Introducing Sherri McMullen to the FRĒDA WOMAN series
Founder of McMullen
Can you share more about your background– where you are from, what your childhood and upbringing was like, and what has led you to what you are doing now?
I grew up in Oklahoma City and the youngest of 6 children. I would say my childhood was filled with lots of love, laughter, and with 6 children, full of fun shenanigans! We grew up in the midwest with a close-knit family where there were lots of maternal influences. My aunts, grandmother, mother, and sisters helped shape my life and how I envisioned strong women to be. My mother had a real estate business, and she and my father created opportunities for us to pursue our dreams.
SHOP MCMULLEN: CHRISTIE BROWN EMBROIDERED PUFF SLEEVE SHIFT DRESS
What led you to starting your own shop? What continues to inspire you about clothing, and how do you see it as a tool to empower?
I wanted to create something for myself and my family that was about empowering women through fashion and storytelling.
I am constantly inspired by art, dance, music, and especially travel. I miss that so much. I find beauty in cultures and people, and that inspires me. I get inspired by the story of my designers and their seasonal inspiration. If it moves me, I know I have to buy it. I can’t continuously buy any more designers just because they are good sellers. I gave that up about 8 years ago. There is a connection I have with every designer we carry.
What responsibility or support do you feel you hold as a business owner to yourself, women and your community?
I am tied to my community and not just in Oakland, but our global female community. The women I work with, support, the women who support McMullen, we all speak the same language. I always say the work we are doing goes beyond fashion. We are creating a space for women to express themselves through their clothing and feel confident while doing it.
Tell us something you’re learning about yourself now?
I’m more resilient than ever before. I found my strength when becoming a mother. Every mother understands this and how we manage to do so much. It does not make us superhuman, however, because we need to change the narrative around women being superhuman, we are machines and that we can do it all, especially black women. For so long, black women have stepped up and made things happen. Time and time again, we are expected to do that. That amount of pressure is not healthy.
How has motherhood refocused or redefined your approach to your work?
Everything I do in life is to create a better world for my son. It would not be fair for my son and his generation to inherit a broken system because we haven’t done enough to change it.
Can you share your favorite 5 black-owned businesses in the SF/Bay Area?
Only 5?? There are so many!
• Neutral Ground
• Brown Sugar Kitchen
• Red Bay Coffee
• Sweet July
• Blk Girls Green House
• Shirley’s Designs
Favorite fashion moment?
SHOP MCMULLEN: LISA FOLAWIYO LIFE OF THE PARTY MAXI DRESS
My mother. Raising six children, running her own business, her spirituality and how she raised us to love one another. I’ve been very lucky to have such a strong family bond.
What’s your mantra?
Lead by example.
Photographed by: Samantha Tyler Cooper