Today, Dec 30th, marks the fifth day of Kwanzaa, where we celebrate the principle, Nia (Purpose). As a brand, we believe that our purpose is to create a cross-cultural dialogue and framework for a well-lived life with handmade lifestyle products and ethically sourced and fair traded goods.
Branding From the Lens of a Black, Indigenous, Person of Color (BIPOC)
The principle of Nia reminds us that deriving purpose from a cultural and historical identity is a generational responsibility. African philosophy teaches us that we are first social beings whose reality and relevance are rooted in the quality and nature of the relationships we have with each other.
The purpose of the Sunsum brand is not to simply turn a monetary profit, but to contribute to the overall health and wellness of others through aesthetic freedom and cultural competence.
Aligning the brand with the principle of Nia, comes from a place of personal and social responsibility. The Sunsum brand is closely aligned with my own personal values and ideals. I've worked with a few marketing agencies and one of the criticisms that I have received, as a upcoming brand, is that (and I quote), the brand seems "too personal" for them to be effective and manipulate with their corporate sensibilities. My response is the same and will always be the same each in everytime, "You are absolutely right that the brand [Sunsum] is exactly who I am."
Sunsum is a brand manifested from my own personal struggle with finding peace and representation in America. I grew up in Maryland with extended family in Louisiana and was heavily influenced by creole, west african and caribbean culture. My childhood was very colorful, festive, musical, superstitious, and spiritual. I had to learn to find connection in others, even if they were very different, through regional and cultural references at a very early age.
Exploring Culture Through Food
One of the joyous times about exploring culture besides music is through food. Exploring new ideas about food, music, and fashion were some of my most joyous and vibrant times as a youth.
Louisiana or Maryland Blue Crabs ?
Maryland Style (Steamed Blue Crabs with Old Bay)
There is still a great divide in the family on the proper preparation of blue crabs. To boil into a gumbo or to steam with Old Bay?
Louisiana Style (Boiled Blue Crabs in a Gumbo)
The world will never know which style of blue crabs is best, but ironically due to overfishing and a decline in the blue crab population in Maryland, many of the blue crabs served Maryland Style are in fact from the Gulf of Mexico or the brackish waters of the Mississippi River fished by Louisiana fishermen (go figure).
Liberian Cassava Leat & Meat
Another fun fact about my childhood was spending time with our babysitter and her immigrant family, who filled us with Liberian Cassava Leaf and Rice (this is super delicious for those who haven't had the opportunity to try it).
When you are blessed with culturally rich family and friends, but are economically disadvantaged, as a youth, you don't even know that you are still lacking in resources or structurally positioned to fail in the mainstream.
The Dogma in Wellness and Lifestyle Brands in America
In the land of opportunity, America, where our country is very much still divided on identity politics and critical race theory, how do we begin to reach common ground ? When we will agree and acknowledge that many of our public and institutional spaces have yet to be decolonized ? How do we integrate the aesthetic vision of BIPOC into the mainstream ?
Finding opportunities to make an authentic connection and understanding your relationship to a culture requires time, space and curiosity. We have become accustomed to curated and consumable experiences in America offered by the institutionalist who have defined corporate culture. Wellness has become an industry of curated and packaged nutrition, fitness, and self-care practices. Lifestyle, similarly to the wellness industry, has also become a collection of curated and consumable experiences that you can monetize by charging people for your time and space through apps like Airbnb.
Also, in this discussion it's worth noting that workplace wellness programs are curated and have authorized employers to decide which health care and wellness providers benefit the greater good which imposes constraints on an individual's time, cultural or religious beliefs, resources and access to specific and personalized care.
This prescriptive nature of self-care, wellness, and lifestyle inhibits our aesthetic freedom and ignores the social and political causes of stress.
Is Happiness a Commodity ?
We have allowed the United Corporation of America to turn happiness into a commodity. With every ad, the institutionalist are basically saying, "Here's a box of happiness to deal with your assortment of traumas and don't forget your daily dose of fascism... now hurry up and consume it and get back to work!!!"
What's worst is that somehow, despite all of the outstanding stressors in world, we have developed new cognitive biases like FOMO (fear of missing out). FOMO is a phenomenon and new source of stress exacerbated by influencer and social media marketing. FOMO refers to the feeling or perception that others are having more fun, living better lives, and/or experiencing things that you aren't. It creates a deep sense of envy and affects self-esteem.
We need the time and space to heal from the stressors of the world without having to feel pressured into assimilating into a culture or lifestyle or even worst alienated because we choose to do so.
Will Sunsum Change the World ?
It is not the purpose of the brand to change the world, or even to change an individual. Unlike some brands, Sunsum doesn't make claims or promises to change anyone. That's not the purpose of the brand. Sunsum provides another option when deciding on high-quality, handmade home decor, lifestyle products and gifts. Our fragrances and botanicals have holistic characteristics associated with aromatherapy, olfactory design, and other spiritual practices. We are available and accessible to anybody, anywhere, and anytime.
We can't determine the outcome of the brand, that's up to you.
Here are some unique items from our product catalog, for you to enjoy :
It is inspired by the Great Plains of America, where nature stretches out as far as the eye can see, The Great Plains handcrafted rattan wood reed diffuser brings a touch of the outdoors into your home. Reed rattan sticks are adorned with wood flowers and handpicked with dried wheat, dried pampas grass, and dried mini daisy chamomile.
Each bundle contains 2 Palo Santo Sticks and 1 Obsidian Wand.
Adding the Sunsum Protection Bundle to your space will immediately release soothing aromas and a sense of security.
The moment you receive your bundle, you will immediately feel the effects as the soothing aromas of the Palo Santo start to uplift your mood. You can choose to keep the bundle in tact as a decoration or scented trinket or you can maximize the effects by burning the Palo Santo as an incense and meditating with the Obsidian.
Palo Santo means “holy wood” and is a natural incense and can be used for aromatherapy in your space or in smudging rituals. It is best known for its ability to add positivity to your space whereas sage removes negativity. It's best to think of it as sage CLEARS it out the bad and palo santo BRINGS back the good. Palo Santo is recommended for daily use as it simply encourages positive energy while purifying the air.
Obsidian is known for its protection, stabilizing, and truth-enhancing properties. It’s a protective and teaching stone that works to reverse misuse of power and harmful energies.
Set out the crystal in the moonlight overnight (a process known as charging).
Set your intentions, as obsidian can be used for the following : insight, healing, dispelling negative energy, self-control, and protection.
Sunsum® Intention Candles, No. 0 - Soul, apothecary candle jar, 26 oz is the first in a series of intention candles designed to create spaces to thrive with mindfulness practices that awaken intrinsic motivation, stimulate curiosity, and promote cultural competence and interconnectedness.
Initialize yourself with the No. 0 - Soul candle, inspired by the adinkra symbol of the human spirit, Sunsum. In the mythology of the Ashanti and Akan people, the Sunsum is one's Spirit. The Sunsum is what connects the body (homan) to the soul (Kra).
Each luxury candle is handmade with a coconut and beeswax blend, hemp wick, and essential oils and non-toxic fragrance oils. The cosmetic-grade ingredients can be softened for use as lotion for hand or body. This luxury scented 26 oz apothecary jar, No. 0 - Soul, smells like pineapple, sage and white tea. Soften or melted wax can be used as a hand and body lotion. The fragrance notes of No. 0 - Soul are : pineapple, bergamot, mandarin, green leaves, palm , anise, thyme, jasmine, ginger, sage, sugar, white tea, chrysanthemum.