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Clem Richardson She wrote the manual on ‘mocha motherhood’            

Friday, January 16th 2009, 12:38 AM

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Back in 1987, someone somewhere in the city Board of Education decided I would make a good mentor for a high school student and aspiring reporter named Kimberly Seals.

Sad to say, I was not much of a mentor, at least judging from what she recalls as my most sage career advice, which need not be repeated here.

Looking back, maybe we should have reversed roles.

Kimberly Seals-Allers, now 37, would go on to earn a bachelor’s degree in journalism from New York University and a master’s in business journalism from Columbia University.

She has been a columnist for the New York Post and Essence and Fortune magazines, and a financial reporter for the Times of London.

Now the Bay Shore, L.I., resident and mother of Kayla, 8, and Michael, 4, is using her financial and journalism expertise to build a mini-media empire targeting women just like her.

 

  • Her first book, "The Mocha Manual to a Fabulous Pregnancy," subtitled "Tips for Everything from Managing Fibroids and High Blood Pressure to Insensitive Partners and Raging Hormones" (Amistad, 2005) is a self-help guide for African-American women having or considering having children.

    The book was nominated for a prestigious NAACP Image Award.

  • Seals-Allers’ second book, "The Mocha Manual to Turning Your Passion Into Profit, How to Find and Grow Your Side Hustle in Any Economy" (Amistad, 2009) will be released next week. Tailor-made for today’s uncertain job market, the book is a guide for creating a business, from coming up with a plan and selecting an account to tips on how to start a business in a down economy.

    Several chapters are devoted to interviews with successful African-American women who relate how they got their sometimes rocky starts.

  • In June, she’ll release "The Mocha Manual to Military Life – The Ultimate Guide for Wives, Girlfriends, Fiancées and Female Service members" (Amistad, 2009). Written with a military wife, Pamela McBride, the book discusses issues such as raising children when the family has to move every few years and how to maintain a relationship when a spouse is gone six months out of the year.

     

  • Seals-Allers heads The Mocha Manual Company, Inc., an umbrella business that markets her books and sells her items, such as maternity wear and even T-shirts for expectant fathers on the Web site, www.MochaManual.com.

     

  • That site, where Seals-Allers regularly blogs on women’s issues, features discussion groups and chat sessions, and has become such a draw that the W.K. Kellog Foundation invited Seals-Allers to come to Detroit this month to sit on a panel discussing infant mortality.

    A divorced mother of two, Seals-Allers also has worked as an adjunct professor at NYU, Long Island University‘s C.W. Post campus and at the City University of New York.

    "I didn’t see it happening," she said of her rapidly expanding brand. "I had to get some help to see the vision. I went to Forty Weeks, a marketing group, and they helped me see it."

    It also helps, she said, "that I don’t sleep a lot."

    Like most writers, Seals-Allers’ first book came out of personal experience – pregnant with daughter Kayla and just back in the city after two years in London ("I could not take it anymore in a country with no appreciation of customer service," she said), she was appalled to learn that, unlike other ethnic groups, black women, regardless of education or social class, were more than three times as likely to die during childbirth than other women.

    "I’d always thought death during childbirth was a social economic issue," she said. "But college-educated and blue-collar African-American women have the same outcomes. Plus, there were all the myths you had to deal with."

    Seals-Allers interviewed more than 250 women over a two-year period to write that first "Mocha Manual."

    She hopes the books will become a series that "will address whatever is going on in a black woman’s life."

    Seals-Allers has wanted to be a writer since she grew up as the middle child of three in St. Albans, Queens.

    Her mother, Alma, a housewife, and father, James, a former warehouse chief for a New Jersey chemical company, have since retired to Sumter, S.C.

    SHE HAS an older sister, Katrina, who just moved to Mechanicsville, Va., and a brother, Jeffery, who is a finance officer for a car dealership.

    "I was always a strong reader, and I loved to write," she recalls. "I even created a little one-page newsletter for the neighborhood when I was 9 years old. I wanted to be the black Brenda Starr," the star of a cartoon of the same name.

    The now much-maligned social imperative that forced the busing of school children to effect racial desegregation got her to District 26 in Little Neck, where she was in the gifted students program at Public School 221.

    She remained in the gifted program through Ryan Junior High and Cardozo High School, where she worked on the school newspaper.

    While at NYU, she was editor of the Washington Square News, the campus newspaper. She graduated in 1993. She worked six years before being awared a Knight-Bagehot Fellowship, which allowed her to get her master’s degree in business journalism from Columbia.

    "I was very lucky in that I always had teachers who encouraged my love of writing," she said.

    Seals-Allers’ books, DVDs, maternity gear and other items can be ordered from her www.MochaManual.com Web site.

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