A Feminist Business
It’s International Women’s Day and I have to give so many shout-outs to the women who have made Ruby’s Garden what it is today! I didn’t mean to start a feminist business but that’s what it has become.
I started Ruby’s Garden at a time when I knew I needed to create my own lifeboat, a means of making a living that brought life satisfaction I wasn’t finding from my home life. I wanted to use my work-brain again without losing the time I had to be with my daughter.
When I started looking for products for our shop, I found makers who were creating their own lifeboats too. They were mothers who had also left fulfilling (or not fulfilling) professional lives to stay at home raising their babies. They were using the ragged edges of their sleep-deprived days to create clothing and accessories for children that I knew my customers would love. They were parenting their children the best they could but also trying to pay attention to the voice inside that said: I’m a mother now, but I’m still also ME. Who am I and what do I need? What do I have to say and add to this world? I have loved carrying local brands from day one because I could see in these women a sisterhood I wanted to support and invite others to support too. Even though we’ve grown a lot since those early days, we’ve still managed to keep the majority of our sales going to local bay area companies, most of which are founded and staffed by local women.
When Mary and I opened our doors back in the tiny space on Shattuck, we didn’t have a mission statement that spoke to supporting mothers. However as two women who found becoming mothers one of the most challenging life changes imaginable, it was natural that a new mother stopping in who was tired beyond belief would find a compassionate ear in both of us. We live in an age and a place where the bar for parenting has been set so high as to create martyrs out of mothers. We would frequently encounter a mother at the end of her rope for all she has given up for her baby and still feels guilty she didn’t give more. We have always said in our shop we’re looking out for the mothers because everyone else is looking out for the babies. When mothers would come in to shop without the babies they usually had in tow and told me it was because she had a rare moment of childcare, I’d say “Then what are you doing here? You should be somewhere getting a massage or shopping for yourself!” Mothers seem to need permission for self-care and we will always be a voice to champion women getting what they need for themselves.
It’s never been more urgent that women stand up for ourselves and for each other, so we can model that strength for the girls and boys in our care. I’m proud to be a woman-owned and woman-powered business making a difference in our corner of the world.