Earlier in the month, I attended the Fifteen Percent Pledge gala, which was as beautiful and over-the-top as it was inspiring. The event was held at the NYPL, which never gets old. The interior is so decadent and beautiful; I can't believe it's a public institution!
Attendees of the event included retailers who signed the Pledge (committing 15% of their shelf space to Black-owned brands), along with their guests. I was a guest of West Elm.
During the event, I was able to meet and chat with other business owners and learn about their journeys and experiences. Later in the evening, six founders were awarded grants by the Pledge, two of whom I met earlier in the evening! It was a joy to witness the entrepreneurs, mainly Black women, receive the grants and hear why they started their businesses and how they plan to use the funding. I was struck by how many of us had a shared desire to create businesses that honor people and place and give back to our communities. I felt privileged to be in that space. The energy was electric, filled with love and good vibes.
The second inspiring event I attended was one I (indirectly) helped bring to fruition! I've shared in past newsletters that in 2020 a few interior designers and I founded Equity Council, which is now a committee in IIDA NY (International Interior Designers Association).
This month we held our first in-person workshops. The workshops are part of a series where organizations, mainly in the design industry, are able to work on their DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) initiatives.
We held two of the four workshops in February. The attendees came from diverse backgrounds, had different roles in their organizations, which were of various sizes. Seeing each attendee select and flush out their DEI initiative was an inspiration. Our facilitator was also very adept at providing feedback and a framework for moving forward, which led to palpable learning moments for several attendees.
I'm so proud to have helped create the Equity Council and amazed at how much it's grown in my absence (while I was in London last year). I am humbled that the folks that attended their workshops dedicated their personal time to bringing change to their organizations. Doing this work is incredibly uplifting.
As a prelude (postlude now!), I wanted to add/ admit that I've been cautious about this time of year because of the tokenizing that can occur by large organizations and publications (i.e., I hope we can connect on the other 11 months of the year?). I also feel guilty about this since, as the owner of a tiny business, I'm very grateful for any opportunities that come my way. However, at the gala, I learned that I'm not the only one who feels this way! This month's two events helped me embrace, reclaim and rejoice this time by defining what Black History Month can look and feel like.
Thank you for reading my musings.