I recently had the opportunity to take over the IG feed for The Woo Shop! Incase you haven't see those posts here's part 2 of 3: A Little Bit About Blackness...
Hello Again! This time let’s talk a little bit about Blackness… But not just blackness… About being a Black, Canadian, Womxn, Maker-business owner.
For my whole young life (let’s classify that as pre-kids) I was just trying to fit in. Growing up one of very few visible minority kids in a majority caucasian neighbourhood in Burlington, Ontario I just wanted to be like everyone else. I played with white Barbies, I fantasized about having blond hair (to the point of putting my yellow blankie on my head as a wig when I was 5), I wished I could change my name to Sarah or Lindsay… because that was the majority… that’s what I thought was normal.
I didn’t see examples of Blackness that resonated with me. TV black families were Americanized caricatures and I wasn’t likely to be Oprah any time soon! I think sometimes what made me feel even less like I “belonged” anywhere was that I’m not just black, I’m half black and half white.
When a black family finally moved to our area with a daughter my age I thought “yes, someone like me”. While we did become fast friends, it was clear right away that her experience of being black in this neighbourhood was different from mine. Her family had an accent and spoke a different language at home. They had a lot of strong cultural ties that I just didn’t have. I couldn’t relate to that. For a long time I was sure I was just not 100% anything and therefore could not 100% fit in.
So fast forward again to my first attempt at starting a business (made knitted and crocheted baby items 3 months after having my second son) and I was just trying to fit in. I was trying to see what other people were making and buying so I could be that. So I could squeeze into an already crowded lane… Seems like a fool proof plan…NOT! Naturally it went no where fast. Not because people didn’t want what I had but because I felt too much self-doubt to even put any of it out into the world. Because the maybe less obvious problem with trying to squeeze into someone else’s lane is that you can’t find a comfortable spot to land. It’s like arriving late to an over crowded club. You’re never going to find a comfortable spot to dance and the bartender is so busy you’ll be waiting forever to get a drink!
So for a while I floated… dabbling in this and that trying to figure out what my maker business lane was. I guess sort of trying to figure out who’s club I could join. The thing about being a Womxn in business is that a lot of us (at least from my maker perspective) aren’t showing our faces. There is a lot of “We” language used in posts even if the female owner is a one womxn show. And the thing about being a visible minority Womxn in business is that I think we show our faces even less. AND I’ve really noticed that our industry is very U.S. dominated! So once again, as I scroll through my IG feed I still don’t see a lot of Womxn maker-business owners who look like me or share my experiences.
Thankfully, what I realized as I connected with myself more is that lanes don’t always just appear in the world… someone has to start them! Someone has to gather the crew and make that circle on the dance floor so you all have the room you need to do your thang!
As I’ve started showing up more as an Intuitive Fibre Artist, which felt like it might really stand out a weird title, I’ve seen more like minded womxn. I’ve seen more people who understand my practice and my process because there’s is similar.
So now I’m stepping up as a Canadian Black Womxn Maker to see who shares that unique experience!
More on that in my next post ;-)