Photo by  Samuel Zeller

Photo by Samuel Zeller

Before I start in on the Weekly Letter, a quick update on the beta-testing for the custom-made Riding Jacket. Sew Co., our sewing partner is scheduled to begin sewing the muslin prototypes (the fabric used to test the fit of the pattern before cutting out of the real Harris Tweed fabric) cut to the beta-client measurements. They expect to finish sewing them up mid-February and then we can see how well our digital pattern adaptation is working to see if any changes need to be made before we proceed to the final step. Yes, everything is taking longer than expected. Take away lessons for anyone embarking on a new endeavor in manufacturing: at every stage you can expect things to take several times longer than if you were making something more traditional. The main reasons for this:
 
1) Since each step is novel, it is difficult to know exactly how long it will take and thus to get on the next partner in the testing sequence’s schedule ahead of time. This requires a huge amount of patience and flexibility for all parties involved.
 
2) While our manufacturing partners are awesome, we are not yet their bread and butter. They believe in our work, but bigger, more lucrative jobs in the short-term, come before our work together. This is just a basic fact of manufacturing.
 
And so I have slowly and sometime painstakingly come to terms with the amount of patience required to build this. And it helps to talk with other women who are painstakingly and diligently building their dreams to remember that a lot of us are slowly plodding our way forward. Some days it seems like progress is slow or hard to find, and then there are days like the evening at the Golden Globe (#TimesUp!) where we all the sudden notice that real shifts have occurred and the barge is making its way down the long river of progress.  Lately I have been thinking about the Martin Luther King quote I saw on MLK Day:
 
The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.
 
Many days it is hard to tell if we are making progress towards a more socially and environmentally responsible world, but then I think about this arc and it helps orient me.  The people who have accomplished great things did so on this same long arc with no promise that their efforts would pay off next year or in the next five years. They did that work because it was right and moved them along the arc, however small that move on an unknowably long arc.
 
And I thought of this again last weekend when we rallied in Raleigh to mark the 1-year anniversary of the Women’s March. The rally was decidedly action oriented. The organizers asked us to think about a cause that we are working on. I thought about women’s entrepreneurship, where I work to create movement in the start-up trenches and wondered about our progress.
 
Today I thought I’d do some reflecting on this progress. Many months ago I wrote with the sad statistic that women only received 2% of investment dollars in 2016, slightly less than the year before, though we represented 40% of new entrepreneurs (2016 Kauffman Index of Startup Activity). For a whole host of reasons, there was less resources for women entrepreneurs, and by definition the causes we care about, and so our struggles to bring our work to life were real. Our entrepreneurial path does not include going out to lunch with our fully equipped team, or having the latest software packages or marketing tools. We just have less to work with. And though this is still very much the case, the ecosystem of women problem solvers have heard our call.
 
There is a very real drum of support beating for getting women into positions of power. A record number of women are running for congress in 2018 (Time Magazine) and slowly but surely we are hearing women extend this call for more women into our business spaces. More women executive, more female founders, more investment for women. If we want to create a society that is more friendly to women, that addresses the needs we care about like affordable childcare, we need more women in power in the government AND the business spaces.
 
Slowly but surely there are some investment groups focused on investing in women for example the Female Founders Fund and SoGal Ventures to name a few. Crowd-funding site for women iFundWomen now has cohorts in Boston, Maryland, Nashville, Newark, and Raleigh/Durham. A super awesome female founded company called CNote is just getting going providing low interest loans to women and minorities through Community Development Financial Institutions, while guaranteeing a better interest rate for the savings accounts of peer investors. Innovative. Smart. Small steps on the arc of progress towards a big impact.
 
And I want to have a lot more to report here and I’m sure that there is a whole lot going on under the folds, but either way I have a feeling that in 2018 we will see a lot of progress in this area. Our intentions of getting more women into positions of power, and standing strong against injustice are set. 

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