Continuing on with my series of posts for International Women’s day this week. We’ve had feminist books for children and female entrepreneurs that live in my local area so far this week. Today I am interviewing Virginia who is the founder of The Feminist Shop. A great place for t-shirts, book, items and gifts that support this important issue.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your business
Hi! I am Virginia, I am Spanish, I’m a mum of 2 kids, I have been living in Belfast for almost 6 years and I’m the founder of the The Feminist Shop. I guess I have always been a feminist, but I just didn’t know it, actually I hated the word! Fast forward a few years and feminism is now a massive part of who I am and what I stand for, with body and soul.
As part of this journey I initially wrote and published a feminist kids book, Mika & Lolo, but I it always felt that it wasn’t enough, so with www.thefeministshop.com we have created a destination that tackles feminism from every angle: we have original content, but also recommendations, we sell ethically produced clothing and gifts that start conversations and make statements, we sell books that educate about the topic, we showcase and share profits with feminist associations, collaborate with other feminists to amplify each other and invite people to act, to challenge their views and to be part of it all.
Why did you decide to start it up?
With my husband we were looking for ethical and feminist presents in December 2018 and realized that there wasn’t an obvious brand or store that we could go to that shared our values. Most movements have brands associated with them that create a community and it just felt like Feminism was missing that flagship destination! We wanted to create a place that people could identify with and trust and somewhere that welcomed all Feminists (and not Feminists yet) whatever stage of the journey they were at.
What business achievement are you most proud of?
Before we launched the website, we did a crowdfunding campaign to test the market, to validate our assumptions and start creating our community of ambassadors that were going to be part of it from the very very beginning. We raised over £10.000 in 3 weeks, and we donated 10% of if to The Homeless Period, Belfast. It was good to feel supported, gave us emotional fuel for all the business challenges and reminded us that this is something bigger than us and the impact is real. We’re now fully up and running we’re getting great feedback from our users and customers so we’re very happy and proud of how it’s going so far.
Why is International Women’s Day important, and more specifically important to you?
I love the marches. I love being side-by-side with like-minded people and the energy and hope that this brings. Showing all those emotions, the anger, the willingness to change things, the determination, the funny placards, the joint voices makes me realise that we are unstoppable – that it is a hard battle, that started a long time ago, but one that we will eventually win. Every little step matters. International Women’s Day is the perfect excuse to get us all together and to raise the volume of the conversation.
What would you like to see for gender equality in the future?
Choice and freedom. I want kids to have no limitations in their choices. I want toys to be toys, and jobs to be jobs, and tasks or attitudes just to be so. I want all the choices for every one of us so we can grow to be our best version, to embrace the good qualities without assigning them a gender and just be kinder and better.
Share 5 of your favourite products
‘My favourite position is CEO’ Oversize T-Shirt
Always makes me smile and reminds me that we will come back from the expectations and stereotypes stronger and more empowered.
F – Enamel Pin Badge
I always wear mine, is a good statement-maker and reminder of what I stand for and how is it important to wear feminism your with pride. It is a little daily subtle reminder of what really matters.
Flask ‘Liberté, Egalité, Sororité’
I am a big believer in the sisterhood. In a world that teaches us to compete with each other and always portrays us as mean towards other women, we owe it to each other to recognise us and support us. I have an amazing tribe of women around me celebrating my victories and picking me up every time I fall. There is something very powerful in it all.
‘F by Carola’ Open Neck T-Shirt
We love collaborating with feminist artists, and we have an exciting pipeline of them filling our branded F. Carola was the first one and we couldn’t be happier with the experience. She represents diversity and womanhood in a very visual way and I love wearing mine. I always get compliments ☺
Hoodie ‘No one is free until we are all free’
I am big believer in intersectional feminism. This journey has made me aware of my privileges and I think is our obligation, as feminists, to understand the struggles as a whole, making sure we especially support those most disadvantaged.
Finally, what do you think is the biggest issue facing women in 2020 and what can do to address it?
The silence. The acceptance and lack of awareness. We won’t be able to change things if we don’t start talking about them, realising them. The more I explore feminist issues and the more I learn, the more I understand how to make better decisions, stand up for myself and be freer be a better role model. Also, I get to raise that same awareness with the people around me, and the circle keeps going…
Every single thing matters because it is part of the same root issue, so let’s speak up and change the whole system, one conversation at a time.
Thank you so much for your interview Virginia. It was lovely to hear about you and see some of the great items you sell in your shop. I also completely agree with you on intersectional feminism and believe in equality for all. We all need to fight for awareness and break away from the acceptance that so many people have in order to build a better future.