The Womanhood Collab in Honor of Black History Month

The Womanhood Collab in Honor of Black History Month

It is the mission of Nena & Co. to empower women creatives and visionaries around the world. In alignment with its mission, we choose to amplify the voices of BIPOC women year-round. We are excited to share the details of our Womanhood collaborations with three talented Black business owners, activists, and influencers.

These beautiful women have chosen to design color ways that symbolize what Womanhood means to them.

The Womanhood in Royal Collaboration with Angela Webber

photo collage of a collaboration with Nena & Co. and Angela Webber for Black History Month.

Who has been the most influential woman of color in your life and how did this woman influence your thought-processes?

My great grandmother, Mamie who raised me along with my mother. She passed away in 2017. 

She was a half-Black, half-white woman born and raised in the south during a time of high racism and segregation. Hearing her stories of how she was treated during that time really opened my eyes, as a child, to the oppression and racism that Black people faced (and still face).

She would tell us how even though she was half-white, they’d hold up a brown paper bag to her skin and see that she was “darker than a paper bag”, so she wouldn’t be allowed in any of the “whites only” establishments. She also introduced me to one of my favorite movies, The Color Purple. She said it was a great way for me to see what she endured during that time. 

How has she impacted your work and mission?

My great-grandma was the hardest working person that I’ve ever known. She went from nothing to having three homes and a successful nursing career. She taught me the importance of saving money, working hard, and going after my goals. She would also say that a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush which meant that even though I should go for my goals, I should also be content with what I have and not risk everything for greed. 

What aspects of having a creative voice are most satisfactory?

This one made me think! For me, I’d say the most satisfying thing about having this platform and a creative voice is that I can shine a light on things that matter to me like racism and the challenges that Black women face.


For example, recently I shared about how I was embarrassed to be Black while growing up. I’d straighten my hair and let racist microaggressions slide because I didn’t want to draw attention to the fact that I was Black and looked different. Sharing my story and sharing how I now embrace being Black and am proud of my heritage, encourages other Black women to come out and say that they too went through what I did too. It was a great healing moment for us all. 

How can you relate to the Womanhood Icon?

The Womanhood Icon symbolizes all the things that associate with being a woman. Our inner strength, childbirth, and our resiliency. We can literally bounce back from anything and regrow into whatever we want to be!

Is there a phase that you relate to most and why?

I definitely relate to the Tides. I’ve had periods of low tides in my life where everything was just dark. But just like the ocean, I rolled back up on that shore and clawed my way out of those dark times regrowing into the woman that I am today. Also, I’m a Cancer sign which is a water sign and heavily influenced by the moon just like the Tides. 

What significance did you find in the colors you chose for the design?

I’ve decided to dominantly feature the color purple as Black women are queens, and purple is the color of royalty. Additionally, the novel, The Color Purple, was a big part of my life growing up. The main character, Celie, has a fascination with the color purple. To her, it symbolized strength, freedom, and growth. She goes through cycles in her life where she’s being oppressed but then a period where she breaks free from that oppression. To me, that’s inspiring!

I also chose aqua as an accent color. This is mostly about me as I’m a water sign and have so much love for the ocean. Also, the moon heavily influences a woman’s different cycles whether menstrual, fertility, or childbirth along with the ocean. Because of this, I wanted the color aqua to be represented in my design.

What message would you like to send with your Womanhood design?

I want to send the message that we as women are strong. We have an inner strength that no one can touch and the power to pull through just about anything. 

 

The Womanhood in Noire Collaboration with Cheryl Neufville Etiang

Photo collage of a collaboration between Nena & Co. and Cheryl. Two photos of her and one photo of the womanhood bag she helped design

Who has been the most influential woman of color in your life?

The most influential BIPOC woman in my life would have to be my mother. I know it’s probably what a lot of people say, but it’s true. I come from a powerful lineage of black women. The first person I saw when I came to this Earth, was a black woman. She nurtured me and created and molded worlds from me out of nothing. She is a true creator and teacher and she inspires me every day.

How did your mother influence your way of thinking?

Through her example, I saw that it was okay to leave spaces and people that do not lift you up or bring out your true beauty. She has taught me that it is okay for me to beat to my own drum and dance on my own stage, even if there is no one around to applaud. This has helped me keep focused on my dreams and not worry about how other people believe I am supposed to live my life!

Has she influenced your work and mission and if so, how?

When my mom first arrived in the US, she had a lot to adjust to. When she was pregnant, she had a very difficult time with the healthcare workers that attended to her at the time. She felt very unsafe and alone. One of the doctors even tried to terminate her pregnancy because they felt she had “ too many kids.” This is why I wanted to go into midwifery, to ensure that women have access to safe and affordable healthcare while feeling empowered.

What aspects of having a creative voice are most satisfactory?

I have blessed with the ability to dance. I have had the opportunity to perform all over the world and it has truly filled my heart with so much love and joy. I love when young black girls come to me afterward and express how my movement has inspired their lives. I even have the opportunity to teach dance here in Uganda to young girls and it has been truly fulfilling.

How can you relate to the Womanhood Icon?

I think the Womanhood Icon represents so much of what I hope to embody in my own life. Unity, resilience, paying homage to ancestry, understanding my role as a female creator, and encouraging all those around me is always the life dream and what the Womanhood Icon represents to me.

Is there a phase that you relate to most and why?

“Work hard in silence, let your success be your noise.”


I have always loved that phrase because oftentimes we have this urge to announce things before its time or to seek validation for unfinished work. I have had to learn to build my life and dreams in private and the results usually speak for themselves.

What significance did you find in the colors you chose for the design?

I decided to go with the colors of the Pan African Flag because I feel it is something I have always connected to and provides hope and joy to the Black community. Red represents the blood shed by our ancestors in the efforts to fight for liberation. It also represents the blood that connects us as black and African people. Black represents black people who exist and a nation. Finally green represents life, growth, and the fertility of Africa.

What message would you like to send with your Womanhood design?

Never be afraid of the unknown. It is where the deepest and most powerful parts of ourselves are born. When we as women realize just how much we are capable of. When we realize the ability to move mountains with ease.

 

The Womanhood in Growth Collaboration with Jenni Kaufusi

Photo collage with Nena & Co. and Jenni Kaufusi. One photo is of her modeling the purse and the other is a portrait of her looking fierce.

Jenni is the Founder/CEO of Stella & Haas, a beautifully curated jewelry company that has been around for about a year. Jenni’s goal for her brand is for people to put on the pieces and feel empowered and increase their self-love! Her style changes from day to day and she loves that the price points are at a level where people can afford to mix and match and change up their style. 

Who has been the biggest supporter in your life?

Jenni’s dad owned a home decor company and saw that from a young age, she was very into fashion. He would take her to trade shows and business meetings from the time she was 13 years old to teach her firsthand how to run a business. At the age of 16, she knew she wanted to create and pursue her dream of owning a fashion boutique.


Jenni worked for the family business her whole life until it closed down in 2018. When this happened, she took some time to focus on herself and then decided it was now or never, so she leaned into her own intuition and personal power and started Stella & Haas with only $10,000.

What was your inspiration for starting your company, and how did you come up with the name?

Part of why Jenni chose to start the brand was to show her 14-year old daughter more women who looked like her. “I am half-Black and half-white, and my husband in Tongan. I wanted to empower all women to be seen and embrace who they are,” Jenni said.


The name of the company was inspired by Jenni’s challenges with fertility. “I always had dreams of having twins someday. My husband’s nickname is Haas, and we knew we would name them Stella and Haas,” said Jenni. While that hasn’t happened yet, Jenni has chosen to place her power and fill herself up in another way. Her jewelry is intentional and full of love and power.

How have you found strength in your identity?

This past year has been a huge period of growth for Jenni. Growing up, people would tell her she wasn’t Black because she was adopted by white parents and didn’t know her birth parents. While this was and is completely inappropriate, after constantly hearing these things, Jenni started to have doubts in her mind about who she was.

Recently, she did a DNA test on Ancestry.com and found her dad, who is 100% Black. 

Once she figured this out for herself, she felt like she was able to embrace all sides of herself. 2020 has helped her embrace her Black heritage and culture, such as trying out new hairstyles that she didn’t always feel “Black enough” to wear in the past. “It has been such a beautiful and freeing journey for me,” Jenni said.

What significance did you find in the colors you chose for the design?

“My design is called Womanhood in Growth. For me, I have grown a lot this year and want to continue growing. I have been drawn to an olive green color as a symbol for Growth and Life as plants and trees grow and give life to the earth. I included black because I love black and I wanted to drive the meaning that you have to have dark in order to have light. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the struggles that I’ve been through. As hard as they’ve been and continue to be, it pushes me to be the best version of myself.

The lighter nude/blush color represents the light. This is one of the main colors of the Stella & Haas brand and it’s a way that I could infuse my own brand, which is a part of who I am, into the design.”

Why did you decide to donate a portion of the proceeds to the Black Girls Code?

A portion of the proceeds from Stella & Haas’s sales during February is also going to the Black Girls Code foundation. Jenni believes this is a beautiful way to empower the next generation of young Black girls. That is the goal, and she’s so excited to help further their education.

What advice would you give to any women, maybe specifically WOC, who want to start a business or create their own platform?

“I would say to just do it! We all can make excuses of why we can’t or shouldn’t. Lean into why you should and just start even if it’s baby steps,” Jenni said. It’s important to remember that you are absolutely capable, and then start. “Consistency is key,” she explained. She also wants you to remember not to be too hard on yourself when things go wrong, but instead to learn from your mistakes and move forward.