Earlier this week I posted a statement on Instagram and Facebook in support of Black Lives Matter and addressing my responsibility when it comes to fighting racism. That was a very personal statement, so I felt that I also need to address this from the perspective as a company and what I can do to raise awareness and be socially responsible in that capacity.
What I do as a company
Not nearly enough, that’s, unfortunately, a fact. But I’m acutely aware that as a white person in a relatively wealthy and safe country who has lived a fairly sheltered and privileged life, it’s my duty to be part of the change. So here are some things I try to be mindful about in my business.
Providing a platform for conversations
For instance, read my interviews with Ruma from The Little Pomegranate and Michelle from Sewn Magazine where we talk about diversity and inclusion in the sewing community. This is definitely something I want to do more of in the future and I’m very grateful that Michelle and Ruma wanted to share and talk about these things with me.
I was also honoured to be asked to be one of the sponsors for this year’s BHM Pattern Designers Challenge, an amazing initiative to highlight black sewing creators and that I was able to share on my platforms too.
It’s also important to offer a safe, kind and empathic platform to discuss these topics. But unfortunately, I’ve seen a fair share of comments by white people, questioning the importance of addressing these issues. And the last thing we need right now is another white person devaluing the experiences of a person whose shoes we have never walked in.
So moving forward, that’s a straight-up delete for me. I’ve tried to reply to those comments in the past, rather than deleting them, but right now I just can’t with the thought of giving room to that type of ignorance on my platforms.
I also don’t want to shy away from addressing this when there is a need since silence can be the most hurtful thing. Plus I firmly believe that sewing as a fun diversion can co-exist with taking social responsibility.
Have diversity in mind when I chose the models for my patterns
This is super important to me, and I hope that I at least do a decent job with it. BTW, all the models you see wearing my patterns are actually all co-workers and their family members at my day job, so I’m blessed to have awesome colleagues that also happens to be natural models!
Looking for both skill and diversity in collaborators
I have zero interest in working with a bunch of Johanna clones. So when I’m seeking freelancers and such, I look for both skills and diversity, because that’s how you build a kick-ass team and support people that might not always get the same chances in life.
For instance, the person I’m working closest with now lives in another part of the world with a very different perspective, and our regular Skype-meetings has also become a place to discuss politics, racism, oppression and to share our very different life situations.
That would not have happened if I was just talking to yet another Johanna. And having these conversations also helps me to run a more socially aware company and just be a more decent human in general.
On being a responsible sewing company
I think it’s very important that companies in the sewing community are being asked about these things and that we answer the questions in an honest and non-defensive way. And we have to realise that this is not a competition in being the most “woke” or some PR-opportunity, which is why we also have to be open about our shortcomings and look at where we can improve.
Now I would like to hear your thoughts on what we can do as a sewing community to make sure we do our part when it comes to raising awareness and taking responsibility.