Since 1911, International Women’s Day has been globally celebrated annually on March 8th. It is intended to bring awareness and celebration to the social, economic, cultural and political successes of women globally. There remains a place needed for International Women’s Day worldwide as equality is a goal we’re working on collectively, and though much has been achieved in the means of Civil Rights worldwide, safety and equality for women-identifying individuals remains a work in progress. This Women’s Day, the team at Outsiders USA would like to recognize the strong women in our lives who have inspired us, lent a helping hand and offered their support and encouragement as our family, peers and neighbors. Additionally, there are a few exciting things in the works that we would like to share here as well!
First and foremost, we owe tremendous thanks to two individuals whose wisdom and support have helped enrich Outsiders USA as a local business in Downtown DeLand. Barb Shepard, owner of the Beacon Newspaper and our property manager, provided the stepping stones of our business and expressed enthusiasm for the success of Outsiders early on. She’s often seen walking customers to our shop and other businesses. A small rental space, which we still use, was the first home of our business, which grew quickly due to the popularity of Otentik Sunshade. It’s quite tiny, with no windows but it did offer A/C and an internet connection. It was our beginning. Sometimes the outgoing boxes overtook the office space and poured out into the dance studio in front of our office. Ella and Renee, managing partners of Outsiders, are both parents, so when the kids weren’t at school they came to work, playing in the large standing desk areas they built. Sometimes it would get quite chaotic. Renee recalls the first time Barb came down and saw the towers of packed boxes spilling out of our space and overtaking the rest of the building. “I was waiting for a complaint about taking up space that wasn’t ours. Instead, she looked at me with such joy and said, ‘Look at all this! You’re really going somewhere. Congratulations!’” Shipment days often were hectic, with pallets dropped off in the alley and parking garage often compromising the little space that is available in our corner of downtown while we filled recycling dumpsters, understanding that we had the support and leniency from our property manager to do what we needed to do.
Janet Bollum is the owner of The Muse bookshop, one of the longest-standing businesses in the downtown district located on Woodland Boulevard. As we began to expand, Janet generously allowed the Outsiders team to take up a large rear portion of her bookshop, going as far as to allow the crew to tear it apart and recreate our dream space – making it truly a brick-and-mortar location! Janet shared her knowledge of how to own a business in Downtown DeLand: what events to participate in, meetings to attend and she came to our aid when faced with permitting issues. Again – being parents means that sometimes the kids must come to work with you. “Having supportive women around us who had to do the same encourages us to keep it all,” Renee states. “Judgement free zones are what we all need to grow, make mistakes and learn. The advice I have personally received from both women has helped me tremendously.”
Three sectors have been impacted by the steepest job losses since the global pandemic began a year ago: education, hospitality and retail, particularly affecting gift, accessory and clothing stores much like the ones we love in Downtown DeLand. Each of these fields are dominated by women, and frequently retail and hospitality operate on a small-business scale. According to an analysis by the National Women’s Law Center, in December 2020 100% of 140,000 American job losses (reported by the government’s monthly Jobs Report) in December were suffered by women – yes, all 140,000 job losses were entirely jobs held by women. (In contrast, 16,000 men gained jobs during this time.) These tragic numbers give us perspective into the reality for thousands of families who are reliant on the women in their lives, particularly mothers raising children who are completing school remotely, navigating caregiving crises while family members may not be available or in good health to help care for children, and daycares are closing. While safety and vigilance are the best things that we must give when it comes to navigating a global health crisis, the second-best thing we have to offer is support for local businesses.
When you buy from a locally owned shop or restaurant, you directly contribute to that family’s livelihood. Your purchases literally put food on the table, help local economies stay afloat during hard times, and fulfill dreams of entrepreneurs who opened their business with a vision for their community. Supporting women-owned local businesses impacts families who may need to prioritize more at-home time and gives women bosses the opportunity to give more responsibility to their employees and have significant control over their own schedule, set up work so that it can be completed from home, or create a workspace that accommodates children.
As always, the Outsiders team are forever grateful for your support that makes a significant difference every day in our lives. I’d like to close this article by announcing that we have a little series in the works covering a variety of empowerment and outdoors-centered topics – this being the first! With these discussions our goal is to open doors for new and continuing conversations about how a backcountry lifestyle empowers women, strengthens bonds with friends and family, positively impacts mental health, sets a comfortable backdrop to discuss not-so-comfortable topics, and many more ideas. Currently, we are planning to have a chat with Anastasia, the founder of Kula Cloth (one of our favorite additions to our gear arsenal) and Laura, creator of the Sex Outside podcast (which we highly recommend giving a listen if you have not yet!) which we will share to our Instagram page, @outsiders.usa.
Thank you all for taking the time to read this, and I hope you enjoy our future topics. If you have any requests for topics you’d like to see covered or have some personal input you would like to share, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.