Fathers are usually too worried about being everything to ask themselves if they are enough. But this Father’s Day, Mary Pryor wants to transform that mindset through The Father Effect, the first public event hosted by her new brand Sheba Baby. Pryor, an award-winning brand strategist and cannabis industry pioneer, quietly launched Sheba Baby this spring, but she is excited for the combined Father’s Day and Juneteenth weekend that will provide a unique self-care experience for dads like nothing ever seen before.

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What Is Sheba Baby's The Father Effect? A Father's Day Self-Care Event In Harlem

From 12 to 3PM on Sunday, June 18th, fathers are invited to The Rokmil, a fitness venue and art gallery owned by Harlem icon Milton Washington, for a men-only sacred sesh. This is no sweat lodge or man cave; instead, Sheba Baby and friends are taking over the space for a curated block of self-care and connections. Attendees will enjoy massages, manicures, specialty cocktails, and hand-rolled botanicals as they relax and mingle with other dads. The event will include giveaways of special items, and of course, Sheba Baby’s new products for rest and relaxation will be on full display.

In Pryor’s words, it’s “a woman-led initiative promoting emotional wellness, physical health, and spiritual growth [that asks] men about themselves in an honest way.” And as Maisha Mitchell, Sheba Baby’s Brand Manager and founder of the beverage brand Everyday Infusions, notes, The Father Effect allows us to examine the disparity between how Father’s Day and Mother’s Day are traditionally honored.

“We want to break the stereotypes with gift-giving,” Mitchell says. “That’s what sparked [The Father Effect]. We were interviewing different men and one of the things that they all talked about was the difference in appreciation when it comes to Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Being a dad is pretty tough. A lot of us don’t acknowledge that. Especially for the dads who are present, it’s a lot of work and we want them to be acknowledged and to feel appreciated and honored. We see you, we see the work, and here is a token of our appreciation. And because we are a self-care brand, aligning it with self-care services shows them that there’s a habit. You’ve got to take care of yourself as well. And this is us loving on you.”

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Who Are The Sponsors And Partners For Sheba Baby's The Father Effect?

With a collection of leading brand partners in the mix, The Father Effect offers an interesting juxtaposition between mostly women-led companies and a male target audience. Union Square Travel Agency, one of New York’s first state-licensed cannabis retailers, is the event’s premier sponsor while Etain Health, which distinguished itself as the state’s first women-owned medical dispensary, serves as the supporting sponsor. Botanical giftings are provided by the women-owned brands TONIC and Dose of Saucy, as well as the noted Black-owned brand SF Roots, with the rolling station sponsored by Stone & The Family Cannabis Company. Giveaways come courtesy of the award-winning companies My Bud Vase and PAX. A bevy of refreshments will be on hand, from specialty cocktails made by Black woman-owned business Mez En Place, to the popular infused beverages from WYNK, to the Caribbean-inspired brews from Black-owned company Uncle Waithley’s Ginger Beer. RahMi Wellness, a Black woman-owned business local to Harlem that services BIPOC communities, is offering massage therapy and manicures will be done by TaylzNails, a Black woman-owned small business based in Brooklyn. Honeysuckle is proud to be the media partner for this one-of-a-kind event.

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The Origins Of Sheba Baby: Mary Pryor On Self-Care And Cannabis

For Pryor, The Father Effect brings many themes in her life full-circle. She explains that the name “Sheba Baby” comes from the title of the 1975 Blaxploitation film starring Pam Grier as a private investigator who returns home to save her father from gangsters. Yet the name has multiple other meanings – it’s a play on “cheeba,” a slang term for cannabis; the “she” prefix references both the feminine nature of the plant and the female power driving the brand; and in Biblical literature, Sheba means “promise,” aptly indicative of how Pryor’s mission to bring self-care to the front can unlock a whole new world of healing for those who follow her guidance.

“Sheba Baby is an inspirational take on cannabis, or cheeba,” Pryor remarks. “Cannabis, to me, is a form of self-care along with working out, nutrition, drinking water. These are all tools, and that’s one of the tools… Self-care can take form in many ways, and it needs to be habitual. I want to bring out the good [parts] of what a habit is. This allows me to create more storytelling and visual captivation around how we utilize these tools in the modern world, and what that means for people who love these tools… You need to be able to want this for yourself and to create a discipline around it.”

It's important for consumers to know that Sheba Baby is a self-care brand first and foremost, that’s for everybody. “Yes, I’m a Black woman-owned brand, but we’re talking about self-care as a more neutralized, normalized item,” Pryor asserts. “That allows me to go into different realms of what this is. The plant is just one of those realms.”

“Self-care is definitely a lifestyle,” Mitchell adds. “It is a way of surviving this world that we live. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t incorporate some form of self-care into my life. [Cannabis is sometimes] part of my morning devotion. I will get elevated and I’ll use that time to journal, receive, speak to the ancestors, pray, dance, do whatever I want to do. If I’m having a really tough day, I might use it to calm down.” The idea is to keep your self-care tools intentional, she emphasizes.

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Changing The Narrative For Father's Day: The Meaning Behind Sheba Baby

As the businesswomen discuss Sheba Baby, Pryor slowly opens up about her most personal reasons for starting the brand and honing in on Father’s Day first. Beyond the Blaxploitation history that the Pam Grier film epitomizes (and the fact that the innovator grew up studying the genre), she initially watched the movie with her own dad. This is the same father who was a loving but troubled Vietnam veteran, who developed a severe drug addiction that brought him in and out of prison throughout Pryor’s entire life. In an essay she wrote for the now-defunct XOJane online magazine, the entrepreneur recalled the complexities of her relationship with her dad, who bonded with her over music and culture and reveled in her academic achievements and multiple talents. A man who would seem to hold himself out as an escape from difficult situations with the rest of the family, but was often absent or too busy battling his own demons to save his daughter from hers.

“He died of a cocaine overdose in 2007, on my birthday,” Pryor says. “My dad would’ve been an amazing dad had he not been addicted to drugs. And I didn’t start the healing work from that grief and that missed opportunity until [years after his passing]… I feel like him being told he was enough and not enabled by my family would have maybe allowed him to be more on the path toward detoxing and being free from addiction. I’m very connected to the plant and a daughter of the drug war in a way that a lot of people miss.”

Still, this is an origin story that most superheroes have, and one that powers the multihyphenate’s resolve to change the narrative for fathers today. “I feel like the lens of fatherhood gets skewed by [the media],” she comments. “If you let the internet tell it, you would think that Black dads don’t really exist. And statistically that’s not even true. When you do the actual data and you get away from the racist surveys that were created by Republican-founded lobby firms to say such things, and you can do the digging, you discover that that’s not the case. We want fathers to relax and feel supported, and whatever that feels or looks like, that’s great. If the plant is part of that conversation, great. But all of these other services that we’re talking about are also forms of self-care that someone may not even really be taking time out for themselves to do. We notice that people always expect fathers to have all the answers, but a lot of fathers just want community.”

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What Can Dads Learn From Sheba Baby's The Father Effect?

In that vein, Pryor and Mitchell are hopeful that the soothing nature of The Father Effect will spark conversations between the guests of honor. Creating intergenerational dialogues is key for Mitchell, who looks forward to dads of different ages and backgrounds being able to learn from each other. “Being able to talk to [other fathers], especially for some of them who may not have had a father in their home, matters,” she states. “What are some of the generational blockages that you had to break in order to be there for your son or daughter? Or maybe you weren’t around; how do you mend that? How do you enter your child’s life? Or [they might say] ‘I’m having a hard time. Can you give me advice on how you’re working with the mother of your child, how you guys are coparenting?’ It’s a moment for them to talk about their backgrounds, to be able to help one another be better dads.”

This is why The Father Effect won’t resemble a typical “sesh,” instead mixing the plant in among the many different avenues for self-care. Interconnected elements of self-care allow people to zero in on what truly works for them, according to Pryor. “I wanted to do something different that was in service, but also exposure to a different set of eyes,” she affirms. “Father’s Day is the day that doesn’t really get looked at… I wanted to put the lens on it in a way that’s meant to be supportive, [where] people can feel like they get a day off and a day of pampering.”

The very setting of the event in The Rokmil, where attendees can take in owner Milton Washington’s art, is also conducive to “dad inspiration.” An acclaimed street photographer who often plays with the legacies of race and activism in his work, Washington was born in South Korea to a Korean mother and African American father, the latter of whom he never knew. Later, he was adopted and moved with his adoptive family to the United States, where he struggled with language barriers. Eventually, he would become recognized in his Harlem neighborhood for leading literacy campaigns and advocating for the community. (Washington’s memoir Slickyboy comes out from Penguin Random House later this year.) He serves as a prime example of the father who can show other dads what multigenerational healing looks like.

Father's Day Messages From Sheba Baby

As Pryor and Mitchell gear up for The Father Effect, they also look ahead to the thrilling next steps for Sheba Baby. The brand officially debuts in New York’s state-licensed dispensaries next month, so consumers will be able to take home those self-care products to begin their very own rituals of healing.

When asked if there’s any Father’s Day message they want the guests at The Father Effect and all dads to take with them, the two powerhouse women are instantly on the same page.

“Even when the world paints you as not doing enough, your presence matters,” Mitchell encourages.

“You are enough,” Pryor says. Reflecting on her dad, she adds, “My mentees are mostly young people. I recognize some of the things that I felt [with my father] that I didn’t have a chance to have, in others. From an ancestral level, this still allows me to do that work that I felt I didn’t have a chance to tap into, given what addiction did to him and what it did to my family. So [dads out there should know], you are enough. I believe in you.”

Sheba Baby’s The Father Effect takes place Saturday, June 18, 2023 from 12-3PM at The Rokmil, 185 Malcolm X Boulevard, in New York City. For tickets, click here. To learn more about Sheba Baby, visit shebababy.co.

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Mary Pryor

Maisha Mitchell

Union Square Travel Agency

Etain Health





Featured image: Mary Pryor, founder of Sheba Baby (C) Cannaclusive @cannaclusive