Did you know I was voted ‘Most Likely To Lead A Protest’ in high school? You probably didn’t, considering I haven’t posted anything remotely controversial, political, or opinionated here. And that has been by design. The truth is, when my company was younger and smaller I sent out a newsletter (and a post) in support of International Women’s Day. I was lambasted by enough women that I made the decision to not use my company as a platform for anything that could be deemed controversial or remotely political. I examined other brands and business owners (bloggers, influencers, ecommerce folks, store owners, etc) and noted that some used their channels as a platform to voice their opinions and others didn’t. I justified my decision by telling myself that my company was too small, too fledgling, too unestablished to alienate any potential customers. But it went against everything inside me to not have a public viewpoint, to not stand for something. My company’s posts have since focused on our products, our team members, and my journey as an entrepreneur. A few posts have been very personal and allowed Bagnet’s followers a glimpse at the woman behind the company. Aside from those posts, I have maintained a business-only approach to what Bagnet shares with our followers. That ended on Friday when I posted a photo of Dr. Ford on Instagram that included a quote from The New Yorker that draws a parallel between the Hill-Thomas hearings and the Ford-Kavanaugh hearings, and what those hearings mean for women and men, respectively.
That post received 145 comments, some very positive and some highly negative. Criticism of that post included the sentiment that a company’s profile is not the platform for anything controversial or political. But it is 2018 and times have changed. Entire companies and brands are built around individuals: who they are and what they stand for. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter have given us a direct line of access to CEOs, celebrities, and companies alike. With this access comes the expectation that those we follow let us in on who they really are, what they really do, and what they really stand for. It is expected that they have a purpose, even if we don’t agree with it. In the tumult of the last couple of years, not having an opinion and not having a voice seems not only rare, it seems calculated and borderline irresponsible. Those same brands and business owners that I examined 2 years ago I now view differently. Why don’t you show support? Why don’t you express solidarity? Why do you put on the guise of “sharing” intimate aspects of your life while never really letting followers know who you are? The answer, of course, is money. As a business owner you have to make a decision: keep your opinions to yourself because they could jeopardize your bottom line or voice your opinions and risk sales but form a strong bond and tight-knit community of customers and followers.
Many commenters declared that the correct platform for personal opinions is one’s personal page, not their company page. Those comments denote a naivete to the fact that my company, and its social media pages, are extremely personal. I pour my heart and soul into my company. It’s the first thing on my mind when I wake up and it’s the last when I go to bed. I am intimately involved in every decision made, I spend countless hours agonizing over the direction of the business. Even when I am not working, I am working. Nothing is more personal to me than this business I have fostered and grown from the ground up. While I have no desire or intention of frequently posting on “controversial” topics or turning to “political” posts, I do feel a responsibility to voice support for people and issues that are central to my company, brand, and customers. I created Bagnet for women; to make their lives easier and provide a convenience that did not exist. I spoke to thousands of women in the months that I made and sold Bagnets at craft and holiday shows. Women comprise 98% of Bagnet’s followers and customers. Why would I, or my company, NOT show support for women?? Why would I choose to not use my voice, my company’s voice, to let my customers and women everywhere know that I am on their side? I would rather use my voice and stand for something than remain silent and stand for nothing. I would rather act in solidarity than act in fear of alienating some people. And to those who believe I should model my company after the soulless corporations with no singular person or voice behind them, there are plenty of big box brands out there for you to follow. Mine is not one of them.
I am an entrepreneur, a businesswoman, a wife, a stepmom, and a daughter. But underneath all that I am simply a woman. I created my product for women, and I will support women every day, with everything I have. Unapologetically.