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Oh boy y’all, this is a very weird post to write. I actually wasn’t planning on commenting on this story, but it’s been making the rounds on social media and I think it’s important that I say something. In case you haven’t heard, arguably the largest feminist brand out there, Feminist Apparel, has kind of imploded in the last few weeks. Now, I’m not here just to drag my competition. I have friends who are in the same field as me, and I really believe there’s room for all of us! But the CEO and founder of Feminist Apparel, Alan Martofel, completely crossed a line and I think it opens the door to a more important conversation that we need to have about where we put our money.
I don’t want to go on and on rehashing the story, because journalists have already written about it and it’s just a waste of time. But the short version is: back in 2013, the founder posted a Facebook post admitting to several instances of sexual assault. He then founded Feminist Apparel as a way to atone for what he did and educate others. Yeah man, it’s weird.
Here is a link to a blog post written by him as a follow-up to this controversy. Remember these are his words. Personally, my favorite part is when he says the employees he fired “do not share [his] views on either business or feminism.” lol.
Now, I do believe people can change and I’m not a fan of dragging people for old social media posts when the person has clearly learned and grown as a human. However, the timing of this is really gross considering how quickly he started the company after all of this happened. And what’s even worse is that he still thinks that he’s in the right and fired his entire staff because they had the audacity to disagree with him.
In case you’re new or you just don’t know, I own a feminist shirt brand called Fiercely by Valery Brennan. It has evolved some over the last year, and I wanted to share that process with you guys and speak a little bit further just about what exactly Fiercely stands for. I have a really clear picture in my mind but I don’t think that I always do a good job sharing that message, and this feels like the right time to do it. Because honestly, I’m really proud of this brand and what it represents.
Photo by Blue Flame Boudoir
Photo by Beauty and the Pleats
Photo by Raw by Jane
Ethically Made Feminist Shirts
Every product that we have is ethically made (aka sweatshop free). This wasn’t always the case, and I’ll be honest there was a small part of me that struggled with this initially because things that are made in sweatshops are obviously a lot cheaper. But then, I basically slapped myself in the face for being so ridiculous. How can I possibly sell feminist shirts that are made by someone who is extremely underpaid and working in horrible, dangerous conditions? That’s the antithesis of what feminism is and it’s embarrassing.
Body Positive Feminist Shirts
Fiercely represents body positivity, but we put that into practice too. All sizes of our shirts are the same price. Again, this wasn’t always the case, but one day it just kind of hit me that it’s extremely unfair to charge someone more for a shirt just because they have a different body type. It’s a terrible stigma in the fashion and clothing industry, and I refuse to be a part of it, even if it means making a little less money on some sales.
Photo by Dalena Salinas
Feminist Shirts That Donate
Every Fiercely purchase includes a donation to charity. This is something that I’ve wanted to do since I opened my store, but I just figured out the logistics a few months ago. If you’ve never purchased anything, or maybe you just missed it in the checkout process, there is a drop-down to select one of five charities that you want to support with your purchase. These organizations all focus on women, but you have the power to support the one that you feel most connected to at that moment. Right now there’s also one shirt where all proceeds are donated (and that will never change for this design).
Lastly, I think it’s important to stay in my lane. And this is something that I haven’t really talked about publicly, but I think it’s important to mention. A lot of people ask why I don’t make Black Lives Matter shirts, or anything similar to that. The answer is…it’s not my place. And I think that’s part of what rubbed me the wrong way with Feminist Apparel even before this whole mess. If I’m being honest, I don’t think it’s right for a white straight cis man to create an entire brand capitalizing off of the struggles of women. It feels gross. And I feel the same way about me (a white woman) making a Black Lives Matter shirt. There are plenty of people of color out there making amazing BLM shirts. Go support them! (Do your research and make sure the company is actually black-owned). As much as I would love for you to make a purchase from my store, it’s also important to make sure that those creators are getting some love too. Like I said earlier, there’s enough to go around!
I hope this clears some stuff up about Fiercely, and I hope you learned a little bit more about what happens behind the scenes. But most importantly, I hope that you do your research before you buy something. In the age of Facebook ads and influencers, it’s so easy to see something and to add it to your cart right away without giving it a second thought. But often times, a quick Google search can tell you a lot about the company. And on that same note, if you’re a brand, make sure you’re being transparent about what makes you special and what strides you’re making to do better.