All photos by: Iris Manning, Pictured left to right: District Motherhued and Momference co-founders Nikki Osei-Barrett and Simona Noce
In 2016, D.C. publicists Simona Noce and Nikki Osei-Barrett teamed up to host a pampering day for moms of color. Little did they know, two years later, it would turn into a full-scale "Momference" that would place Black Mom Magic on a national platform.
After founding District Motherhued, an organization that seeks to provide a safe and empowering space for Black moms to connect, Noce and Osei-Barrett took it one step further and held the organization's first-ever Momference on Saturday, May 19 at the Hyatt Regency Bethesda.
The event was the ultimate gathering of 250 moms from across the nation who participated in a full day of panels, networking, and the overall celebration of Black motherhood. From the Pamper Suite, to the Mommy Market, to the Mommy Social, to the breastfeeding lounge, to the panels entitled "The Uncommon Family," "Healthy Mama: Mind, Body and Soul," "Handle Your Business Mama," "Mommy Between the Sheets, and "Building Little Leaders," which featured our very own Eunique Jones Gibson.
Pictured L-R: Charlene Fadirepo, David Johns, Rogi Banks, Eunique Jones Gibson and Kier Gaines
"We prayed for a life changing event, but we didn't know what it looked like...This was bigger than us," Noce told Because of Them We Can. "Someone described it as the Wakanda for mommies or the Essence Fest for mommies."
Other speakers included: Dr. Rainbow Barris (the real-life inspiration for the Johnson family matriarch on ABC's "Black-ish"), Kellie Coleman of the KM Coleman Group and She Who Dares, Jamilah Lemieux of Interactive One, Essence Magazine Fashion and Beauty Director, Julee Wilson, and InStyle Magazine Fashion and Beauty Editor-At-Large, Kahlana Barfield Brown.
The Modern Motherhood Roundtable, Pictured left to right: Nikki Osei-Barrett, Jamilah Lemieux, Kelli Coleman, Rainbow Barris, and Simona Noce
Pictured from left to right: Julee Wilson, Nikki Osei-Barrett, Kahlana Barfield Brown, and Simona Noce
"This is the dopest idea...when I had my daughter this is all I wanted… to connect with other Black moms who understood what I was going through," keynote speaker Kahlana Barfield Brown said.
Nearly three weeks after wrapping up the conference, Noce and Osei-Barrett are still overwhelmed by all the magic that took place, including most of the Black-owned businesses selling out of their products. "We impacted people personally and economically," said Osei-Barret. "We can support each other emotionally and financially when we come together."
While Noce and Osei-Barrett would love to bask in this moment forever, they said they look forward to planning next year's conference and launching new initiatives.
The 20 women who played a role in helping bring the first Momference to life will come on as staff and the District Motherhued will continue hosting its signature programs such as its Mom Loft and Mommy en Blanc (inspired by the acclaimed D.C. Dinner en Blanc event).
"This is truly a calling, truly purpose filled, and gave us motivation to continue the work and meet the new needs that we heard from the attendees," Noce shared.
Stayed tuned, because District Motherhued is going to be bringing more Black Mom Magic our way.