By Jared D. Childress | OBSERVER Staff Writer
It started with two Black women who wanted to escape the pressures of the pandemic. By June 2020, they gathered outdoors with a handful of others to do yoga and plant succulents at Esther’s Park in Oak Park – marking the birth of “Self Care Sundays.”
Today, the traveling monthly event is a “one-woman show” run by co-creator Nicole Hatch. The most recent sold-out event July 24 at the Old Sugar Mill drew hundreds and featured more than 20 woman-owned local vendors – many of them Black women.
The number of businesses owned by Black women had the highest growth rate of any female demographic between 2014 and 2019, according to an article by JPMorgan Chase. However, their average revenue is only $24,000, compared with $142,900 among all women-owned businesses.
“As a working mom, we deal with so many ups and downs,” said Hatch, 38, who is planning the next event, Aug. 28 at Drake’s: The Barn. “This is a time where we can just let our hair down and have fun with our girls.”
Fun was an understatement.
Guests gathered in front of the winery 15 minutes from downtown Sacramento, taking in sweeping views of vineyards. Once doors opened, the sounds of DJ Stace Lace guided guests to the back courtyard, the music getting louder as they approached the glass exit. Outside, the event was visually stunning: Brazilian samba dancers danced on stilts and green grass amid the sea of vendors as attendees enjoyed bottomless mimosas while engaging in activities from painting, to yoga, to zumba.
The event’s growth is astounding, but what’s most impressive is that it hasn’t wavered from its purpose of promoting physical and mental health.
“We don’t have enough events that incorporate exercise and empowerment,” said first-timer Courtney Thompson, 32, who is a nurse. “In the hospital we’re talking more about self-care, so this is perfect.”
Thompson was among the nearly 100 women who participated in the yoga class led by Poteesa Enakaya. Enakaya, who has been with the event since its inaugural Sunday two years ago, said her goal is to teach yoga that is accessible to everybody and to “every body.”
“It is amazing to be a part of an event where the creator is actively looking for women-owned businesses to participate – that’s a rarity in the world today,” said Enakaya, 54. “This event gives us access to exercise, but also access to other Black women-owned businesses that we may not know about.”
One of the vendors that people may not know about is Beadologie, a handcrafted jewelry business owned by Lori Ann Sparks that boasts semiprecious stones from worldwide.
“This didn’t start out as a business. It was therapy,” said Sparks, 60, who started stringing jewelry after the passing of her first husband. “My therapist recommended [stringing jewelry] as a hobby. And 15 years later, here I am – this has gotten me through COVID and the passing of my parents.”
Vendor Ashlee Allen was there to “help women cleanse from the inside out,” as owner of the Yoni Palace, which she founded after yoni womb steams healed her polycystic ovary syndrome, allowing her to have two more children.
“When I saw what it did for my body, I said other women have to know about this,” said Allen, 36. “I feel blessed because not only am I a Black woman, [but] when you take the color off it, I’m still a woman. It’s a blessing to help women because we all suffer in silence.”
No one was silent at Self Care Sundays – underneath celebratory music, women could be heard exchanging compliments, networking and laughing. Co-founder Hatch described such ease as the “security” found in community.
“You never know who you are touching,” Hatch said. “I just had someone tell me she’s here because her mom passed away recently and she just wanted to be around that love and light of community. That’s the reason why we do this.”
To become a vendor, email firstname.lastname@example.org or message them on instagram @selfcaresundays_sac. To purchase tickets for Self Care Sundays on Aug. 28 at Drake’s: The Barn visit eventbrite.com.