Business Feature: Feminist Book Club

I have never paid for a monthly subscription to anything that wasn’t a newspaper or magazine. A subscription box always seemed like a waste of money to me – a way to pay to collect miscellaneous makeup products I’d never use or fluffy fiction I’d never read. Then a client introduced me to Feminist Book Club and their monthly subscription box. My mind was changed when I saw the amount of value included in their monthly boxes, and their emphasis on community building and intersectional feminism.

I’ve received three boxes so far, and I am beyond impressed with the customer service, packaging, care, and the carefully chosen products inside! It’s like getting a little present for myself each month full of surprises I’ll (mostly) use, that support an array of woman owned businesses, and woman authors! If you’re looking to support small business, organizations doing great work, and get quality intersectional feminist reading material, I highly suggest trying this subscription box out! And gifting it to all the feminists in your life this holiday season!

The first thing that I noticed and immediately loved is that there are three subscription options to fit most budgets.

Subscription Options:

– $12 per month will get you access to all Feminist Book Club’s virtual content. This includes the ability to vote on book options (what?! I love this), video chats and virtual discussions about the books.

– $25 per month includes a physical copy of the book of the month, a pamphlet outlining all the awesome businesses featured in the expanded subscription box, a hand written thank you note from the owner (usually), and all the virtual content mentioned above.

– Lastly, for $49 a month you get everything described above AND 3-5 unique products from small woman-owned businesses! I subscribe to this tier because I love supporting small business and learning about new brands.

Thing to Note:

– 5% of all proceeds every month are donated to a different charity that must be “committed to intersectional social justice, preferably working with marginalized populations.”

– They have the Feminist Book Club Scholarship Program. You can sponsor it, or apply to receive it!

We firmly believe feminist literature and intersectional feminist businesses should be accessible to everyone, regardless of location, finance, or circumstance. So we’ve created a scholarship to help bring Feminist Book Club to everyone.

– You can gift a subscription for three, six, or twelve months!

– If you’ve already read or own the book of the month, you can swap it out for a different option.

– You can cancel any time, are charged on the 10th of each month, and your box ships out the first week of each month.

– The founder of Feminist Book Club, Renee M. Powers hosts a weekly podcast called Feminist Book Club: The Podcast featuring conversations and interviews with feminist authors, writers, and readers!

– FBC also hosts a blog that you can apply to contribute to!

Monthly Examples That I Have Personally Received:

August Box
September Box
October Box

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All photos, information, and quotes pulled directly from https://www.feministbookclub.com

Go sign up or follow along @feministbookclubbox

Women In Business Series: Lorena Alves Owner On The Lo Swimwear

1. Briefly describe yourself and your business.

Hey! Lorena Alves here. I am a 30 year old Brazilian native. I moved to Boston with my family in 1997 when I was seven years old. I went to The University of Massachusetts, Amherst and moved to Humboldt County after I graduated in 2013. I design for and run the company I own, On The Lo Swimwear. 

2. Tell us about what you sell! Why is your brand unique? 

We sell Brazilian versatile swimwear. On The Lo Swimwear is a brand for women by women. We advocate for fair wages and shop locally to support other small businesses. I design the swimsuits in California and send the designs to Giovana, in Brazil, who assembles and creates the pieces. I choose the colors and patterns and Giovana shops locally in Brazil for all the materials. In an effort to support both the American and Brazilian economies and honor my roots, we have chosen to create authentic Brazilian swimsuits in Brazil. 

3. Why did you specifically decide to design swimwear? 

All my life I struggled to find the the perfect bikini- one I’d feel comfortable and sexy and beautiful in. I used to buy bikini tops in the United States and bikini bottoms in Brazil because I’ve always loved their flattering cheeky cuts. I have been fond of swimwear forever! However, I never would’ve predicted that one day I would design my own suits! I noticed the lack of swimwear options in the area I lived in and decided to bridge the gap by providing flattering swimwear for women of all shapes and sizes. I used to say I wasn’t creative, but found my creative outlet designing swimsuits.  

4. Trying on and even wearing swimwear can be a challenging and vulnerable process for many people. How do you approach this challenge? 

I feel that because swimwear hasn’t been designed for women by women, we haven’t had cuts that are made to fit our bodies. This has created an uncomfortability around swimwear. At On the Lo we approach this challenge by creating comfortable, flattering, and sexy bikinis for all body types. We mix and match sizes and styles and can make custom bikinis for your precise measurements. Our suits are soft, flattering and accentuating. We also expanded our line to include non-cheeky cuts for the babes that prefer more coverage. We are all about empowering women to be confident in their own skin!

5. What is beauty to you? How does this idea translate into your swim line?

Beauty is confidence. Beauty is loving yourself and living in your divine feminine power while embracing your true self. Beauty on the inside is kindness, generosity and caring- letting your love shine through in all you do. We design suits that remind women of how beautiful they are! Our slogan:

Empowered, Genuine, and Free

represents the powerful queen that loves herself fully and lives in her truth. 

6. What is one valuable lesson you’ve learned from working with people of all different shapes and sizes, backgrounds and life experiences? 

Working with people of all different shapes, sizes, backgrounds and life experiences has taught me to appreciate authenticity and diversity. We are all so special and have our own paths, yet we can share and learn so much from one another. Working with a diverse population has taught me greater awareness, understanding, and acceptance of differing beliefs and customs.

7. What is one piece of advice you have for someone wanting to try your line? 

If you’re interested in trying our swimsuits don’t hesitate to contact us! I offer home visits where I bring you our inventory and help you find the perfect suit. Whether you like cheeky styles or more coverage, we have many styles for you. 

8. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?

“If you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life.” I love my job and the joy it brings, not only for myself, but for my clients as well! I am so thankful for the opportunity to dress so many women and to work and connect with them. I finally found a job where I am able to be creative but also make a difference in women’s lives. 

9. What has been the biggest challenge and biggest reward from owning your own business? 

The biggest challenge for me as an entrepreneur is time management. Sometimes it’s difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I have to keep pushing forward. As an entrepreneur it is challenging to navigate a new business and learn what to do, what not to do, and how to best delegate my time. The biggest reward has been the impact that my brand has created. I love reading my client’s testimonials and feedback. They inspire me to keep creating, and to keep the momentum going. I have met so many amazing people on my journey. I am forever grateful for them, and for the people I will meet in the future.

10. What is one book that changed your life? Why?

Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins. This book taught me perseverance – it taught me to change my mindset and to keep going no matter what. Goggins shows us that our bodies are capable of doing much more than we can imagine. He transformed himself into one of America’s fittest athletes through self-discipline, mental toughness, and hard work. Goggins believes that many of us limit ourselves by operating at only forty percent of our true capability. Only when we callous our minds through the regular stepping out of our comfort zones can we move beyond it. We are stronger than we think! 

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https://ontheloswimwear.com

@ontheloswimwear

707-498-1832

Contact@ontheloswimwear.com

Hey White People, How Do We Do Something?

White people, it’s time to stop letting our uncertainty, confusion, and spineless good intentions trump action. For the sake of this conversation, I am including non-Black people of color in this group. In regards to the Black Lives Matter Movement, we seem to be easily paralyzed into silence or frozen when it comes to doing something meaningful outside of posting to social media, even when we believe racism is a problem that takes action to fix.

I get it. It’s confusing. Should we strive to be allies or accomplices? Should we use our platform to amplify marginalized voices? Or should we use it to speak out with our own voice? Should we publicly share the actions we’re taking to encourage others to do the same, or is this considered to be “performative” or reeking of “white savior” complex? Should we donate to Black organizations and shop Black business? Or is that just an easy way to relieve our own conscience by throwing money at a complex problem? Is self-education enough?

This post isn’t going to address white fragility and the many reasons why, as a group, we are seemingly incapable of talking about race without either becoming defensive, silent, or fumbling over ourselves like embarrassed children, looking for approval. Surely this isn’t every person. But I do think that if you’re engaged in a conversation about race in any meaningful way, especially as a white person, you will misstep. Which is okay. The point is to educate yourself, learn from that misstep and continue to act. Do the work. Rather, this particular post is meant to share with you the “aha” moment I had regarding my own anti racist activism, and how I realized the answer to all those confusing questions is more simple than you think.

I think the first step to unfreezing yourself is understanding why you’ve done little to nothing in the past to change the injustices you see – even if you were previously aware there was a problem. In Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness she explores an interesting phenomenon in human behavior that criminologist Stanley Cohen describes in great detail in his book States of Denial.

“The book examines how individuals and institutions – victims, perpetrators, and bystanders- know about yet deny the occurrence of oppressive acts. They only see what they want to see and wear blinders to avoid seeing the rest. This has been true about slavery, genocide, torture, and every form of systemic oppression… Cohen emphasizes that denial, though deplorable, is complicated. It is not simply a matter of refusing to acknowledge an obvious, though uncomfortable, truth. Many people ‘know” and “not know” the truth about human suffering at the same time.”

She goes on to say that “the widespread and mistaken belief that racial animus is necessary for the creation and maintenance of racialized systems of social control is the most important reason that we, as a nation, have remained in deep denial.”

These points resonated with me because I see similar actions taking place in regards to animal rights and veganism. Many people recognize that animal abuse is wrong – in some states it is even considered a felony to abuse your pet. I encounter many people I would consider completely rational in other circumstances be made “sick” by the overt and obvious abuse of an animal on television, go on to eat an animal that same day, sometimes more than once. We know and not know the truth. We remain in denial because on the surface level we believe outright abuse is wrong, but somehow our daily actions to pay for and support a system which abuses and kills animals on our behalf is not.

As a group, we misunderstand racism as obvious individual acts of outright bigotry – without these in our sights we can remain in denial. We can know racism is a problem and not know it’s a problem. We are unwilling to see the part we all play in racist systems through our complicit or outright purposeful actions maintaining systems that are racist because “we aren’t racist” people. I would like to emphasize that the parallels I am drawing here are simply to help you think about your own rationale and actions, not to in any way suggest that racism and animal exploitation are the same.

I think the other key to moving out of inaction is to move past your fear of being wrong. You may be afraid to act because there are so many mixed messages and differing opinions on what white people should do, and you may wonder why Black people can’t just tell you what’s right. Recognize that this thinking is problematic for many reasons, but for two big ones. One: Black people are not one homogenous entity with one cohesive thought. To expect all Black people to agree on one methodology or theory for activism (or anything) is absurd. To read the thoughts of one, two, or even a handful of Black people and expect their ideas to represent all Black people’s ideas is racist, and not something we would ever expect of a white person. Two: It is not the job of Black people to educate you on your own racism and teach you how to fix it. If this is literally their actual job then by all means pay them for their content and let them help educate you. There are many Black educators and authors out there doing just that. But expecting every Black person to lead you through your unlearning journey, take on your white guilt and emotions, and help guide you to the mythical land of the “woke” white person is a not so subtle form of manipulation and exploitation. Black people have no obligation to work for free, and it is simply not their job to fix our problems for us. It’s our job to do the work inside ourselves and within our institutions.

Okay, so now that we’ve examined our thought patterns critically and read some books about how to be an anti racist, how do we do that?

Once these big conversations about race started happening on such a widespread scale I was fortunate enough to have had a lot of the theory and education pieces at least somewhat in place to prepare myself for what comes next. In other words, I was confident enough to have these conversations and share my thoughts on racism publicly because I had been doing the inner work for a long time. I had settled into that uncomfortable feeling of being wrong a lot. However, I felt that beyond reading books, sharing resources on Instagram and talking with my circle of family, friends, and clients (many of which share similar opinions), I was at a loss on how to be effective – how to take action. Then something just clicked.

Activism is activism.

The parallels I’m about to make aren’t meant to be exacting, so just take a moment to let me explain. I decided that the best way to be an anti racist advocate are much of the same actions that I take on a daily basis to be an effective animal rights advocate. Am I saying the movements are the same? No. Am I comparing people to animals? No. Do I understand that there are many reasons why comparing the two movements is problematic? Yes. BUT what I understand even more clearly is that I am not comparing the movements themselves, I am simply identifying that the few principles of activism that I use in my vegan life can easily be translated into actions that support anti racism in my everyday life as well. So let’s break those down.

Over the last sixteen years, I’ve come to the conclusion that when working within a capitalist framework, the most effective way to enact change is to pay for it. When enough people make consistent small changes in their routine spending this will alter what products companies offer, what advertisements we see, who gets hired and makes more money, and the list goes on. When I first became vegetarian, tofu was the only “protein” option anywhere. It’s amazing what over a decade of plant based buying did to change our options, help small business, the planet, animals, and our own health. I find that once you change your spending habits, discussing your choices with everyone (and anyone) gets easier. Until you’re comfortable simply engaging in conversation about veganism or anti racism, you now have a simple way to show support, and lead by example. Your choices matter. Every single one.

Because being anti racist or plant based aren’t things you can win at, or “finish” then it can be logically concluded that participating in these movements should constitute a lifestyle – a way of living. A journey that will evolve forever. Once we’ve decided to know, instead of claiming to know, then it is our duty to intentionally allow these frameworks to guide us as we move through the world. It should influence our moral compass, our daily purchases, and our daily actions.

Here is the example I sketched out to help you visualize how easy these changes are, and how much of an impact they can have. This may seem repetitive, but that is my intention.

As a vegan (or a non-vegan) what can I do in my routine life that is sustainable to enact long term change in regards to animal rights, my health, and/or the health of the planet?

Shop at grocery stores that carry vegan options and tell people about it.

Buy cruelty free cosmetics and talk about them.

Shop from vegan specific brands and share them.

Follow vegan creators.

Subscribe to vegan publications and tell people about them.

Watch vegan documentaries and talk about them.

Read books about veganism and share them.

Cook vegan food and tell people about it.

Share it.

Talk about it.

Do you see a pattern forming here?

When I was having a difficult time understanding my role in anti racism, I sat down and wrote out all the ways I think we can enact positive long term change as regular citizens, other than voting on a ballad and keeping ourselves informed.

Shop at Black owned businesses and tell people about them.

Buy cosmetics created by Black makeup artists and talk about them.

Shop from Black brands and share them.

Follow Black creators.

Subscribe to Black publications and tell people about them.

Watch documentaries about anti racism and talk about them.

Read books written by Black authors and share them.

Weave these choices into your daily lifestyle.

Share them.

Talk about them.

This may seem like an overwhelming amount of work in the beginning, however, if you are truly committed to producing real change, you’ll do it. Over time your small actions will add up and just translate into you living your life. It will become routine and normal. I also want to make it clear that by sharing and talking about your new discoveries and purchases, I mean in whatever way big or small you feel is natural to you. Though, I will say that this may feel uncomfortable in the beginning. I remember the first time I distributed PETA pamphlets and stickers at my high school it felt scary, like I would be judged or ostracized. And while some people may have made fun of me or talked behind my back, I instantly stopped caring because I knew in my heart that what I was doing was right. That feeling has guided me through every awkward situation or challenging conversation during the last sixteen years. That is what I love about making real, tangible changes in your daily lifestyle. Just by leading by example, you will change those around you in some way.

Sometimes I wear a vegan t shirt to work just to get someone to think; sometimes I write entire blog posts about a topic. Some days I speak out on social media – but most days I just live my life normalizing veganism, which in turn normalizes it for others. I think that the most effective way to live an anti racist life is similar – change your daily habits to truly reflect your values, believe the world you see is possible to create, and normalize that behavior so others will feel empowered to follow.