Tomorrow, 8th March, is International Women's Day, which is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
Since LMSB is a business owned by a woman, run, and staffed by women, I thought it was only appropriate to use our platform on this blog to discuss some of the prevalent issues being raised on this years IWD.
The International Women's Day 2018 campaign theme is #PressForProgress. You can use this link to 'Choose your Action' to show what commitments you will make to press for progress for gender parity in your own 'sphere of influence' 
For us particularly, we are keen to challenge stereotypes and bias. We are working on ways to display our items in store that do not adhere to traditional gender stereotypes. We are not perfect nor do we claim to be, there's always room for improvement. Zoë and I were discussing the other day how it's such a shame that children are subjected to stereotypes from such a young age, from the toys they enjoy, to the clothes they wear. 'Boys will be boys' is one of my particular bug bears when it comes to slogans. This slogan in a nutshell basically removes a boy's agency and leaves him unaccountable for his actions – because 'that's just what boys do' – and as the mother of a young boy I reject this notion. Inherently boys and girls are very similar and most stereotyped 'gender specific' behaviour is socially constructed as we, as their parents, help them navigate their childhood. Often children are subjected to reductive ideas about who they are and what they can aspire to. A woman came into the shop recently who was thrilled to find our turquoise unicorn doorstop, and upon purchasing thanked us profusely and said “I am so happy to find this! My grandson loves unicorns but hates pink! And everything unicorn is pink for some reason!”. Whilst we do stock pink unicorns, this restriction to one colour is not only irritating for customers like the above grandma, but baffling, since historically unicorns are white!
Conversely, if girls don't enjoy princesses, or pink, or 'typical girl' toys or play, they are labelled 'tomboys'. We reject this idea, since there need not be another label for girls who choose differently, just as boys who choose to play with dolls or practice needlework need not be labelled differently – let kids be kids! By not allowing our children to explore other ideas about life, behaviour, toys, etc because 'that is for girls/boys' we are doing them a huge disservice by denying them access to a plethora of skills and interests. “In most cultures, girls are warned off taking the initiative in any relationship and by 10 years old, already have the distinct impression that their key asset is their physical appearance”  This is another blog in itself.. but gender stereotyping starts with our children, so I felt it was an important discussion point.
LMSB is also keen to focus on celebrating the success of women! Starting with Zoë! Zoë has built LSMB from the ground up, from humble beginnings at home with just her laptop, to an office and now to a fully fledged gift shop, a double award winning wedding stationer, and “favourite shop” to many locals.
In my other line of work, breastfeeding peer support, I also celebrate the success of women in continuing to breastfeed, often throughout difficulties with pain and misinformation, insecurity and sickness – a whole myriad of concerns. But we celebrate our successes because it's important to always look at how far we have come, as well as looking forward to what we can achieve, with the right support. Often the women I support are embarrassed to publicly celebrate reaching their breastfeeding goals, for fear of upsetting others who may not have made the same achievement. And to this, I always say “Your success is not their failure”. I feel it is important to never shy away from celebrating our own successes, and as such Zoë designed our beautiful Breastfeeding Milestone Certificates, which we present to our members from one week, to two years, at various major milestones in any breastfeeding journey.
We will also commit to influencing others' beliefs and actions, by calling out inappropriate behaviour, and be a role model for equality. We support equality movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp, by sharing our stories where we feel comfortable to do so, and will join the growing global movement of advocacy, activism and support.
As design nerds, we are also really excited about the Pantone “Colour of the Year” and what it represents for International Women's Day 2018.
“Ultra Violet 18-3838 is Pantone “Colour of the Year”, complementing the International Women's Day #PressForProgess campaign theme, which highlights feminism and international efforts to achieve wide-scale gender parity. Ultra Violent communicates “originality, ingenuity and visionary thinking that points us towards the future”.
Purple was first used alongside green and white as the colours of the Women's Social and Political Union, the organisation that led Britain's women's suffrage movement in the early 20th Century. For the suffragettes, purple represented “the royal blood that flows in the veins of every suffragette”.
In the 1960s and 70s, use of the colour was revived by feminists to represent the Women's Liberation movement as a tribute to the suffragettes. 
We have noticed gender disparity so much more since opening the gift shop. So many things are divided by gender by manufacturers and often we find it impossible to find items in specific ranges. For example, despite the 2017 Wonder Woman movie grossing $821.9m at the US box office, we have only very recently been able to obtain Wonder Woman merchandise! (And we are super excited to get it in the store when it becomes available!)
We promise to work hard to make women more visible and to promote females, even if they are fictional characters!
"The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organisation but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights." 
We hope you have found this blog insightful and we invite you to join in the discussion around International Women's Day 2018 by telling us what you are committing to #PressForProgress, and if any of our female readers have anything to celebrate, please share it! We'd love to hear from you.
Lots of love,
4. Gloria Steinem