Q&A with the Founders of Damsel in Success
Has being a women in the music industry, whether as a fan, musician or someone who works in the industry, ever gotten you down? Constantly experiencing the sexism and mysoginy that comes with being in a male-dominate field? Does all of it leave you needing a positive reminder of how kick ass us chicks are?
Meet Damsel in Success - a brand new movement and accompanying Etsy store that launched last week. More specifically, meet Alexis Lowes and Cheryl Alper, the founders of Damsel in Success. They created this movement and store after being inspired by the other women they were working with in the music industry. Together, they created Damsel in Success, or DIS, as an idea, an inspiration, a daily reminder that when women lift each other up, we can foster success and positivity that make us all stronger together.
We caught up with Alexis and Cheryl during the week of their official DIS launch to learn more about them and the movement they have created.
Tell us a little bit about yourselves.
Alexis: I am a working mom and have been working in the music industry for over 18 years. The majority of my career has been as a roadie for various bands traveling the world. I have been very fortunate to have toured with some amazing artists like AC/DC, TOOL, Neil Diamond, Sting and The Rolling Stones to name a few. More often than not I am production coordinator on tour organizing hotels, flights, visas, ground transport for crew sizes varying from 12 people to 150 +. I am true fan and collector of amazing tattoo work and that is what helped develop the logo for Damsel in Success.
Cheryl: I’m a producer and the director of talent at an event production company – Diversified Production Services for over 10 years ago. We produce concerts, festivals and fundraisers – iHeartRadio festivals, Global Citizen Festival, Michael J. Fox Foundation Gala, etc. I started my career as a management assistant for Bon Jovi where I got schooled… before heading on the road for a few years. Alexis and I met in 2006 at the Beacon Theater in NYC when I was with the production team for the Martin Scorsese Shine a Light film featuring The Rolling Stones. Alexis was on tour with the Rolling Stones. Outside of work, I’m involved with some volunteer groups, activist communities and I love to knit and being an auntie!
Tell us a little bit about Damsel in Success.
Damsel In Success is a new movement and project. It’s in its beginning stages… a cool visual reminder to ourselves and to other others that we support equality… It shows that we support each other in a non-traditional way… something different than ‘I Am A Feminist’ merch.
What experience(s) inspired the creation of Damsel in Success?
Last summer we were texting about the daily struggles we were facing as woman, specifically in the production world. We were continuously facing obstacles that our male counterparts were not facing. We had to explain ourselves in ways than men weren’t expected to and generally work harder to prove that women could succeed in production.
Alexis: There have been hundreds of experiences that are often subversive in which I have experienced sexism. This is common to so many women but especially those in male dominated fields. Recently it troubles me the reaction I continually face as a mother who travels for work. My son’s father, who works in the same industry & travels as well, never gets asked the same questions nor is he subjected to the judgment I receive. People don’t realize how deeply sexist it is to assume that as a mother I should stay at home or that the male would be the breadwinner. Damsel In Success is a positive way for myself and our community to say – I got this! Outside judgments and projections don’t phase us – we know who we are and were in this together.
Cheryl: I’ve had some pretty in your face moments… not being brought out on the road because the act wasn’t into having a women in their traveling party, having men being offered up to take a position on an event instead of me despite having more experience to do the job right. When I was younger I saw all the smaller ingrained sexism but had my head down and fought back by persisting, doing my job and working my up. There weren’t as many women in the industry as there are now. As I’ve gotten older & into a higher position, I’m more confident and have no problem using my voice, calling people out and pointing out the established sexism. I really want to do more to change the culture overall than just in the smaller world around me.
What has the process of creating Damsel in Success been like?
It’s been very organic. After we decided that we wanted to turn Damsel In Success into a brand and a optimistic movement, we started with the logo as a sticker, which was easy to hand out to co-workers and friends. The response was overwhelmingly encouraging. The message of positivity and supporting each other really resonated and from there we decided to take it to the next level.
What is the goal of Damsel in Success, in your eyes?
The ultimate goal is to let women know that we’re stronger together & that there is always a support system for each other. We’re not in completion with each other. So we’re going to continue to create cool and unique merch to keep in line with that visual reminder. We’re working on creating networking events, mentoring younger women in colleges and just starting in the industry and creating support systems for women.
Can you talk a little bit more about how Damsel in Success functions in the music industry, but also how it functions in many other realms outside of it?
Lately, we’ve been finding ourselves as the older or more senior female members of a team. We’re seeing women just starting out, struggling and still facing the same tired stereotyping and sexist obstacles that we faced. Yes, it’s gotten a bit better but it has a long way to go. The sexism in the rock & roll business is deep-rooted. As we’ve grown, we’ve realized we don’t have to continue to prove ourselves, our work speaks for itself… but we’ve also realized that we want to help the young guns just starting their career. When we started out our careers there weren’t many women in those roles. There were some of course but what was missing was a sounding board for those sexist predicaments we found ourselves in. It’s a big boys club and while we are not out to create a girl gang - we want to support women in the industry as well as woman as a whole. Use our voices literally and figuratively.
Tell us a little but about your Etsy store? What kind of items can we find there?
We have tee shirts and tank tops… sweatshirts and kids shirts along with hats and a few more items… all with the Damsel In Success logo. We also have some additional clothing items that push the envelope.
A portion of your profits go to different non-profit organizations that support women? Right now it's Planned Parenthood, but what other causes and groups might we expect to see DIS support in the future?
Our goal is to give back to the women’s community as a whole, whether its Planned Parenthood on a national level or a local women & children’s shelter in our of our own communities.
What would be your advice to young girls (and boys!) in regards to fighting for equality?
- First off… never think that being a girl or a woman is less than.
- Consciously make a daily decision to bring each other up - not tear each other down.
- Use your voice…you can make a difference by pointing out the inequality to someone… just having a conversation with someone can change their mind…
- Let go of sexist statements that are directed at you or others… take your skirt off, grow some balls, don’t be a pussy etc. Often these are said without actually thinking about what is being implied. Change the vernacular.
- Know your worth and don't be afraid to ask for it.
- Be brave, be daring and speak up.