Small Business in Wild Times

Moop HQ

I wrote this on the T on my way into the studio this morning. It is long and could definitely use an edit but, I wanted to share, regardless.

I thought I would wake up this morning and not feel dead inside. I am still trying to gather myself...I've never reacted to an election in such a way. Maybe because when I started my business we were in the midst of a massive recession and I was a new graduate with a young daughter and had just barely married the person who I would build my adult life with. My optimism was high and my adult life to that point had been experienced through the lens of academia and young single parenthood. Since then, I have built the business that I only dreamed of at that time. I've raised my daughter and separated from my now ex husband and grown in ways I could not have anticipated. My daughter is about to graduate high school and embark on the world without my everyday protection. She will be exposed to great joys and great challenges, as all of us are. I took for granted the safety I felt under the last administration and assumed she would enter the big wide world with those things in place to help her along the way. The changes that happened spoke of movements toward safety: marriage equality, gender equality, racial equality, respect of religion and politics and ideas and personhood, movements towards a better ecological environment, equal pay, health insurance for everyone, unemployment decline, economic improvement. I realize there was still a lot of work to be done and that safety was not felt by all…but, there was real movement towards. Those positive changes were railed against, mocked and disparaged by the person that the electoral college has just put into office. I worry for her. I worry for me. I worry for my friends and my colleagues. I worry for my business and my employees. I worry for those I do not know, who may have always felt unsafe…and feel more so now.

Small business is always the hardest hit when economies crash. We are too small to absorb the cost of shaky economic climates. The only place I can feel in control at this moment is to make a commitment to supporting small business in every way I can. We all buy things, all the time. It is unavoidable. But, I can make choices trough my food sources, my clothing purchases, my book buying (buy the books! Read the books! That's part of the problem...we need more people seeking knowledge!), my gift giving and so many other ways. I cannot do all but, I can do some. If all of us chose one area of our purchasing power to support a small business, that would have real impact. We live in a very connected time and it is easy to find and support so many people who are building and sharing and trying to contribute to their communities all over the world. We are headed into the holiday season. The time of year for most small businesses where they make the largest portion of their income...myself included. This has all renewed the protest from within mindset that I have held to be true and tried to build my business around (a direct reflection of my personal politic and one I have not shielded from my business politic). Outward protest is important. Very important. But, there must be change from within as well. Working within the systems that exist is a great way to make slow and steady change. I built this business from a place that did not want to support sweat shop labor and wanted to provide a career path for myself and a handful of people who work for me. My reasons for continuing this business have grown since those early days. I do so now so I can provide jobs, and make a good product, and be a contributing part of my community, and to have interesting conversations with our customers about how and why they have chosen to support us… and to not support sweatshop labor. I’ve been able to do this because of you. And, the millions of other small businesses, makers, entrepreneurs, chefs, creatives, etc - whatever you want to call us - have done the same. That is a large amount of change from within a big huge commerce system that tends to reward a wealthy few. I don’t make a huge income. Most of my fellow business owners do not make a huge income. But, I make enough to support my little family and enjoy some of the comforts that come with that. I spent my daughter’s early years on welfare, working multiple jobs, going to school and trying to make a better place for us…thank you for helping me get here. We can all help others do the same. Not everyone comes to small business as a means to an end..and, it does not matter how one ends up here, as a small business, you are directly contributing to the communities locally and globally that we interact with and that is worth supporting. And, as a consumer, we can choose to support the kind of people who share our personal politic and aspirations and beliefs and values and desires for something better.

Show who you are and the values of inclusivity you want to have represented by supporting small businesses that do the same, the world over. And, teach those around you by your actions. Reach out to those in need, to those you see who are being actively suppressed. Help give voice or strength or inspiration to those around you. Share your knowledge. Do not settle for or accept ignorance. Be smart. Teach others to be. Expect it from those around you and those around you will rise to it. Do not lower yourself. These are all things I try to teach my daughter. And, things I try to hold true for myself.

I know that this all might sound very dramatic. But, my worries and responsibilities are exponentially larger than when I finished graduate school so many years ago. Yet still, I turn first to the writers and the thinkers and the artists and the musicians and the academics and the educators for strength and knowledge and inspiration. And, I turn to my studio, to work, to learn and to grow. These are difficult times. Let's help each other through.

Much love,
Small Business in Wild Times