While it feels these days like we are perpetually in the middle of voting like our lives depend on it (when does one cycle end and the other begin?!); the truth is that we should always approach voting with such urgency. And maybe at different times, and for different reasons, you have felt passionate about voting. But sadly many don’t. Even the palpable energy felt during the 2016 presidential election only translated to half of eligible voters actually showing up. For entrepreneur Sara Berliner voting has always been a sacred right; but now more than ever she hopes we ‘Vote Like a Mother.’ Because for every single one of us…male, female, young, old, parent or not; that fierce mama bear trope may just be the secret to saving our democracy.
We caught wind of Sara’s fantastic catchy slogan-bearing tee shirts on Instagram and needed to hear more. And of course, we were not surprised to find that Vote Like a Mother (VLAM) was a well-run, energizing, side-hustle for this impressive entrepreneur, mother and activist. And Sara has a lot to teach us about activating our communities. So we sat down with Sara to hear more.
Vote Like A Mother began as words on a protest sign I made for an action I was attending with my kids. We were headed to the March For Our Lives in NYC, which the Parkland teen survivors organized following the mass shooting at their high school in 2018. As we made our way to the march, it became clear just how much the words resonated with people—across age, race, and gender.
Other passengers on the subway snapped photos of the sign. Thanks to the positive response, the idea came to me rather quickly. I knew I could use the words as a slogan to build a movement, rallying support behind nonprofits doing important work. I used the subway WiFi to grab the website and social media handles right then and there.
Women are highly skilled at using tools the patriarchy has “given” us to slowly—but surely—destroy it. Fashion, like most forms of art, has long been a vehicle for social change. I think back to the 1850s, during the women’s rights movement and the dress reform movement, when feminists criticized the restrictive nature of women’s clothing items such as petticoats; bustles; and corsets. They created the bloomer, named after suffragist Amelia Bloomer, which originally included a looser tunic and trousers, and was designed to allow more room to breathe.
In a more contemporary sense, I think of my stepsister Maya designing t-shirts to support President Barack Obama’s campaign back in 2008; the push for slow fashion; the people making scrubs and masks for healthcare workers. It’s an effective tool for social change because fashion is one of the more visible ways we can construct identity. We can convey queer, cultural, religious, and political affinities, to name a few. Through those visual signifiers we relate to one another, and build something together.
In addition to running Vote Like A Mother, I am a children’s media consultant and content creator. I am the co-founder and Chief Partnerships & Community Officer of Kinspire. Kinspire is an app that allows parents and caregivers to discover and share screen-free activities for home and school. It can be such a struggle to find screen-free, age-appropriate activities for kids today. Kinspire allows parents (and kids too!) to share that labor instead of tackling it alone, because, as we know, it really does take a village.
When it comes to “juggling”, it’s not always easy. I think the most important thing is to be honest and transparent about our struggles, so no one has to feel alone. I also am a firm believer in self-care activities, like guided meditations, naps, and yoga.
Right now, we need to prevent the United States from falling even further away from democracy into fascism. And in order to do so, we need to have purpose in most things we do—whether we are voting, engaging in our communities, or even buying groceries. We need to understand the intent vs. impact of our actions, and be clearly organized toward a shared goal. “Ain’t no power like the power of the people, ‘cos the power of the people don’t stop!”
For women-owned businesses thinking about adding purpose to their work, it’s important for them to clarify their vision and goals. If you want to funnel profit into good causes, as Vote Like A Mother does, it’s beneficial to understand who you want to help and how. Do you want to help by donating to campaigns? Do you want to help by offering free or sliding-scale services to Black and Indigenous people?
Maybe you want to help by addressing lack of diversity in your industry, and offering concrete solutions for how you can be a part of the solution. Perhaps you’re not exactly sure how to help yet—some reading might be useful, or you could always peruse VLAM’s social media. There is room for everyone in this movement, and there is a way for everyone to help.