Kisha Gulley was once kicked out of a Facebook group for mothers with autistic children after a contentious debate she believed was racist. Again and again she came into conflict with the white-dominated groups whom she, as a new mother, had sought for support.
So Gulley, who is Afro Latina, started her own parenting blog and social media accounts. It is now a source of income for them.
The billion dollar world of sleep training guides, toddler activity ideas, breastfeeding tips, and anything parenting has traditionally been mostly white. Parent book covers usually have white faces. Even the so-called mom influencers that brands use to advertise their products were mostly white until recently.
This has left a hole for women of color – especially new mothers – who are struggling to find culturally relevant advice and products for parenting.
They are increasingly taking matters into their own hands.
Mom influencers are also becoming increasingly popular in India, especially on Instagram. Chhavi Mittal (@chhavihussein), Smriti Khanna (@smriti_khanna) and Minal (@raisinglittleexplorer) are some of the most recognizable names on the platform.
Through their content, they reach a community of followers and talk to their children and family about their lives. They share life hacks and funny moments with their children, sometimes with a healthy dose of self-deprecating humor. All of this while simultaneously building paid partnerships with brands that cater to their – and those of their target audiences – demographics.
âIf I can’t find it, we have to start creating it ourselves. I knew I couldn’t be the only person who had these questions, âsaid Gulley, who lives in Phoenix.
When she learned that her firstborn son was autistic, Gulley delved into the research and looked for resources that could help her family. And while there was a lot of information, there were small but important questions that many experts could not answer.
For example, how could she comb through her son’s tightly structured hair without causing his sensory problems? What is a good sunscreen for dark skin that doesn’t leave a white residue?
It was a frustrating time for her that peaked on the Facebook group when she felt that several white women were dismissive and rude to a black mother who asked advice on how to talk to her family about autism -Diagnosis of their child should speak. The women failed to understand that older generations in some color communities are afraid of autism and tend to think that problems are due to behavior and discipline. Gulley defended the mother and was kicked out of the group.
She built her own social media presence shortly thereafter and is now making a living by earning more now than she did in her 15 years as a flight attendant, she said.
For Stacey Ferguson, the need for different parental voices has been a priority for many years. She struggled to find online forums and communities that matched her experience as a black mother.
Ferguson, a trained lawyer and now a business owner, founded Blogalicious 12 years ago, an organization and annual conference that helped women of color monetize and grow their blogs.
The first Blogalicious conference drew 177 people; When Ferguson decided to shut it down in 2017, it was attended by 500 people every year.
âIt was really that magical feeling in the room. And what really surprised us was that a lot of brands were really interested in getting to know our community, âsaid Ferguson.
Over the years, mom bloggers have grown into Instagram influencers. Carefully curated images accompany the posts with tips on how to get a baby to sleep or teach them to feed themselves. Influencers often promote products that they say mothers could find helpful.
The trend was mainly triggered by white women and the brands they were looking for. Ferguson says the landscape is much more diverse now, and brands are more aimed at reaching a diverse range of parents.
But there is still a problem. Marketing budgets are much more limited for multicultural audiences than for general advertising, Ferguson said. Traditionally, white women were paid to market to a general audience. That means a white mother could make a lot more money marketing to audiences of all races and races than a woman marketing specifically to Latina mothers, for example.
“It’s still that archaic way of looking at marketing,” Ferguson said. âThe brands and agencies that understand (the need for diversification) are moving forward. The problem is that there are still so many left behind. “
There’s no consensus on how much brands and companies spend on advertising or sponsorship from parent influencers, but several marketers say it runs into the billions each year.
Brands are just catching up in the Latin American and black American markets, said Larry Chiagouris, professor of marketing at Pace University’s Lubin School of Business.
Chiagouris said the world of parental influencers has been dominated by white women because they were the majority in the past, but that he is increasingly seeing Latinas, black, and Asian American women joining the sphere.
âIt’s like a chicken and egg situation. Marketers want to spend money on Latino influencers, but you have to find them. There are not as many as you might think, âsaid Chiagouris.
Jacqueline Hernandez Lewis of Long Island, New York, started blogging nine years ago as a law student and military woman looking for a community.
After becoming a mother, Hernandez Lewis, 33, wanted to find a room where Latinas and other colored mothers felt empowered. When she went back to work after her first child, she struggled to adjust and wanted to find a way to spend more time at home and still make money. She now has three little ones.
Hernandez Lewis made $ 25 on her first sponsored post. Now she makes between $ 700 and $ 3,000 per job while working full-time.
Her recent Instagram posts include ads for a number of Spanish-language books being republished by Disney Books; for a popular brand of baby wipes; and for Poise, which makes pads that women can use after giving birth.
For Hernandez Lewis, it is important that women of color have an online community and are represented, but equally important is that they reap the fruits of their purchasing power.
âWe deserve to be on the business side. There are brands that haven’t been as inclusive as I hoped, but a lot of brands are shifting and becoming more inclusive, âsaid Hernandez Lewis.
GalvÃ¡n is working on issues affecting Latinos in the US for AP’s Race and Ethnicity team. Follow her on Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/astridgalvan