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Latham Thomas The Soft Space Mama Glow
Mother Stories

Latham Thomas Opens The Soft Space

Latham Thomas The Soft Space Mama Glow

Written by Katie Hintz-Zambrano

Photography by Lucia Vaccaro

With Latham Thomas' latest project—The Soft Space, in Brooklyn—she seeks to serve the collective need for ease, softness, and recalibration. Especially for mothers, doulas, and others in the birth work industry.

Before we dive into The Soft Space, explain the work you currently do with Mama Glow.

"I’m the founder of Mama Glow, a global maternal health and education platform that educates and professionally develops doulas and nurse care managers to serve in our healthcare system to improve maternal health outcomes. We have trained over 2,500 doulas across the U.S. and over 6 continents. Our market-leading training program, the Mama Glow Doula Homeschool Professional Training Program is the first of its kind to be embedded as an Ivy League University course where I was appointed Visiting Professor of the Practice of Gender and Sexuality Studies at Brown University. My commitment to advancing maternal health is grounded in community and academia. We recently wrapped a national Doula Competency training program we designed for CVS Health and Aetna nurse care managers for CEUs."

What about The Mama Glow Foundation?

"The Mama Glow Foundation leads efforts in education, advocacy, and the arts, as well as research and scholarship. At the Foundation we welcome and mentor university fellows through our partnership with Brown University and support doula clubs on 5 campuses, supporting university doula collectives. The Mama Glow Foundation also provides pro bono doula services across the country through partnerships with companies like Carol’s Daughter and the Love Delivered initiative, and through the Citywide Doula Initiative, where the Mama Glow Foundation is the largest provider of pro bono doula services in New York City. It’s been a deep pleasure to elevate and celebrate this work through our platform, including The Doula Expo by Mama Glow, our annual culture-shifting festival that celebrates a vision for the future of birth work. This past Spring, we held the Doula Expo at Hudson Yards in a 60,000 square-foot space and welcomed nearly 2,000 guests."

"And now we are really excited about our newest baby, The Soft Space by Mama Glow, a premium wellness, education, and special events space located in the heart of Williamsburg Brooklyn."

“The Soft Space is all about softness, ease, fullness, grounding, and celebration.”

The Soft Space isn't your first Mama Glow venue. What came before it?

"In 2017, when I moved to Williamsburg, I opened the first Mama Glow space in the ground level of our townhouse and launched the Doula Training program in June of 2018. It was a modest and comfortable space for us to welcome our doula trainees for our Doula Immersion program. This doula training program was a 3-day intensive that we would host once a month, in Brooklyn. Within 9 months we expanded the program beyond New York to L.A., Miami, and Paris."

"The weekend of March 6-8th, 2020, we hosted our last in-person training program before Covid hit. We pivoted to online and were able to grow the company 5-fold. We had to hire more staff and since everyone was working remotely, and the trainings were now online, we turned the Mama Glow space into office space for our staff to meet and work together when we came back to a hybrid schedule."

"One of the outgrowths of Covid was the Doula Expo. We knew people wanted to gather and would benefit from being together, particularly after the isolation of the pandemic. But it wasn’t enough to have a gathering that met once or twice a year, we needed to dream about a new space to bring people together, to ground our programming and produce our content, and to host the gatherings and programs we are known for."

"That is when I started to actively put feelers out for a new and expanded space that would allow us to welcome more people and nurture our community members. I have always dreamt of having a space like the Soft Space since I was a young girl, and this space was wombifested into being from deep prayer, moving with grace and gratitude, focus, and commitment to building and expanding our enterprise with intention. I feel blessed to be able to welcome hundreds of guests into this new space. The Soft Space is a dream realized."

Tell us about The Soft Space, and your hopes and dreams for it.

"The Soft Space by Mama Glow is a 2,300 square-foot wellness, education, and live events oasis in the heart of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The concept was born out of the collective need for ease, softness, and recalibration in response to the challenging times we are living and is a dream realized. I have been affirming women and doulas around self-care modalities and contemplative practice to improve mental health and wellbeing for years. And this space is one where folks can engage in high touch experiences anchored in optimal wellbeing."

"This is a space where you are welcomed home. It is also the new home for all of the Mama Glow Educational Programming. Located conveniently 1 block away from the Bedford Avenue L train station, the space is easily accessible to all. Guests are welcomed home in our front reception area, where they can remove their shoes and prepare for their experience in the space. Our shop features boutique wellness products from women and femme owned brands, with a focus on Black and POC products. Our kitchen features an herbal apothecary full of medicinal plant allies. A private treatment room is available for 1-on-1 client services like reiki, talk therapy, acupuncture, massage, etc. The Sanctuary features vaulted ceilings with skylights, and a landscaped window garden. The sanctuary seats 80 guests, so it’s great for any type of event."

"We host book signings, lectures and thought leadership, symposiums, retreats, blessing ways, product launches, pop-ups. and so much more. The space just soft launched and we have had the pleasure of hosting a few incredible gatherings, for example we hosted our Mama Glow Holiday Bazaar where 23 women-owned brands sold their products in the space for the holiday season. We also hosted a few retreats, including a private wellness retreat for CVS Health, where their Women’s Health team members from across the country gathered at the Soft Space for a day of wellness programming."

"We have several brand partners booking the space out for product launches and events for press and influencers as well. It is a great backdrop for content creators to film content. It’s our intention to welcome like-minded brand partners, organizations, and individuals to host their life moments and experiential gatherings at the Soft Space. I am really excited for all of the incredible experts, authors, and thought leaders in wellness, women’s health, mental health, and beyond to join us and bring their programming to the Soft Space. I can’t wait for our Soft Sounds Series with musicians. We want to welcome folks exploring and navigating the reproductive health continuum for content, community, and support. We want to continue to nurture folks and center their mental health, bring them off their phones, and into a safe space where they can breathe deeply, have fellowship, and be at ease."

How long did it take for this dream to come to fruition, after finding the space and doing the build-out?

"Can I share something divine with you? I facilitated a workshop on Mother’s Day weekend in 2017 in this same space. At the time it was a meditation studio. I remember saying silently to myself, I would love to have a space like this one day. And here we are 6 years later!"

"We started looking for spaces in early 2023, but put the search on the back-burner while we planned and executed the 2023 Doula Expo. We picked up the search more seriously in June of 2023 and found the space in July. I signed the lease in August, it took a month to get insurance on the space, and the day the insurance came through I had the contractors there starting the construction."

"I started with color swatches and built our color story for Soft Space from there. I built mood boards for each part of the space. Then we worked with our design team to bring my vision to life in custom buildouts for each part of the space. That work took about a week and then installation occurred over two days. So, in total the entire buildout from start to finish took 5 weeks. To put that into perspective, most people take 3 months. I feel blessed to have creative partners I can trust and who gave this project their all. I had the fun job of ordering the furnishings, lighting and finishes, and broader decor, and the little things like door knobs and rugs."

What design elements of the space are your favorites?

"It’s hard for me to choose my favorite spaces. Our entire buildout for the space was custom. I carried it in my mind, then worked from drawings to communicate it to the creative partners. I worked with my dear friend Kathy Romero and CS New York Designs to bring my vision to life. I love the entry wall where we have a stained wooden arch backdrop with grooves and the Mama Glow logo. It’s embellished with backdrop of preserved florals, including pampas, dried palms, roses, amaranth, and more. The arched sofa was a fluke Wayfair find. I really love the herbal kitchen apothecary, as well. It’s stocked with medicinal herbs and flanked with a floral design similar to the entryway. The stools came from Cura Home. I covered them in sheepskins to make them more cozy.

"Our library is quite special too. It’s full of our feminist and wellness titles from literary ancestors like Audre Lorde and Zora Neal Hurston and folks like Rachel Cargle as well. I love all of the curves and arches, which really speaks to our vision and the mood we intend to evoke and what the space embodies. It’s all about softness, ease, fullness, grounding, and celebration. The Sanctuary is also so lovely, you can see straight through to the back of the space from the street. We have these 20-foot-plus vaulted skylight ceilings and the acoustics are incredible. I’m really proud of what we created and excited for all of the incredible programming that will take place here! I am known for imbuing beauty into everything I do and The Soft Space is definitely a meditation on aesthetic."

When we first profiled you on MOTHER, it was 2017 and Fulano was a tween! How is it now, mothering a child no longer in your nest?

"It’s amazing having an Open Nest. I wrote a post when Fuli headed off to school where I spoke about the potency of this new life phase and what it was like to move away from birthing and caring for someone for nearly two decades and then sending them off into the world. My son went on to attend Berklee School of Music in Boston and is now a junior in college. While it's just a 3-hour train or car ride away from Brooklyn, it's still far enough away that I am constantly reminded of the distance."

"When your children begin to soar, you have to activate your trust and faith in ways previously unimagined, you have to trust that all of the lessons you gave and the messages you shared were encoded. You have to believe that you have raised a person who carries their values in their heart and makes good decisions without your direct and daily influence. And that mutual trust is the pulse of your relationship. I am an evolved version of myself, I became anew when I gave birth to my son and I shed a layer of myself when he entered this new life phase. Open nesting is a rite of passage that we must honor and celebrate, we must also make space for our own personal life changes."

We really admire the way you've stayed so close to your son, while also cheerleading his independence. Do you have any advice for moms of younger kids looking to build the same type of relationship?

"Children are our responsibility, but not our property. They are on loan to us. They are beings who are interdependent with us. They need to be able to trust us and depend on us and know that they are safe to explore and grow, with us holding their hand until they can move on their own. We are meant to imprint onto them a sense of safety, dignity, and belonging."

"I practiced an attachment parenting style, which meant that Fulano was always with me and I held him a lot. Closeness with our caretakers wires us for emotional intelligence. We also need to recognize when our children need space for growth. Fulano started to pump his wings when he entered into his early teens and I had to recognize his potency and start to negotiate space."

"One thing Fulano still does that I really appreciate is that he always takes my call, and when he can’t, he will text to say that he is occupied. He checks in with me and if he says he will be home at a certain time, he is always on time. As a Black mother of a 6’ 4’’ young Black man who is 20 years alive, I am always concerned about his safety. The communication is strong in our relationship and it's something we nurture. Talk with your children, journal, even audio journaling is really powerful. I recommend a book, Parenting for Liberation by Trina Greene Brown, which I believe is a wonderful guide for parents looking to parent differently, particularly those with Black children."

“This space was wombifested into being from deep prayer, moving with grace and gratitude, focus, and commitment to building and expanding our enterprise with intention.”

What did the holidays look like for you this past year?

"This year we kept it super low key and spent time with family in California. My mom flew in from Portugal and we met in Northern Cali at my grandfather’s house. We typically cook together and watch movies, play boardgames, cards, sing, and play music. Fulano did a lot of cooking this holiday season, which he really enjoys doing. Believe it or not, I really enjoy catching up on work when things are quiet. In fact, I find the winter a very fertile time creatively speaking. So part of my rest includes organizing and visioning. I am really good about phone fasting, so that I can be present. I find that taking long walks in the cold air is fortifying for me. Fuli and I have a tradition for the New Year that I love. On New Year’s Eve, we do a visioning and goals exercise. It’s like a vision board, but it also has affirmations and we decorate the boards too. We often look at the one from the year before and reflect on the growth and set intentions for the new year. I’ve been doing this with him since he could write."

So much of your work is centered around reproductive rights and maternal health—both issues in which the U.S. continues to falter. For folks who don't work in this space, are there certain bills and laws we should be keeping our eyes on?

"The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act is the most comprehensive package of legislation that addresses maternal health in this country. Introduced by Representatives Lauren Underwood and Alma Adams, Senator Cory Booker, and Members of the Black Maternal Health Caucus in 2021, the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act (the Momnibus) aims to address these disparities—and America’s maternal health crisis overall—at the source to create conditions conducive to safe birthing experiences. The Momnibus was led by Rep. Underwood and Adams, Booker in the Senate, and the Black Maternal Health Caucus for reintroduction for the 118th Congress this past year. We need to get it passed. The U.S. is the most dangerous place in the developed world to give birth, and medical racism largely contributes to birth disparities in this country that disproportionately impact Black women."

"I would also say we all need to adjust to what is happening in our Post-Roe world. Its seems like every day there is draconian legislation getting passed that criminalizes abortion. We need to continue to protect access to legal and safe forms of abortion, including medical abortion."

"Another huge issue is paid parental leave! The U.S. is one of only six countries and the only country in the developed world without a federal paid parental leave policy. Nearly three out of four Americans don’t have the option of paid leave. In the U.S, one in four women return to work ten days after having a baby. The U.S government should underwrite the expense of paid leave, instead this cost is passed onto businesses. It’s maddening how much is allocated to funding the war machine, yet we can’t ensure that families have time off to recover from birth and bond with their babies."

For more on The Soft Space and Mama Glow, be sure to follow Latham on Instagram at @glowmaven.

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