There's no shortage of online content for moms. Mommy blogs, Facebook groups, and Instagram accounts offer everything from all-natural baby food recipes and recommendations for must-have strollers to the latest toddler fashion and nursery decor ideas.
But despite this flood of content, there's been a drought of representation for moms of color. When they are centered, the conversation tends to focus exclusively on heavier subjects like maternal mortality rates and raising children of color in a racist society, leaving little room for black and brown women to explore the joys of motherhood.
Courtesy of Tika Sumpter
It's a gap that actress Tika Sumpter encountered when she was pregnant with her three-year-old daughter, Ella and searching for content that spoke to her experiences and interests as a Black mom-to-be.
"There are a million websites on motherhood, and we were barely there," Sumpter recalled.
Sumpter knew she wasn't alone, and she was determined to fill the gap. So, she approached her friend, Thai Randolph with the idea for a platform that would offer moms of color a space to celebrate all the parts of motherhood.
Courtesy of Thai Randolph
Randolph, who serves as Executive Vice President of Kevin Hart's Laugh Out Loud Network, knew Sumpter had struck gold. Not just because of her expertise in marketing and content, but because she too had struggled to find content that supported her through her own journey into motherhood.
"Historically, Black women have not been depicted as vessels deserving of care. We're seen in a caretaker's context," Randolph noted. "The idea that there should be indulgent self-care afforded us…that is a foreign concept to so many people."
So, together, Sumpter and Randolph created a space for that indulgence with Sugaberry. They launched the lifestyle brand in March, curating a range of content that treats moms of color to advice, product recommendations, and tools that help them take care of themselves and their little ones, inside and out.
Courtesy of Sugaberry
But Sugaberry's sweet content doesn't mean they shy away from tough topics or difficult conversations. Instead, they give women permission to keep it all the way real through the good and the bad.
"When I say indulgence, I don't just mean that everything's great and dandy all the time. Indulgence is saying you have permission to speak and not be judged here. And to have all the information possible, including the joys," Sumpter explained.
The Suga, Sugaberry's weekly podcast hosted by Sumpter and Randolph, has been a space for some of Sugaberry's most candid conversations. They've chatted with Kelly Rowland about the challenge of accepting your post-baby body; discussed the difficult emotions that can come with not having children with Vivica A. Fox; and talked to Rachel Webb about the experience of freezing her eggs.
While the conversations may get deeply personal, it's never about dropping bombs or serving gossip. "From the beginning, we said, 'We don't spill the tea, we share the sugar.' So, we never wanted to feel salacious. The goal of The Suga is just to explore the spectrum of right answers," said Randolph.
Courtesy of Sugaberry
That spectrum of right answers is why Randolph and Sumpter insisted that Sugaberry cater to an expanded audience of not just moms, but also the kid-curious, dedicated aunties, and those debating if motherhood is for them. For Sumpter, who noted that she kept putting off motherhood to prioritize her career, and Randolph who experienced two failed rounds of IVF before unexpectedly conceiving naturally, it was important to recognize and honor the various relationships women can have to motherhood.
Sumpter and Randolph have continued to push their careers forward even as they've enjoyed the sweetness of motherhood. They're both quick to admit that it's not easy, but they encourage working moms to cut themselves some slack.
"I'm a careerist, and I want to be there for everything my child's gonna do, but it's not gonna happen. I think it's about not beating yourself up over the choices that you're making for where you want to be or where you want to go or what you want for your family," Sumpter shared.
"There might be another mom who's doing it completely different who's spending all of her time with her family. And maybe that works for her. There's more than one way to do it," Randolph added.
Whatever your path, Sugaberry promises to guide and support you through it, no matter what life throws your way. Yes, even if life throws you a pandemic.
Courtesy of Sugaberry
Sugaberry's March launch came just as COVID-19 began to dominate news feeds and worry moms across the world. Sumpter and Randolph pivoted their original launch plan and content strategy to include resources for homeschooling, immune health, and small business funding, proving that they are truly committed to making Sugaberry a space that serves modern moms of color.
"We're constantly communicating with each other about what stories are meaningful for us right now, and where we can be of service, whether that's through information, resources, or doses of joy," Randolph said.
Ultimately, Sumpter and Randolph want Sugaberry to not only be part of the village and support system women of color lean on, but a reminder of the grace they deserve to give themselves. As Sumpter said, "It's so important to take moments out and say, 'I'm doing OK, I'm doing just fine.' We wanted to create a space at The Suga and Sugaberry.com where we're letting moms off the hook. We're saying, 'Give each other grace.'"
Featured image courtesy of Sugaberry