To feel seen, understood, and honored. It’s something we all crave, but for so many, can feel like grasping for something just out of reach. We chatted with Eileen Rosete, founder of Our Sacred Women, to hear more about her passion for making women feel valued, and the process of starting her business that does just that (and quite well).
**Tell us about Our Sacred Women.
**OSW actually started with a daydream. I was living in Chicago at the time and driving home one day along Lake Shore Drive. I was stuck in traffic and looked over towards Lake Michigan where people were exercising along the lakefront path. All of a sudden I had a vision of a guy jogging and wearing a white shirt with the following phrase in bold, black letters: women are sacred. And I knew that he was wearing the shirt in honor of a woman who was very special to him. After years spent working with women who had suffered emotional abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, and other such traumas, I was ready to focus on what I wanted to see more of in the world.
Rather than telling people what not to do, I wanted to inspire people to treat women with respect, and even reverence.
What is the mission behind OSW? Our mission is to cultivate meaningful connections with women and between women through the intentional gifting of specialty products that help women feel seen, valued, and honored. In addition to being the founder of OSW, I am a marriage and family therapist. Drawing from that part of myself, I want our products to inspire interactions similar to those I see in therapy - those truly magical moments in which a person feels genuinely seen by another and the energy in the room totally shifts. I think of it as a healing kind of witnessing. So, it’s not just about the products, but the type of connection those products help to create between people.
What has been the most exciting thing about starting OSW?The feedback from customers has definitely been one of the highlights. I’ve been so lucky to have people reach out with heart-felt messages about how OSW products made them or their loved ones feel affirmed and uplifted. One customer shared that she was gifting a “women are sacred” lapel pin to a co-worker very special to her. Another disclosed to me that she is a sexual assault survivor and that she bought a pin to help her in her healing process. And another, who is also a new mom, told me that sometimes she just sits in her living room, completely exhausted, staring at our “You got this, Mama!” greeting card for support. It feels amazing to know I am adding something of value to people’s lives in this way. Also, seeing our products via Instagram has been huge! Images are powerful and to see people resonating with our products enough that they would wear them is such an honor. It takes courage to make a statement.
Tell us about the organizations you give back to. Right now, OSW works with two charitable partners: The Breathe Network and Alliance of Moms. We donate 10% of proceeds from each sale of our organic “women are sacred” shirt and pins to The Breathe Network. They are a nonprofit organization that helps connect survivors of sexual violence with healing arts practitioners that offer sliding-scale, trauma-informed, holistic support. This is done primarily through their online directory which allows survivors to search by modality (everything from acupuncture and psychotherapy to yoga and dance therapy) or location. They can trust that those listed have been highly vetted to offer care that is sensitive to their needs. The Breathe Network also offers education and training for professionals in best practices for delivering survivor-centered, trauma-informed care. Having gone through training as both a marriage and family therapist and a yoga teacher, I know firsthand how little the issues of sexual violence and trauma-informed care are included in the basic curriculum. The Breathe Network is unlike any other organization in its focus, and is helping to fill a huge gap in care.
OSW also works with an LA-based philanthropy group called Alliance of Moms , whose mission is to break the intergenerational cycle of babies born to teens in foster care. The statistics are staggering: over a quarter of young women in foster care become mothers by the age of 17. Among these young mothers, 40% of them have a second child in their teenage years. In turn, 40% of these babies will be detained in the first years of life, enter the foster care system themselves, and 66% will later become teen mothers as well. In the face of such dire and daunting odds, Alliance of Moms (AOM) seeks to disrupt this cycle by offering these young moms the education, resources, and the supportive community they deserve.
In partnership with a local calligraphy company called Goldpress, OSW created a letter-pressed greeting card meant to bring loving attention to mamas, and together we offer a “buy one, give one” program with AOM. For every card sold online and by our stockists, we donate the same card with a handwritten note to a pregnant or parenting mama in foster care. To date, we’ve donated over 200 cards to AOM, and they have distributed them at two of their signature events. As a mom, I know how hard it is to be a parent - even with a strong support network, so I wanted to pass along the positive energy from this card to more mamas in need. We also donate 10% of proceeds from “You got this, Mama!” art prints to AOM, and hope to expand our partnership in the future.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in running OSW?
I’ve learned to honor the fact that it is a process. A phrase that has been in my head since the beginning is: Let it be a whisper that turns into a roar.
It comes in handy whenever I start to feel anxious about my progress, because it helps me to trust that things will unfold as they should, and at the right time. As much as I had wanted our signature shirt to turn out perfect the first go-around, I’m so glad I took a break and came back to it later. It was during my hiatus that I watched the documentary “The True Cost” on clothing production, and it completely changed my relationship to fashion. It is because of this film that I made a commitment to manufacture OSW products as sustainably and ethically as possible. How could I create a shirt that says “women are sacred” if the women involved in its production are not treated humanely, and are exposed to toxic chemicals that compromise their health? This is why we use organic, pesticide-free shirts, made ethically in Los Angeles.
How do you do self-care? I love me a hot shower at night with a sweet, all-natural scrub to gently massage all over my body. There’s something about taking the time to offer yourself healing touch that is incredibly powerful. I’ve been using Moon Body Soul bath products lately and I feel their effectiveness is amplified by the fact that I know the woman who makes each product by hand. She has an amazing spirit and excitement for helping others establish self-care rituals. Whenever I use her products, I feel the loving energy she infuses into her craft.
I’m also trying to self-care by establishing broader boundaries, which has been so tough given my passion for OSW. I was once advised to consider doing a 60/40 split with my business and the rest of my life; dedicating 40% of my time and energy to OSW, and 60% to everything else. It’s so common to let your business literally consume your life, and mine has. I’d like to grow OSW in a way that respects the other parts of me that are just as deserving – the part that wants to mother mindfully, the part that just wants some down-time to read for pleasure, the part of me that wants to sleep at a decent hour.
In your opinion, what are the three essential characteristics needed for a creative entrepreneur?
Vision – Understand why you are doing what you are doing and how you want your potential customers to feel . Answering these two questions has helped me to clarify my vision for my company, and allows me to move forward with clarity. I started OSW because I believe women are deserving of respect and honor in a world that tries so hard to undercut our value.
Compassion – Starting and maintaining your own business is hard. We hear this all the time and it’s because it’s absolutely true. Simply put, compassion can help keep you from burning out. The next time you make a mistake or things are not working out despite all your hard work, show yourself compassion by talking to yourself the way a friend would. Speaking of friends, be compassionate with yourself by reaching out to your support network when you need help, or even to share good news! I shared my vision for OSW with a handful of people at the beginning, and they have been my most ardent supporters since then. They have helped carry my vision and enthusiasm on those many days and nights when I’ve been ready to give up.
Trust – Trust your intuition. Our signature t-shirt looks exactly as I saw it in my daydream. I didn’t completely trust my vision at first and spent months trying to create the shirt in ways others had recommended. Having no art or design background whatsoever, I felt really insecure about my ability to create. Now when I design products, I know to move forward with the ones I personally feel most excited to gift to the special women in my life. I have learned to trust myself and the process. To give my best effort, and just step back and allow things to unfold.