The Women I Know.

If I learned one thing from Barnard it is that feminism is just activated confidence.  It is not a philosophy of how things should be, but a firm belief in what is true. Un-doubtful of one’s own capabilities and un-daunted by counter opinions, the women who embody my understanding of feminism are those for whom independence is just a way of life. In just the past few weeks, I have spoken with women who have stepped out on a limb to make public what they (and I) have known all along. They are not only great mothers, daughters, people, sisters, friends and partners, they are also great entrepreneurs – who can make a buck doing what they love. Here is just a smattering of the businesses that have been born from women I know.

Unaltered is a new t-shirt line that highlights the beauty of natural hair.  With so many women afraid to un-perm, un-process, un-texturize, and un-do whatever they’ve done to their hair, Unaltered is for those girls who proudly whip their natural hair back and forth. The brand is the brain child of two young women from Newark, NJ (yes, they’re my relatives, but that’s not why I’m plugging them), who have triumphed over their own hair struggles. Being from a city where the trend is either locks or weave, you can imagine what it means to let your soul glo in a ‘fro and keep your idea of beauty in tact. Support the Unaltered movement.

Mother of Men is by far one of my favorite jewelry lines. Each piece is hand made and unique – ensuring that you will not be like all the other girls wearing the same overpriced Tiffany’s charm bracelet.  Inspired by travel, design, and fashion, my friend, Nyakinyua Gill finally took her brand public by launching her collection online in 2012.  This Spring/Summer collection of necklaces, earrings, and bracelets celebrates island and sea motifs, with intricate beadwork and warm weather colors.  While Mother of Men pieces have reached the runway, they also accent day to day life just as well.  There’s finally a jewelry line that caters to the whimsy and fanciful nature we all deserve to flaunt.

Gail’Stuff is not new. I have personally been using it since I lived in NYC, which feels like ages ago now. So, that’s what? – at least 5 years ago. But, Gail has just launched her online store, making my usual BK corner hand to hand transaction of cash for shea butter souffle with one of her 4 kids a thing of the past! I know her products and I love her story, Gail’Stuff is good for the skin and the soul.

Jams by Kim is a brand I haven’t tried yet. But, that’s not because I don’t want to. Pesky international security laws may cause my boxes of canned liquidy goodness to get sampled for explosives. So, alas, I have to encourage you to try what I have not. Kim Osterhoudt’s story is all too common: the recession hit so she got creative. Kim went back to what she knew best – canning like grandma used to do. Word on the street is that the carrot ginger jam (as my parents would say) is ‘the jam!’

Avida Rae has nothing for you to purchase just yet, but you could pine over her voice for free This young woman hails from the suburbs of Toronto and when I met her on Yonge street back in 2008, she knew she wanted to be a singer. All her hymning and humming has paid off. She’s been working hard on a single and has a sample on youtube. Give a listen.

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