Raven Barrett is “paying homage to every black mom, one tee at a time.” The Charlotte, N.C.-based founder and “create[her]” of the black mom-focused online boutique Cocoiv has hit a sweet spot in capturing quintessential aspects of black motherhood; culling generations of wisdom, humor and tributes into an Instagram-ready collection of apparel and accessories—and before you even ask, yes, they offer gift cards. (So your super-late behind can look super-thoughtful allowing your favorite matriarch choose her own gift this Mother’s Day—it’s a win-win!)
Opening a little over a year ago, Barrett was inspired to launch Cocoiv when she became a mother to her now two-year-old daughter. “I wanted to create a brand that paid respect to the women who empowered me throughout my pregnancy journey and something that reflected my new stage in life: Black motherhood,” Barrett tells The Glow Up.
“There are plenty of mommy brands out and though I can relate to a lot of those brands, I didn’t see products that fully reflected who I was as a black woman, let alone a black mom,” she adds, “so I created Cocoiv.”
Like a famous black mom we know and love, for Barrett, the “iv” in Cocoiv represents the Roman numeral four—specifically, the four generations of women in her family—while “Coco” represents their various skin tones. These are the women who empowered Barrett’s journey into both motherhood and entrepreneurship and each is reflected in Cocoiv. “The essence of Cocoiv’s products is curated around conversations from a black woman’s point of view and these women play a huge part in the topics of conversations that I choose,” she shares, adding, “They are also a huge part of the voice of the brand.”
Her Southern grandmother—or “Ms. Betty Petty” as she is known to Cocoiv’s Instagram following (called “Coco Mamas”)—is the matriarch of her family, and represents the wisdom of the brand with her wealth of lived experience. Barrett’s mother is the inspirational component: “I’m still amazed at how she raised three kids on her own and managed to stay sane through it all,” Barrett says.
The humor that runs throughout Cocoiv’s product line always comes with a dose of education, which Barrett says reflects her relationship with her aunt, who also inspired Cocoiv’s “Grown Folk Business Tuesdays.”
“She’s the one I go to when I need a good laugh but also when I need a judgment-free zone and a listening ear,” says Barrett. “She reflects the sisterhood of the brand.”
And then, there’s Barrett’s daughter, who, even as a toddler, embodies the empowerment behind the brand. “If it wasn’t for her, I couldn’t call myself a mom. I wouldn’t have experienced the struggles that put me in this place to even run a business, let alone realize the power that my story has in uplifting other women. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have this platform to share other women’s stories as well,” she says.
Cocoiv’s platform and aforementioned sisterhood begin with an inspirational Monday mantra Barrett sends her followers “to jumpstart [their] week on a positive note,” followed by “HerStory” each Monday afternoon, where Barrett features an article from a different black mom blogger weekly and shares her story via Cocoiv’s IG feed. “The purpose of it is to show that we’re more alike than we think,” she says. “Even if you can’t relate to a story that week, you’ll definitely learn something about the things other women experience and will hopefully be more compassionate.”
Helping to dispel any notion that “there can only be one” black success story in a respective space, this Mother’s Day, Cocoiv partnered with fellow black mom empowerment brand Black Mamas Say on the “Mama” project, which showcases “the cultural beauty and uniqueness of black motherhood.” And spinning off of Grown Folk Business Tuesdays, Barrett recently launched a “personal, transparent, and interactive” IGTV series called “Grown Folk Diaries,” in which eight moms “share their perspectives on different topics that we deal with as black women balancing motherhood, sex, ‘good hair,’ microaggressions, relationships, and a host of other topics,” she explains.
Obviously, virtual connections are what it’s all about right now, and as a mom and mom-preneur, Barrett is balancing both roles from home...and trying not to put too much pressure on herself to be superwoman.
“It’s been challenging managing business while trying to keep her entertained,” she admits. “One minute, I’m packaging an order, and the next minute I’m vacuuming because she managed to open a cereal box and pour all the cereal on the floor. These days there is a lot of “Aht! Aht! Put that down, what are you doing back there” going on. In due time, I’ll create a schedule for us and pray that we can stick to it,” she jokes, before adding:
“But in all seriousness, be patient with yourself. Be patient with your kids. Try to enjoy this time you have together. It may be hard to remember right now, but just a few months ago, many of us were trying to find ways to spend more time with our kids. So take this time to love on them.”