Lauren Harbury has always been interested in building communities and telling stories.
By day, the Plaza Midwood resident works in corporate social media marketing. But by night, she’s encouraging the feminist movement, one empowering T-shirt at a time.
“I want to give people an opportunity to celebrate girl power and smash the patriarchy,” said Harbury, the owner of Feminist Goods Co. “There’s so much messaging about who we should be and how we should be it and quite frankly it’s bullshit. Women are so multidimensional and talented and passionate and driven and so many other things.”
For the past couple of years, Harbury has been making shirts with sayings such as “girl gang forever,” iron-on patches that say “Resist & Persist,” pins in the shape of flags that say “Freak” and pins in the shape of airplanes that say “Catch flights, not feelings.”
Her first creation was a blue-ribbon pin with the words “League of Unstoppable Women.” It’s still one of her best sellers, and Harbury said there’s even a corporate office in Charlotte that purchases them for women employees as going-away gifts when they move on to other jobs. She noticed after the company, in orders of two or three at a time, had purchased upwards of 50 pins. “I had a minor freakout,” she said.
“If I do one thing in life, I want it to be that I empower every woman in my life and around me to be unapologetically exactly who and what they want and feel celebrated and valued in the process.”
Initially, Harbury feared Charlotteans might be thrown off with her blunt messages and aggressive marketing campaigns. She didn’t back down, however, and she said she learned how to maneuver the market and find her audience. “At the core of it all, what I’m about is women. Connecting them, empowering them and encouraging them to be whatever they want to be and to do whatever they want to do.”
In fact, the women featured in Feminist Goods’ marketing wearing the product are all members of Harbury’s own tribe. Harbury said it’s better using local friends, including photographer Sarah Slusarick — “you can tell when people know each other and are having fun.”
Local therapist and yoga teacher Dina Gambrella is featured in several of the fashion shots. She was introduced to Harbury by a colleague of hers. “I immediately fell in love with her authentic spirit and entrepreneurial drive,” she said. “Her mission is clear: to support, celebrate and validate women, challenge maladaptive status quo as it relates to gender inequality and share her fun feminist merch with the world.”
Amanda Gadsden has had a front seat to watching Harbury’s passion for women’s rights come alive — they have been best friends since they were 10 years old. “All of the products really encourage women to be fearlessly and unapologetically themselves and I think that’s so critically important, especially now,” she said.
Sarah Turner Wells said Feminist Goods promotes a powerful force of unique and various women. “I feel comfortable, supported and even celebrated to be me,” she said.
A core market in Charlotte has also seemed to embrace these messages, blunt and all, and Feminist Goods can be found at Green With Envy, CLTCH and occasionally at Girl Tribe. Look for Harbury’s fashions at upcoming pop-ups such as Nebel’s Alley night market, Front Porch Sunday, this month’s Uptown Flea and next month’s Small Business Saturday. Or buy them from your couch.
“I find Charlotte to be a great place to do business,” Harbury said. “There’s a great small business community here, with a ton of other female makers and business owners. Everyone is willing to give a hand and give advice.
“Not to be super cheesy, but it’s a girl gang, essentially.”