steve duross - craftsman. artisan. entrepreneur. musings on running and growing a small business

staying home and raising children

having been a child of the 60s, i remember hats, gloves, manners, the violence of assassination, the summer of love and a vision of the sexes being very, very different. i also remember how my mother was in the home raising us. my childhood was fairly unremarkable and carefree until the social (and emotional) upheaval that came with my mom getting a job. the world was changing and everything was up for debate. betty friedan and gloria steinem preached an ideology that women could have it all. a career, a family and everything she ever wanted. as a child of this revolution, i can tell you that that was some bullshit. ultimately something suffers. you simply cannot give 100% to a husband, a family, and a career. that is just not possible.

in 1968, as i entered first grade, with a sister 10 years my senior to watch over me after school, my mother entered the work force full time. like many other women, she only made 58.2 cents to every dollar made by a man. still, our lives improved with her earnings. she created opportunity for our family. she did this because it was her right, and her choice. not due to a feministic ideology. don't misunderstand me. dolores duross was a feminist of the most propitious sort. the kind who lived her truth based on the best possible outcome. what she needed to do for herself was beneficial to the entire family, and ultimately to society. her choice of how far she wished to go in her career, how much she needed to give to her marriage and what nurturing vs. freedom she would manage with her kids. her choices were unapologetically her own. that included her bouffant hair, her love of dresses and her choice of hot red lipstick.

an axiom of duross & langel is that every person has the freewill to choose the life they desire. without regard to the business self interest, we believe that every woman is equal to every man. therefore everyone has equal earning ability. in the 2017 u.s. workforce, women are still only paid, on average, 80 cents to the dollar. not in our house. work full or part-time, have kids, raise a family, whatever. the interest of the business is best served by individuals who can balance their lives. pay is based on merit.

today kenzie introduced me to her daughter regan. a beautiful, ginger-haired baby girl who's mommy wants to devote her full time and energy into being a mom. a luxury for some. a necessity for others. next week it will be two years since i sat down for an interview and hired kenzie. it wasn't long before i realized she wanted to be a mom. a bit longer still to realize the implications of that choice. though we will miss having her in the house each day, we are happy that she will be back a day or so a week to share our lives. that she chooses to be a stay-at-home mom is to be celebrated. the first four years of my life with my mom at home were some of the happiest memories of my childhood.

there has been a great deal of celebration of women in the past few months. marches, women's day celebrations, and endless social media posts about one's wonderful wife, mother and/or grandmother. all well and good, but this particular road to hell currently being paved will begin to sink like the ground above permafrost. posting about grandma on Facebook doesn't move the needle folks. marching with signs and shouting out your anger can only go so far.

freedom is about choices. more than the ideals we espouse, freedom is a fight. a difficult, inconvenient beast we have to get-in-front-of even when it's going to bite us in the ass. freedom is much more than a silly social media post. to achieve any real progress, action is required. why would any man work for a company that thinks his mother, wife or daughter deserves less? freedom requires everyone doing something about the inherent unfairness toward the value society places on a woman's contribution. until everyone experiences the equality that is borne of freedom, we are all enslaved. 

regan, like our mothers, wives and daughters, deserves the opportunity to experience a world where she is treated equally regardless of her gender, and where her wages are based on merit. i put my money where my mouth is.

manners, technology and decency

in between clients today we chatted about remaking the world in our image. kindness prevails, cheerful, well-mannered people populate the planet. we spoke of being able to afford the things we need. like insurance, rent and the cost of technology (which would also include the ridiculously expensive disintegrating signal and service we receive from the robber barons of comcast). we discussed the new patent from amazon that allows for air dirigibles to hang above our heads as great warehouses from which our goods will emerge on winged drones and parachute to our doors. i am mashing several patents together but you get the idea. far fetched? absolutely. but completely true. amazon is here to stay, the web is ever growing, and duross & langel is wading fast into the stream in a deep way. life as we know it is about to change. again. we acknowledge that so very many people wish to stand stock still, or push back the direction of progress. like a pendulum, group moods often swing from one side to another. but facts remain facts, regardless of what we feel. life moves on. "better to light a candle than curse the darkness". and now with my smartphone flashlight app, the light can illuminate longer, safer and more efficiently than any candle. as more of us choose our phones, tablets and computers for shopping, it is only realistic to make that segment of our business a robust and imaginative version of our store. trust is all that is required. well, that and a search box.

having conquered another holiday season, i can say without guile that the world has turned a bit meaner in 2016. we hope this anomaly dissipates with great haste. perhaps it is a simple turn of fate. after all, it was a long and mean political season, and regardless of personal political opinions, we were all made worse by the process. and then there is the weekend before christmas. people who talk (read: yak loudly) on their phone, holding it away from them on speaker. i don't even know what to do with that. it is anathema to everything my mother ever taught me. or to stand in the middle of the store and listen to a stream of snark from entitled birkin bag owners who loathe their own lives... it takes it's toll. emotionally, protectively, we begin to shut down. all possibility for a connection is lost. but luckily, fate also gives us moments of impossible grace. moments in time when we come together and connect with those around us in a way that is profound. and for every rude or ill mannered person encountered this season, the sweetest, kindest, warmest people were twenty-fold. whatever you might say or write about 2016, it is the goodness that my team and i will remember most.

this was another year that would define our endeavors pass or fail. we were witness to chance occurrences so precious, that they almost make one believe in the divine. in the idea that someone is looking out for us. so thank you 2016 and to everyone who supports our business. thank you for your generosity and kindness. your friends here at duross & langel wish you all good things in the new year.

the best is yet to come.