When Courtney Mick, our NJ Mompreneur of the Week, was working as a licensed social worker at a local high school, she saw firsthand how many mothers there put everyone above their own needs and suffered greatly because of it. Courtney knew this all too well—she had been blogging about her unfiltered journey of motherhood and the stress of taking on too much, otherwise known as the Strong Black Woman Syndrome. As she met more overwhelmed Black mothers, she started thinking about how she could create a space where they would feel safe and supported by other Black women. And then the pandemic happened, and Courtney knew this was her moment—she opened Black Women’s Wellness Co., a private psychotherapy practice explicitly designed to meet the needs of Black Women. In just three years, her business has flourished, and Courtney has a growing waitlist of potential clients, adding therapists to the roster and group sessions. We chatted with this newly engaged East Orange mom to Aiden, 6, to find out how mental health conversations vary with each generation, the way she carves out “me time” each day, and the local park where her family goes roller skating.
Courtney started blogging soon after having her son, Aiden, which eventually put her on the path to owning her own business, where she focuses on promoting the mental health and wellness of Black women and their families.
Tell us a little bit about your family and background. Though I was born in New Jersey, my parents moved us to Pennsylvania, but I made my way back here after graduating from Temple University with a degree in psychology. My fiancé, Erron, and I call East Orange home, which is the perfect mix of suburban and urban and centrally located so that we can get to NYC in 20 minutes and to Pennsylvania in under an hour. Also, they’ve built up the rec department and added so many extracurricular things for kids, something I really appreciate so that our son, Aiden, 6, and our beautiful blended family can take advantage of all our town has to offer.
What did you do career-wise before launching Black Women’s Wellness Co., and what was the “aha” moment that made you decide to open it? I’d been working in the school system as a social worker and continued to work there after Aiden was born, but while looking for a “mom community,” I realized I needed to create one myself and share my raw motherhood journey. I did this under my name, Courtney Chanel, and then I followed that up with another space, I Am Not Superwoman, which initially applied to women trying to take on everything. This eventually morphed into Black Women’s Wellness Co. precisely because, as the lead social worker at a Black high school, I saw how hard these moms worked to raise their children, care for their parents and others, and have their careers. They’d push themselves to excel in all areas of their lives, and many were overworked, overwhelmed, and stressed. It’s called the Strong Black Woman Syndrome because so many of us do so much for everyone else, and we put ourselves last, and we’re overlooked in the sense of needing support. I wanted to create a space where Black women would feel safe and be seen and supported by other Black women. When the pandemic happened, it allowed me to shift and leave the school system so I could focus on entering the individual private practice level, and I haven’t looked back since.
Courtney left the school system and launched her own business, in part to have a better quality of life with her family. Taking risks and working hard to make your dreams come true are two valuable life lessons she hopes to pass on to Aiden.
You’ve said, “I believe that if millennials understand mental health and wellness, we can bridge the gap between generations.” Please elaborate on this. Different generations are all over the map when it comes to opening up about mental health. In general, Gen X did not talk about mental health at all; Gen Z is extremely open and talks about it all the time, and Millennials are very inconsistent regarding this topic. They were raised believing there are certain steps you take in life to be successful, and conversations about burnout and mental health would never be part of that equation. Thanks to social media, we’re seeing a significant increase in traveling and self-care, which has been so transformative in creating conversations. Before social media, people kept their heads down and took care of business without realizing that something might have been an issue. Now they’re asking questions. These critical mental health conversations help bridge the gap between generations, and working together is better for everyone in society, regardless of when they were born.
Since launching your business, what have you seen that’s surprised you? I’ve been shocked about how fast I grew this business, which shows me that there’s a real need for it, and I’m in the right space at the right time. We’ve been full since we started, have a waitlist, and have continued expanding our team. My goal is to be able to serve and support as many Black women as we can ethically and authentically.
What do you hope Aiden learns from seeing you run your own business? It was important to me that we had more family time together, and I wanted the evening to be ours, so shifting to run my own business has made me less stressed out and depleted, which is good for all of us. I want him to know that he should take risks, work hard and keep trying if it’s something he wants. And I hope he knows he can and should ask for help and support when needed. When I worked in the school system, my schedule didn’t always align with Aiden’s, so now he gets to see me enjoying life, spending more time with him, and being more present when we are together.
Courtney and her fiancé, Erron, are big foodies and are raising Aiden to appreciate what he eats, too.
How do you relax after a particularly stressful day? During the week, I wake up early when the house is completely quiet and do self-care before jumping into mom and house manager mode. If I have something in my head, I like to meditate and journal, and I also like doing Pilates or some form of exercise in the house. Podcasts are another way I like to get my day started. I’ve also found that silent moments are the most peaceful way to de-stress. After a stressful day, I like to put my feet up and be on the couch, either reading a magazine and looking at new recipes or watching a show on Netflix.
What are some of your favorite NJ businesses and places you like to visit with your family? Elitist Coffee in South Orange is my favorite place to go. I love their Cuban Latte with Oat Milk and get it either hot or cold depending on the season, and their spinach galette is so good I’ve been known to order two of them. They also have a co-working space off the side, so it’s really convenient if you need to do some work. Another favorite business, Add Pilates, is my lifeline right now. Doing it creates a sense of peace in me that is genuinely transformative. It’s evident that the owner, Tracy, loves what she does, and everyone seems to feel the same way I do because it’s like The Hunger Games to get on the schedule–her classes fill up so fast. Erron and I are also foodies, and our favorite restaurant is Swahili Village, an African restaurant in downtown Newark. We love to go there, order the wings (which are beyond delicious!), get a cocktail or two, and enjoy the vibe. Also, we love roller skating in Branch Brook Park—it’s beautiful there, an excellent workout, and fun.
What’s your best piece of advice for a mompreneur just starting? It takes a village, so surround yourself with good people. Talk to them regularly about what you’re doing and share what’s happening because you’ll need support as a mompreneur. Know that you can do it—just keep going.