By Je’Don Holloway Talley
For the Birmingham Times
On a recent Friday evening, members of Unicorns R’ Us gathered outside Good People Brewing Company in downtown Birmingham before heading to Regions Field for a Barons baseball game. Less than 24 hours later, the ladies gathered again for a Moms Brunch at Grille 29 in Homewood.
Unicorns R’ Us, organized in November 2018, provides an outlet for mothers to fellowship, attend events with their children, and support each other as moms. Besides, they enjoy spending time together, which is why they agreed to meet within a 12-hour period for a series of interviews and photographs.
“Part of our purpose is to unify and know that, although it gets tough, we all have someone to lean on for words of encouragement, for advice, and, of course, to get together and have a great time with our babies,” said group founder Carla Hatcher.
The 31-year-old Forestdale resident came up with the idea for Unicorns R’ Us with Jennell Steele, 32, a McCalla resident and her best friend from Lawson State Community College (LSCC), where they both were cheerleaders.
Hatcher owns Sweet Lyfe Beauty Bar on Birmingham’s Southside, where she does hair, eyebrows, and lash extensions. She is also a single mother to 7-year-old daughter Karys and 4 year-old-son Karson. Steele, a business analyst with a local health insurance provider, is wife to Laterrius, stepmother to 8-year-old daughter Laila, and mother to daughters Lauryn, 3, and Lia, 2.
“One of a Kind”
Hatcher and Steele say the group’s name comes from the idea that Unicorns are “one-of-a-kind creatures that remind people of the whimsical magic and beauty of motherhood.” After becoming mothers, the duo realized that advice and support are essential in raising children, so they decided to form a group that benefits both children and moms.
“I know what my first priority always is: … it’s being a mother. … I wanted a way for women to bond while incorporating their kids,” Hatcher said.
Steele said being a mother is one of the hardest jobs.
“Stopping is never an option, and support is always needed and greatly appreciated,” she said. “We aim to help ease mommy’s load while building friendships for mother and baby by hosting events that allow [both] to play together, make crafts together, and laugh together in a safe environment away from home.”
Each month Unicorns R’ Us hosts a Mommy’s Night Out, and the group’s trips have included visits to Top Golf and Pillow Talk; they’ve also participated in dance classes. Shortly after forming late last year, for Christmas 2018 the women helped a single mom and her children who were in need. In February, the group had a Valentine’s Day party that involved arts, crafts, dance contests, games, and food for mothers and their children.
During the summer, Unicorns R’ Us is planning a Kid’s Pop-Up Shop and a talent show. The Kid’s Pop-Up Shop will allow children to explore entrepreneurship by making their own products to sell, while learning financial literacy. The group also is in the process of forming a mentorship program for preteens and teenagers, similar to the Big Sister Little Sister program, through which mothers can help guide youngsters into their early adulthood years and, most importantly, be a shoulder to lean on. In addition, the group has already initiated a relationship with at least one Birmingham City School to conduct workshops that will boost self-esteem and confidence in students.
Steele said, “We want to not only reiterate core values [in the program] but also teach [young people] about the harmful effect bullying [has] on others, as well as [show them] how to express themselves when faced with bullying.”
Hatcher added, “The ladies in the group understand the strong impact that social media and technology have on our children and how it opens the door to the unfortunate widespread epidemic of bullying.”
The closed Unicorns R’ Us Facebook group consists of more than 1,000 members who participate in daily discussions about parenting and children.
Steele said, “We honestly weren’t expecting the huge response we received. We were planning for a small group, but are grateful for the large number of women that joined in.”
Hatcher said, “There are numerous posts throughout the day, … [and] topics include recipes, advice, homework help, techniques, proud-mama moments, babysitter searches, upcoming outings.”
To help with administration, Hatcher and Steele formed a committee of 11 moms who meet monthly at various locations to discuss and develop upcoming events; these gatherings can draw as many 60 women. Ke’Andra Alexander and Ashley McKinney are two committee members who help with the planning.
Alexander, 30, is a single mom to 7-year-old daughter Ka’Nyiah. She said Unicorns R’ Us wants to become “a premier resource for mothers and children that enables and empowers each of us to become better at life.”
Being a single mom can be overwhelming, she said, but the group’s support drew her in. Another bonus: her daughter has found a whole set of “brothers and sisters.”
“Although my daughter is 7-years-old, I still feel like I’m new to this thing called being a mother, so I’m always open to opinions from other moms,” Alexander said. [Joining the group] was the best thing ever for my daughter, [too]. She knows several other mothers support her and she has a great group of brothers and sisters.”
McKinney, 31, a Gardendale resident is engaged to her child’s father, L’Darius May, is mother to their 5-year-old daughter Landyn. She loves how women in the group “empower each other as individuals in a positive way because [each of us is] more than just a mom.”
Unicorns R’ Us dispels the notion that women can’t unify for a singular purpose, McKinney said.
“This group helps create a positive image that we need as black women. Hopefully, more of our women will want to join this movement . . . we should be uplifting, motivating, and being an example for other young black females. That’s what we’re here to do.”
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