How do I empower my daughters? How do I raise strong confident, compassionate, brave, bold daughters? How do I ensure they are confident enough to use not only their minds but their voices to pursue their passions in this world? These are questions, I have spent many restless nights wondering. Motherhood is one of the best things that has happened to me, but it’s definitely going to make me turn gray very early. I am constantly worrying about how best to raise my daughters in preparation for the world they will be growing up in. So what is a mother to do?
Well, if you have the cajones you could create a clothing line with the mission to provide positive encouraging messages to empower your daughter like Jennifer Shurdut Bab did! I recently had the pleasure of interviewing, Jennifer, founder and creator of Moxie Chic, and we took a deep dive on what female empowerment meant to her, how she started Moxie Chic, and how she balances motherhood and entrepreneurship!
What was the inspiration to create Moxie Chic?
In one word MAYA, my 10 year old daughter. But that’s only the beginning of the story. My daughter is at an all girls school and part of its mission is creating independent thinkers, strong women. At the Last Day Assembly two years ago, one of the heads of school asked if anyone knew the origin of the word “MOXIE.” She invited all girls to exercise some MOXIE that summer. It resonated for me — the concept of MOXIE is close to my heart. In addition to my daughter being a HUGE fan of trailblazing women and reading about them all the time, about 20 years prior, I had started a t-shirt business focused on female empowerment based on my own school/work/life experiences. The concept of female empowerment has taken on new meaning for me watching my daughter growing up, as well as having boys! Yes, indeed, having boys.
One central theme at Moxie Chic is providing POSITIVE messages. MUCH of the feminist dialogue and merchandise out there now is ANGRY, CRUDE and/or denigrates men either directly or indirectly (e.g., Down with the Patriarchy!; Chics Before Pricks; Feminist Killjoy; the Future is Female). I am not wearing that nor do I want my daughter wearing that — for so many reasons. For starters, like many of those female trailblazers whom I admire (RBG coming to mind immediately), I believe in wit and grace rather than anger to combat injustice. And, I LIKE BOYS. I have two who are TERRIFIC, a 21 year old step son and 8 year old little boy (not to mention a wonderful husband, Dad and brother). I don’t want to offend them or anyone like them; in fact, men ought to be our allies and not our enemies. So Moxie Chic is all about celebrating and elevating GIRLS and WOMEN without comparing them to men. It’s all about providing positive messages for girls/women to INSPIRE them and to help them internalize that — with some MOXIE — they can change the world.
Female empowerment, especially focused on young girls is showing up everywhere these days from books, movies, toys, and now in clothing lines such as yours, do you think this is a trend or is this movement here to stay?
I think it’s here to stay. It may ebb and flow and take on different characteristics and different significance from one person to the next (much like feminism itself), but I do think that the concept of respecting and empowering women is a movement, even a revolution. There’s a LOT of work to be done here and elsewhere. In fact, Moxie Chic uses the term “MOXIE MOVEMENT” and “MOXIE REVOLUTION” on the website and it’s shirt designs. My hope is that we can create a POSITIVE, OPTIMISTIC, HOPEFUL outlet for all girls and women to get inspired that will cross pollinate (across gender and culture lines) and last the test of time. Indeed, there is an argument that some brands of feminism have gotten so extreme that the Moxie Revolution is perfectly timed — many women want a different kind of feminism, and empowerment built on MOXIE is JUST what they are looking for!
How did you start your business?
In the Fall of 2018 — one year ago exactly — I started having meetings, brainstorming with other mompreneur friends, exploring different potential partnerships. I was looking to reinvent myself and get back in the “game.” (I had been a lawyer but stopped practicing in my early 40’s). After a series of several frustrating meetings and false starts on different business ideas, on my 49th birthday, I sat there wondering what I could do essentially ON MY OWN. (Obviously I rely on many to make this work, but I didn’t need a business partner to get it off the ground). For inspiration, I surrounded myself with documents and designs from my former (female empowerment) t-shirt business — like they exploded from the pressure cooker known as my closet! And that’s when it hit me! What I was searching for was really RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME! The timing was right and that’s when I got going. Fact is, lots of barriers to start a business like this one have been removed in the past 20 years, and I was inspired to offer a product and start a campaign that would make MY girls — ALL girls — feel good while not making my boys, or any boy, feel bad. It all came together. By the next day, I was researching, naming, branding, building, designing, and I was energized! Moxie Chic was born.
How do you choose which women in history become a design on your clothing?
My daughter. She lobbies for those she wants considered or represented. I started with three women but we have a list of DOZENS, if not HUNDREDS that we need to get to! The website provides visitors the opportunity to VOTE on the next trailblazing woman to be honored with a design to help us make that decision.
Who is your favorite woman from history?
An interesting question and I don’t want to evade it — but I have to say that Moxie Chic has been EYE OPENING. For various projects we have in the works, I’ve been researching different women — and every time I dive deep into the details of any of their lives and accomplishments, I am amazed. The last one I researched was Eleanor Roosevelt. Right now, she’s my favorite. She took hard stands on not only women’s rights, but also human rights, she wasn’t afraid to disagree with her President hubby, and she was all about ACTION that made a STATEMENT and provoked positive change: she redefined the role of the First Lady; she held female only press conferences to keep women engaged and employed, and she wrote a weekly column in the newspaper — that RBG (another favorite!) used to read weekly with her mom. She even carried a pistol! She was the definition of INDEPENDENT, self-sufficient and STRONG. But my answer inevitably will change when I dive deep on the next one, I am sure!
Being a mother is hard. Add in a business, it is even harder. How do you balance motherhood and entrepreneurship?
It takes a VILLAGE. Really. I have a terrific support system, tight knit family, babysitters etc. Every day is like putting together pieces of a complicated puzzle — and you just need to find the edges first and work your way toward the middle. I try to get most of my work done when the kids are in school or sleeping, but at the very least, I try to share a meal or a snack, a walk to/from school or an activity and be there at bedtime — these are critical moments when I try to be present for them. I am now set up to work from home which also gives me the ability to maximize opportunities to take breaks to be with them, as needed.
What advice would you give a mom with an idea and wants to start a business?
Just START. Have short term and reasonable goals to avoid getting overwhelmed, but also keep your eye on the prize. After all, you have to be in it to win it. Don’t give up! YOU WILL have conflicts, struggles, disappointments, frustrations, but DON’T GIVE UP. This is a necessary part of the journey. I just wrote a blog post about GRIT (aka MOXIE). You need to have it.
What’s the #1 thing, in your opinion, mothers need to be successful in business?
That’s easy — MOXIE. I think that’s one of the main ingredients for just about any success story. That word unlocks the secret sauce for success — GRIT, COURAGE, BRAVERY — and that’s why I love the word so much.
I love that part of your proceeds are donated to Dress for Success. How did you get involved with Dress for Success?
I chose Dress for Success because I strongly believe in the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy, i.e., in a nutshell, thinking a certain way will lead to acting that way. Dress for Success provides work attire to women who can’t afford it. On a very superficial level, they help socialize women to the workplace, but on a more important, psychological level when you look the part, you feel the part, you are the part! Dressing for success really does set you up for success! In many ways, Moxie Chic is based on a very similar premise. We offer t shirt styles that are FLATTERING and messages that are POSITIVE — because part of the Moxie Chic mission is to have girls of all ages feel great about themselves, like they can conquer the world! The right clothes can go a long way to making you believe in yourself — and the world believe in you too! That said, there are MANY organizations out there that support women and girls that I would like to partner with in the future.
What does your daughter think about what you have created?
She LOVES it. She was disappointed that I didn’t call the business “CURIE CLOTHES” because Marie Curie is one of her idols. But as a consolation prize, I promised her that the FIRST shirt off the presses would be CURIE and it was. She proudly wears MOXIE shirts and hats all the time–she’s my BEST advertisement. But this answer wouldn’t be complete without a shout out to my eight year old son (also part of Moxie Chic’s inspiration) who tells me every day how proud and excited he is for me. Every accomplishment — no matter how small — wins me a kiss and hug from him (and maybe even more importantly, so does every disappointment). Having a supportive family — not to mention my daughter as my muse and the company mascot — has made all the difference.
Everything about this interview made me so happy and proud be a woman and a mother. Jennifer created a whole clothing line to not only serve her daughter but to serve young girls and women everywhere by encouraging them to have MOXIE. As mothers we are in such an important and special position to pass on so much to our daughters including lessons on how to be strong, courageous, confident, and how to truly love themselves and what makes them unique. This is a task I do not take lightly and you shouldn’t either.
To learn more about Moxie Chic, follow them on Instagram @VoiceYourMoxie and Facebook. Also for more on how to empower the young girls in your life, check out the Moxie Chic Blog!
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