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LIY Visionistas: Women Making Waves

May 16, 2020

By:

Erin Schrader

Living in Yellow is run by women [smart, strong, powerhouse, kick-booty women- if I do say so myself] for women. So it’s no wonder we have equally as incredible ladies following along with us. They say your vibe attracts your Tribe, right? Today we wanted to take the opportunity to showcase Y-O-U, the women right here in our LIY Tribe that are making waves in the world. We hope to inform, encourage, and inspire you along the way! Without further ado, we are beyond thrilled to introduce the gals we’ve deemed LIY Visionistas and the businesses and organizations they’ve built.

ps. If this sounds like you or someone you know, you can nominate yourself or a gal-pal that deserves to be recognized here.

Kate, Executive Director of Dignity Matters

Dignity Matters collects, purchases and distributes free feminine hygiene products, underwear and bras to local women and girls living in poverty. We collaborate with over 130 shelters, food pantries, public schools and medical centers through which we serve 4000 women every month in Massachusetts. Now, we’re also providing 3 months of emergency period protection to an additional 2,500 women and families in urgent need due to the economic impact of COVID-19. One in five girls in the United States miss school because they don’t have period protection, and women can’t consistently go to work and earn a living if they don’t have period protection. 

  • What inspired you to launch this organization?

I spent most of my adult life in the UK and Australia and had never come across the issue of period poverty. A few months after I moved to Boston, I went to explore my new city and I was approached by a young homeless woman who asked me for a tampon. I was completely taken aback, and after doing some research I realized just how widespread “period poverty” is across the country. I founded Dignity Matters in 2016, did my first collection drive out of my garage, and Dignity Matters grew from there.  

  • What common misconception would you like to correct or information you wish other women knew?

You can buy cupcakes and candy with food stamps, but not menstrual care – so women and girls living in poverty literally have no way to afford these items. They often have to choose between buying food, paying rent, or purchasing menstrual care. Period poverty isn’t just a third-world issue – it’s happening in your town, probably even in your neighborhood, right now.

  • What has your work with Dignity Matters taught you about the strength of women?

I came from a male-dominated world – consulting services for the biggest and the richest global companies. I worked with women, but mostly reported to men and sold/consulted to men in positions of power. Dignity Matters, due to its mission, is an organization that mostly serve women and attracts female volunteers, supporters and employees. I got to observe the determination and collaboration between women I have not experienced before and learned that women are not only able to work well together, but also manage and lead successfully and with integrity and purpose. Women better understand each other and that is another strength. Also, women are amazing at multitasking. 

  • What have you learned about yourself through the work that you are doing with this organization?

I have always deeply cared about vulnerable populations, in particular women and children. So, it was not a surprise to me that creating and working for a nonprofit could be extremely satisfying. What I learned through working at Dignity Matters is that my business acumen and interpersonal skills are transferable – whether you are working with C-suite executives at Fortune 500 companies, as I did in the past, or homeless clients and local services partners – you treat everyone with utter respect, you do the best you can every day and that philosophy of striving for excellence comes through. No matter how hard the days can be, I am able to push through and try again and again as I deeply care about the wellbeing of the women we serve.

  • What have you learned about women as a whole from the work that you are doing with this organization?

That women are strong, resilient and smart. They also often have excellent intuition. Many of the homeless women we have served over the last 4 years were also the toughest people out there. Many of them escaped domestic violence, sexual trafficking and other trauma and despite that they were able to stay positive and keep fighting. They are my biggest inspiration to never give up, but to also be grateful for what I have.

  • What advice or words would you want to share with women reading this?

Invest in yourself and the people around you. To help others, first become the best version of yourself and then step by step go to change the world for better – it really is possible. 

  • In your opinion, in what small way can a woman make a difference in the lives of other women who are dealing with period poverty?

We can absolutely eliminate period poverty in America. The long-term solution is passing state laws to make menstrual care free to women in need – New York and other states have done this, and we’re working on it in Massachusetts – so urge your representatives to sponsor and support these bills. Until then, the best way to help is to support organizations like Dignity Matters that are giving women these products right now. We can give a woman a year of period protection for just $25, so no matter what you can give, it will make a difference.

Anna, Founder of The Lipstick Journey

I started a lipstick company when I was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer in 2017. I, along with a cosmetic chemist created the original, moisturizing formula and the lipstick is made and manufactured in the USA. My company gives partial proceeds to cancer organizations that I have personal experience with, and I also send lipstick free to cancer fighters/survivors to send a little joy.

  • What inspired you to create this organization?

After being diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic cancer (4th recurrence in 10 years), I wanted to be able to use my journey to give back. I chose lipstick because I love it and have always used it to express how I felt internally. Giving back to other cancer fighters gives me life; it’s magical when fighters help other fighters.

  • Where do you find your strength in difficult times?

I have always had a strong faith and cancer has deepened it. I also find strength through family, friends, and helping others.

I love hearing people’s stories and when I send free lipstick to fighters, I always ask for theirs. Hearing stories of moms, sisters, daughters, who are battling cancer or who have survived has shown me how strong women can be. 

  • What have you learned about yourself through the work that you are doing with your organization?

I am a wife and a mom with cancer and a full-time job. Starting this company helped me realize how strong I really am and that the more you give of yourself, the more you get back (love, joy, gratitude, etc).

  • What have you learned about women as a whole from the work that you are doing with your organization?

I’ve learned that we all struggle with many of the same things; insecurities, comparison, and the need to feel loved and beautiful. Women are strong and are even more powerful when we help each other. We can accomplish more than we think.

  • What advice or words would you want to share with women reading this?

It is never too late to pursue a dream. Surround yourself with people who support and encourage you and go for it. 

  • What encouragement would you give to women who are currently battling cancer? 

Every day is a new beginning and there is always light after darkness. Be present for every moment and try to find just one thing daily to be grateful for.

  • In your opinion, in what small way can a woman make a difference in the lives of other women who are battling cancer?

A hug, a card, a text, a meal, a gift, a surprise lipstick; anything personal, even if it’s a short-handwritten note saying you’re thinking about us. 

Katherine, Founder of Hope Threads

Hope Threads is a non-profit organization that trains, equips and empowers refugee women while paying them fair wages for their work. We train our artisans to sew, make jewelry and learn how to organize inventory. We utilize the skills they bring to make it marketable in the U.S. so they can support their families.

  • What inspired you to create this organization?

I was inspired to start Hope Threads after teaching ESL in a refugee community for two years. I saw a huge need for more than English. These women have many obstacles that deter them from making any sort of income. These obstacles include childcare needs, lack of transportation, English skills and many more.

  • What common misconception would you like to correct or information you wish other women knew?

One of the common misconceptions is that these women are here illegally. All of the women that work for Hope Threads have been displaced from their country due to war and unsafe living conditions. They would like nothing more than to be in their home country but are doing the best they can in the U.S.
  • What has your work with Hope Threads taught you about the strength of women?

My work with Hope Threads has opened my eyes to the work ethic that these women have. Not only do they work hard to sew and make items that Hope Threads can sell, but they work tirelessly to learn a new language, a new culture and study to take their citizenship test; all while raising their children, running their household and supporting their husbands.

  • What have you learned about yourself through the work that you are doing with your organization?

I have learned in working with these international women that, although we come from very different cultures, we are all working toward the same goal. One day while I was working on an English lesson with my friend Monis, her daughter came running up to her with a skinned knee. Monis consoled her and it hit me — we are both moms, both trying to support and provide for our families the best way we can. I am no different than Monis, except that I was privileged to be born in the United States.

  • What have you learned about women as a whole from the work that you are doing with your organization?

I have learned that women do whatever it takes to protect and care for their families. Whether its learning English, a new skill, or going back to school, women persevere through adversity. I am so proud to stand beside these amazing women!

  • What advice or words would you want to share with women reading this?

If I could give any advice to women reading this, it would be to learn from and encourage one another. We may come from different cultures, have different beliefs or value systems, and look very different but we can cheer for one another and grow as we learn. There are so many practices from other cultures that can be enriching to our lives if we stop and ask questions.
  • In your opinion, in what small way can a woman make a difference in the lives of our fellow women who are refugees?

In my opinion, we as Americans can make a difference in the life of a refugee woman by genuinely wanting to know her. We can empathize with her story and relate to her as a fellow mom. This means sometimes getting out of our comfort zone and reaching out. There are likely refugee children in your child’s class, or down the street from you. Look past the cultural differences and see the life looking back at you.

And that’s a wrap for today, friends! If you or someone you know has a story, business, or organization that you would like to see recognized, please complete our LIY Visionista Form Here. We can’t wait to learn more about you and share your story with the LIY Tribe!

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