We’re proud of the STYLE Canada community for championing inclusivity and we’re especially proud of the ladies behind the STYLE Desk for using their creativity and powerful voices to do so. In this open letter from STYLE contributor and entrepreneur Michelle Esteban, we learned how important it is to make space at the table for creators of all kinds, but more importantly, anyone who’s committed to true allyship over performative activism.
“Representation still matters!”
“This shoot came after a whirlwind trip back to Toronto from the Caribbean in early September. A trip that would have me interrogated by U.S. customs on my travels back home to Curaçao! I need a Podcast.
Back in June, everyone seemed to have gotten “WOKE” by the lack of representation worldwide. Really?
There were new followers. People from my past reaching out to apologize (for what?). Phone calls being taken. Appointment calendars magically cleared. People stepping down. Some folks shedding tears, all promising to do better. I sat back with my popcorn, fuzzy robe and set my time clock, waiting for when the amnesia would set back in.
It did not take very long. Almost one month later (give or take a few days), everyone went back to their daily lives as scheduled. Don’t get me wrong – this was not only white folks, as people of colour did the same thing. Influencers with massive accounts continued to shout out their friends, continued to only mention other people with large accounts or accounts who they knew could do something for them. They only responded to comments from their circles (this drives me crazy – if someone leaves you a comment, respond back).
I noticed there were so many phenomenal women who needed to be seen, and they would be much further in their entrepreneurial journeys if they had support.
Instead of sitting on the sidelines complaining, I knew I could start small. So, I emailed, called, texted, and sent carrier pigeons to a bunch of ladies, some whom I’ve never met, explaining my idea. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, I had to limit the number of people who attended the shoot.
Unfortunately, some ladies were not available and sadly, some folks who I thought I invited were not even on the email list (age, I tell you). I promise you, it was not as easy as it looks… Did you see the email? Did you get the location? Is bright pink OK instead of red? 7:30 a.m.? Are you crazy?!
If you have followed me on any of my social pages, you will know that I am all about representation. There can always be room at the table. Always. We just have to make space or build another. It’s simple. I don’t care if there are five stylists, content creators, event experts… I know we can learn from each other.
“I noticed there were so many phenomenal women who needed to be seen, and they would be much further in their entrepreneurial journeys if they had support.”
The joy I felt being surrounded by so many phenomenal women is unbelievable. We laughed so hard at times that I’m impressed we got some decent group photos. This is what being around powerful women is all about – it’s the best natural immune booster around.
As we head into the New Year, let’s think about how all of us can be more inclusive. How we can make space at our tables? My plan is to do this again and again and take this globally. Are you in?
Thank you to STYLE Canada, a platform and team that’s been exceptional at opening up seats and building bigger tables.”