Thursday, May 10, 2018

African Women Build: Why black millenial mompreneurs are heading to Washington DC on May 19th

When we received the email from District Motherhued founders Nikki and Simona, we were already excited then. However, little did they know that WCA has been huge fans of their work, and to our joy both founders were just as much fans of WCA! As mother's day approaches, we caught up with Nikki Osei-Barrett and Simona Noce CEO's of District motherhood and creators of the first ever Momference. The mom's met online and yet their relationship seems like one that has existed for a long time. So a bit about both Founders: 

About the Founders

 Nikki Osei is a fashion, beauty and lifestyle publicist hailing from the DMV. After graduating from Bowie State University with a degree in Mass Communications, she relocated to New York City where she interned for several prestigious fashion PR firms, freelanced and assisted in producing Mercedes Benz Fashion Week shows. During her agency stints, she worked alongside many brands including Custo Barcelona, Sachin + Babi, Chinese Laundry, Benefit Cosmetics, Shopstyle and E! TV. In 2011, Nikki founded Osei Public Relations, a boutique agency which provides strategic outreach and publicity, event management and celebrity seeding services to emerging brands and in 2016 pursued Osei PR full time.  Nikki currently directs publicity for various domestic and international fashion, beauty and lifestyle brands. Nikki is also the co-creator of District Motherhued, Washington’s premier organization for millennial moms of color and The Momference - the premiere conference for magical, millennial moms of color. Despite becoming a mother at the age of 16, Nikki relentlessly pursued an unconventional career. She continues to grow and thrive professionally all while tending to her husband and 2 boys.  

Her business partner  Simona Noce is an accomplished Public Relations manager who has worked with some heavyweights, but her greatest achievement and her most important role is being a mom. Simona is skilled and dedicated public relations professional with an intense passion for media, entertainment, and the execution of creative ideas and special events. She is currently a full-time entrepreneur running The Noce Model, a  PR & marketing strategic firm, focused on creative, entertainment, lifestyle, and tech brands.  She is also the co-creator of District Motherhued, Washington’s premier organization for millennial moms of color and The Momference - the premiere conference for magical, millennial moms of color.
Simon and Niki founders of Momfrence

We start off the interview asking both women who happen to be Ghanian American what building their companies look like for them; 

 The women shared that  outside of their  respective businesses (Osei PR & The Noce Model), they have had the opportunity to work collectively to build District Motherhued. Founded in 2016, District Motherhued is Washington, D.C.'s premier organization for millennial moms of color. The event started out simply wanting to have a single event for local, black moms in the D.C. metropolitan and surrounding areas. The response to their first event "The Mom Loft" was amazing, and they state  "now, here we are over 15+ sold out events and 4000 moms later gearing up for our first large-scale conference. We're honestly awed by how things have organically grown and progressed. We've built our organization simply by maintaining a consistent, authentic, engaging social media voice and presence + hosting (quality) regular events."

 Their Ghanaian heritage plays a huge role in their business mindset and life outlook. The ladies share with us that "with us both being Ghanaian American, there's a sense of pride and excellence that we incorporate in all that we do. You know Ghanaians (Africans in general) are overachievers and that the expectations of children of the Diaspora are especially high. Couple that with us both having Public Relations & Events expertise, we try to always execute to the highest of our capabilities. And like most African children, our ultimate hope is that through our work and efforts we make our parents proud, especially as our initiatives are non-traditional. "

The Momference

Photocredit the Momference
What is so inspiring is the way both women have designed the Momference was that both founders saw a need for black mothers. They shared with WCA that "We've hosted several events since launching District Motherhued but we wanted to find a way to reach more women, as we typically can only accommodate 50-75 moms at a time. We researched the mom conference-sphere and noticed there are several conferences for moms but none that cater to US -  black, millennial moms. 

" In being conscious of diversity yet highlighting the intentionality of the conference, they share that their " intention is not to segregate; however, there are obvious differences, needs and issues that moms of varying ethnicities face. And because nothing like this existed, we  took it upon ourselves to create a space and event that we know moms like us are seeking."

In excitement we wanted to know what moms who will be attending should look forward to this amazing event. "There's SO much to look forward to at The Momference!" The event will have from amazing keynotes Instyle Magazine's Beauty-Editor-At-Large, Kahlana Barfield Brown and Essence Magazine's Fashion & Beauty Director, Julee Wilson, and top mom influencers and thought leaders from across the nation. The event will also feature  a Mommy Market where moms can shop brands made FUBU or with black women  in mind, pamper suite for women to relax and unwind, fabulous gift bags, and, most importantly, moms will experience unparalleled fellowship.

We talk about the highs and lows of producing the first ever Momfrence event, since this is such a trailblazing one of a kind event. The ladies share their excitement and contribute their success to the amazing businesses and brands that have supported them including:  ESSENCE, Whole Foods, Zenni Eyewear, BOZZUTO, The Root (and more) that took a chance on their  inaugural event and are aiding us in successful execution. The express the importance of community and the validation they receive from the moms that they serve. 

It is so beautiful to hear the women give reverence to God being at the center of their business and a driving force through life's challenges "We've honestly not faced many challenges as we've developed District Motherhued/The Momference and for that were SO grateful. But when the work is selfless, intent is genuine and God is at the core of it all, your mission will always thrive. Personally, we've both dealt with family issues, transitioned from full-time careers to mompreneurship and deal with the never ending struggle to find balance while juggling business, children, partners, etc. "

Having both women as  powerhouses who are stylish, focused women we asked the women who their favorite brands/women that inspire you currently and why they respond "Of course we're enamored with Kahlana Barfield Brown. Her style is effortless and flawlessly executed. Every single time. we also love Kelly Rowland, Sarah Jakes Roberts, etc. There are too many women to name. For brands, Cushnie et Ochs is classic, elegant, chic and bossy AF. We also love everything from New York & Co to Muehleder."

Simona  with her sons

We close the interview by inquiring from the women what does sisterhood mean to them and their work, as a core value of WCA we know it is one of their's as well.  

What is so special about the duo is that their chemistry feels as if they have known each other for a long time, however according to them they mention that "It's so funny we've only known each other for almost two years, yet when people see us together they assume we've known each other forever. Lol."

They emphasize the importance of support and partnership by tatting that they support each others endeavors, and champion the women around them by highlighting their accomplishments, businesses and families

Nikki with her sons

We end the interview by the Nikki and Simona sharing that "We truly believe our friendship is God-ordained, formed to not only make us better individually but also to show others that there's success in numbers and to dispel the myth that black women can't get along. Our friendship literally built a regional and national sisterhood. And that is the true power of collaboration"

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