To hear Tanya T. Morris talk about growing up in Philadelphia is to experience a spoken love letter to our city. You can almost see the Netflix version of her childhood, all warm lighting and nostalgic music framing each scene. There were the soft pretzels she got every day from the corner store near Samuel Fels Junior High School. The legendary block parties out in West Oak Lane, where her neighbor, Troy Holiday, a barber, would cut the men’s hair; sometimes, Villanova basketball players would even come down for a fresh cut too.
There were the hometown newspapers she read voraciously, cover stories about Dr. J arriving from the Knicks to join the Sixers, for a then-staggering $6 million salary. There were SEPTA strikes and sports heartbreaks and so many friends who helped fill the void all only children feel sometimes. There was the nervousness and excitement over leaving her neighborhood to travel to Northeast High as a “de-seg baby,” that generation of students who were encouraged to truly integrate our city’s schools. But more than anything, there were the women coaching her along. Her grandmother, Louise Rhaney, a minister who raised five children and started her own church in North Philly. Her mother, Joyce Morris, a single mother who worked as an administrative assistant for Morris’ beloved Sixers.
So it’s fitting, then, that in 2017 Morris launched Mom Your Business, a nonprofit that helps Black and Brown female entrepreneurs launch and grow their businesses, whether they’re in the early stages of brainstorming, or the later stages of seeking capital. “My mission is to help Black and Brown females turn obstacles into opportunities. Mom Your Business is like coming full circle, having had all those relationships that have shaped and molded me in business and in my personal and my professional and my spiritual life as well,” she says.