First annual Moms Rock! Expo aims to connect and empower moms

Tiffney Cambridge with son and daughter
Tiffney Cambridge with son and daughter

The first annual Moms Rock! Expo takes place May 2 and 3 at the Minneapolis Convention Center, providing a weekend for moms to indulge and explore opportunities to make their lives a bit easier and healthier.

“This is a time for moms to say: ‘We deserve two days to get out, go downtown, hang out with some new people, and really find out…what we don’t know,’” said founder and producer of Moms Rock! Expo Sharon Smith-Akinsanya. Attendees can expect to be “inspired by celebrity mom keynotes, real talk panels, cooking demos, and career corner information.”

Sharon Smith-Akinsanya
Sharon Smith-Akinsanya

The inspiration behind the Moms Rock! Expo is two-fold: Raising the consciousness of state officials around the work-life balance and flexibility, and to provide a platform for mompreneurs to show their skills, products and services and connect with other moms.

“We are still doing the bulk of the cleaning and the cooking and the nurturing. Society counts on us to raise happy healthy children, work, and make a…living,” said Smith-Akinsanya. “How are we supposed to do that — do a good job at work, at home, be a good sister, good wife, good mom, good friend etc?”

Smith-Akinsanya said she does not want moms to complain, but she does want the city, state and the nation to realize “how hard of a job it can be.”

She also wants women to leave the expo with knowledge that they did not have before they came, and to meet someone new at the expo. “If we connect and network with the same people, we never grow,” she explained.

 “The biggest piece of advice is, don’t listen to anybody who says you cannot have it all. That is a terrible [misapprehension] that’s out there. I want people to understand [that] you can have absolutely everything you want.

Twila Dang
Twila Dang

One attendee who hopes to connect and be inspired at the event is local media personality, Twila Dang. Dang is a woman doing it all. She works for myTalk 107.1 radio station, hosting Pop Life with Natalio Hagemo, a weekly roundup of pop culture, and co-hosts The Gyno Show with Dr. Heegaard. She also contributes to Twin Cities Live on KSTP Channel 5, runs a website called www.popcultureparent.com, which explores the intersection of parenting and pop culture, and is the new executive director for the National Association of Women Business Owners in Minnesota. All this, in addition to raising three children, one boy age 11 and two girls ages six and 10.

As moderator of the Local Moms in Media panel at the Moms Rock! Expo, Dang will talk about how moms in media “have a lot to balance and how we do that with our children — from our successes, and our trials and tribulations,” said Dang.

She added, “It is really an opportunity for the audience that comes to understand that we all walk the same mom path together. Just because it looks glamorous [in the media], and we get hair and makeup, and have lighting, it does not mean that we always get it right.”

On Sunday, May 3 Dang will talk about her experiences going back to work from being a stay-at-home mother. She thinks it is important for the annual expo to occur. “Sometimes there is a high standard put out there for us mothers. We get a lot of mixed messages on how we are supposed to present ourselves, how we are supposed to run our days, and that makes it hard to have conversations with people where you can be yourself. Moms Rock! will allow women and mothers to ask questions in a comfortable space,” said Dang.

Dang said having her own children has definitely changed her life for the better. “The biggest piece of advice is don’t listen to anybody who says you cannot have it all. That is a terrible [misapprehension] that’s out there. I want people to understand [that] you can have absolutely everything you want. You just have to understand when you can have it and how you want to have it,” said Dang.

She continued, “Sometimes you may have more of one thing and less of another. Sometimes you will have to put your family before your career. [But] there will be times when your career may come first, like if you are the only provider for your family.” Dang is very confident and insightful in her ability to relate to other Twin Cities mothers, and said she is looking forward to sharing and learning from the speakers, as well as attendees.

She added that it is important for moms to “not beat themselves up if they cannot complete everything every day. Don’t be too hard on yourself.”

Tiffney Cambridge and daugther
Tiffney Cambridge and daughter

If you watch reality TV, you may know Tiffney Cambridge, star of VH1’s Marrying the Game. Cambridge, one of the headliners of Moms Rock!, had this to say about motherhood: “I am a fearless mother of two. I have two small children, Justice who is seven and Cali who is four. I have been an elementary school teacher for 17 years. Now, I have recently written a children’s book, The Little Girl Who Lost Her Smile.” Cambridge’s book is a based on how children deal with divorce and separation.

Cambridge thinks it is important for moms to come together in a group setting like Moms Rock! because it gives moms and women an opportunity “to get together in a group setting to sit and discuss things with each other. We can discuss and share ideas and hear stories.”

Cambridge said the most important thing to her as a mother is: “Being able to be a good example for my daughter and son, and being able to be an active participant as they grow. And letting them know they always have a sense of security and that mommy will always be there.” She added that it is important for moms to “not beat themselves up if they cannot complete everything every day. Don’t be too hard on yourself.”

Cambridge will be reading from her book, as well as interacting with audience members and answering questions about how she transitioned from being a reality star to an author.

She wants to talk to everyday working moms on how to balance family and career. Cambridge draws strength from her mother and grandmother who taught her to “live in grace, even in the hard times.”

Moms Rock! Expo is sure to be a blast for women of all races and nationalities living in the state of Minnesota, this year and hopefully for years to come.

 

For more info on Moms Rock! Expo, go to: www.momsrockexpo.com.

Brandi Phillips welcomes reader comments to bphillips@spokesman-recorder.com.