The African Smart Home Is Here, Thanks To These 2 Sistas

Most retailers don’t curate brands that prioritize “Afrocentric” culture-specific needs for cooking, personal styling, decorating, and organizing their homes. JOONAFRICA, however, caters to people who have a deep appreciation for the “Afropolitan” aesthetic. 

JOONAFRICA is an on-demand digital printing platform cultivating the on-going demand for new inventions and creations that reflect or improve the Black experience. The key to JOONAFRICA’s distinction is custom made goods. They take popular designs from Afrocentric creators and influencers and transform them into tech accessories, home essentials, and gifts. From Mudcloth wallpaper to Black celebrity posters, every bit of BLACK pride can be delivered to you. Perhaps most exciting is JOONAFRICA’s ability to blend Afropolitan style with cutting edge tech products. Their custom made, Kente print smartwatch bands are the perfect accessory to display your pride and sense of fashion, while on the go. Smartwatches aren’t simply a gadget, anymore — from blood pressure monitoring to home security, they’ve become an essential part of our daily experience and with JOONAFRICA, it can also be a constant source of black power and pride.

“Our products are a reflection of WHO we are and WHAT we stand for. Generational research recently conducted by the Alliance Data businesses indicates that 41% of consumers are loyal to the brands that offer them the opportunity to personalize products to create something that is bespoke to them. Currently, there is no mainstream online home department store that curates and creates a collection of brands that prioritizes one’s culture-specific needs as it relates to African home goods. That’s where we come in!”

-JOONAFRICA founders

Chinonye D. Egbulem and Sarah-June Benjamin are the founders of JOONAFRICA. The pair met during their senior year of high-school and immediately clicked over their diasporic background and entrepreneurial mindsets. June was just three days old when her family was forced to flee Liberia as refugees from the war-torn country. At the age of 27, somehow she found herself dwindling down the end of a long and arduous journey as a dual degree law student and single mom of two girls. In the same year that she was awarded a prestigious law fellowship and offered an opportunity to co-author a scholarly book, she surprised everyone: after she graduated and passed the bar, she co-launched JOONAFRICA with her best friend of 13 years, Chi Chi. Chinonye, whose single amputee mother passed when she was 7 from breast cancer, had an instant connection with June. She witnessed the many parallels between her fight to win no matter what and her mother’s strong will and drive to persist and strive for success, with minimal support. 

June & Chi Chi’s stories of resiliency are a true inspiration to many entrepreneurs, educators, and activists with a commitment to social change. Their unconventional backgrounds sparked a friendship such that, over the years, they were always talking and learning about unheard stories throughout the Black diaspora. That bond went from taking their first Black theater and literature courses together in college, learning more about their own histories, taking first trips to Africa and hearing stories from people all over from the underrepresented, the unique, the under told expressions that makes us all connected.

About four different business ventures later, this ambitious duo finally settled on JOONAFRICA – a culmination of their love for art, digital design, fashion, events, marketing and social entrepreneurship. There was a recurring frustration that kept presenting itself through their travels in the diaspora, the lack of functional household goods and everyday items reflecting their Afropolitan experience. Now JOONAFRICA answers that void, offering Afrocentric goods that so many Black millennials desire but lack access to.

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