#parent | #kids | Frisco mom creates app, Akina, to empower Black mothers

The platform is also inclusive for mothers who aren’t Black but may need similar support and resources.

FRISCO, Texas — When Leigh Butler came up with the idea to create a social media app catering specifically to Black moms, she knew it would be beneficial because of her own experience. 

“I was looking for an app that spoke to me, and I didn’t find it,” Butler said. “There are a lot of mommy apps out there, but there is not a mommy app that speaks to the Black motherhood experience from the beginning through grandmotherhood.”

Last June, she launched Akina. The social media app features groups for members to join, a news feed, podcasts and live features with a focus on bringing moms together, empowering them and giving them resources for their various day-to-day needs.

“We have physicians, OBGYNs, pediatricians, family practitioners, we have attorneys, we have accountants…we have all kinds of people,” said Butler.

Butler said, from her own experience, she knows the struggle many Black women face with finding a healthcare provider who will listen and cater to their needs. From knowing what to ask and look for in healthcare, to legal services while going through a divorce or even just the perfect dinner recipe, the goal is connect women with experts who can help. 

“We want to make sure that our moms are armed with that information beforehand, but also given the tools to advocate from themselves,” said Butler. 

The app is also based around creating a safe space to build community so that women would feel comfortable sharing their experiences. 

“We just wanted to be really intentional creating this safe space were we can discuss the challenges that we face,” Butler said. “And that’s not taking anything from anyone else. It was just very difficult to find a space to have these discussions where I didn’t have to explain myself and where I didn’t have to explain what’s already understood.”

Things like microaggressions, navigating discussions about racism and social injustice to her kids and balancing that with coping within herself. 

“These spaces are needed,” Butler said. “These conversations are needed.”

There are also pages for sharing recipes, a weekly playlist curated by a DJ in the community (Butler’s favorite feature) and resources for natural hair care. 

In six months, the community has grown to more than 700 moms from around the world. Butler said about 25% of them are in Canada, the rest are from all over the United States and even as far as England, Germany and Sierra Leone.

“We have a waiting list of over 20,000,” Butler said. 

She said she wanted to cap the community at a smaller number while they worked out any kinks, and they’re preparing to process the thousands who are waiting. 

The app is free. Interested members have to create profile, where they indicate where they are in their motherhood journey. They must also upload a photo, as well as add a photo taken in real time to make sure they match, for security. Members must also agree and adhere to community guidelines that prohibit was Butler called “bullying.”

“We have a space for aunties, for grandmas, for bonus moms for adoptive moms…if you’re just trying to decide if you want to have kids, we have space for that too,” Butler said. 

The platform is also inclusive for mothers who aren’t Black but may need similar support and resources.

“The platform is for Black women, but we’re welcoming anyone raising a child who’s a minority in a majority space,” Butler said. “Whether you’re a white woman who has a Black child or a mixed-race child…we’ve got white moms on the platform. We’ve got Latina moms on the platform.”

The purpose is to create safe community and empower the mothers who create it. 

“I don’t proport to be a mothering expert. I don’t. My children will tell you that I’m not an expert,” Butler said. “What I did want to do was create the space for the conversations to happen.”

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