Women's History Month was made official in 1987 and has been proclaimed a celebration in the month of March by presidents since 1995. During this month, we commemorate the countless contributions and achievements of women in the United States. And in an effort to smash the patriarchy, we celebrate Women's History Month with pride.
This year's theme: Refusing to Be Silent. A theme that is wildly relevant. With women still making 82 cents for every dollar paid to men, we still have work to do.
Before Women's History Month officially ends, we wanted to share some businesses pouring back into women this month and beyond. This is your friendly reminder to always support women in all ways.
1.Phenomenal Woman Brand
What started as a t-shirt line is now a movement heralded by thousands of women. Meena Harris, Vice President Kamala Harris' niece, began partnering with organizations to bring awareness to world issues. By coining powerful statements like Phenomenally Black and Pro-Science/Pro-Dolly, the Harvard grad has managed to use graphic tees to fight the power for underrepresented communities. Phenomenal Woman is giving back in an innovative way by using bite-size messages to push the culture forward and change the world. Every campaign is linked to a cause that empowers women globally.
Over at Able, they proclaim, "Your purchase matters because it allows us to empower women. 96 percent of our employees are women." This ethical fashion brand's mission is to empower women so that we can end poverty. Because they are committed to breaking the cycle of poverty and helping women thrive, they invest in, train, and educate women so they can earn a living. Able started making scarves in Ethiopia and is now a lifestyle brand made up of jewelry, shoes, leather handbags and more.
During Women's History Month, Haverhill is pouring back into women with yet another capsule. The two-piece collection consists of a 14K gold necklace and bracelet handcrafted in the USA and engraved with the female gender symbol. With the Venus collection, Haverhill has pledged to donate 10 percent of the purchase price to Catalyst, a global nonprofit collaborating with some of the world's most powerful CEOs and leading companies to build workplaces that work for women. Their thought leadership focuses on four areas: Advancing Women, Women and the Future of Work, Lead for Equity and Inclusion and MARC (Men Advocating Real Change).
A portion of the proceeds of every order from Azura Bay goes to one of three organizations selected by the founder, Ashley. You can choose at checkout and one of the choices is "Because I am a Girl". BIAAG is an initiative run by Plan International and their mission is to end gender inequality and promote girls' rights. There are a "wide range of programs to improve the status of girls and give them equal access to healthcare, education, protection, independence and an opportunity to participate in society."
inkWELL Press, the maker of all things productivity, was founded on generosity. The creator, Tanya Dutton, based her business on this model because she wants to show her children that it's important to bring forth good in this world. She does that with her New Life Initiative, where inkWELL Press donates their secondhand and surplus items to battered women shelters and residential treatment centers throughout their region. "Our goal with the New Life Initiative is to make a difference in how these women view their lives and empower them with the tools and confidence to begin their new lives."
We love a smell-good candle but we love it, even more, when it comes with a side of philanthropy. It all started in 2009 when three people created Prosperity Candle. Through candle-making and beautifully crafted vessels, this social enterprise supports refugees and artisans with refillable/repurposed candles. Every candle has an incredible story poured into it. The 10-people team has one goal: end global poverty. Just think of Prosperity Candle as the Statue of Liberty in action with its foundational values of creativity and quality.
Did you know that the life expectancy of trans women of color is just 35 years old? The struggles the trans community face are unthinkable and that's why Bye Gender exists. Previously known as Werk Those Pecs and Trans is Beautiful Apparel, the brand's mission is still to help trans individuals access the funding they need to survive. In 2016, the fund was first opened for application and since 2019, 25 applicants have been funded thanks to the proceeds from the clothing line. "The majority of the recipients are transgender people who have limited access to housing, or work due to disability, are unable to find employment due to their trans statuses, or are unable to afford their HIV meds or hormones. In November 2019, the Werk Those Pecs Fund was renamed to Bye Gender Trans Survival Fund."
Eu'Genia was birthed by a mother-daughter duo determined to secure fair wages and opportunities for their female workers in Ghana. Naa-Sakle Akuete and her mother have pledged to donate 15 percent of their earnings right back to the very women who make up the social enterprise by way of an education fund. The secret to their thriving business is raw, unrefined Ghanaian shea butter; thanks to Grandma Sunshine, the Ghanian midwife who birthed Naa-Sakle's mother and partner in equity. The Akuete lineage is emboldened by this natural alternative to chemical and petroleum jelly-filled moisturizers with her mom's establishment of Global Shea Alliance and their current relationship with sustainable farmers.
It is usually in pain that we find our purpose. That statement is painfully true for SmartyPits founder, Stacia Guzzo. After her mom found a lump under her armpit, they discovered it was breast cancer. The unrelenting search for an aluminum-free, odor-controlled, great smelling, smooth applicator led Stacia to create SmartyPits. A small stovetop plus skincare formulation research resulted in an aluminum-free, paraben-free, phthalate-free, and propylene glycol-free deodorant. Best of all, SmartyPits donates 1 percent of all sales to breast cancer research and free deodorant to oncology centers, survivor support events, and non-profit groups.
Thinx is the new wave of reproductive health. Meet the underwear that absorbs blood during your period, eliminating the need for pads and tampons. Menstruation is such a taboo topic and we are not educated appropriately on how to take care of ourselves when our monthly visitor arrives. Thinx is actively trying to fix that by advocating for equity, educating future generations, and fighting for access for everyone. "Alongside our partners (and with your support!) we're fighting for better access to puberty education, amplifying grassroots activism, and donating our undies and time. When you purchase Thinx you're helping give life to our programming and initiatives." For us, it's the fact that they donate Thinx to women in need in underrepresented communities and unhoused situations.
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Featured image by Shutterstock
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Joce Blake is a womanist who loves fashion, Beyonce and Hot Cheetos. The sophistiratchet enthusiast is based in Brooklyn, NY but has southern belle roots as she was born and raised in Memphis, TN. Keep up with her on Instagram @joce_blake and on Twitter @SaraJessicaBee.
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Deanna Robinson, a health and wellness advocate and professional based in the Washington D.C. area has been helping Black and brown women reach their fitness goals for more than a decade. And with her brand of self-love and faith, she's redefining just what "fitness" means when it comes to women of all shapes and sizes.
There's definitely a need for women like Robinson, especially since recent research shows that between 47% and 55% of Black consumers' needs "are not being met" in the wellness space, and the U.S. fitness industry hit $32 billion last year and that it's important for Black women to see themselves prominently in the space.
As a health and wellness programming expert, licensed nutritionist, mom, wife, and former all-women's gym owner, Robinson has built up a body of experience that has culminated into doing something she loves via the FabBody Retreat, an experience for women ages 30-60 to be enriched via group activities, good food, and connection in the backdrop of tropical peace and tranquility.
This year's retreat was held in Grenada, with special guest and TV host icon Free Marie (BET's 106 & Park). Next year's event will be held in St. Maarten with plenty of opportunities to enjoy beach vibes, authentic and healthy dishes, and all the pleasures of being among other fabulous Black women seeking holistic wellness in paradise.
"My God-given purpose is to help serve, connect, and heal Black and Brown women," she said, taking her experiences serving corporate and individual clients via projects like the NFL's "Fuel Up To Play 60" initiative and the Nike Training Club live experience, to do just that.
xoNecole caught up with her to talk about why she chose the fitness industry, her success in launching and running the FabBody Factory, and how she's pivoted to use her skills to build impact on a larger scale in health and wellness.
xoNecole: What sparked your interest in a career in health and wellness?
Deanna Robinson: I have always been involved in sports, always been active in cheerleading, dance, [and] gymnastics. In my college career, I was a competitive cheerleader at the University of Maryland, College Park, and I've just always been passionate about physical activity, health, and fitness. I double-majored in kinesiology and public and community health, and it's always been a passion for me about others being well.
Out of college, I wanted to be a personal trainer, and I interviewed at a big-chain gym. I was really excited about getting this job, but when I had the interview, they informed me of what the split was—what the client paid, what I'd get as a personal trainer, and what the gym got. And I just thought it was a ridiculous split. I've always been into entrepreneurship as well, and doing things on my own terms, so I actually opened up my own gym in the community I grew up in called the FabBody Factory, an all-female gym in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.
I was able to hire several trainers, offer group classes and personal training, and one of the things I was always a big proponent of is making sure that they got a better cut than they would get at larger chains.
xoN: Talk a bit more about that in terms of starting a gym, especially one that caters to women. What was the process and motivation?
DR: I have worked out in big-box gyms before and just never felt comfortable. It was always really uncomfortable working out in a huge gym where men would be gawking at you or try to get your number when you're trying to focus on yourself in that moment. So I always wanted the FabBody Factory would be a safe haven where we didn't have to worry about our titties flopping when we're doing jumping jacks, it was just for us by us, and we could just [be] comfortable making ourselves a priority.
I was almost talked out of doing something like that because people would say, "You're cutting off half of your potential clientele," but I never had an issue. Women flocked to the gym, and I'd sometimes have to split classes. I might have to do part one of a class at one time and a second another time. It was majorly successful. Ladies loved it. And on top of this being all-women, it was all Black and brown women.
Culturally, we get each other, so it was a big social thing for us, too. We were able to fellowship with each other and get fit at the same time.
xoN: Your brand includes the concept of a 'Fab Body.' What does that mean for you---and just wellness---in general, for Black and brown women?
DR: FabBody in itself is not a look at all. It's more of a mindset and a willingness to invest in your mental, spiritual, and physical self. In promoting the FabBody Retreat, I actually had someone DM me and ask me, "Do you have to have a 'Fab Body' to come on the retreat?" and my response to her was that you do have a 'Fab Body.' Everyone has a Fab Body. It's more of a state of being—a sound, healthy mind, body, and spirit. It's not about aesthetics at all but about overall improvement.
xoN: You decided to pivot from owning a gym, which you ran successfully for more than a decade, to your current role in health and wellness programming and launching the FabBody Retreat. How did this come about?
DR: My gym closed last year, and the reason was because of where I saw myself going and where I wanted to be in the next 10 years. A lot of my time at the gym was selling and getting people to register for classes, and it wasn't as lucrative and fulfilling for me as it had been in the beginning.
Now I'm doing more consulting work with larger companies. One of my passions is programming, and that is where I see my future going. I'm moving more toward passive income, coming from my being able to use the knowledge I have from years in this industry and putting together programming that can reach the masses versus individuals.
xoN: What can people expect from the FabBody Retreat next year, and how does this venture continue your love for advocating for health and wellness among Black and brown women?
DR: One of the things that really sets this event apart from so many other retreats is that I have married everything that is important to me: wellness, my faith, and my community. God is a huge part of all of the events we do, and all are interwoven with faith-filled, intentional activities, and I think that's what makes it different. On Sunday, we do a service on the beach, and we always have a guest speaker—someone you can relate to where you don't feel like you're being preached to. It's an awesome experience, unlike any retreat I've seen.
It's definitely rooted in faith, but at the same time, there's a balance. We'll get on a boat and have a cocktail with an umbrella in it, and then we'll go back to wellness. There's a healthy balance.
Find out more about Deanna Robinson via Instagram @deannarobinsonfit and more on the FabBody Retreat via the website.
Featured image courtesy