Diversity Matters: Multicultural Mamapreneurs and the Businesses They Started
Last year I was at a Dodger game with my family when the Jumbo-tron flashed information about upcoming ballgames. My young son tugged at my arm motioning for me to glance at the information being displayed. Fun nights like “Filipino Night”, “Cuban Night” “Korean Night” popped up on the screen. He pulled me closer to him and asked:
“Mommy, what day do kids like me come to Dodger Stadium? Is there a day for us coming up?” I asked him to explain what he meant and he said: “well, you’re Black and Mexican, and 아빠 (Daddy) is Korean so is there a special day for kids like me that are mixed?”
Talk about being thrown a curve-ball.
I laughed it off and told him that we could go to the ballpark anytime we wanted but by the 7th inning stretch I had not been able to shake his question. As we locked arms and swayed side to side to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” I was determined to find an answer for him.
We got home and I carried my sleepy son to his bed and whispered that I would figure out a way to answer his question.
But what could I do?
Like in my business, Mixed Up Clothing, and as a multiracial community activist, I am used to having to answer the question of WHY this event, and others like it, are needed? Why are diversity and inclusion important? WHY should there be a “Mixed Heritage Night”?
Simply put, because we are here and we want to see our community recognized.
- We are the second fastest growing community.
- Interracial marriages are on the rise according to Pew Research Center.
- 40% of all adoptions in the U.S. are transracial
Fully armed with this information, facts and figures, I pitched the idea to the Dodgers for “Mixed Heritage Day.” In my pitch, I included how children look up to the Dodger players as role models and how great it would be to have a dedicated day for children of mixed heritage to see the new Dodgers’ manager, Dave Roberts, who identifies as mixed Black and Japanese. Or Outfielder, Trayce Thompson, who is Black and Caucasian. It went on that children want to see themselves and their reality reflected in the world around them. That the multiracial and multicultural community want to be represented in media, in books, on television, on fashion runways, in the beauty aisles, in sports and at other cultural events.
I submitted the pitch and now I would wait for the Dodgers to respond.
I know I'm not the only one whose mama bear instinct kicked in and wanted to make a difference for her children and those children like them. I turned to fellow women of color who built their own businesses. They agree that “necessity is the mother of invention” and just like me, wanted to create something for their children and fill the void left in the marketplace.
Check out these mamapreneurs who know a thing or two about starting a business and fulfilling their life's mission.
Chudney Ross, Books and Cookies photo credit: Lauri Levenfeld
Chudney is a writer, teacher, entrepreneur and a mom. After graduating Georgetown University, she became a teacher with AmeriCorps's Teach for America program. After years of teaching elementary school, Chudney's love of children's literature and her advocacy for children's causes motivated her to open Books and Cookies, a children's bookstore, enrichment center and event space in Santa Monica. Her love of books also led her to write a middle grade children’s book called Lone Bean, which was publishedby HarperCollins in 2012.
Chudney opened Books and Cookies in 2011 after noticing a lack of safe and engaging spaces for families with small children. This was when play spaces in LA were just starting to emerge and parents were still hanging out at coffee shops. She thought this was a perfect opportunity to engage families and build community around her love of books.
Her hope was, and is, to create a positive and fun-filled learning environment that is not only kid-friendly, but adult-friendly; to be a welcoming space for families by offering enriching activities and snacks, and to be an active and positive part of the community while promoting the joy of literacy!
Chudney’s fortunate to be able to part-take and share in the experience of Books and Cookies with her daughter, 3 year old Callaway. She created the structure, designed the space and filled it with books, but the families who continue to build this community and share their love and support make it the success it is. Chudney shares “how lucky that my daughter (since she was just a tiny infant) gets to share in that joy. When I was pregnant, I got to ask questions and share in the experience with other new moms & moms-to-be in store. When Callaway was an infant, we would join in on Baby Play Time and now, she still enjoys play dates in the Learn and Play area and joining in on Story Time. I work hard to keep Books and Cookies clean, safe and enriching for my child and for yours! Callaway loves books… and cookies, too!”
Photo credit: Lauri Levenfeld, photographer
Chudney’s advice to moms who want to start a business is one shared by many. It “is the hardest thing I have ever done (other than raising a child). It takes countless hours, sleepless night, stress beyond belief, but I do truly believe that anything is possible with hard work, passion, reliance and dedication. I would not change this journey that I have embarked on for anything!”
Sandy B. Williams Co-Founder of CurlyKids HairCare
CurlyKids is a collection of products developed for curly, kinky, coily, wavy, and frizzy hair. Additionally Sandy B., is Editor-In-Chief of CurlyKids Magazine and blogger at CurlyKids HairCare Blog. Residing in Los Angeles, Sandy B. is an ancestral / lineal research enthusiast, maven within the beauty business, a wife, and a mom to a dynamic college student, model, and Miss Santa Monica USA Crown Holder.
Her and her co-founder started the CurlyKids HairCare line because of a recognized need within their own family for a styling product specifically designed for mixed hair textures and different curl patterns. After talking with more family members, friends, and colleagues they realized the need for the product extended further than just their family. Globally, there was a need for CurlyKids HairCare whose mission is to provide quality hair care products that are affordable yet feel luxurious.
Sandy B. shared that “my daughter and I share a very close relationship. As a college student my daughter is very interested learning all about the beauty business and has been incredibly supportive of our business.” Good news is that CurlyKids HairCare plans to extend the line to include a few additional items that “we feel our customers will love.” Their products in major retail stores and someday they hope to have their own flagship CurlyKids HairCare store with styling salon.
Sandy B. has advice for future female entrepreneurs: “surround yourself with brands, business owners, colleagues, and mompreneurs that support each other. There's a popular phrase "empowered power, empower women" I have found this to be very true.”
Delia Douglas, Owner of DDHPR
DDHPR is a boutique public relations firm catering to an eclectic roster of fashion, beauty, multicultural, curve, non-profit and artist clients. Passionate about diversity, Delia is a board-member at MASC (Multiracial Americans of Southern California) and co-founder of Multiculti Corner, a culturally diverse community of multiracial people and families for social, educational, and celebratory news and events. An advocate for positive body-image messaging within the media, Delia is the US Ambassador for Slink Magazine, UK's premiere print plus-size fashion and lifestyle magazine. A California native, Delia, her husband, and their 5 year old daughter reside in Venice, CA.
Delia founded DDHPR in 2010 as a boutique public relations firm with an eclectic roster of Fashion, Beauty, Multicultural, Curve and Artist Clients after years of dreaming about working independently and owning her own business. Her decision to launch her own boutique PR firm was actually based on necessity. “When I was pregnant with my daughter my obstetrician warned me that my stress level was alarmingly high and that my baby was at risk. I needed to change my work environment and still generate an income. I took a leap of faith in leaving my in-house gig and going on my own.”
Delia explains how she has “been fortunate to meet and connect with some incredible fellow mamapreneurs. And at times I've been able to bring my daughter to work with me in a space that she too enjoys.” This prompted Multiculti Corner, a second-venture and partnership with her dear friend. Multiculti Corner is a culturally diverse community of Multiracial people & families. They plan and curate social mixers, educational events, cultural adventures, and visits to historic landmarks. She shares her hope “that together we continue to share positive messaging and images that evoke kindness, compassion, and inclusion.”
All of us mamas started something, as difficult as it is at times, to make a difference somehow. Not just for our children, but for children who aren't always seen or recognized. It is in this spirit of inclusion, that the LA Dodgers accepted and confirmed the inaugural “Mixed Heritage Day” game which will be held August 27, 2016 at 1:05pm.
So on this day, when the Jumbotron flashes on and welcomes us to “Mixed Heritage Day” you will find me with my husband, children and thousands of others that identify and support our community, celebrating a win for diversity.
Now that is what I call a home run!
For more information:
Mixed Heritage Day at Dodger Stadium
Saturday, August 27,2016 at 1:05 pm vs Chicago Cubs
Purchase tickets here: http://tinyurl.com/haozq9b
Proceeds go to support Multiracial Americans of Southern California (MASC) a 501c3 serving and advocating for the multiracial and transracially adopted community for over 25 years