It's International Women's Day. Around the world, there are events to support women and strike against the injustices that still affect the female gender. At Encircled, we make immense efforts to support women-owned businesses.
Three out of four of our sewing contractors are female owned and operated. Yes, that's 75% of our production. The fourth contractor is not, but our main contact is female - and she's clearly the one driving that ship!
We are also women-owned.
The founder (me) is the majority shareholder in Encircled, and though not on purpose, we employ an all-female staff (fashion industry side-effect!).
I've always described myself as a feminist, and I believe strongly in empowering women. The first gender discrimination I ran into was when I was 8 years old.
I was cut from the boys' hockey team at my elementary school, even though I was one of the fastest skaters on the ice. I learned later that it was because it was logistically 'annoying' to have to get a second change room for the girls. This is something I fought. I ended up making the team a year later.
When I graduated university and started working, I had my first exposure to corporate-level gender discrimination.
The instances were numerous: from being asked at trade shows if I was the 'hired booth bitch' (I wasn't, I was the division manager) to then finding out my predecessor made 1.5x my salary. I had higher-ups hit on me during dinners that I thought were to discuss my performance, and had C-level executives tell me that they had a daughter my age. It pervaded every level and almost every job I had.
What I learned from it, however, was that in order to fuel change, I needed to be the change. So, on International Women's Day, I ask you to stand up for women.
My experiences in gender discrimination are nowhere near as bad as what's still experienced locally and globally. I'm merely sharing them to illustrate that in a world where #girlboss is pervading all forms of social media, and steps have been made in the right direction, there is still a big glass ceiling at work, and in life.
It's far worse globally where sometimes women are not afforded basic rights; rights that North Americans take for granted (like the ability to go to school, vote, and get birth control).
Shop at a women-owned business, attend a rally or protest, or even post or tweet about it. Do something.
To get you started, here are 25 cool women-owned businesses you can start supporting today, that are doing great things in the world:
Founded by Elisabetta Colabianchi, Kurandza is a non-profit social enterprise that enables women in Mozambique to become leaders in their communities through education, training and knowledge sharing. Their store sells a variety of handcrafted goods, from bags to earrings, all made by the collective in Mozambique.
2. Moorea Seal
Founded by the inspiring Moorea, this instagram-worthy store curates handmade artists from all over the US and globe. 7% of profits go to a wide variety of charities. They support worthy causes such as Brazil without Barriers, and Washington Trails Association.
Founded by Christine Longoria, this is one of my fave bag-makers out there. Her mission is to help survivors of human trafficking in California by donating 10% of every dollar to GenerateHope. Christine's broader vision is to expand that partnership with a charity and even employ people within her organization. Her bags are gorgeous, and yes, made in USA by hand.
Founded by Erin and Sarah, this made-in-USA kidswear line is cute and puts ethics first. LBL also gives 10% of their profits to create period kits through the organization "Days for Girls".
5. The New Blak
Founded by designer, Amanda Dare, the New Blak aims to help consumers understand where their fashion comes from, from end to end. Their collection of womenswear is 100% made in USA from sustainable fabrics, using plant-based dyes.
Founded by Hedvig Alexander, Far + Wide partners with talented artisans in emerging and developing countries to curate fair trade clothing, jewelry and decor. They work directly with NGOs to ensure that craftspeople receive a fair price for their handmade goods.
Sseko designs was founded by major girl boss, Liz Forkin Bohannon. Sseko is based in Uganda and designs innovative multi-way travel sandals, leather goods and accessories. Their mission is to empower women through a self-sustaining financial model. To date, they've helped send 87 women in Uganda to university.
8. Juice Beauty
Juice beauty is an organic beauty line that is on a mission to replace your toxic drugstore products with effective, natural products that are good for your skin and earth. Founded by Karen Behkne, Juice Beauty makes all of their products in the USA, uses sustainable energy to power their manufacturing plant, uses recyclable containers and materials, and many local and organic ingredients in addition to supporting over 5 charities.
Founded by Actress and Singer Caitlin Crosby, the Giving Keys makes jewelry out of repurposed keys. Over the past three years, they've employed over 28 people and enabled them to move out of homelessness and become self-sufficient.
10. Danielle Laporte
Ooh, we're such fans of Danielle Laporte! This Canadian is an inspiring life coach, but also has a line of books, candles, cards, journals and agendas. All made in USA and using sustainable materials and ethical practices.
11. Bhava Studio
Founded by designer Francesca Pineda, Bhava Studio makes high quality, stylish footwear out of vegan, organic, recycled and cruelty-free materials. Each pair is tested for wear by their team in New York City and made by artisans globally.
One of my new faves in skincare -- made in Toronto by hand, from organic ingredients and at a reasonable price point. Wildcraft believes that natural beauty can be nourishing and support you to get the skin you deserve. My fave product? The Face and Body scrub!
13. Joyous Health
I first met Joy at the beautiful mama-focused yoga studio, Toronto Yoga Mamas. She's a big supporter of Encircled, which is awesome (and a fan of our dressy sweats!). Joy is a Toronto-based health and nutrition coach who also has an amazing line of natural body care products, teas and cookbooks to get you back on the path to good health, naturally.
Founder Joanna Griffiths has combined the elements of technology, performance and design to create the ultimate pair of underwear. Their initial invention was a pair of leak proof underwear. Now, Knixwear is also committed to changing the conversation around body image and models in the fashion industry. Their 8-in-1 bra was one of the highest funded kickstarter campaigns ever!
Cheryl founded Ollie Jones clothing in 2012, after having her son and being frusrated by the lack of comfortable and stylish baby leggings. Using organic fabrics, and hand-making each piece in Toronto, Ollie Jones has quickly become a favourite of mums everywhere.
16. Belmonte Raw
One of our favourite raw, cold-pressed juice companies, Belmonte Raw was founded in 2009 by Carol Belmonte. Belmonte Raw uses high-quality organic and natural ingredients to create juices, cleanse routines, snacks and salads.
17. Spirit of Vera
Using sustainable, ethically-sourced, and upcycled metals such as sterling silver, Vera has a collection of versatile, beautiful jewelry that she handmakes in her studio in Toronto. Certified by the Responsible Jewelry Council, Vera's pieces are timeless and modern, sure to find a home for years in your jewelry rotation.
Started by mama and crafter, Northern Flicker makes candles just north of Toronto. Their candles use 100% US grown and GMO-free, vegan, renewably sourced soy wax. Northern Flicker uses recyclable packaging in their products, as well as supports a wildlife ocean conservation fund.
19. C4 Eyewear
C4 stands for Canadian, creative, collaborative and charity - key elements to founder, Carla D'Angelo. C4 makes fashion-forward eyewear for women, designed in Italy. Through their charity work with their sister brand, AYA, they've raised over $100,000 for OneXOne's school breakfast program.
Stowaway Cosmetics makes travel friendly, modular premium makeup and skincare. Less is definitely more with their right-sized lipsticks, foundations, blush and eye-makeup. Founded by Chelsea Crowley, and Julie Fredrickson, their products are also gluten-free and cruelty-free.
21. Away Luggage
Former Warby Parker employees Jen Rubio and Steph Korey teamed up to create this innovative, direct-to-consumer online luggage brand. Away combines high quality materials, and innovative technical features to create one of the best carry-on bags out there.
22. Solly Baby Wraps
Founded by mama, Elle, in 2011, Solly Baby wraps has quickly become the go-to for new mamas for baby wearing. Her baby-wraps are made in the USA from one of our fave fabrics, Modal. Solly baby proudly supports "Every Mother Counts", an organization focused on making childbirth safe for all mothers globally.
23. Mala Collective
Mala Collective makes beautiful mala necklaces, bracelets, scarves and other small accessories from sustainable materials, made with love by hand in Bali by fair trade artisans. Mala collective supports several charitable organizations including Opportunity International, Live below the Line, Karma Teachers and Big Brothers/Big Sisters.
24. Parachute Linens
Founder Ariel Kaye had a dream of recreating that 5-star hotel bedding feel in her own home, and launched Parachute in 2014. Using premium natural fibers, Parachute is able to go direct to consumer and cut the cost to an affordable level. Parachute also supports the charity, "Nothing but Nets", which provides mosquito nets to prevent malaria in sub-saharan Africa.
25. The Wild Unknown
For those who love a little woo-woo and crystals, meet the Wild Unknown. Founded by Kim Krans, the Wild Unknown makes hand-illustrated tarot decks, guidebooks, candles, and incense. The Wild Unknown gives back a portion of their proceeds to organizations like The Himalayan Institute that helped build a library in Cameroon.
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