Welcome (almost) back to the world! We hope that you and yours are well. We have been sewing/donating masks and sewing/shipping bags -- proceeding with caution but, probably like you, are raring to go! A lot has gone on, and that’s putting it mildly. Michelle and I have done a lot of watching, listening, thinking, and talking. Where do we go from here?
All of our discussions keep coming back to the idea of community. Since the beginning, Couture Planet has had a laser focus on community. We have our community of customers, retail partners, neighbors in the building, and citizens in our city. We have our community of woman-owned businesses, and businesses that, like us, strive to be impact-driven.
When we first took a small space at the Lydia Pinkham Building, it was an old building with great bones but lots of dust. The building had an interesting and important history as the laboratory of Lydia Pinkham, a pioneering female scientist and entrepreneur who ran a very successful mail order tonic business in the mid 1800’s. It was half-full and occupied by budding artists and earnest entrepreneurs. The location has exploded, is fully occupied and includes a restaurant/food shop, a pierogi maker, a clay studio, a fitness studio, a yoga studio, an enamel artist, an artisan upholsterer, and a printing/embroidery business. The growth, however, has been thoughtful and organic. The restaurant is farm-focused and woman-owned. The clay studio, fitness studio, and pierogi maker are also woman-owned. The yoga studio and printing/ embroidery business are owned by young African American women. Our building forms a strong community with a supportive and nurturing environment where we share resources and look out for one another. I don’t know if I can aptly convey how important it is to us.
Our community extends beyond our building to the City of Lynn. We have employed and mentored students through the city summer jobs program and the local career center. We became cherished friends with some of them through college and graduate school, and into their first and second jobs. They have supported us as much as we have supported them. We will commit to upping the ante on our participation.
We have tried to extend our support to our larger community by volunteering our time. Michelle is a long-term member and Second Vice President of the Board of the Lynn Museum & Historical Society. As an art and cultural mecca for the city, the museum devotes a majority of its resources toward engaging and educating students about the history of their city I just finished my second year participating in the College Mentoring Program at Girls Inc. of Lynn. I have worked with amazing young women with so much drive and promise. Many of them have recently immigrated to the US and are learning to become, “strong, smart, and bold!” I’m committing for the long haul.
We now know that this is not enough. We are assessing our actions and attitudes and reflecting on “where do we go from here?” Black, LGBTQ, and civil rights are tied to a share history. We know that to be silent is to be complicit. If we shied away from controversy in the past, we will no longer standby silently. We will voice and show our support. We will carve out more time to watch, really listen, think, and discuss issues with our neighbors– and double down on our mission of being relevant by becoming better allies to our community, especially the marginalized and those most in need.
These are some of the businesses mentioned that form our community: