Advertisement

St. John's Farmers' Market highlights women-owned businesses with special event

The St. John's Farmers' Market held its second annual Women-Owned Businesses Market on Sunday. The event was organized to honour International Women's Day, which is marked on March 8 every year. (Henrike Wilhelm/CBC - image credit)
The St. John's Farmers' Market held its second annual Women-Owned Businesses Market on Sunday. The event was organized to honour International Women's Day, which is marked on March 8 every year. (Henrike Wilhelm/CBC - image credit)
Henrike Wilhelm/CBC
Henrike Wilhelm/CBC

For the second year in a row, the St. John's Farmers' Market held a special Sunday market in honour of International Women's Day on March 8.

Almost 50 businesses took part, as well as food vendors and live performers.

The market's administrative assistant, Theresa Murphy, says the farmers' market aims to promote diversity, so a special event to give a platform to these vendors is important.

"It's only in recent history that women have been able to have credit cards in their own name, take out business loans, that sort of thing. They don't have the historical privilege of access to all these sorts of resources that straight white men would have had access to," said Murphy.

"It's really amazing for us to have the opportunity to give space to women and gender-diverse identifying folks to showcase their talents."

Henrike Wilhelm/CBC
Henrike Wilhelm/CBC

While female vendors already make up a great proportion of businesses on a normal market day, said Murphy, the market also featured gender-diverse vendors, such as transgender or non-binary entrepreneurs, who face many of the same barriers.

"It's really important for us to make space for all kinds of intersections of gender, race, physical ability," she said.

"All the ways that we can help uplift one another, and the more we support one another, the better it is."

Vendors' interest in the event was "overwhelming," said Murphy — so much so that some businesses had to be wait-listed. Those who were able to snatch a spot offered everything from soaps to jewellery to paintings.

Tanya King from Karen's Woodworking was also there, selling home decor items made from kiln-dried hardwood.

A regular vendor at the farmers' market, King said she loved the idea of selling her products among fellow female entrepreneurs.

Henrike Wilhelm/CBC
Henrike Wilhelm/CBC

"It's very empowering. It feels great. It's a great energy," said King.

"We love that the farmers' market does this event. And they take the time to source out the female businesses and host them here in this inclusive space, so it feels really good to be part of that."

Being female woodworkers, said King, both she and her business partner have felt barriers — and prejudice — as entrepreneurs over the past 10 years.

"We felt like we had to prove ourselves. How many times do we get questions of, 'Do you make this? Do you do this? You and your husband must do this?' All those odd questions," said King.

"It has changed over the past five years that we've been at the farmers' market. We don't get those as much because we're a little bit more well-known now. But definitely in the beginning, starting out as women, not only in business but in the woodworking business — yeah, there were definitely some barriers."

Even with more opportunity for women-run businesses than before, she said, it remains important to showcase female vendors. The event at the farmers' market, she said, enables women to have a supportive network in which they can share their experiences as well as advice.

"We get to have that community where sometimes you do share the same struggles," said King.

"So, it's nice to have someone to debrief with and to just chat about it and feel like you're heard because other people are going through the same thing."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador