Friday, June 16, 2017

Book Review: Girling Up & Girl Code

Girling Up by Mayim Bialik was a quick read, it is written for tweens and young women but I enjoyed her humour and anecdotes even though I belong in neither category. She does a wonderful job of emphasizing that everyone feels the odd man out at times. Mayim references many different points of her life, personal and professional(actress and neuroscientist) throughout the book She stresses that she was a late bloomer and jokes that her first kiss was on screen during a Blossom episode and we can now see her portrayal of an socially awkward adult on Big Bang Theory. The book is broken down into six chapters starting with How Our Bodies Work and concluding with How We Matter. She discusses hormones, sexuality, education, respect, self worth and how to deal with life. Mayim does all this in a down to earth manner and it was an enjoyable read.

Girl Code by Andrea Gonzales & Sophie Houser is a book I would strongly recommend to any girl who is considering coding as a career. Both Andrea and Sophie talk about what their perceptions of coding were before and after their experiences within this world. They discuss many preconceptions they started with and how they were altered. Their summer together at Girls Who Code totally changed their lives, the final project resulted in Tampon Run which then went viral and they both learnt a lot about themselves during this time. It will be interesting to see if either girl persues coding or computer science careers later in life. Andrea and Sophie are very different girls and come from very different backgrounds but they found a similar love in coding and striving for social change. Coding provided them both with a voice and a strong sense of accomplishment. 

Both books are very positive and would be a great read for any young women who is struggling to find herself or just needs that little extra support in knowing they are not alone in their struggle. They are being put in the pile of books for my daughter to read which lives beside her bed. I hope she discovers and reads these when the time is right.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Who? Nelly Don the Company and the Woman Part 1

Nelly Don born Ellen Quinlan(1889) in Parsons, Kansas the 12th child of Irish-Americans. After finishing high school at the age of 16 she moved to Kansas City and got a job as a stenographer where she met Paul Donnelly a fellow stenographer whom she married at the age of 17. Nelly wanted to continue her education so when she was 19 Paul helped pay for her to attend Lindenwood College in Missouri, she was the only married student. After graduation in 1909 she returned to being a housewife. Nelly hated the standard fashions available for a housewife at the time so she started to design and create her own housedresses. After being continually asked by neighbours and friends about her clothing she decided to go into business.

At the time housedresses sold for .69 cents and Nelly dresses sold for $1.00 each.  She had a hard time convincing any retailers to sell her dresses until Peck's Dry Goods agreed to take 18 dozen dresses on consignment in 1916. Paul managed to scrape enough money together to buy fabric and some foot pedal sewing machines.It took Nell and two friends sewing for two months to get the order finished. Her pink gingham empire-style housedress which was fitted and trimmed with ruffles sold out in a few days. 

From the very beginning Nelly believed that dresses should look stylish and flattering on women of a wide range of sizing. 

Each design was prototyped in every size to ensure that it fit correctly and little alteration would be needed beyond what Nelly worked into the design of the garment. The dresses often had slide fasteners and adjustable waistlines and belts. Another feature was "Double stitching at the waistline tape in one piece dresses. Rip out the top row of stitching for added shoulder-to-waist length". Most of the dresses could be washed and drip dried with minimum ironing and had at leat one pocket.

Nelly made her first million dollars by 27 by reinventing the housedress. She pioneered clothing piecing production by taking inspiration from aviation and car manufacturing industries on production. By 1923 she employed 250 people(mainly women) and her dresses were sold in most department stores across the U.S. She was always a great publicist as she understood the benefits of cross promotion. She provided all stores with extensive marketing support through pamphlets, radio and newspaper ads but also insisted they agree to exclusivity and sell no other dresses. Many department stores had a whole area which was labeled the Nelly Don Shop.

Friday, June 9, 2017

What? is Conscious Consumerism

What is conscious consumerism and why is it important? Also How can we make our children aware of the concept? A basic definition is using our dollars to vote for what we believe. This mainly means only buying items or services that match our own ethical and moral beliefs. This brings up my mantra of "Knowledge is Power"

When discussing the topic with my daughter it usually starts with the "Gimmies, WantEms & NeedEms". Which heading does the item fall under? I feel this is very important base when discussing consumerism, we should always be aware of which heading every item we buy falls under. I think we are all guilty of the Gimmies & WantEms and we often try to convince ourselves and others that they are really NeedEms. Often the terms can blur as we may need something but do we need that particular one. 

Conscious consumerism can be very abstract at times as it does come down to each individual. There is no defined demographic, though much effort has been given trying to determine one. Transparency in the supply chain has become a big part of many companies over the last decade and it has become much easier for the average consumer to find this information. An easy way is to look for companies mission statements or at least see if they have one or look for the About Page. See if they have similar beliefs to your own, do they care about their workers as individuals.

We should as consumers always think about where something comes from, how was it made, who made it, does the company support similar beliefs to our own? This is all very important but it is a lot to think about when we need to buy something as simple as socks or decide where we should buy our next coffee. Which is why total conscious consumerism can be a difficult thing to follow through on. I strongly believe in trying to walk the walk not just talk the talk but sometimes it can be difficult to only buy things we truly need or to care about every little step of how the the product has made its way into our hands. 

Conscious Consumerism is a topic very important to me and I have been thinking about it quite a bit lately. Part of the reason for it being forefront in my mind is because I have been asked to make an 1.5 hr presentation on the topic. Luckily I have a while to prepare and sort out how best to approach the subject beforehand. My daughter is very interested in contributing her viewpoint on the topic as a middle school student and I plan on including this. The presentation is geared towards how to make Conscious Consumerism part of teaching your child about money management and ethical decision making so having her viewpoint will be an added bonus. I am sure my research will take me down many side paths so the trick will be not to stray too much from my outline for the presentation ;).