Ayesha Curry Decorated Her Family’s Entire Bay Area Oasis Herself
The entrepreneur shares how she did it—while raising three kids and managing her growing empire.
Updated Feb 10, 2023 11:03 AM
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When I ask Ayesha Curry when she sleeps, she smiles, leans away from her computer camera, closes then opens her eyes, and admits, “I don’t get much sleep!” Despite the sincere response, she’s radiant if slightly backlit by a large window that lets the California sunshine pour into the cozy, contemporary room, lined in shades of black, white, and gray. Her skin glows at least as brightly as her smile, which is pretty much the definition of megawatt.
For Ayesha, there’s a lot to fit into each day. A savvy businesswoman, she has launched her own Food Network show, authored best-selling cookbooks (The Seasoned Life and The Full Plate), designed a line of cookware (as well as cotton bedding), and successfully expanded into wine (a collaboration with her sister-in-law, Sydel Curry) and restaurants (she co-owns four International Smoke locations). Since 2017, she has also been a CoverGirl ambassador.
That entrepreneurial spirit was most likely sparked as a young girl watching her mother, a beauty salon owner in Ontario, Canada, sit women down in a chair and guide them to defining their style. “I think it was just embedded in me to build your own thing from the ground up,” she shares. “I thrive off that adrenaline rush.” Ayesha’s children (Riley, Ryan, and Canon) are no doubt learning similar skills growing up in a home with a powerhouse for a mother—and Golden State Warrior two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry for a father.
In the past few months, as a global pandemic has permeated the country, the couple has been setting an example for their kids more than ever. Expanding on the mission of their Eat. Learn. Play. Foundation—which works to end child hunger, give students access to a quality education, and provide safe places for young people—they partnered with chef José Andrés’s World Central Kitchen initiative and the Alameda County Community Food Bank to help engage 130 restaurants to provide daily meals for families in need. (In turn, the project put more than 750 restaurant employees back to work.) The result is “a whole other ecosystem that’s working within the community,” says Ayesha.
Her latest project offers another outlet to amplify her values: the new lifestyle magazine Sweet July (a nod to the auspicious month that marks her and Stephen’s wedding anniversary, as well as the birthdays of all three kids). When publishing giant Meredith Corporation first approached her last year, Ayesha was humble, to say the least: “I thought it was a joke! Like, really?” She points to herself. “This little Jamaican Canadian girl? Are we sure?” Ultimately, though, she loved the idea, especially because now is the exact right time for more Black women to be on magazine covers—and all the pages in between. She says she asked herself, “How am I going to do it justice? Because there haven’t been many Black women given this platform on such a grand scale. And so I have to make sure my voice is heard in the way I want it to be. I want to make sure my people are getting what they want to hear.” That might encompass anything from a recipe for her favorite truffle Bolognese to a look at the perfectly imperfect balance of relationships and parenthood—much like how she shows up on Instagram (where she has 7.4 million followers and counting).
Clearly Ayesha is no stranger to being in the spotlight. Heightened visibility comes with the territory of Stephen’s superstar status combined with her increasing influence as a businesswoman and philanthropist. Together they’ve learned a lot in the past decade. (Protective of their privacy, the couple nevertheless runs a remarkably low-key household; during the Domino shoot, Ayesha‘s sister watched the kids.) Knowing more about who she is and what her values are, and even honing in on her sense of style, has allowed her to step out in front of bigger projects with real passion for her mission. “I have to make sure it’s authentically me and not serving a purpose of vanity,” she explains. “In the first issue of Sweet July, there’s an intro to me and my family, because there are a lot of people who don’t know who I am or what I stand for.”
The need for introductions will most likely be a thing of the past. As an extension of her new media platform, Ayesha is opening a brick-and-mortar shop in Oakland’s Uptown neighborhood that will carry Ayesha-approved finds along with her own products—including a forthcoming skin-care line made with clean ingredients (papaya, guava, castor oil) and inspired by her Jamaican upbringing (“My mom and grandma have the most perfect skin, and they’ve always had very simple routines”). Carving out a dedicated space that’s completely in line with her vision—construction is already under way—is a refreshing change for the ever-evolving entrepreneur. “I’ve done things over the years where I was willingly shuffled into this or that, trying to make my mark, but this is all my decision-making, and I’m really excited about it,” she says.
Part of that excitement comes from being located around the corner from several pioneering Black female–owned businesses—Tanya Holland’s Brown Sugar Kitchen; Brittany Barnes’s GoodBody; and Sherri McMullen’s women’s clothing boutique, McMullen. The Sweet July outpost will serve as a community hub, lending support and resources, as well as have a dedicated area for quarterly pop-ups to collaborate with emerging Black-led brands that don’t yet have their own spaces.
The look on my face must mirror the exhaustion I think she should feel from managing so many projects, but Ayesha takes a moment to remind me that she doesn’t do any of this alone, not even close. She describes a whole team of people behind the scenes, people whom she trusts, and that trust has allowed her to do more of what she wants and less of anything she doesn’t.
“That’s been a six-year learning process,” she says. “In the beginning, I said yes to everything. I didn’t want to take things for granted. And then I started to realize that I’m valuable.” She pauses. “People want to hear you, but you have to make sure that it’s something of substance. I was doing things because I was grateful, but I wasn’t necessarily passionate, and it never works out great that way,” she continues. “So I started a checklist, and now if [an opportunity] doesn’t check all the boxes, it’s a no. I walk because someone else could check all those boxes. That’s who that opportunity could be for.”
Building meaningful, ambitious projects that are rooted in her values—and supporting others in the process—is just genuinely how she likes to play the game. Ayesha has her own way of doing things, busy and bright against a serene, neutral backdrop, in her own time and always in her own style.
This story was originally published in our Fall 2020 issue with the headline “Ayesha on the Rise.”