Last Wednesday, the final day of our campaign, we hit our goal on iFundWomen, capping out at $15,265. Your support made this happen. I had a solution and you got behind me and now that solution is being implemented. We are going to see this through.
Here’s a recap of the campaign and what led up to it so we can fully digest this together: A year ago I realized that we have technology to custom-make women’s clothing much more efficiently than we have ever done before, but we are only using these technologies to custom-make menswear. Over the past year, I zeroed in on the technology pieces we could use right away, and the partners that had these technologies and could help us custom-make womenswear. I learned that custom-making apparel lends itself to U.S. production and is thus a great way to bring back jobs. By July of this past summer, we had the partners signed on to test it out but we didn’t have the resources to do it. I found iFundWomen. I was a woman with a solution to make much better women’s clothing, bring jobs back to the U.S. and reduce waste in apparel production. I put together a campaign, excited that my supporters could see their money in action through video due to the proximity of our partners.
It took an enormous amount of faith to launch the campaign. I had a promising solution, the partners were ready, but I could only try it out with support. And I could not be certain that if I leapt, I would be supported, that the money to take action would be there. And another part of me was so excited about the concept of this campaign that I failed to see that it was not an easy sell. No pre-selling of these jackets? Only token rewards? Lots of people wanted to see the fruits of this work, but were not willing to give money to someone they didn’t know to go do it. And so it was really close.
In spite of stress working an enormous number of jobs to keep the communications flowing, adapting and moving on social media, coordinating the testing along side it, and bobbing and weaving with the unpredictable nature of this work, it was the work itself that brought me back home again and again.
In the first week I learned so much helping to measure the beta-client women and coming to see the potential for removing sizes from a woman’s experience with her clothing. Her unique measurements, her body is beautiful, incomparable. Naghisti, our professional tailor, said it is the sizing system and advertisements that tell us we aren’t beautiful. Without those, we are perfect just the way we are.
We were creating this work together. We were making this change. No more being told we don’t fit.
And other unexpected things happened. I knew I wanted to reach more women and I wanted every woman to know that we (roughly 51% of the U.S. population) only got 2% of investment dollars in 2016. So I collaborated with my friend and photographer to make an ad around it. Over the years I have marveled at how poorly blouses fit women, made as if breasts are a new development. Since we are beta-testing a solution to custom make womenswear that we will use to solve this problem among the many fit problems, I made an ad around it to put up on Facebook and Instagram.
And then I got a little note in my inbox saying that my ad was denied. The explanation: “sexually explicit content”, as if breasts are by definition sexual. My ad was highlighting a woman’s issue overlooked because of lack of funds for women, and then censored because a woman’s form is flagged as overly sexual. So we can’t even talk about the problem. We can’t even display it.
And so the mountain got steeper. I got really mad. I needed to raise this money from within my network. We didn’t have time to redo the ad. It was really a challenge not to get so fixated on scarcity in women’s entrepreneurship: 2% of investment dollars(!), censored by Facebook, on an iFundWomen platform that is there because seed funding is so difficult to come by as a woman.
So I decided that for the Launch Party at the Durham Hotel I would flip the switch. Create an experience that screamed ABUNDANCE. Many of the women I had invited had experienced the same frustrations with the work they knew would make the world a better place, but consistently lacked resources for. It was not difficult to suspect that the many more who came may have experienced this as well. (Heck we still don’t have pay equity.) So for one evening we were going to leave that at the door, actually experience ABUNDANCE and share that experience together. The air smelled like flowers. Indeed flowers were everywhere. The carpet was gold, there were beautiful apparel pieces to try and tons of women and men sharing their dreams, their passion, their work. They got to see the result of the sweat, blood and tears it has taken to build my vision thus far. Pink sparkling wine flowed. It was magnificent.
And then the Harris Tweed to make 100 custom-made Riding Jackets showed up in my driveway four days later, after 7 months of working on shipping to bring it home. The real pieces for custom-making these beautiful jackets for women were coming together. And I new I had to get to the end.
And when I did, the most prized piece of the whole campaign was showing that a woman with a solution could make it happen. When I worried that I would not make it, this is what concerned me the most. Cynicism cannot win. Our world needs solutions and we need to know that we can make them happen. If you have a solution to a problem that needs solving, you can solve it. It is not easy, but you can do it. There is a whole lot of magic, support, and sweat to make it happen, but you will win.
So now the testing continues. We are scheduled to go to Tennessee next week and watch the first pieces being cut to the measurements of our fit clients. You are responsible for this. You have an impact. The world will be as we make it. We have the power. No one can take that from us however steep the mountain seems.
So THANK YOU for showing women everywhere that it is possible to do something different if you put your mind to it. It is possible to create a better world, one person, one dream at a time.
A SPECIAL THANK YOU…
… TO Colleen Pesci (left) for the videography and Sydney Sawaya (center) for social media and graphic design for our iFundWomen Campaign for Custom-Made Womenswear. This campaign would not have been possible without them.