Thoughts for International Women's Day

Our First Women's Day Sale

Those of you who have known us for a while know that we almost never have sales.   

That said, a confluence of recent observations has led us to decide to have a sale (click here for details!)... but one with a focused purpose.  Fairbank and Perry is a woman-owned, women-run business.  This sale is about women, who we are, what we do, and what we stand for.  This is a sale, yes, meant to sell our work, but also to connect with women in our community and in the world in a slightly different way.

Observation One:  Women in leadership

One of our newer clients is a professor of Women's Studies at a university in the mid-west.  It was she who first brought to our attention that we are a female-owned and -operated business.   Remarkably, this actually had not occurred to me!  Over the decades, in fact, this business has done a complete gender-flip, going from three male goldsmiths and a female bookkeeper,  to three female goldsmiths and a male bookkeeper.  It wasn't a conscious plan, but it is now the reality, and one which fills me with excitement for the future.  Because within these walls I see three women occupying positions of autonomy and creativity, working collaboratively to meet collective goals, and sharing in the satisfaction of achieving them.  

A woman may not have won the White House (yet), but women have achieved, through determination and perseverance, leadership positions in virtually all business, political, academic and philanthropic settings, contributing enormously to their families, communities, our country, and the world.

Every week, I am impressed and elated at the diversity of roles that our female clients fulfill.  I am often humbled by the impact they have on improving the lives of others.  And I am touched by the caring they show toward the people they love.  Being a woman serving women, I have a small but revealing window into their lives, and I have noticed the ways in which we share many of the same goals:  to create a safe and stimulating environment for those around us, to address and conquer challenges with the talents we have without hindrance, and to express and fight for the values we hold dear.  

Observation Two:  International Women’s Day

On March 8th, the United Nations and countless organizations around the world will celebrate International Women’s Day, and day to recognize progress made toward women’s rights, and to take action against the inequalities still faced by many women in the areas of education, economic independence, health, and safety from violence.  

Clearly, while women are experiencing more gender equality than in generations past, there is still much work to be done.  

We and most of our clients have considerable comfort and freedom.  We enjoy the benefits of a sound education, supportive families, and access to high-quality health care.   We often have complete financial independence.  These things have helped make us strong, creative, and, by international standards, prosperous.  We have been able to blaze our own paths in life and direct our energies in the ways we choose.  

Meanwhile, others still endure a vastly different reality.  These women, in the US and around the world, also have goals and dreams, but their paths toward self-determination are filled with obstacles.  Furthermore, the current political climate has put women on the defensive, forcing us to reassert our equal standing in society and worry even more for those already on the margins.  Battles we thought we had won are now back in contention and require renewed dedication.

To take a small step toward improving the lives of women in need, we are donating 5% of the sale price of every item sold between March 8th and 11th to the Global Fund for Women.  

Why Global Fund for Women?

Choosing which nonprofit to support was not easy.  Women around the world face so many different challenges, and there are so many excellent organizations, large and small, doing solid work on these fronts.  Identifying one as most deserving proved impossible.

Ultimately, I selected Global Fund for Women, a nonprofit that works to identify, strengthen and fund grassroots movements and courageous individuals working directly in their communities, in countries all over the world.  By giving resources to and amplifying the voices of those who fight for women’s rights, Global Fund for Women increases the impact these groups have on their governments, leading to wider, more lasting change.

Given the sources of many of our gemstones, it was also important to support an organization with an international scope.  Global Fund for Women supports grassroots efforts in Afghanistan, Burma, Cambodia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan and Tanzania, just to name a few.  Our craft depends, in part, on the workers of small-scale, family-owned mines to bring gems to market.  We hope to contribute in a small way to improving the lives of people on which our own livelihoods depend.  

Being craftspeople who literally live by the work of our hands, we want to affirm our connection to others who do the same, albeit in very different circumstances, and to give back a bit of what we’ve received from their toil.

Observation Three:  Women often resist buying jewelry for themselves

We know several independently-minded women who feel fine about buying jewelry for themselves.  We know far more in need of a little encouragement.

We see it all the time.  A woman comes in and falls in love with a piece of jewelry.   She looks great in it, she feels great in it, and she knows exactly how it will fit with her wardrobe and her lifestyle.  Then she says, “I’ll have to send my husband/boyfriend/significant other in”.  

And we wonder, “But why wouldn’t she buy it for herself?”

Women who admire our work are responsible, professional, intelligent and savvy.  They make their own money and know their own mind.  They easily purchase clothing, accessories and cosmetics for themselves, even without a major occasion.  And yet, fine jewelry remains something they don’t feel comfortable buying for themselves.  They assume that fine jewelry should come from another person as a gift, and usually in a romantic context.  Why?  Is it because so much marketing and imagery around jewelry shows it being given?  Have we come to think that our role is to drop enough hints, so our partners will buy us what we love?  Are we simply not in the habit of giving gifts to ourselves once in awhile?  Why not?

While it’s a wonderful thing to have a partner who knows your style, gets how jewelry can be worn to express it, and will go the extra mile to actually shop for it, let’s be honest:  not every woman is that lucky.  Partners… and yes, it’s mostly men we see… usually have either no idea about buying jewelry, or have their own ideas of what kind they should buy.  So, let’s take matters into our own hands, shall we?

We want to encourage women to be jewelry self-purchasers.  We want them to feel empowered to choose something they love, independently. Fine jewelry is intimate, long-lasting, and a pleasure to wear.  This is especially true of jewelry that is one-of-a-kind, handmade, and artistic.   It is an enduring accessory, appropriate for everyday life, not just special occasions.  Why should it jewelry be the one adornment that carries the condition of having to be a gift?  

We believe that women should feel free to treat themselves if and when they want to.  So we’re having an uncommon sale to encourage that! 

Join us!

Even if you don't come to the sale, we hope you'll join us in supporting Global Fund for Women to help advance the progress of women around the world, toward achieving the healthy and fulfilled lives they deserve.  If you'd like to make a donation directly, click here.

Thanks for reading.