The Woman Behind Feminist Pins Making Positive Change
Spurred to action by the 2016 election, Taylor Weiss launched VoiceBox, an empowering brand selling feminist pins to spark a little love and empowerment. And donating 5% of proceeds to social causes on top of everything. It's a cool, savvy brand run by a cool, savvy girl. As Taylor says, "Something as small as a pin can have a big message." Whether it's an extra boost of confidence or a way to spread the feminist love, Taylor's pins are making a wave.
What inspired you to start VoiceBox?
This question alone could be a page long. My main inspiration for starting VoiceBox was the 2016 presidential election. My entire family loves Hillary Clinton. We always have. On the night of the election we all gathered at my grandparents house and watched the votes roll in. My sisters and I bought balloons and I made Hillary Clinton cupcakes. There was not a doubt in my mind that Hillary was going to be our first woman president. The hours droned on and we soon realized that our hope was not going to become a reality. I vividly remember coming home and crying my eyes out. The fear and anxiety I felt for the future of our country was indescribable. I decided that I was not going to stand idly by and watch our country deteriorate. My sisters and I grabbed our markers and poster boards and marched alongside 750,000 other women and men at the 2017 Women’s March in Los Angeles. I felt an immense sense of camaraderie and love on that day. It was the first time since the election that I felt like our country was not going to fail.
Flash forward a couple months later and I found myself mindlessly doodling at my desk. I am in no way an artist and I can really only draw one kind of face. I drew what came to be my first pin “Janet” and I immediately fell in love with her. I felt like she was the way I was going to spread my message. VoiceBox grew out of my love for a simple drawing
VoiceBox is a company that encourages women to use their voice to create a positive change in society. Through my company and my pins, I hope to influence women to stand up for themselves and speak their minds.
Where does the name VoiceBox come from?
I was thinking about creating an Instagram account for months before I actually took the plunge. I drew out the design for my “Janet” pin long before I even had the idea of VoiceBox. The more I stared at my sketch, the more I felt I could really make something out of it. I racked my brain for weeks trying to think about what my company name would be. VoiceBox came to me one restless night when I couldn’t get to sleep. My brain was on overdrive and I was thinking about a million things at once. I took a deep breath and told myself I would spend five minutes on my phone, (who was I kidding, I ended up spending at least an hour staring at my brightly lit screen) and then I would definitely turn over and try to clear my head. I tapped my notes app and started writing down every idea that came to mind. I wanted my brand to empower women to speak up and use their voice. I typed out a lot of ideas, but VoiceBox was the one that stuck. Your voice box is what creates sound and helps a person talk. What better way to encourage women to speak up, than to tell them to use their voice box? The more I thought about it, the more the name VoiceBox made sense.
You create a name and personality for your pins—how do you come up with these? Do you envision them as a sort of character?
When I first sketched Janet, I was just doodling one night while listening to music. As I drew her sunglasses and shaded in her t-shirt, I realized that she wasn’t just a doodle, she was a rad woman! I slowly started to create a backstory for her. Janet is a strong, independent, modern day feminist who can take care of herself. She is outspoken, confident and persistent. I envisioned her as someone who wears quirky outfits and red eyeshadow. Janet doesn’t care what anyone thinks about her, because she loves herself and that’s all that matters. I definitely think of my pins as characters. I want Janet to be a pin that you can put on and instantly feel confident in yourself and your beliefs.
Can you tell us anything about the new pins coming soon? Who’s your next lady?
I recently came out with my retro inspired “Fierce Feminist” circle pin. My next pin will probably be a new woman! My goal is to have pins that represent every race and ethnicity. Stay tuned for some new pins in the future!
You give 5% of your proceeds to Planned Parenthood and the ACLU. Why was philanthropic contribution important to you when starting VoiceBox?
Organizations like Planned Parenthood and the ACLU are a vital necessity for so many people. I wanted my brand to be able to give back in some way. Donating part of my pin sales to meaningful and vital organizations felt like the perfect way to do that!
What is your overall goal and mission for VoiceBox?
VoiceBox is a company centered around encouraging women to stand up and speak up. We are sick and tired of being look down upon for being female, for being paid less because of our gender and being told that we are less than. My mission for VoiceBox is for it to be a place where women can click on to and feel empowered. I want VoiceBox to inspire women to express their opinion and stand up for themselves whether that be in a boardroom meeting or in their own home. Something as small as a pin can have a big message. My hope is that women wear my pins on their blazers or jean jackets and automatically feel a boost of confidence in themselves.
Have you always been such a fierce and outspoken feminist? Where did this passion come from?
No, I have not always been outspoken about women’s rights. I think I have always considered myself a feminist, but I don’t think I actually knew what that word meant. I was too invested in myself and my friends to care about the news or the injustice that our world was facing on a daily basis. I was stuck in my own teenage bubble and cared more about going to the mall than participating in a rally. It wasn’t until I was about 16 that I realized how self involved I had been. I struggled with some intense mental health issues around this time and I completely shut out the world. Through therapy and support from my family and my best friend, I was able to come out of that experience happier and more self aware. My interests started to change and I became much less self involved. I realized that there are bigger things to worry about than my new profile picture.
Around this time is when I became interested in the 1960s and ‘70s. I read books like On the Road and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. I watched Woodstock documentaries and found my love for artists like Janis Joplin and James Taylor. During these decades the second wave of feminism emerged. I read up on women like Gloria Steinem and Angela Davis. I became curious about subjects like the gender wage gap and the right to choose. I soon realized that I had a strong and passionate opinion that I did not want to stifle. At 18, I feel like I know who I am and am not ashamed to express my feminist views. It is so important as a woman to feel fierce and powerful. We are the present. We are the future. It’s about time we stand up and fight for ourselves.
Which brands or businesswomen inspire you?
There are so many business women that inspire me! Gloria Steinem is my idol and inspiration. I just wrote a five page research paper on her and I honestly started tearing up while reading through all of her accomplishments. Audrey Gelman (co-founder of The Wing), Estée Lalonde (Youtube and Podcast extrodinaire) and Danielle Nagel (founder of Dazey LA) are also some of the girlboss ladies I love!
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