What would happen if women banded together to solve problems?
When Politico Magazine asked powerful women the question, “what are the biggest problems facing women today?” many responded with struggles of equal opportunity, the economy being set up to help men rather than women, and the challenge of balancing a career and motherhood—all legitimate responses. What I felt most while reading was frustration. Frustration over the huge obstacles women face to reach happiness, and that as a whole, women seem to be defined by this shared learned helplessness and resentment of male success. Psychologists say that learned helplessness is a mental state that develops when a person believes they have no control over their situation.
As I read this article, I reflected on my own experiences in this headspace. Back when I was newly married and my husband’s military career was taking off, I struggled with feelings of resentment and lack of control in my life. I was so proud to stand behind my husband and to be a military wife, but with each move that came, panic ensued in me. With each set of new surroundings, my sense of identity felt like it was draining from my body. And then I met Cameron. She was also a military wife. She had graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design with a Master’s Degree in Architecture. When we talked about being in North Georgia now, she would matter-of-factly state, “so, there’s not a whole lot of architecture happening here.” We quickly found we were experiencing a similar feeling.
Here’s the thing about women, at least in my experience: if you put two together who are experiencing the same problem, they won’t sit and wallow in their misfortune. They will band together and rise. Women are super beings. They draw strength from one another. And that is what Cameron and I did. We sat together and asked the question, “can we still be a loving, transient, military wife and still build a career that we have always dreamed of?” We decided to go into business together even though we barely knew each other at the time. But we knew enough. We knew the other was focused and driven to find purpose and excitement in our shared vision to create sustainable, flexible work for military wives with a deconstructed assembly line, creating handmade, high-quality products that we could be proud of.
Eight years later, our handbag company R.Riveter—named in honor of World War II icon Rosie the Riveter—offers mobile work to over 35 women across the nation and a team of full-time employees, many of which are military connected. Working with Cameron, we have created a community of women who support and bring energy to one another. I am so thankful for each team member and the impact they make on this business.
In this journey we learned there is value in sharing your struggles and acknowledging that challenges women face are different from men. But what we do after we share is what matters most. The solution to women’s problems today is in fact in the question. Women are the answer. Surround yourself with women and breathe strength and inspiration into each other’s lives. We are powerful beyond belief.