When Altrichia Cook discovered she was pregnant in high school, she never imagined that one day she would be running a successful business that empowers women.
Cook was never deterred from her goals when she unexpectedly got pregnant at 17. Allowing motherhood to fuel her desire to succeed, she earned an undergraduate degree while simultaneously starting a successful fashion business.
Allusions by A.Lekay offers fashionable high waisted swimwear for women who have scarring due to pregnancy or surgery. It has become more than just a line of swimsuits; it is a staple lifestyle brand that encourages women to live life fiercely and fearlessly.
Today, Cook is happily engaged, raising her son and running her business. Founder and mommy entrepreneur Cook shares her journey from teen mom to successful entrepreneur and empowering women.
How would you describe motherhood culture today?
I would definitely say that it has evolved. As I reflect on the things that my mother used to say, it baffles me that I am saying the same things to my soon to be teenager. Nowadays, motherhood is definitely all about protection. As a mother to a Black son, when I correct him it’s cultivating the future him. Three years from now, my son will be 16 years old. I immediately think of the many instances where young Black men have come in contact with police officers that have ended badly. This has been our cultural reality. When disciplining my son, I think about his future. I pray that if he’s ever in a situation that he will remember how I have reared him.
How do you overcome hardships as a mother?
At 17, I learned that I was pregnant. I still went off to college and raised him while in colleges that was the biggest hardship ever. I was 4.5 hours away from home, in a big city with a new baby and I was still a baby myself. My determination is fueled by my efforts to pursue my college degrees, work multiple jobs and raise my son.
How do you balance work and motherhood?
It is challenging. It can be draining and it truly is hard work. For me, its all about the small things like not using my cell phone at dinner, assisting with homework, volunteering at school and serving as team Mom. Being involved allows me to have some sort of “balance.” With my business, I have my son and my fiancé to come and help me with my fashion shows or come to hear me speak to ensure that we support each other. “ Balance” if such a word truly exists, is a collective effort.
What is the best advice your mother, grandmother or aunt gave you?
“You’ll never understand the love that I have for you until you become a mom.” I used to think my mom just didn’t want me to live my little teenage life. All of the things they said “no” to was their way of trying to protect me.
What advice do you have for new moms?
Your baby is depending on your success. You can’t give up.
How do you measure success as a mother?
My moments of success are when my son tells me he’s proud of me! As a 31-year old woman, I live to only impress him.
What has being a mother taught you about yourself?
Motherhood has taught me that I am really a freaking beast. I have learned how to hold a baby in one hand while typing a paper with the other. Motherhood has taught me that I am resilient.