Project W - Confessions of a Black Female CEO
We started raising our pre-seed round in April 2022, and in June 2022 I found out I was pregnant with twins – a complete surprise – I'd had an IUD for several years and could not even imagine twins! As close as I am to my mentors, I felt uncomfortable sharing the news. I did not want my company to suffer on my account. Most of you who have been in my position know what I am referring to – the whispers and the doubt about a woman's ability to fulfill her professional responsibilities once she announces she is pregnant. I was really scared: Black female founders receive doubt, whispers, and questions about how we show up as our authentic selves during normal circumstances, and even then, we receive less than a percentage point of VC funding. Being a Woman, being Black, and being pregnant while raising venture capital seemed pretty impossible.
I spoke to my co-founder, and we decided to continue with our round and move onward and upward as most women CEOs do. I had a rough pregnancy – there were periods when I couldn't walk or sit up. There were times I was fearful of being an entrepreneur and having two infants. And there were times I doubted myself.
What truly kept me going was the importance of the work we do through She Matters – supporting Black Mothers who struggle to receive adequate care – and reducing the rate of maternal mortality among Black Women. All the emails and messages I received from the women we support and their inspirational stories pulled me up out of my bed when it was difficult to walk and gave me the strength I needed to speak to investors and the confidence to keep going.
I am also grateful to our Board Chair, Alexander Packard, who said, "This is great news and I can't wait to meet them!" and to my mentor, Isaac Kato, who said, "This is awesome – there is never a dull moment with you!" and Samara Hernandez, who shared countless stories about her role as a Mother alongside her entrepreneurial pursuits. Thank you all for believing in me and our mission always.
To other Mom Founders, I see you. We are all in this together. There are many of you who knew I was expecting, understood my fear, and supported me with phone calls and gifts. I am so grateful. Your successes, experience, and wisdom helped me move through this process with gumption. You are all my sheroes.
To all the Black Mothers who are also founders, thank you for paving a road for me. Thank you for your tenacity, intellect, and confidence. To those of you on this journey now, you are all part of a super supportive group of women who will not let you fail.
Today, I am working with my little ones by my side, grateful for the progress She Matters has made. We are off to an incredible year, and I am happy to advocate for Black Maternal Health, while being a mom and founder!