Changing the World One Shoe at a Time

So, I know it’s been like a trillion years since I’ve posted on this blog, but I’m BAACK! Back with a new initiative and a new endeavor.

This blog began as a sort of documentation of my journey towards Judaism. Quick overview: I was in a spiritual struggle and also in a type of existential crisis. I think it happens to many of us, even though we don’t all discuss it. Life unfolds and it’s not quite as we imagined. I realized while I was spiraling that I lacked a spiritual center. Judaism helped me get spiritually back on track with the discipline of tradition such as honoring Shabbat and staying kosher. It also helped me rediscover my ultimate purpose as a human: To make the world a better place!

Judaism gets a lot of bad rep, but at the center of this time old religion is TIKKUN OLAM – it’s a calling to do your part in making the world a better place. This made so much sense to me since I had started as a journalist with idealistic aspirations. Eventually my idealism was destroyed by too much reality and lots of unreasonable opposition, failed attempts, and bucket loads of rejection. I kind of gave up and decided to dodge all the bullets and get to the finish line. Like forget helping others, I can barely help myself. This isn’t a very fulfilling way to live. But then I converted to Judaism and reinstated my desire to make the world a better place.  I also became a MOM and with this new vocation, my desire to make the world a better place became more a necessity then pure hope. I think most of us want to make the world a better place for our children.

Since I became a mom, life hasn’t been easy. My partner became long-term unemployed and I continued to struggle with a single income. Adding to the pressure of all that, all the jobs that I was being offered were of a temporary nature, which also meant none of them came with health benefits, paid days off etc. I worked long hours as a copywriter in the beauty and tech space returning home after 6 or 7pm. As much as I was a feminist I was pretty disappointed that the feminists hadn’t created a better set up for working moms. Where were the 9-4pm jobs? How was I suppose to be a good mom when I was away 10 hours a day, 5 days a week. The logistics of my working life pushed me into a dark depression and because I didn’t even have proper health insurance coverage I was forced to hunt for antidepressants on the black market.

But in my darkness I also began to brainstorm. Could I start a business? Could I get out of my living from paycheck to paycheck dark hole and create something of value? Something that would make the world a better place?

During that time my feet also began to ache. I realized that when I was pregnant I had worn the wrong types of shoes. They were flat shoes so I thought they were fine. But there was no arch or heel support. I figured as a working mom I now deserved a good pair of shoes. So I bought a golden pair of Birks, only to realize I still had no ankle support. I couldn’t for the life of me find nice shoes that were equal parts comfy and chic. If I wanted orthopedically approved shoes they lacked style or were in the form of sneakers. I wanted cute shoes for the office that were not in the form of 8 inch stilettos or lacked the width or padding to support my feet. During this shoe struggle the idea for CHAVAH (my Jewish name meaning life) was born. The concept was to create a line of cute shoes for pregnant women and working moms.

I created a business plan, working well into midnight on the weekdays. Finally I had a blueprint. I researched and discovered that Mexico was a great place to manufacture. I also discovered a faux leather made of cactus skin, as soft as lambskin. I also discovered merino wool is a great material for creating softness and accommodating swelling feet. I also discovered that I can’t sketch shoes and designers charge $100 an hour. I’m in the middle of all these logistics of starting a new business.

I have big plans. Much like Nike, I don’t just want to create a shoe brand, but a movement. I want to campaign for better conditions for working parents. We should have a better work-life balance, especially for new moms. Being a mom is hard. Being a working mom is near impossible if you’re middle class or below. Companies should be incentivized to hire working parents and provide better working hours. Sweden has a 6-hour work day. Why can’t we implement something similar for parents of small children?

I’ve discovered it’s incredibly challenging to balance work and motherhood. I’ve also discovered purpose beyond myself and a perseverance I never knew I had. I know it takes time to build a business and I know it also takes time to change the world. But I’m willing to put myself out there and do both. Currently, I’m looking for a mentor to help me take my business to the next level. My goal is to have a prototype by the end of the year and to have a fully functioning e-commerce site by the end of the year after that. Just one step at a time…but I kinda hope God steps or I’ll settle for a Toptal Scholarship. This is my blog entry for submission. I hope you enjoyed the read. Thank you!

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