This past weekend, not only did I have the pleasure of leading a workshop on Recognizing and Overcoming Burnout at the International Black Women Travel Jubilee; I also had the opportunity to attend the other sessions taking place at the conference. Going into it, I knew that I would walk away with more tools to equip me to be a better entrepreneur, but, I didn’t anticipate the connectedness and sense of community that I’d walk away with.
This weekend’s conference was a beautiful reminder of the importance of community. During the Saturday afternoon chat–many of the attendees gathered in a virtual meeting room and shared takeaways from that morning’s sessions. I wasn’t prepared for now raw, vulnerable, and natural the conversation would be. Despite the fact that the women present spanned various ages, ethnic identities, locations, and experiences- what they shared in common was the fact that they were all Black women forging unconventional paths in order to live lives that were truly authentic. And the fact is that sometimes, going against the grain is (very) isolating.
One of the exercises in a workshop asked the attendees to list all of the people who were part of their community. The workshop leader qualified those in your community as ‘people who you’d call if you lost everything ’. She then asked us to share. For the majority of us, the lists were short. We could only rely on less than a handful of people. That was a sobering call to action.
Taking in the women’s stories was deeply moving and reminded me of the conversation that I had with Christina Brown of LoveBrownSugar, a woman I’ve long been a fan of. She first appeared on my radar back in 2017, when she was featured in Dove’s beauty campaigns. Bored of the stick-thin and overly Photoshopped (mostly White) models, the campaign featured a diverse array of gorgeous everyday women. I then started following her journey on social media and became enamored with her message of inclusion, self-love, and inspiration.
Christina Brown is the founder and Chief Curator of the BabyBrownSugar brand and community. For over a decade, she’s been a champion for women’s empowerment and inclusivity.
In 2009, she created the award-winning blog, LoveBrownSugar to encourage self-love and style inclusivity for women of color. It wasn’t until she was pregnant with her daughter in 2013 that she noticed the lack of online spaces that celebrated moms of color like her. As a response, she launched BabyBrownSugar to celebrate the magic of multicultural moms. With Christina’s background as a digital community curator, she knows first-hand the importance of cultivating digital spaces for marginalized groups. A trusted authority amongst a niche audience of millennial women of color, Christina offers holistic insight on parenting/family, entrepreneurship, and self-care.
Although social media often gets a bad rap for being a harmful place for mental health; there are also beautiful pockets of the internet where people are truly supported and uplifted. One of those places is social media pages such as LoveBrownSugar as well as the platform that she’s building specifically for moms of color called BrownBabySugar. Parenting a child of color in America can be especially challenging and nuanced. Without community, the job is made even more difficult.
This episode mainly focuses on the power of community and how having a community is an important part of our self-care practice. We also talked about how she grounds herself as a busy mom and business owner, her upcoming product launch (which I’m geeked about!), and so much more.
Community as Self-Care
Self-care has been commodified by the Wellness industry. So much so that when people think of self-care, they often think of lavish spa days and trips, massages, expensive supplements, bubble baths, and the like. I won’t act like I don’t love a spa day or trip to an exotic location but that isn’t the only way of caring for yourself. Self-care is the daily practice of nurturing yourself. Because we’re naturally social creatures, self-care involves being part of an authentic community that is truly invested in your wellbeing.
How to Find Your Tribe
Both my conversation with Christina and the experience at the conference shed light on the fact that because we live in a digital age- our tribes are more likely to be found online rather than in person. And there is nothing wrong with that.
Statistically speaking, we’re more likely to live within a few miles of where we were raised. Yet because of the access to information and being deliberate about how we live our lives- many find ourselves feeling like we’re without a real tribe. Our ideals don’t necessarily mesh with those around us.
If this resonates with you, you’re not alone. To find your tribe, be intentional about the online spaces you enter as well as who you follow. One of the silver linings of the pandemic is that people are more willing to have virtual tea/coffee dates as well as the increase in virtual events. If someone’s posts/stories resonate with you, reach out! I know it can be uncomfortable, but really great things can come from stepping out of your comfort zone.
I truly hope that you feel like you are a part of a supportive community that understands you. If you don’t quite feel like you do or are looking to expand your community to include more warm and growth-minded women- join our Patreon community!
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Be well, Sis.
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