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Mother Essentials: Kalkidan Gebreyohannes

Written by Erin Feher

This week’s Mother Essentials star is a triple threat—Kalkidan Gebreyohannes, also known as Kalu, is an Oakland-based mama of three (all under 9!) and the brains behind three different thriving businesses. She’s a partner in the beloved Oakland shop Alyce on Grand, the owner and designer of By Kalu, and an independent creative director and curator for up-and-coming brands and businesses. But what we love most about Kalu is her die-hard loyalty to her community (she takes shopping and supporting local to the next level) and that she is a connoisseur of cuss-word coloring books and Mezcal cocktails. Below you will find a short list of things she and her crew—Iyasu, 9, Mekonnen, 7, and Soliana, 5—can’t be without.

Little Green Friends. “I love plants—I currently have 13 and plan to have another 6 before the end of the year. I love how unique each plant is and how they each require different things. They remind me of humans in that way.” Homestead Apothecary, 486 49th Street, #C, and 3807 MacArthur Boulevard, Oakland.

Music. “Music is medicinal for me! I have a bunch of music I love, but currently I have these three albums in heavy rotation. I’m really proud to say that Sol Development is a local band and their live performances are MAGICAL!” The SOL of Black Folk, Sol Development; Painted, Lucky Daye; African Giant, Burna Boy.

Products for Perfect Curls. “We are a family with curly hair and we have a few different products in rotation, depending on the season or hair needs. These are our three go-tos.” SheaMoisture Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Hair Conditioner, $7.97, Amazon; TGIN Honey Miracle Hair Mask Deep Conditioner with Raw Honey & Olive Oil, $10.40, Amazon; Miss Jessie’s Curly Meringue, $16.81, Amazon.

Alyce On Grand. “I also love unique and well-made pieces. I know, I know, another bias, since I co-own the shop, but 70 percent of my wardrobe is from Alyce on Grand in Oakland (the other 30 percent is from Neutral Ground). I love Alyce on Grand because we are extremely mindful of who and where we buy from, with about 65 percent of the store comprised of independent female designers. We do our best to carry a range of ethically made and sourced products as well.” Alyce on Grand, 3223 Grand Avenue, Oakland.

Marianne Williamson’s A Return to Love. “Reading is something I love to do, but I have struggled with finding time to sit and actually read (without falling asleep). I’m currently reading A Return to Love and now I want to gift it to everybody! It’s that good.” A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles, by Marianne Williamson, $10.75, Amazon.

Affirmation Cards. “For days when I may not have a lot of time to read, I really love using affirmation cards by Under The Sunlight. It’s a really easy and effective way to get back into alignment with yourself and center your thoughts and emotions.” The Art of Being Affirmation Cards, $30, Under the Sunlight.

Breaking a Sweat. “Exercise has been necessary for me to manage my health, stress, and mental clarity. I enjoy everything from weight training to boxing and HIIT. I am working on challenging myself and pushing harder in this area. So. I’m going to attempt X Core in the very near future—pray for me, ya’ll. One of my favorite local gyms is Axé Oakland, and Sequoia is a female trainer who works really well with women and mothers to meet their fitness goals.” Axé Oakland, 3261 Martin Luther King Boulevard, Oakland.

Cooperative Board Games. “My kids and I love to play board games on rainy days or when we need a low-key kind of day. One of our favorites is this ogre treasure board game!” Peaceable Kingdom Race to the Treasure! Award Winning Beat the Ogre Cooperative Game for Kids, $15.99, Amazon.

Glass Nail Files. “I got put onto glass nail files by one of my besties. They are so much better for your nails and don’t cause chips and cracks while filing.” ClassyLady Professional Glass Nail Files, $17.98, Amazon.

Silk Head Wraps. “Speaking of healthy skin—I promise I’m not being biased with this one, but no one else is making them but me!—I love silk head wraps. They have helped me so much with the health of my hair and skin and are a much better option for the environment. Plus, they are handmade in Oakland by women!” Silk Head Wraps, $85-$95, Kalu.

Mezcal Cocktail. “And lastly I love, love, love a good cocktail! Especially if it has Mezcal in it. Bar Shiru, which is a vinyl listening bar in Oakland, has a drink called the Mosaic. I may or may not be addicted, lol.” Bar Shiru, 1611 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland.

Weekly Playlist. “I’m also a fan of a good playlist. My favorite playlist is currently ‘A Vibe Called YES’ by DJ Afrodjiak. I love, love her playlists and as Jamica El so eloquently puts it, ‘It’s not easy to get started and it’s even harder to keep going. I’ll send a weekly playlist for you to work along with. A Vibe Called Yes goes out Sundays, just in time to skip the Monday blues.'” A Vibe Called Yes, Afrodjiak.

Adult Coloring Books. “Adult coloring books have also been a way for me to relax and release. It is a form of meditation for me! Also, a beautiful thing to do with your partner or kids (except maybe not the swear words one!).” F*ck Off, I’m Coloring! Swear Word Coloring Book: 40 Cuss Words and Insults to Color & Relax, $5.99, Amazon.

An Esthetician Who Gets Me. “I’m obsessed with my skin and struggled with adult acne, especially with all the hormonal changes after having children. I get my oxygen facials and LED light therapy from Myeshia Mobley. I’m so blessed to have found an incredible esthetician who understands all skin types, which as a black woman has been a struggle. Cheers to finally being acne free.” The Skin Factory, 10 Crow Canyon Court, San Ramon.

For more on Kalu Gebreyohannes, check out her Instagram feed. And for more Mother Essentials, peep our past columns with designers Rachel Zoe,  Cynthia Rowley and Taylor Jay, children’s author Serena Minott, clean living expert Kristian Henderson, June & January founder Amy Richardson-Golia, Oakland retail queen Sherri McMullenShahidah Zareef of Bossmom NationJoanne EncarnacionLaTonya YvetteMorgan Walker of Make.doJeanne Chan of Harlow & Grey, and more!

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