Ladies First: International Women’s Day
As part of our Ladies First series, MaRen Designs profiles three trailblazing women in honor of International Women’s Day this March 8th. Mary Church Terrell, Coco Chanel, and Gloria Steinem’s contributions to the evolution of feminism are interwoven in the history of the Western world.
Their activism, which included fashion, played a part in liberating women of the 19th and 20th centuries. In their spirit of making a difference, our own Maren for whom MaRen Designs is named shared the topic of protecting girls and children with the Geneva, Switzerland United Nations Office as part of a UN program.
MaRen Designs features women of firsts every month and aspires to live up to the hope and dreams these achievers carried for others in everything we do – from our designs that empower girls to our ethical manufacturing – MaRen dedicates its mission to the ideals of our Ladies First.
Lifting as We Climb
Triggered by the lynching of a friend from childhood, Mary Church Terrell’s activism spans the major movements of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. From anti-lynching to suffrage to desegregation, Terrell’s focus ever-expanded as she sought to elevate the status of black women; thereby elevating the entire race.
Terrell co-founded the National Association of Colored Women (NACW) and served as its president from 1896 to 1901. NACW’s motto was “Lifting as we climb”, Terrell’s words. Remaining active well into her eighties, Terrell challenged segregation in public spaces and found victory in the Supreme Court ruling that segregated eating facilities were unconstitutional.
Luxury Must Be Comfortable
Revolutionizing the fashion industry, Coco Chanel focused on simplicity and comfort in both her choice of material and designs for her clothing. Her iconic fragrance Chanel No. 5 possessed a complexity and mystery that perfumes had previously lacked. Her choice in simple and sleek packaging for her fragrance also positioned No. 5 for success, the foundation for Chanel’s empire worth millions in the late 1920s.
Along with her namesake scent, Coco Chanel also contributed clean classic looks including the Chanel suit, the quilted purse, costume jewelry, and the “little black dress” to the fashion world – staying true to her maxim that “luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury.”
Activist, author, journalist, Gloria Steinem was recognized as a leader of second wave feminism in the 1960s and 1970s. Still active today, Steinem has devoted decades to reporting on feminism as a journalist and writing about feminism as an author.
Co-founding Ms. Magazine in 1972 and becoming the first woman to speak at the National Press Club that same year, Steinem leveraged her skills as a journalist to write her expose “I Was a Playboy Bunny”, gaining national attention. Among her many contributions to the cause of women’s rights, Steinem co-founded organizations like the Women’s Action Alliance, the Women’s Media Center, and Voters for Choice.
Along with numerous awards and recognitions, Steinem was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama, the highest civilian honor. Rutgers University honored Steinem with the Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair in Media, Culture, and Feminist Studies in 2017.
Positivity and Authenticity
MaRen Designs is named for the founder and owner’s daughter Maren who recently participated in a program at the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland. Speaking on the protection of girls and children at the UN, Maren is the living embodiment of the ideals to which MaRen Designs strives to achieve in its focus on empowering girls.
By following the paths forged by Mary Church Terrell, Coco Chanel, and Gloria Steinem, Maren brings their wisdom and their achievements to contemporary challenges for girls in today’s world. Bridging awareness to positivity and authenticity, Maren lives up to the potential that these women of firsts created for future generations.
Informing everything we do, positivity and authenticity are the core values of MaRen Designs. We strive to instill these values in our relationship with clients, as well as in our approach to designing and producing our clothing for girls.
Personalize with MaRen Designs
Coco Chanel forged her own fashion path in creating a “poor girl” look via simple sportswear using jersey fabric, a welcome reprieve for wealthy and influential women finding refuge in jersey sweaters in sharp contrast to corseted styles.
MaRen Designs empowers girls to personalize their own approach to fashion with changeable straps, monograms, and button-on accents such as shells, rosettes, and more for colourful tops, camisoles, and bras.
It is MaRen’s mission to help girls be everything they can be as they discover their voice, their style, and their place in the world. That is also our promise.
Proudly Made in Canada
Mary Church Terrell’s activism is rooted in a businessman building success and then paying the ultimate price for that success. MaRen Designs does not take our freedom to do business lightly. We engage only in ethical manufacturing, proudly producing all of our products in Canada.
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Somebody Pays the Price...Why I Choose to Manufacture in Canada
One of the mottos and ethos of the MaRen brand is to uplift and support girls and women all the time! I take pride in knowing that MaRen Designs sources ethical vendors and manufactures every single piece of its collection in Canada. In honour of International Women's Day what better way to know that MaRen and I walk the talk by supporting our sisters all over the world by buying ethically and sustainably. All girls and women deserve the right to earn a fair and meaningful wage to support themselves and their families. As a mom, the thought of any child being forced to work in support of his or her family is heartbreaking and painful, although I realise in some circumstances necessary. I do not judge those parents who have no choice, or put differently, have to sadly choose to send their minor to earn a living. I understand that if they could, they would make another choice. But child labour and forced labour are only the tip of the iceberg; we who live in Western corporate worlds are placated with buzzwords such as "pay equity", which are truly only aspirational, but not lived because we all know a man who makes double the salary of a girlfriend doing the same job! So, I am committed to doing my part not to contribute to the factors of a multifaceted and sometimes duplicitous equation. While I can not fix the world's problems, nor move people out of poverty, I can make sure that I do even the smallest thing to ensure that I am consciously aware, skilled and educated about the issues so that I make the right choices for the brand. Somebody pays the price ... Manufacturing ethically and paying my staff their worth, means we all rise. So on this International Women's Day 2023, I want to thank ALL the women who have worked with me on MaRen Designs from day one. You make me truly proud and I am truly honoured and blessed to have had you cross my path. xoxo Alisia