SoHy showcases, supports women for International Women’s Day
Since the Women’s March two years ago, there has been a movement to highlight and support women in politics, business, art — really, in all aspects of life.
March is Women’s History Month, with March 8 marking International Women’s Day, and a few women-owned Hyattsville businesses are hosting special events to celebrate women in art and business.
Chef and founder of Pizzeria Paradiso Ruth Gresser, who was recently selected as a semifinalist for Outstanding Restaurateur by the James Beard Foundation, is no stranger to supporting women in her industry. A longtime feminist, she has been involved with Women Chefs & Restaurateurs, an organization whose mission is to advance women across the culinary industry through education, connection, promotion, and inspiration. She has also been a member of the James Beard Foundation’s Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Program.
And in January, Gresser and Pizzeria Paradiso announced “United States of Pizza: Women’s Slice of the Pie:” a weekly, rotating menu of state-themed pizzas that honor and highlight female elected officials. Women make up 50.8 percent of the U.S. population and 25 percent of our nation’s leadership, a recent surge thanks to the 2018 elections, which saw a record number of women running for and elected to office. As a woman-owned business, Pizzeria Paradiso wanted to highlight these women with pizzas themed after popular food traditions from their respective home states.
“On the one hand you can be excited that the number of women in national leadership has increased and is now at 25 percent, and at the same time 25 percent is only half of what women represent in the population,” Gresser told the Washington City Paper.
On International Women’s Day, 100 percent of “United States of Pizza” menu sales from all five Pizzeria Paradiso locations will benefit She Should Run, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization promoting leadership and encouraging women from all walks of life to run for office. This week’s pizza honors Virginia Congresswomen Elaine Luria, Abigail Spanberger and Jennifer Wexton. The pizza features Virginia Country Ham, cheddar cheese, cherry tomatoes, creamed corn, black eyed peas, collard greens and onions.
Women are making gains in the art world, too, but inequity still exists in many areas. Studio SoHy, which is curated and operated by two local women, Bronwyn King and Krissi Humbard, works to create a space that reflects the community of artists working and living in the area. For the past two years during the month of March, the art space has focused on and highlighted women artists: In 2017, #WomensMarch featured protest posters made by local residents for the Women’s March; in 2018, the duo teamed up with local designer Betsy Martin to transform the space for HER STORY, which aimed to uplift and empower women to share their stories.
“International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on the value that all women bring to our society,” King said.
With that in mind, Studio SoHy opens “containment,” showcasing the work of three local, female artists. In the show, Katie Aldworth, Jo-Elle Burgard and Lenora Yerkes consider space and boundary — built space, held space, contained space. The artists’ pose the question: how are we sustained by our edges? Their work brings a fresh perspective to the idea of space and how we experience it, says King, weaving a notion of boundaries and containment throughout their collective body of work.
“The truth is that women are underrepresented and undervalued in the art world. From museums to galleries, gender inequity exists,” King said. “As a studio space, we are working to change the narrative by increasing exposure for female artists working locally in the DMV. We are really honored to have these three women artists opening their show ‘containment’ this Friday. The date was no coincidence — we wanted to highlight their tremendous work and celebrate them as artists!”
Women have been finding more and more ways to lift each other up.
A panel focusing on the efforts, triumphs and challenges of running a woman-led business was born from a group of women who gather to support each other. Three local women business owners — Megan Libby-Mueller, Valrie Hames and Laura Usher — meet regularly to share the trials and triumphs of running a business. Libby-Mueller said the three had an idea to share their experiences with the larger community.
“It’s always great to have a group to talk with about questions, issues, and plans for our companies — we all benefit (and profit!) when we are actively supporting one another,” said Libby-Mueller, via email. “We decided to bring that spirit of women actively supporting women in business to the larger community through the womENtrepreneurs event. And March 8th being International Women’s Day was a perfect time!”
The evening includes an expert panel of women leading a variety of area businesses: Tanglewood Sue, owner and founder of Tanglewood Works; Valrie Hames, owner of Sunriee Management Travel and Events; Megan Libby-Mueller, owner and principal coach of Libby Mueller Consulting; Chantal Ross, owner and co-creator of Link Education; and Laura Usher, a freelance consultant in the justice reform field. The panel will be moderated by Krissi Humbard, Digital Editor for the Hyattsville Life & Times and co-owner of Patent Brewing Company. Each will share their journey to becoming a business owner, including lessons learned and future ambitions. The event also includes a “speed networking” activity to help facilitate meaningful professional connections.
Pizzeria Paradiso will offer their United States of Pizza during their regular business hours, 11:30 a.m. – 11 p.m. “containment” opens at Studio SoHy on Friday, 6-9 p.m. Light snacks from female-owned Green Almond Pantry and beverages from Streetcar 82 Brewing Co. will be served. The womENtrepreneurs panel and speed-networking event will be held Friday at 7 p.m. at Tanglewood Works.