Tika Sumpter and Thai Randolph launch Sugaberry, a lifestyle brand for Black moms

Sumpter was inspired to carve out a space for brown moms when she was pregnant with her daughter, Ella.

As the star of ABC’s mixed-ish, Tika Sumpter is used to balancing motherhood under unusual circumstances on screen. In real life, however, she’s navigating the world as a Black mom to 3-year-old Ella.

The actress has partnered with award-winning business executive Thai Randolph (EVP & GM of Kevin Hart’s “Laugh Out Loud”) to launch Sugaberry, a lifestyle brand created for modern moms of color.

Sugaberry celebrates all aspects of the brown mom experience through a curated mix of editorial, original audio and video programming, interviews, newsletters, live event series, thoughtful product recommendations. The pair have also launched a new, bi-weekly podcast, The Suga.

theGrio caught up with the lovely ladies to find out how they’re handling mom life under quarantine.

“I feel like I finally got the hang of this whole thing,” Sumpter said. “At first, it didn’t feel like it fit correctly and was just trying to figure it all out. I’m with my child and my fiancé every day and we try to take care of each other as much as possible.”

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Sumpter was inspired to carve out a space for Black moms when she was pregnant with her daughter.

“Ella was in my belly three years ago and I was mining other sites for information and when I found things, it felt like they weren’t really speaking to me. It was like a drip of us in there,” she dished. “I kind of felt displaced in a way and there was no one space for moms to be. There are a million spaces like that for white moms but where are we? I wanted a safe space for women of color to talk about all things ‘us.'”

The actress went on to explain that she felt the Black story was “told on one note” and focused on the “doom and gloom of us rather than any kind of indulgence motherhood.”

It felt like we were just surviving motherhood instead of thriving and enjoying it,” she continued. “Or not enjoying it and saying ‘this pregnancy sucks,’ but we didn’t have the space to say those things. I wanted a place where we are free to acknowledge each other’s pain and pleasure without judgment and have the resources to live our best and sweetest lives.”

Randolph, a seasoned executive who had recently given birth to her son, Nile, was pleasantly surprised by Sumpter’s idea when they met up to discuss it.

“I am always a little bit cynical about digital content businesses because they are real uphill battles,” she revealed. “I went to the meeting prepared to tell her about all of the pitfalls but the concept stopped me in my tracks. As a consumer, I thought I would be the first customer. I had the same experience of not finding books where my child wouldn’t be immersed in imagery that doesn’t look like him, or finding information on fibroids, or egg-freezing, or IVF and hair-care products. That resource didn’t exist.”

READ MORE: OPINION: Black mothers need to wield the enormous power of breastfeeding their babies

She added, “Once I did the research on the business side, it became very clear we found a white space and we wanted to fill it with brown faces. African American moms are such a valuable, and overused and underserved consumer market. We wield such purchasing power but these things are rarely catered to us. We aren’t handled with care.”

Sugaberry.com is a gorgeous site that feels like an escape, and the design was intentional.

“It was important for us to make it pretty. It felt like something I hadn’t seen before,” explained Randolph. “There was this vision for something that was light and lifted and indulgent. Motherhood is not all sunshine and roses. The inspiration is the blacker the berry the sweeter the juice and this is about providing sweetness and light.”

She continued, “Black women don’t get to have these conversations and we also don’t get to be treated sweetly. Why can’t we carve out for ourselves, that type of space? The design is very deliberate. It’s meant to feel like a relief. We deal with a lot of shit. It should feel like a reprieve.”

The ladies shared some tips for spoiling the moms in your life on Mother’s Day even if social distancing is making it tough:

“I think right now, it’s boiled down to the basics. It’s not about going out to dinner, but maybe send dinner from a restaurant to their home, or send some groceries to your grandma,” suggested Sumpter. “I have 5 siblings so we will all get on a Zoom call together and talk and celebrate all of the moms.”

Another great idea? 

“Motherhood is hard and especially these days, it can feel lonely. Make a list of what you think the moms in your life are doing well,” said Randolph. “We can be so hard on ourselves and sometimes it can feel like we are failing at things so just let them know they’re doing a great job.”

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