Oakland-based Business Owner Supports Diverse Group of Mothers

CEO, Emani Lewis (l) at MOCHA by Marie’s 1st annual Mental Health Matters festival

Emani Lewis, founder of MOCHA by Marie is now a first-time mom. She meets with me from a pink and white nursery as her six-month-old daughter plays in the background. Emani’s new experience as a mom helps her feel more connected to her organization,The Mothers of Color Healing Association (MOCHA), a non-profit 501(c)(3) focused on closing the opportunity gap for mothers of color. Then again, she recognizes that everyone can play the role of a mother even if they are not biological mothers. She knows this from her own experience growing up and caring for her two younger siblings as her mother worked multiple jobs. Her life experience became a source of inspiration, magnified by the suicide of her brother, Jamauriya, which required her to be a rock for her family in new ways.

In 2019, after initially coming up with the idea while she was in high school, Emani founded The Mothers of Color Healing Association (MOCHA) by Marie, a name inspired by her maternal grandmother, which her mother passed down to her. The mission of MOCHA is to provide information about local organizations and resources to maximize the mental, physical, financial, and emotional well-being of women of color. Emani’s ultimate goal is to break the cycle of poverty and support those she assists in living choice-filled lives.

When Emani became a young Black business owner, she recalls the rush that she felt in earning the accomplishment. “It meant so much. I felt a sense of triumph like I was holding a trophy in my hand.” While she didn’t have all the answers, she was committed to going with the flow and trying her best. Emani attributes her success in part to the mentorship of others who have successfully started their own businesses and networking to build social capital. Especially today, when Black-owned businesses make up about 48% of small businesses, connections matter. Emani admits that it has been a struggle. “There are so many different criticisms out there and some of it comes from us ourselves. The narrative that Black people don’t want to support Black people is something that I face. And when I look up the top 10 nonprofits none of them are run by us, but they are supported by us.” Yet this doesn’t defer Emani from supporting her people and women and girls of all ethnicities.

MOCHA by Marie’s strategy is to post links to resources online and partner with other nonprofits and local organizations to provide a one-stop shop that elevates services ranging from housing to higher education. Emani is a one-woman show, conducting research daily, attending virtual lectures, and planning events like her annual Mental Health Matters festival, a cause that is near and dear to her heart because of her brother’s story. Mental Health Matters: Tackling Access Together will be virtual this year and aims to shine a light on the lack of access to affordable care and what we can do about it. Emani says, “MOCHA is all about moms, but not just about moms. It is about sharing and building community and healing together.”

You can learn more about MOCHA by Marie and access resources by visiting mochabymarie.com or following @mochabymarie on social media.

Writer. Educator. Parent. Leopard Print Lover.