I hope you all enjoyed a nice holiday last week. I wrote a few weeks back that we were finalizing our last piece in the made to measure production process to begin testing it – the digitization of the pattern. And just as that was clicking into place we learned that our fabric cutting partner will not be set up to work with us for many months. So I am chasing down leads for a new cutting partner and, needless to say, I am reminded of the persistence (and PATIENCE) it takes to bring something new together.
Meanwhile, I am using this intimate knowledge of the challenges involved in this sort of work on the frontier of something new to help build a perspective on how to support women like myself as we work to bring businesses to light that introduce solutions to some of the environmental and social challenges we currently face.
And just in time, Crystal Dreisbach, the Executive Director of Don’t Waste Durham and Durham’s first GreenToGo program teamed up with Danielle Brestel, a structural engineer and follow green eyed lady, and decided to convene a Women Changemakers’ summit, which took place on June 27th at the Orange Street Collective. There was a great moment in the days leading up to our first meeting. We were at the Collective for a workshop. There were some new ladies there. And Crystal says to one of the ladies something like this, “We’re having a summit this Tuesday night to support women who are making change in the world. There’s not enough action on climate change, so we’re going to have to go ahead and take action ourselves. We’re meeting to figure out how to support each other to do this.” Totally down to the point, no nonsense. We’re just going to go ahead and figure out how to make it happen ourselves.
So we convened something of a war room of women ready to fight climate change, by getting more support for what we already do and doing more with it. Eliminate waste in the community, encourage reuse, make more with less, encourage green lifestyle habits. (Recap on where Reid Miller fits: reducing waste in the apparel production process, using ethically sourced materials, and promoting sustainable lifestyle choices like buying higher quality, less frequently and a green commute).
So we broke the problem down discussing everything from issues around confidence and isolation in our work to a sense that our work is not valued by the powers that be in the current economy. Many of us had come to embrace the goals laid out in a presentation that has begun to circulate like wild fire–The Feminine Economy–given by Jennifer Armbrust, founder of Armbrust & Co. In her presentation she puts forward a beautiful and radical idea: “I am proposing business as a site to embody new values, create new economies and experiment with new distributions of power and resources.” She lays out the current values and proposes a framework for new values, which she calls the Feminine Economy.
And that is what all of us women around the table were doing, using business to embody new values, to experiment with a new way of doing things for a different outcome. And so we return to the question: how do we make sure we each have the best possible shot to make an impact with our work? How do we shift from working in isolation in an economy which overlooks our efforts in the race for breakneck profit and growth, to a community which helps each other and can fortify our efforts with resources?
Next Wednesday, July 19th we talk about solutions. I have an intense desire to see an incubator/accelerator for businesses embodying the feminine economy in their efforts to support solutions to serious environmental and/or social problems, to close the funding gap between companies founded by women versus men, to take advantage of the 63% higher return on investment from female founded companies, and to use this all to see if we can build truly sustainable, impactful businesses that are vehicles for the change we need.
We are ready for this sort of big change. We are going to make it happen. Thank you for your support to help us get there.