Updated: Oct 19, 2021
We Sparkle is a tech company. But we're not just a tech company. Our founding story is rooted in our personal stories--and in our deep belief in equity, collaboration, and community. Perhaps that's why our story is inextricably entwined with that of Oshun Center for Intercultural Healing.
We Sparkle Founder + CEO Michelle Tran Maryns met Ihotu Jennifer Ali at a meeting of women founders in the winter of 2019 in Minneapolis. And in between sips of soup, hot tea, and warming discussion, Ihotu and Michelle struck up a conversation about a group of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) healers that eventually became the Minnesota Healing Justice Network (“The Network”).
As they talked more, Michelle and Ihotu realized how much they had in common. Both were women of color with immigrant ancestry, and a background in international work (Michelle as a diplomat for the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Mission to the UN in Vienna, and Ihotu with the United Nations and U.S. Congress).
Both raised by entrepreneurial mothers whose businesses struggled, despite their potential. They were fiercely committed to finding a way to translate their skills into tangible change for communities of color.
Building the Partnership
Neither Ihotu nor Michelle knew how deep this commitment would become. But 2020 brought the global COVID-19 pandemic--shuttering the in-person practices of most of the Minnesota Healing Justice Network Healers. This was quickly followed by the murder of George Floyd, where over 100 healers offered healing support to protestors and residents reeling in trauma. Michelle and Ihotu continued to work with the Healing Justice Network on website development, business support and training, through much of 2020, although it became increasingly clear that healers were suffering from burnout.
Seeing a need that might be met with their complementary skills and shared passion, The Oshun Center was born.
Healers come into their careers with a desire to care for people, body and spirit. However, in order to be sustainable, they also need to think like entrepreneurs.
The Oshun Center served as an education platform and small business incubator for more intensive support to a group of healers interested in expanding their practices and receiving mentorship, while also supporting one another to prevent burnout.
We are healers of diverse racial backgrounds focused on building interracial trust, protection and relationships, and by sharing and reclaiming cultural practices from older times, alongside innovative western medicine.
We Sparkle offered business and marketing support and technology tools to help these small business owners grow their ventures.
Together, The Oshun Center and We Sparkle supports the growth of business owners, healers, activists, and health care workers with old methods of healing and new technology tools. The partnership is a merging of “ancient” and “futurist” in the Minneapolis-style Afrofuturism and progressive thought that helped to produce the 2020 Uprising.
In a state with rates among the highest racial wealth gap and racial segregation in the country, We Sparkle is building a stronger + more inclusive economy by equipping underestimated entrepreneurs with the AI-powered software tools they need to thrive. Through education programming and direct healing services provided by the Oshun Center, we are passionate about decolonizing and democratizing medicine and healing, business and technology, and finding ways for technology to bring us back into relationship with each other, the land, and with ourselves, rather than separating and isolating us.
The stories of We Sparkle and The Oshun Center are evolving. We hope you will follow our journey. Join us for a webinar, podcast, seasonal retreat, or bodywork with our team of cultural healers, activists, community members, and technologists to hear more of our evolving story!