Penelope McCown is a wife, mother, and owner of one-of-a-kind, Cocoa Baby Love LLC. McCown is a family nurse practitioner by trade but was inspired by her daughter, Priya, to build something greater that is Cocoa Baby Love LLC. A high-end brand of infant and toddler products and apparel dedicated to the celebration of African American children. McCown chooses to center her business on celebrating African American children due to her own personal struggles of having a child with her husband. Before McCown was given the vision for her business she and her husband of 8 years desired to have a huge family with seven children. After multiple tests, diagnoses, infertility, and a devastating miscarriage McCown was disappointed that she couldn’t conceive. She never gave up faith and she believes God eventually blessed her with her daughter, Priya. After the birth of her daughter, McCown knew her struggles were not in vain and that God had big plans for her family.
Through Cocoa Baby Love LLC McCown celebrates her daughter and all African American infants and toddlers because she believes they are our biggest blessings. Her brand focuses on the beauty of African American infants and toddlers. She offers products to assist mothers, 35- 45 years old, during their child’s infant and toddler years. Some of McCown’s products include decals and silicone bibs with encouraging phrases that represent black children. Her products are safe, durable, and cruelty-free. McCown fills the space where there was a lack of representation in brands that support black women who struggle to conceive. In the black community, these conversations are often private as women are shamed for infertility. McCown desires to support women who are pregnant or preparing for the arrival of a child. She desires to create a community of black women who have difficulty conceiving, carrying, or are having a non-conventional birthing experience.
McCown is a Bronx native but was raised in Augusta, Georgia, and is the youngest of her siblings. McCown grew up like an only child due to the age gap between her and her older sister. This sparked her desire to have a full house with a huge family. McCown has always been goal-oriented, determined, and decisive. She dreams big and takes action on the things she wants. This came to fruition when she became a member of McCown is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated. This thinking also applies to her business as well. In the next 5 to 10 years McCown wants to expand her product line and create a subscription service. Cocoa Baby Love LLC will be the go-to, must-have brand for new moms.
We Empower Magazine got an exclusive interview with Penelope McCown.
Please tell us about Cocoa Baby Love LLC?
Penelope McCown: Cocoa Baby Love is a unique brand of infant and toddler products. It is unique because it was birthed from the culmination of my journey to motherhood — including the struggles to conceive my daughter through the grueling process of Vitro Fertilization (IVF) in which we did 3 rounds, the losses and extreme disappointments that were experienced during the processes as well as the emotional turmoil that was endured during it all.
These experiences not only play a key role in the type of mother I am to my daughter today (including the type of products that I will offer) but these experiences inspired me to create something big, something great! Because I knew that I was not given this experience and this journey just to struggle for the sake of struggling because that is not how God functions.
In the end, I was able to 1) understand that through my journey I am to inspire others. And 2) I was given this experience because something was supposed to come of it — which is Cocoa Baby Love. Cocoa Baby Love is truly a celebration. It celebrates our precious jewels (our children) whom we prayed endlessly for and the mommies who endured so much and deserve all the support and praise and would go to the end of the earth for our babies.
Through Cocoa Baby Love I offer only quality products and products I am proud of, that I stand behind and that I use! I want moms to know this is because it is important to have quality products especially when their children are involved.
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur?
Penelope McCown: What I enjoy most about being an entrepreneur is having the ability to take an idea, concept, or vision and having full control of every detail of it, every aspect of it, and having the ability to execute it the way I see fit. I love the idea of endless possibilities and the ability to be limitless with your ideas and visions.
How do you feel you make a difference in the world?
Penelope McCown: I make a difference in the world because I am inherently a kind, caring, and loving person. We live in a world where today many people seem to only care for themselves, put themselves and their needs first, and care for their “rights” to the detriment of others. So in a world when it seems we are lacking kindness, care, and love, I exude it! Even though I naturally possess these qualities, I make an extra effort many times to add a little more. Because if you just look around, our world needs it…A little love and kindness go a long way.
Who are some women in business that inspire you?
Penelope McCown: Sara Blackley hands down is my biggest female businesswoman/entrepreneur inspiration. I love how open she is to share her story and her teachings. The fact that created Spanx and went from shipping Spanx from her house to now being a billion-dollar business is a huge inspiration. And the fact that she’s a mom of 4 while running a billion-dollar company tops it all off!
What do you think are some of your best qualities of being a boss?
Penelope McCown: I have a lot of boss qualities. Some of my best include being a strategist. I have the innate ability to figure out in precise terms how to get something accomplished. And if that plan doesn’t work give me a little time and I will figure something else out! I’m a believer of if there’s a will there’s away. But I am also a realist and I am well aware of my capabilities at a given time which helps me make smart business decisions.
I am also very good at problem-solving and figuring out ways to get through hurdles to still come out on top. That’s very important as a boss as there will always be problems and you can’t let them break you but you have to figure them out. I’m also not afraid to express my needs or my concerns and I don’t run away from the opposition. I exude perseverance and I have a great deal of self-discipline — all of which are key in being a true boss.
When do you think of women empowerment what comes to mind?
Penelope McCown: When I think of women empowerment what comes to mind is owning “it”. And when I say “it” that refers to ANYTHING that you do. When I think of women empowerment I think of women taking charge, not only claiming their space but creating their own space. Creating your own “lane”. It’s also not just about being on top, but empowering other women to do the same. Women empowerment is about erasing any limits and breaking through any barriers that may exist. It’s not only about paving the way but for clearing that path for that paving to even begin.
It’s about seeing your strength as a woman. It’s about truly realizing our power! We. Birth. Life. and there’s nothing more powerful. Women’s empowerment is about knowing our God-given gifts and knowing our worth.
What other endeavors are you currently involved in?
Penelope McCown: Right now the majority of my time and energy is focused on bringing Cocoa Baby Love to life and ensuring every aspect and detail is presented to the world as I envision. My time is focused on bringing awareness to the brand and building my community of moms. Even more importantly, I am “mommying” to my baby girl, being a wifey to my husband, and working full time as a nurse practitioner. With these endeavors, I currently don’t have the time for much else.
What advice would you have for mompreneurs?
Penelope McCown: I have several pieces of advice for my mompreneurs.
1) Whatever you do, don’t give up! It can be a lot especially if you work full time outside the home as I do. The struggle is real. I understand first hand! But it will be worth it in the end. Your children will benefit from your endeavors and hopefully, your children’s children so stay focused on the prize and the end goal.
Keep up-to-date with Penelope McCown on Instagram @aestheticallyp_np
Photo Credit: Nathan Percy
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Multimedia Creative and Personality Tammy Reese is an award-winning Writer and Journalist. Writing and Directing short films on social issues to spread awareness through the arts gained Tammy the Makers: Women Who Make America Award honor on International Women's Day 2019. Tammy currently serves on the Communications Committee for New York Women In Film and Television. She is also the Founder and Owner of Visionary Minds Public Relations and Media.