Sisters Cara Johnson-Graves and Jenae Johnson-Carr have always been close. One day, as the two were having lunch, the conversation shifted to a topic that had been frustrating Jenae for some time: shopping for her children.
"Jenae literally said, 'There's nothing available when I go to shop that looks like my children,'" said Cara.
Shopping for her kids had grown to be a painful experience for Jenae because of the market’s lack of inclusivity and representation. Despite seeing all sorts of products—including clothing, backpacks, and lunch bags—showcasing popular characters from children’s shows and other content, Jenae found it extremely rare to come across products showcasing characters that looked like her own kids.
“You want things that affirm to your kids that their hair is perfect just like it is, their skin tone is beautiful just like it is,” said Jenae.
She realized that if she noticed the lack of diversity, her kids probably did as well. That realization stuck with her.
Jenae decided she wanted to make a difference, so she approached Cara with an idea--start business to address the lack of true inclusion and diversity. Cara was on board, and together—with no background in business or fashion, no information beyond their observations, and no research—the sisters jumped in.
“I always say we had the audacity to dream big and then follow through,” said Cara.
Cara and Jenae made a conscientious decision to design a positive, self-reflective collection to inspire the next generation. Both sisters were motivated to elevate the visibility of brown boys and girls. So, they created EPIC Everyday, a brand that creates apparel, accessories, and home goods that highlight Black brilliance and instill confidence, power, and pride in little ones. Even the business’ name reflects affirmations: Empowered, Positive, Innovative, and Creative.
Through EPIC Everyday, Cara and Jenae aim to empower children to love their differences and embrace their unique, inherent style by amplifying “mocha-hued” positivity through the company’s products.
“When we talk about ‘mocha-hued,’ we’re talking about beautiful, different skin tones, from light to dark,” said Jenae. “We’re also talking about different hairstyles.”
While empowering and inspiring children remains their ultimate goal, Cara and Jenae are also looking to give back in other ways.
"We both went to historically Black colleges, so we like to do more partnerships with those universities to give people a learning experience with our company,” said Jenae.
Despite their lack of business backgrounds, Cara and Jenae leaned into their partnership with Amazon to help bolster their business. When the brand first debuted, it originally took an estimated three to five weeks to deliver customer orders. After launching in Amazon’s store, EPIC Everyday took advantage of Fulfillment by Amazon—Amazon’s service to pick, pack, and ship orders—which enabled customers to receive orders in just one to two days.
One of the main challenges for EPIC Everyday has been capital. But that burden has been significantly lessened since the sisters became a part of the Black Business Accelerator (BBA), Amazon’s $150 million commitment to help build sustainable diversity and growth for Black-owned businesses. Through the program, EPIC Everyday has had access to strategic business guidance and mentorship, and marketing and promotional support. The sisters also secured a grant that helped their business.
“Long-term for us is to grow this into what we call the ‘Mocha-Hued Movement,’” said Cara. “Whether it’s a literary series, whether it’s plush dolls that we can provide on Amazon.”
Jenae added: “We’re showing our kids that they can do anything they want to. They see that their parents have put their minds to something that is totally different, and they have been successful in doing it. And they’ve been helping us along the way, as well.”
For Cara and Jenae, out of frustration came inspiration, motivation, and eventually satisfaction.
“My hope is that all kids realize that they are empowered, positive, innovative, and creative, just like our slogan is, and they feel like they are important, no matter what,” said Jenae.
Shop EPIC Everyday and other Black-owned small businesses selling in Amazon’s store.