On the 13th of Feb we held a Galentine’s party with Mean Mail. A few weeks previous we didn’t even know what Galentine’s was, even now we're only 90% confident... but basically it's about celebrating love for your pals instead of just focusing on romantic love, which sounded good to us.
That said, there wasn't too much strategy behind us marking the day... But we never need much convincing to host a knees up, plus we thought it would be a good opportunity to counteract some of the lame chat around this time of year - from dreams of romantic grand gestures (caught on camera of course), to the myth of prince charming providing happily ever after, to our supposed universal desire to be given 'exquisite' Pandora charms. Vicky founded Mean Mail as a direct response to being exasperated by the lack of authentic, witty cards to suit her own relationships - so we felt like we had just about enough reasons to make it happen.
But most importantly, we wanted to do something useful with the event. So we reached out to Bloody Good Period after hearing about them from the lovely Amika George who runs the Free Periods campaign. They provide menstrual supplies to asylum seekers, refugees and people who can't afford them. It's a simple solution to a problem that is all too easy to ignore when finding two quid a month for some tampons isn't something you need to plan for. We were overwhelmed by the generosity of the brands who donated to our fundraiser raffle. Please check them all out. They all made the effort to help - and we appreciate it >>> @ripostemagazine @studio_b_fashion @paper_smiths @myfreda @daisyemerson @deloresdaywear @4thestatebooks @roserankin_ldn @sarahbaily @labasketry @skullandheart @saintaymeschocolates @tonightjosephine
Back in party prep world, we concluded the appropriate refreshments were donuts & margaritas, naturally. The margaritas didn’t quite work out, but we had some tasty drinks donated from the guys at Kombucha and Ugly and filled the alcohol gap with love tokens for the bar and copious bottles of prosecco, so it was alright on the night. We were also delighted that Second Home wanted to work with us to host the event. We've been interested in their thinking on the future of work for some time, and also love their epic approach to design. It's a great space.
The second strand to our 'let's do something useful' ambition, was to call out some of the female-skewed Valentine's clichés and have a proper chat about why the heck we're subjected to all this rubbish. We had lofty ambitions to get a line-up of maverick, insightful and interesting women to take part in a panel discussion. And by some crazy stokes of luck, that's exactly what we did, hosting four brilliant guests that we are massive fans of, to discuss feminine stereotypes, feminism, best mates, personal heroes and more.
Our guests were:
- Cool as hell popstar @FEMMEHQ
- Entrepreneur, Exec Producer of WoW Festival 2017 & Chair of the Black British Business Awards @MelanieEusebe
- Founder of the Hackney institution, Rita's Bar & Restaurant @MissyFlynn of @ritasdining
- Body positive champ & model babe Sam Rowswell aka @FattyBoomTatty
It's hard to summarise what was covered since they shared so much interesting stuff - with candour, wit and conviction. For us, these were just some of the highlights:
- Hearing from Sam on how she's had the same five best mates since she was a kid. They have stuck together even when their lives have veered in very different directions - from Sam's more recent move from Essex to Bristol, to being a 17 year old Mum when her pals were still out raving. There were a good few belly laughs when Sam gave a couple of specific examples of how different her daily life as a new mum was to that of her teen pal's at that moment in time!
- Laughing (whilst empathetically all eye-rolling) as Melanie spoke about her frustration and the tedium of finding herself trying to tread a line when arguing against rubbish 'angry black women' clichés - all whilst feeling she couldn't allow herself to get angry (as a black women) making the case!
- Getting some strikingly honest insight from Missy on how she felt her very identity was challenged when she had to admit that Rita's wasn’t making cash, despite looking like the ultimate success on social media. She shared some of the personal journey she went on to find peace with that and look ahead to her next venture, whilst also having a deeper understand on the meaning of success for her.
- Learning more about the realities of being a young woman inside the music industry from Laura (aka FEMME). Including hearing some of the downright weird requests made of her whilst courting big labels, and the freedom and empowerment she now feels being independent, enabling her to do what she loves and be led by creativity.
- Melanie revealed how her perspective on life has changed quite a lot over the past few years. She talked us through the transition from a senior corporate role to working for herself and being led by her passions, which has led to opportunities that she couldn’t have even predicted. She reminded us that change can be scary, but it also opens up lots of new adventures.
- Sam surprised some of us by revealing that she definitely doesn’t see herself as a rebel. She told us that embracing her own bold style and sharing her body beautiful isn’t about trying to counteract more vanilla imagery. Far from it. It's simply about her being herself - and at times even taking one for the team to push herself to be that - because it's the right thing to do. She uttered some lovely words about every person have the right to take up space and to be what they are. It was right on, and powerful.
- Missy introduced us to the Feminist Business School, Sister. She said the Founder Jennifer Armbrust was a real inspiration and it has introduced her to some brilliant thinkers with diverse experiences that she otherwise may not have discovered.
- Laura shared that the pal she’ll be celebrating this Galentine’s was a friend who she values for celebrating the small successes, snapping her out of over-thinking moments when she's tempted to feel like she's not good enough - and always being straight up. Sounds like a friend we all need in our lives.
- Melanie dropped a powerful quote from the amazing Audre Lorde that got us all thinking. We’ll leave you with that, ‘If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.'
Thank you so much to all the contributors, event partners, raffle donors and everyone who joined the party, bought a raffle ticket and supported online. You can check out more photos on social media. You can also still support the cause by donating to Bloody Good Period here.