If you happened to walk past the front lawn of 12 South Street in Jamaica Plain on Sunday, the picturesque New England house that stands there would have cast the perfect backdrop to a pop-up treasure chest of clothing, jewelry, and artwork from all over the area.
The historic Loring-Greenough House was the venue of the first annual Boston Women’s Market, a gathering of female creatives and small business owners selling their wares. These items ranged from mini-terrarium necklaces to bath soaps and hand embroidered t-shirts. The commonality between each vendor? A desire to “support other women in a positive way,” said event coordinator Molly Leger.
Dismayed by the lack of completely female business spaces in Boston and beyond, Leger was inspired to create an event where women could thrive in a typically male dominated professional environment.
“When you do find a female-dominated space, it tends to be competitive instead of a community lifting each other up,” Leger said.
This lack of “symbiosis” in a fledgling female business world is something that she hopes to mitigate through events like the Women’s Market.
Leger had attended a similar gathering in Washington, D.C., over the summer called the “Femme Fatale Pop-Up,” and what struck her most was the “amazing all-female positivity” of the environment there. In her efforts to bring that sense of community back to Boston, Leger initially reached out to a few local artists and businesswomen on social media platforms.
From there the project took on a life of its own. Beginning with a goal of reaching 15 vendors, Leger ended up having to turn potential participants down after an unprecedented 45 small business owners showed interest in the event.
Among the 30 vendors who could be accommodated, there was a general air of contentment with the day’s turnout. Leger was delighted with the fact that the vendors and the visitors both left the market happy, leaving Leger hopeful for the future of the market.
“I’d love to see it grow so we have this beautiful Boston community of women supporting women and men supporting women,” Leger said. “I enjoyed seeing people turn to friends and say things like, ‘This is so cool!’”
And cool it certainly was. The other vendors exhibited the range of female-run businesses in Boston, which included everything from fashion to food. Tipsy Chocolates, a business founded by Anne Wright that offers tours, lessons, and tastings of all things chocolate in the Boston, had an interactive stand at the market, allowing visitors to taste desserts and learn more about the making process. As visitors nibbled on their sweets, they could browse the other stalls, such as Ramé, an organic Boston-based fashion label, and Overseasoned, a monthly cooking publication founded by Amy Larson that also offers quirky kitchen goods.
Events like the Women’s Market not only provide encouragement for females in small businesses. They also illustrate the community wide demand for more spaces of the same nature. Dara Cheek, the founder of Hieropice, a handmade jewelry business, said she heard about Sunday’s market through her connection with Boston Business Women. A networking group with the slogan “Support. Encourage. Inspire,” Boston Business Women reflects the same principles of female positivity that the Women’s Market is all about.
And it’s not just vendors who are seeking out these environments—many attendees of the market say they were excited to come and support women in business after seeing friends share the event on Facebook. The overwhelming support and high turnout of the Women’s Market are a testament to the vitality that such events give to the greater Boston community.
You may not have to wait long to find it again, either. Following the inaugural market’s success, Leger hopes to coordinate a second event in Spring 2018. With ample time to plan and new knowledge of execution, she hopes to accommodate 10 to 15 more vendors the second time around, and increase that only hints toward the trove of female-created goods still let to be discovered.
Featured Image by Maura Monaghan