These past two years have been incredibly powerful for women; to watch so many of us step into the forefront, to be more honest and to tell our stories and our truth has been inspiring. It has also felt necessary and urgent, like we must tell the truth from now, so that everyone can understand what we go through each day, if we want change we must demand it and that means speaking about what is wrong.
Watching leaders in our community step up and empower other women, had me feeling empowered and wanting to help shine a light on women who have inspired me and have helped push the boundaries and move our gender forward. I wanted to launch a product that would allow people to wear their love of supporting women and would also allow us to celebrate and learn more about the women who came before us. I also loved the idea of creating a product that allowed my customers to have their own input, any chance to interact with my #copiousladies and #copiousgents makes me so happy.
The Femme Sweater is about celebrating and honouring the women who came before us, who broke the rules and who fought for their place, so that we could have ours. Each sweater will feature 3 women’s names that are hand embroidered and with EACH sweater purchased a $5 donation will be made to a charity that helps women.
This Collections donations will be going to the Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre. They were established in 1974 and they provide counselling, a crisis line and information sessions to offer as much support in a crisis as possible.
‘My Favourites’ - FRIDA, JOAN, GLORIA
Women have always related and loved Frida Kahlo and I believe it is because a common theme in her work was her life experience, which was filled with love and pain. She is widely known for her self-portraits and I have always connected with them and her because through her work she was always discovering herself, “I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best.” We should always be the person who knows ourselves best.
Joan Jett is the founder of the 70’s rock band The Runaways and besides being a badass, my instant love for this woman is that she always said “I had no plan B, I was all in.” When you hear someone speak about their dream, like you speak about yours, it is hard not to love that person. She has always been vocal about sexism within the music industry and has advocated for change to the power structure within it, “if you’re not going to give a woman that kind of power, then what kind of power does she have, really?” She has also been a vocal feminist, an owner of her sexuality; she is strong, empowered and a role model for women.
My favourite feminist, author, champion for equality and road traveler, Gloria Steinem, is the third women on ‘my favourites.' Her book, My Life on the Road is my bible, it is well worn and highlighted. My favourite part is her role in the 1977 National Women’s Conference, it was a profound moment in history and impressionable event for all the women who participated and just proves how important and powerful representation is! The quote I carry with me the most from her book “You will realize that this growth came from seeds you planted or watered or carried from place to place – and you’ll be rewarded in the way that we as communal beings need the most. You will know you made a difference.”
‘Canadian Women’ – VIOLA, ROBERTA, NELLIE
The woman most recognized in Canada for standing up to segregation is Viola Desmond, the face of the Canadian $10 bill, but her story is so much more than that. Growing up she dreamed of owning and running her own beauty salon, but when she couldn’t get accepted into any Nova Scotia beauty schools because of the colour of her skin, she didn’t let that stop her dream. She attended schools in Montreal and the US, and with her educated she opened her own salon, then her own beauty school and created her own cosmetics line for darker complexions. On that fateful night in November 1946 when she refused to move out of what the theatre classified the “whites only” section, she was arrested and because segregation wasn’t Canadian Law, rather an unwritten rule, she was charged with tax evasion for not paying the full tax on a main-floor ticket, the difference of this amounted to ONLY one cent. She fought against the outright segregation in court and although she ultimately lost her court battle, she galvanized the Nova Scotia community and helped inspire Canadas civil rights movement.
Roberta Bondar is SO many things, a neurologist, physician, educator, photographer and an astronaut, she was the first AND second Canadian woman in space. As a young girl she was instantly interested in science, her father built her a laboratory in their basement so she could conduct her experiments. Bondar was actively involved in her science team in high school and was a research assistant on her summers off, but still she got resistance from guidance counselors when she wanted to pursue science in university, they believed science wasn’t a field for women. After reading about all her incredible accomplishments it is safe to say she knew herself well and knew what she could achieve! Not only was she the first Canadian female in space, for her flight she was the payload specialist, which is the crew member in charge of carrying out the missions purpose.
We all owe Nellie McClung a debt of gratitude for her political activism that helped get Canadian women the right to vote. It all started in 1914 when she was involved in the Political Equality League and they staged a satirical play on the dangers of allowing men to have the right to vote. It was entertaining and effective in helping turn the tide, and by 1916 Manitoba had granted women the right to vote with Saskatchewan following. Even after this monumental victory she continued to fight for the rights of others, ran political campaigns and authored 15 books, she was truly a force for political change.
‘First Women’ – PENNY, KATHRINE, ARETHA
Penny Marshall was the first female director to have a film gross more than $100 million. Before this though she started her career starring in Laverne and Shirley and then went on to direct some truly incredible films like A League of Their Own, Riding in Cars with Boys and BIG which was the film that grossed more than $100 million. Along with all these accomplishments she is also connected to another woman who was first at something, before directing movies, she directed the Jumpin’ Jack Flash music video, which Aretha Franklin starred in.
In 1967, Kathrine Switzer broke the rules to do what she loves, she entered the Boston Marathon and became the first woman to officially run the marathon, even as organizers tried to physically hold her back. I actually listened to her story on an ESPN 30 for 30 podcast, Six Who Sat, and it was moving! It was powerful to hear it in her own voice, her passion for the sport, her drive to win and ultimately her desire to do what any male runner could do, enter and compete in a marathon. It was inspiring and again reinforced why we must fight for what we love.
Aretha Franklin undoubtedly the Queen of Soul and a powerful voice in the music industry was also the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 1987 she solidified her reign while kicking down the door for other women in the music industry. To date the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has issues with the gender gap with their inductees, even when there are so many great Rock Queens!
I adore all these Queens and can't wait to see which ones you choose to wear with pride.
All info for this post was found at the below links, books or podcast.
My Life on the Road Author Gloria Steinem