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Mother Essentials: Brynne Barnes, Author of Black Girl Rising

Written by Katie Hintz-Zambrano

As soon as we set eyes on the stunning, brand-new children’s book Black Girl Rising, we knew we wanted to get to know the creator better. And in today’s Mother Essentials, our wish was granted. Michigan-based writer and poet Brynne Barnes is not only the author of a trifecta of children’s books (including Colors of Me and Books Do Not Have Wings), she’s also living her dream as an English professor, speaker, and mother of a 4-year-old son. Below, she shares her vibrant list of must-haves that are current mainstays in her life—from a versatile tote (and organizer insert) to her daily matcha and music fix. Enjoy!

Lizzo, Soulsonic, and H.E.R. “Music, food, and poetry are my love languages. I can’t drive anywhere without some good music, and my son is the same way. Whenever he’s in the car, these artists keep his head bobbing. Many times, he’ll even belt out a few heartfelt notes.”

Eric Carle Learning Series Board Book. “My son is an avid book-lover, and this is still one of his absolute favorite books because he loves numbers and Eric Carle. I keep one in the house and one in the car so he can practice writing his numbers, doodle, and look at the story book. I love reading this one with him.” The World of Eric Carle Learning Series Board Book, $13.99, Amazon.

Emblem Spicy Cajun Olive Oil. “I love to cook. I also love products that make cooking at home quicker, tastier, and easier. This spicy cajun olive oil packs a punch of flavor, and it tastes great when sautéing shrimp, fish, and chicken. A little goes a long way, and it adds a bit of a kick to whatever you’re preparing. This brand also makes other flavors, including fresh lemon, roasted garlic, and smokey mesquite.” Emblem Spicy Cajun Olive Oil, $32.99, Amazon.

Cooking with Joya: It’s Soul Mahmazing Vol 1.5 Cookbook. “If you don’t know Chef Joya, you’ll want to know her! She’s the vegan chef responsible for making me experiment with cooking vegan at home—and loving every minute (and bite) of it! Her recipes are fantastic! This digital cookbook makes me forget that I’m a carnivore, including yummy recipes for ‘cajun fried chick’n’ where she substitutes chicken for meaty oyster mushrooms, ‘southern noxtails,’ and ‘not your mama’s meatloaf.'” It’s Soul Mahmazing! Vol. 1.5, $30.99, PayHip.

Oofos OoLaLa Sandals. “I practically live my life in these. They are, by far, the most comfortable flip flops I’ve ever worn. They’re perfect for running errands, going for walks with my son, and I love them for traveling. I even have a pair that I only wear in the house, which allows me to be comfortable while I’m doing chores and carrying a basket of laundry upstairs. It makes me feel like I’m walking on clouds all day long, and they give great support for my feet, back, and joints. These were a lifesaver after post-pregnancy back pains, too!” OOFOS OOlala Women’s Sandal, $69.95, Amazon.

imPress Nails. “These have become a must-have for me since the days of giving myself a manicure are long gone. When I became a new mom, I discovered these press-on nails that last for two weeks at a time. They’re beautiful, and everywhere I go, everyone asks me where I get my nails done.” imPress Nails, $8.99, imPress.

Lancôme Rènergie Lift Multi-Action Ultra Face Cream with SPF 30. “I use this every single morning after I wash my face. This day cream is wonderful. Not only does it feel luxurious, but it also provides anti-aging benefits and sun protection. It’s moisturizing without being oily and my skin quickly absorbs it. I don’t like perfume’y products, and this one has a subtle, pleasant scent. It feels like someone created this day cream just for me and my skin.” Lancôme Rènergie Lift Multi-Action Ultra Face Cream SPF 30, $110, Lancôme.

SKYN Iceland Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels. “Okay, I have a thing for skin care. Currently, I use these about once a week as a way to relax. However, after my son was born, I used them much more frequently because I wasn’t getting much sleep. I love these eye masks! They’re quick and easy to use. You can even multitask while you have these eye masks on, if need be, because they don’t slip. Ten minutes help firm and tone, while de-puffing that highly sensitive under-eye area. I think of this product as every mom’s (especially new moms) best friend.” Skyn Iceland Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels, $33, ULTA.

Tory Burch Ella Patent Tote Bag. “This is yet another must-have for me—a nice, large sleek and stylish tote bag that I can take everywhere—and I mean everywhere. This bag seamlessly transitions from day to night, and it’s roomy enough to house all of my daily essentials. I think of it as the purse equivalent of a ‘little black dress.’ It’s just right for any and every occasion. I wear it on the weekends with a t-shirt and jeans, and I also wear it to work. It even doubled as a nice diaper bag when my son was younger.” Ella Patent Tote Bag, $249, Tory Burch.

Purse Organizer. “I love a large tote bag. What I don’t love is a large tote bag jam-packed with disorganization. Enter the purse organizer. It has a plethora of compartments that turns any large tote into an orchestra of organization. Yes, please! I can’t live without this. Plus, when you want to change bags, you simply lift the purse organizer out of one bag and drop it into another; it makes changing purses a breeze! It also does a nice job of keeping the interior of your purse nice and clean.” OMYSTYLE Purse Organizer Insert for Handbags, $14.99, Amazon.

Nativas Organic Matcha Powder. “This is how I start every single day—with a hot cup of tea and the silence of early, early morning. The health benefits of green matcha include a nice little boost of energy while still allowing me to complete my morning meditation. Plus, it’s full of antioxidants. It’s the perfect way of saying ‘good morning’ in a cup.” Navitas Organics Matcha Powder, 3oz. Pouch, $17, Amazon.

Token Board. “I love this product for my son because it’s a great way to teach goal-setting in a visual way. I let him earn things that he wants, like TV time, and I let him put the stars on the board himself. It always makes him feel so proud to earn something that he’s worked for.” Kenson Kids “I Can Do It!” Caterpillar Token Board Dry Erase Star Incentive Chart, $6.95, Amazon.

For more Mother Essentials, peep our recent features on Tisha Thompson of LYS Beauty, Blueland’s Sarah Paiji Yoo, Heirloom’s Sri Bodanapu, Lady Falcon Coffee Club founder Buffy Maguire, the mama-duo behind Spring & Mulberry chocolate, Dear Bella Creamery co-founder Alice Cherng, designer Becky Hui Chan, author Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, ByHeart co-founder Mia Funt, Backdrop founder Natalie Ebel, Oui The People founder & CEO Karen Young, author-illustrator Grace Lin, the co-founders of ODDOBODY, Happy Family Organics’ CEO Anne Laraway, YA author J.Elle, kid-lit authors Karen Chan and Suzanne Greenlaw, the founders of EADEM, and Minimalista author Shira Gill.

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