Motherhood for black and brown moms is something that should be “enjoyed not just endured.” That’s the founding principle of Sugaberry, a new lifestyle brand created by Tika Sumpter, the actress-producer who stars on ABC’s mixed-ish, and Thai Randolph, the executive vice president and general manager of Kevin Hart’s company, Laugh Out Loud.
The idea for Sugaberry came out Sumpter’s experiences during her pregnancy with her daughter, Ella, Sumpter and Randolph shared during an exclusive video interview with BLACK ENTERPRISE.
“When I was pregnant, I was just searching for community. I was searching for people who look like me, people who were going through things that I was going through,” Sumpter says. “And I felt like there was a disparity within the joy of motherhood. It felt like it was only queued up for a certain group of people.”
Sumpter wanted to combat the prevailing narrative of “death, doom, and destruction” for black moms with something that gives black women a space to celebrate the full range of motherhood.
A mutual friend introduced her to Randolph—one of BLACK ENTERPRISE‘s past honorees as a leading woman in marketing and advertising—because of her expertise in the digital media space.
“I went with my exec hat on ready to tell her be careful. I thought I was going to give her some cautionary tales,” Randolph says. “But I ended up just completely wrapped up in what she was describing. I thought ‘Oh my God, I would be your first customer.’”
Randolph had experienced a similar longing for community during her journey to motherhood, which included challenges with fertility.
“When I was in fertility clinics, I remember it feeling like such a lonely space because they were packed, but just not packed with people who looked like me,” she says.
Even after she was able to conceive her son, Niles, Randolph still struggled to find resources that felt relevant to her and instead found herself “mining other people’s spaces” for information and content.
“As we connected on not just the business of the idea but the heart of the idea, we thought we aren’t the only women having this experience,” Randolph says. “We also deserve joy and light and happiness.”
The two women decided to partner on Sugaberry, self-funding the company and building a team. Launched in late March, the site offers editorial, audio, and video content; a newsletter; and a podcast called The Suga, where guests like Vivica A. Fox, Kelly Rowland, and Tia Mowry, discuss “a broader spectrum” of topics around black motherhood, including the decision not to become a mother.
“Tika often talks about how this is also for the undecideds, and the tryings, and the expectings. And I always say we don’t want this to feel like an exclusive club that you have to have a baby to get into,” Randolph says. “The feedback from the community has just been so much about the sisterhood.”
But media is just the beginning. Eventually Sugaberry will offer live events, product recommendations, and e-commerce.
“Sugaberry isn’t just a passion point, there’s a real business opportunity here,” Randolph says. “It’s shocking how undervalued the black consumer mom segment is in the marketplace. By next year, the aggregate black consumer buying power is estimated to top $1.2 trillion. The black consumer mom is the gatekeeper to that.”