How MommiNation Is Helping to Empower a Community of Black Moms
It’s no secret that American moms need more support than legislation has historically provided. Plus, there are significant disparities between the maternal health care given to white and Black moms in America. To help bridge that gap, together with co-owners Mykal Steen and Sanya Richards-Ross—a track and field athlete and four-time Olympic gold-medalist—launched MommiNation. MommiNation aims to provide Black moms with a supportive and uplifting community.
Recently, the company also launched the non-profit arm of their business, MommiNation Gives. Their first fundraiser event was held in November 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. For it, MommiNation partnered with The Boyce L. Ansley School—a tuition-free private school for kids experiencing homelessness in downtown Atlanta—and The White Dress Project. The goal was to raise money to provide food, shelter, clothing and employment to support displaced moms and their families. Here, we spoke to the duo to learn more about the event and how their own motherhood experience has driven their passion for MommiNation.
What is MommiNation and what inspired you to launch your company?
Sanya Richards-Ross: I created MommiNation in 2019 with the intention and ambition to create the most reliable and robust resource for black moms as a result of a gap I identified in my personal life. While competing in my professional track and field career, I attributed my success to God, hard work and my team. After transitioning from my professional career and becoming a mother, I quickly recognized that although I had a supportive family, I was lacking the vast and diverse team I once had that contributed to my success as an athlete. I created this platform to provide a safe space for black mom bloggers to share their experiences and become that virtual support system that bolstered me to the height of my career. MommiNation launched with 25 Mommi bloggers. At the onset of the MommiNation launch, I collaborated with businesswoman and friend Mykal Steen as one of the original 25 bloggers.
Mykal Steen: As a young mother myself, I understood the importance of community to help guide mothers on their journey. I had my first child at 19—the thought of having this community during that time and what it would have done for my motherhood experience blows me away! I immediately became passionate about working with Sanya. Together, we have worked zealously to fulfill the mission and vision of MommiNation. In this short time, we created a vibrant community of black moms that create significant lifelong relationships; established an apparel line; provided resources and relatable stories that highlight the unique experiences of the black motherhood journey; and recently launched a non-profit organization with the mission of providing opportunities, experiences and resources to black moms worldwide.
How has motherhood shaped your outlook on life?
MS: Motherhood completely changed how I see the world. As I said, I had my son young. So the moment I stepped into adulthood and had to take on adult responsibilities, I also had the responsibility of raising a child. I had to grow up quick! Not only has motherhood made me more responsible, but it has made me more compassionate, understanding, empathetic, communicative, patient and ambitious. Being a mother has helped me understand that this world needs bold leaders to really make an impact. But it’s also helped me appreciate the small things in life and recognize that life is short, so take advantage of every moment.
SRR: Becoming a mother changed everything about my life. It put everything into perspective and in focus. Being a mom is one of the most unselfish roles you ever have—it’s taught me a lot about putting others first, making decisions that have long term rewards and finding joy in small wins. Being a mom is my favorite role and I cherish the opportunity.
MommiNation Gives is a new branch of your larger brand. What motivated you to launch a non-profit arm of your business?
MS: MommiNation is a for-profit company with a mission to unapologetically pour resources into the Black mom community. However being a for-profit business we encountered numerous obstacles in raising money to support this community. The solution was to launch a nonprofit. We now have access to financial resources we were unable to tap into before launching the nonprofit. Hearing that we were able to raise $78,000 at our very first fundraising event was proof that launching a non-profit was the best thing for both MommiNation and our community. We’ve already been able to secure a home for one mom and her four children for six months.
Tell us a little bit about your first ever MommiNation Fundraiser Brunch. What were the highlights?
MS: Our very first fundraising brunch was absolutely incredible. We were blown away by the love, support and inspiration we received. We had over 100 guests and a phenomenal keynote speaker who encouraged moms to believe in themselves. We also had some very inspiring honorees, and the highlight of the event was the auction, which was fun, lively, captivating and extremely successful—with just the 100 guests in the room we were able to raise $78,000. Words cannot describe this event, and we encourage any and everyone to attend the next one.
Community is such an important aspect of raising kids. Any advice for ways that new and soon-to-be parents can forge relationships and build community for their young families?
MS: Community is everything—and it’s a necessity when you’re raising children. It’s like our motto says: It takes a village to raise a child and a nation to support their Mom. Family can be an essential support system, but sometimes you have a completely different experience from those in your immediate circle. By finding groups like MommiNation, you’ll quickly learn that you’re not alone. Our blog contains real life stories from moms in our community about their experiences through all aspects of life. And when you actually engage with the community, via our social media, our blog, our events, challenges, etc. you’re guaranteed to find someone willing, able and excited to connect with and support you along this journey. Although our community at large is virtual, the connections are very real. And this year we’re launching our chapters in four cities (Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale, Raleigh and San Diego) where moms will build communities in their own cities.