Tanya Hayles is an event planner who founded Black Moms Connection, a network for black mothers to share their experiences. This Sunday is the first ever Black Moms Connection Conference, which will bring the vast online community together for panel discussions, guest speakers, a vendor marketplace, conversations and more. 

We caught up with Tanya this week.

SDTC: Can you tell me a bit about your background and how Black Moms Connection came to be?

TH: I’m an event planner by trade and by nature. I’m also a single mother. Being a career person (especially in the event industry), having a village to support me as I raise a child became that much more important. I had been in some mom groups but felt they didn’t always apply to me. Things like hair products and sunscreen for Black skin. I knew my questions would become more targeted as my son grew (how do you talk about racism?), so two years ago, I asked some friends if they would join a group for Black women to share their experiences. Thus BMC was born.

What were the initial meetings like? Are you surprised that it has grown worldwide?

Our first meetups were casual lunches, most didn’t bring their kids because they wanted to be free. When we started BMC is was Canadian only, but we eventually opened it up to any Black mother anywhere. Last year’s growth of 400 to 4000 blew me away! I love seeing moms in Japan and Australia chime in. I love that countries in both Africa and the Caribbean are represented as well.

What does a day in your life look like?

A day in my life! LOL. 6 a.m. wake up and breakfast for the kiddo. Check FB messenger, notifications and emails. Work starts at 8:30 a.m. when I work on client projects. Throughout the day, I am on Facebook (a lot) to research, do outreach, check in with admins, share posts or find events. Social media eats up a lot of time (and Wi-Fi!), but it’s proven to be beneficial on many fronts.

Kiddo gets picked up by 5 p.m. and I try to block out at least three hours of being a parent only. That could be soccer or just watching Treehouse. From 9 p.m. onwards, Food Network or HGTV keep me company while I catch up on other work. That could be writing and editing (I freelance on the site), BMC or other business tasks. My goal is to turn off and be in bed by 11 p.m., but it’s usually closer to 12:30 a.m. As you can see, the management of BMC is a full-day thing!

The 1st Annual Black Mom Connection Conference is coming up this week. What are you most looking forward to at the event?

I am SO excited about it. I probably won’t sleep for the next few days! I really want our community to learn the things that will change our community for the better for generations to come. The financial literacy part is probably the most important and impactful thing we can do. TD Bank’s support of the event will have a trickle-down effect to changing how we prosper and grow. Getting to sit down and chat with MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes is a huge honour for me. But I’m most excited about my mom being there. She is the reason why I’m the mother that I am and this WHOLE movement/event/organization couldn’t be without her.

Anything else we should know about your org and what you’ve got planned for the rest of 2017?

I think the main thing I’d want people to know is that BMC isn’t about exclusion – although it might seem so on the surface. It’s about creating a safe space for women to share and connect with each other. It’s about having tough and honest and raw conversations that we cannot have just anywhere.

As the group grows, the focus will be moving more of these conversations offline. More intimate workshops – from will and estate planning to being a queer mom to adoption. I’m excited (because I’m also a nerd) that Facebook has given us analytics. We know where our members are, and want to help them engage more with each other both on and offline. Next year will be about speaking to what BMC is at various events and workshops as well as building out the Board of Directors.

Learn more and register for #BMCC17 here.