Why women need a supportive community and tribe and how supporting other women leads to more success

Over a year ago, in the middle of Manhattan, Hilary Clinton asked for my interview.

In her signature pantsuit and followed by an anxious-looking cameraman, she paused her busy PR schedule, and in a voice both shrill and flat, she asked me a few questions. At the end, she gave me her business card, and then she fell back into the crowd of sign-holders and chant starters.

Okay, was she the real HRC? No.

She was the kind of cheap imitation you might find on the Vegas Strip or at a political Cosplay convention. But that day, presented with a publicity opportunity she couldn’t pass up, she was in front of me, asking “So, why are you here today?”

I was storming Manhattan in the company of thousands because our newly elected President was a bigot, an incompetent, and a sexual predator. I was there because I wanted to voice my beliefs in immigrant rights, in reproductive freedom, and in environmental justice. But though I came enraged, I was surprised how quickly that furious anger melted away. Standing amongst thousands of my fellow women, I felt drunk on the force of our numbers and the strength of our voices. I didn’t know those women, but I felt the sense of community. When I boarded my bus back to Boston, I did so knowing that my daily life was lacking the fierce sisterhood that comes from basking in the light of badass women.

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Returning to routine, I began to adjust the lens in which I saw the women around me.  I became more and more appreciative of their strength and creativity, in all its different forms. My best friend coded in the day and rallied for refugees at night. My younger sister was hosting feminist readings while living out her dream of environmental law. The women who popped up on my Instagram were creating, baking, and building amazing things.

And I? I was inspired. I wasn’t one of them. I wasn’t building a business or baking batches of kombucha. The extent of my creativity was a brief stint in scarf knitting. But the more I took notice, the more amazed I became. These badass women deserved some recognition. Amidst all the reasons to take the path of least resistance, they chose challenge and the difficulties of pursuing big dreams.

So, I decided to contribute in the only way I knew how. I made it my project to support those women who were doing and making way cooler things than I could ever dream. If I couldn’t build it myself, I’d participate by ensuring that those who were building had a platform to sell and a place to promote their work.

In August, I began aggressively searching out women who might want to participate as vendors in small market, hoping for at least 15. I was overwhelmed by the applications of over fifty women. I reached out to a local historic venue, who enthusiastically offered us a discounted rate when I explained our mission. Everywhere, women and men were eager to participate or attend. The momentum of the event took on a life of it’s own, garnering RSVPs from over 4,000 interested people. On the day of he event, which took the name of Boston Women’s Market, four local media organizations turned up to cover the crowd and shine the spotlight on the female businesswomen

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The Boston Women’s market was, for me, just as much an attempt at community building as it was a nod to the creativity and entrepreneurialism of the women around me. Yet, as it grew it became something more for me and for the community it aimed to serve. People not only wanted to be apart of it, they were willing to volunteer their manpower for free. We’re selling t-shirts. We’re tripling our promotional reach on social media. We’re planning two more markets, and we’re securing funding to keep costs low for our female vendors. We’ve morphed from a market to a community whose mission it is to smash ceilings, build bridges, and raise ladders for women with big dreams and small resources.

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It took on a special significance for me as well. In aiming to support the business ventures of others, I grew my own set of business ambitions and my own entrepreneurial dreams. In investing in other women, I found my tribe and I feel the sunshine of that sisterhood every single day. I’ve learned a lesson I wish it did not take me twenty-five years to learn:  We manifest our own greatness when we invest in the greatness of other badasses.

On the off chance I bump into phony Mrs. Clinton again, I’d have a different answer for her: We find strength in the company of other women

About the Author

molly leger

Molly Leger is a middle school teacher, a Massachusetts Policy Fellow, and the editor of Educator Unbound. In 2017, she founded The Boston Women’s Market with the aim of promoting the work of and preserving space for female businesswomen, artists, and entrepreneurs in the New England area. In her free time, she likes to wear as little clothes as possible and drink inordinate amounts of clothing. Follow the Market on Instagram via @bostonwomensmarket. Follow the clothes-less caffeine drinking at @mariluizleg.

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