Tell us a little bit about your back story. Where are you from?
I’m originally from Iowa City, Iowa, a small, pretty liberal university town in the middle of nowhere. Ask anyone I know and I’m a Midwest girl (woman) through and through. I’m also Congolese-American (see: first name) and grew up pretty traditionally African since I’m a first-generation American on my mother’s side. I like to say I’m a product of the earliest days of the Peace Corps, my parents met while my dad, a small-town Iowa boy, was serving as a teacher in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Both being Midwestern and Congolese have really shaped my sense of family, of community, and my connection with others; that yearning to be a part of something and part of a community launched me into brand strategy and community-building with a retail organization for 11+ years.
When did you start your company and what inspired you to do so?
Freedom Apothecary, as it is today, was launched in late 2017/early 2018. What started as Morrisa’s vision to create a space for black and brown women to uncover themselves through transparency and representation in the beauty and wellness industry turned into the brainchild and collaborative vision of both of ours. The universe brought us together in unexpected ways and our partnership is truly a reflection of both of our strengths, passions, and purpose in this lifetime.
Can you share about your process? What makes your product unique? What do you love most about it?
Because our business is so multi-faceted and there are a few different components to what we do, we each have our own process. I’m the relationship-builder, the strategizer, the communicator, and the connector between the brands and our community. I’m the outgoing, outspoken and fiery, no-holds-barred partner and am perfectly-balanced with Morrisa, the thoughtful and more considered partner. My process is to act, when I think of something, be it a relationship I want to cultivate, a brand or partner I want to connect with, or an experience I want to create, I do it and I do it now. Since Morrisa does so much behind the scenes and creates all of our products by hand, her process is different. Which is one of the things I love about our ‘product’ (the entirety of what we offer) because it’s such a representation of who we are.
What do you look for in other brands that you work with at Freedom Apothecary?
We have a list of non-negotiables that are our north star and ensure that all of our relationships are aligned with who we are and what we want to build. It’s somewhat simple, too, women-founded + women-led, clean + non-toxic, accessible + representative. Beyond that, we do a ton of research about what the brands represent, what their mission is and why they do what they do, we really want there to be synergistic energy and a true partnership.
What do you value most about the community you have built at Freedom?
That it’s real, raw, and honest.
What does Women Supporting Women mean to you?
It means empowering, lifting, loving, embracing, challenging, questioning, and elevating all women.
Can you share one other female-founded business we should know about?
I could list all of the brands we work with, which feels really good (and I know there are so many more out there!) but one that I’m really proud to work with is Womanly Mag, a Philly/NYC/Atlanta-based publication.
Why do you feel like it's important to support the Loveland Foundation?
So much of what we want to do with our brand is to be able to positively impact and empower black and brown girls and young women by cultivating spaces to uncover who they truly are, embrace and celebrate it, but also know they are not alone. The Loveland Foundation is that.
Photography by: Rosie Simmons (@rosiesimmons)