce. But when you go to a Black or brown neighborhood, their resources are much more limited. Soul Fire Farm has a co-op where they harvest and deliver fresh vegetables to people who are in need. Plus, they teach Black and brown people how to connect to the land and learn how to farm on their rooftops or homes. It’s incredible.

I also support the Lower East Side Girls Club. It’s an organization dedicated to helping young women pursue their dreams while giving them a safe space.

What are some of your favorite Black female-owned businesses?

The one I am obsessed with these days is called Golde. Their product is turmeric, golden milk, matcha, etc. My favorite thing is this cacao turmeric latte that you can just add some water and almond milk to, and it’s delicious. They also have an amazing face mask.

Another one is Berber Street Food. It’s in the West Village and is African cuisine. It’s owned and run by this woman named Chef Diana, who makes it a point to meet you. You feel like you’re in her home, and she is just cooking for you. I also love Bunna Café. If ever you get to Brooklyn, you have to choose Bunna Café. It’s Ethiopian food that you eat with your fingers, and the flavors are so rich. They are also known for doing traditional coffee ceremonies with music.

And lastly, Brother Vellies. It is run/owned/founded by Aurora James, this fantastic being within the fashion industry. She has started her own company and is also a huge advocate for Black women, especially in the fashion industry. Brother Vellies is a shoe/handbag/accessories company, and traditional African garments heavily and seriously inspire her. So, all of her pieces are handmade.

How can someone help and support Black businesses?

I think it’s really important that, at this point in the world, in our lives right now, with everything that is happening, we make a serious effort to support the Black community. If none of the things I’ve mentioned interest you, then start thinking about the things that do. Maybe it’s haircare, skincare or candles. Then think, Where can I spend my money? Many people are boycotting Amazon and thinking of other ways to purchase things, so add Black businesses to that list. It’s very important that we all start prioritizing Black companies and don’t just make it a trend. Be consistent.