The other day, an article about Sugar was published in a local publication. It’s framed as an article about Sugar, but really, it’s about me as the owner of Sugar. After ranting for a few days and talking to my co-workers (including Alicia, who helped me redirect my thinking), I came to a little bit of different place.
Sugar is run on Systems Theory. We believe that every person who works here, every customer who shops here, every vendor we work with, the communities we exist within, are part of the success or failure of our business. We exist in a web and each part supports the other.
In US culture, we love the mythos of an omniscient, all powerful founder who gets all the credit for a successful business. Henry Ford, Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs, John Rockefeller. We talk about these folks as if they are solely responsible for their business successes. Guess what. They’re not. Henry Ford may have thought of the idea for the assembly line. He didn’t build every assembly line with his hands. He didn’t run each car thru the line, putting in every screw, milling every piece of steel. He had co-workers. People who’s labor, support and problem solving skills are part of the reason the company named after Mr. Ford still exists today.
Every business depends on multiple moving parts. None of us are good at everything. A healthy business provides room for everyone, including the owner(s) to make mistakes and for co-workers to tell them about them. The more brains in the room, the better.
In addition, each of us brings our own lived experiences, our own oppressions, our own privileges and our own blind spots to work every day. It is only when we work together, in a team where diversity is valued and sought out, where discussions, especially the hard ones, are a core value that we are able to build a business and a product worth selling.
That’s especially true when it comes to anything regarding sex and sexuality. Sex is bone deep. When we interact with our sexualities, we’re bringing all of our joy and all of our wounds to the bedroom. People are told how we’re supposed to behave sexually based on our gender, or what or genitals are supposed to look like based on our pronouns, or that our sexuality is dangerous or missing based on the color of our skin. When someone walks into Sugar, they need to be met by a person who is literate in how this works. And how it harms. Ideally, the person walking in the door may see something or hear something from the worker that sets them at ease, that makes them feel seen in a way that is safe. That’s a high bar and one we are constantly striving for. But we certainly wouldn’t be anywhere close to it if I, a lesbian, White, cis-gender, able bodied, upper middle class, college educated, mid-western person was the only person here. I’m great for some folks, less so for others. So, we have worked, and continue to work to build a staff where we listen to each other, learn from each other and do our best to meet our customers exactly where they perfectly are.
Sugar is as successful as our team, our community and our customers are. And we are super grateful to be doing this work.
Thank you for making it possible.