When Nikki Osei-Barrett and Simona Noce Wright first met in person for coffee, the ladies, who connected through Instagram, couldn’t have foreseen what their very first face-to-face conversation would bring. They knew they had a lot in common, as that’s what helped them find each other through the social media app: They are DMV residents, boy moms, publicists, proud Ghanaian women and HBCU grads. But they didn’t know that a frustration with how hard it could be to create a mommy tribe in the DMV area would grow into a successful non-profit organization. It now serves millennial moms of color in their region and reaches mothers across the country.
“Initially, Simona and I met at a coffee shop to discuss having a one-off event for Black, local millennial moms to let their hair down for an evening, and connect with one another,” Osei-Barrett tells ESSENCE. “During our coffee date we acknowledged the lack of representation amidst local mom groups, and from that conversation, our single event evolved into us creating a regional community for millennial moms resembling ourselves.”
What they formed from the ideas shared out of that chat over java was the non-profit organization District Motherhued. The goal of it is to “engage, empower and equip Black local moms with resources” that help them feel supported through ongoing community outreach efforts and initiatives. It started with a single event called The Mom Loft in 2016, which brought together 50 moms, became an operation with more than 18,000 mothers within four years. Osei-Barrett and Noce Wright have gone on to host over 30 sold-out events and workshops, spearheaded significant philanthropic initiatives and put on events like Mommy en Blanc, an all-white pop-up picnic for moms. Perhaps their biggest occasion is the upcoming fourth annual event, The Momference. It’s the nation’s first large-scale conference for Black millennial moms.
“After years of hosting District Motherhued events in the DMV area, we were receiving so many inquiries from Black moms nationally about bringing our events to their cities,” Noce Wright says. “Nikki and I pondered, ‘how can we bring our curated events to moms nationwide and address the needs and concerns of Black moms in a fun, interactive way?'”
They found that there weren’t conferences catered to the Black motherhood experience and so they sought to fill that need. The first The Momference event was launched in 2018 and has expanded in a remarkable way. This year’s event, from Friday, June 11 to Sunday, June 13, will feature keynote speaker Tia Mowry and is sponsored by Amazon, Sephora, Bank of America, Carol’s Daughter and more. It will be both virtual and in person at the hotel Eaton DC. There will be high-energy events, including a “Moms Verzuz Battle,” as well as relaxation lounges with pampering services provided by Black-owned beauty brands. A DJ will be spinning, gifts will be given, vendors will be present selling their goods and their will even be wine tasting. For those watching virtually, there will be a DJ, a Sephora-led beauty demo to help moms learn how to get glammed up, cooking demos, and a range of speakers discussing important topics affecting Black moms. Expected conversations include “Working Moms Are Not Ok,” Reviving My Mind,” Reviving My Home,” “Reviving My Honey Pot,” and an inspiring speech from Mowry.
The hope of it all is to provide moms with the rest, fun, information — whatever it is they may need. Moms had to deal with a lot amidst the pandemic, including working and helping children do schooling from home to being separated from family and friends and dealing with the social unrest from last summer while raising Black children. For that reason and more the event is a must.
“The theme of our 2021 conference is REVIVE, which means to restore to life, and this is our opportunity to be restored after the year we’ve had,” Osei-Barrett says. “Through our multi-layered hybrid experience, moms will have the opportunity to reconnect with mom friends they haven’t seen over the past year and make new mom friends virtually and in-person.”
The ladies hope that those who attend The Momference, whether in person or virtually, will feel “renewed, restored, revived and empowered” by all the offerings and ready to do the work necessary to improve the quality of their relationships, mental health, physical health and overall lives. The main goal though, is to help Black moms connect with one another so they feel celebrated and never alone.
“A mom tribe is a necessity. From pregnancy to postpartum and beyond, you need a tribe of mothers to support you, to learn from, to lean on and engage through the various stages of motherhood,” Noce Wright says.
She adds, “They say It takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to raise a mother. You are not meant to mother alone.”
The Momference® weekend takes place Friday, June 11 – Sunday, June 13th, with the virtual conference taking place on Saturday, June 12, 2021 from 9:30am – 5pm. Purchase tickets to the virtual conference at www.themomference.com. Follow the organization and the event at @DistrictMotherhued @TheMomference.