"At times I feel like women rock and at times I feel deflated. If I didn't feel that way, I don't think I would have been interested in starting the consortium." That is Holly Metz Doyle of 4 Dog Design, who with Jennifer Stockman of Jen Stockman Designs, spontaneously co-founded the Buffalo Women's Consortium this summer.
"We're building a group of women artisans and women entrepreneurs," said Metz Doyle. "We are looking to empower them, support them and promote them."
She said the consortium provides women the opportunity to search within themselves for a passion to make a life purpose that is fulfilling.
"We feel fulfillment is not in the six figures, because you can make as much money and have everything, but still feel completely empty," she said. "We feel the fulfillment comes from tapping into your true potential and to your creativity, both sides of your brain, that you can then give to others."
An example is a business called SewREDIBuffalo, started in 2011 by retired Canisius College Professor Pat Hutton to help refugees become self-sufficient.
"Gives them a sewing machine, teaches them to sew apparel and gives them an opportunity to make money for themselves and contribute to their homes," Metz Doyle said. "Some of them have such an incredible language barrier, they can't immediately enter the workforce. Once they feel that they are contributing to their household, other than just a caretaker, their faces literally light up."
She said that is how Hutton responded to her retirement, how Hutton remained an active contributor to the community and fulfilled. Other consortium members need space to sell the products they have created.
"Tina Bonifacio is a real estate agent who was showing a farm to someone in East Aurora and said, 'I think I want to live on a farm' and so she bought the farm, literally, and stocked it with these beautiful goats that she fell in love with," Metz Doyle said. "She started making these goat milk products and realized this is her passion, being around animals and the natural cosmetic products."
Metz Doyle also has a full-time job, but loves "garbage-picking furniture" that would otherwise end up in a landfill and turning it into functional works of art. A portion of her profits go to animal rescue organizations. That is how Metz Doyle and Stockman founded a friendship and the Buffalo Women's Consortium, as they both have a passion for renewing unwanted furniture.
These are the types of women and products to be found at the consortium's inaugural Holiday Pop-up Bazaar, taking place on the second floor of 193 Delaware Ave. in Buffalo on Dec. 6 from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. with a happy hour at 5 p.m. and Dec. 7 from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Metz Doyle said it will be a fun, interactive holiday shopping experience - for women and men.
"Right now we just try to facilitate collaborations between artists," she said.
The consortium requires no membership fees or attendance at meetings and, except for these pop-up events, has only a Facebook and Instagram presence for interaction, plus word of mouth.
"I was at a local store, talking to someone about the consortium, and a women who overheard the conversation approached me and said, 'You know, I just moved here from California and I'm a glass blower and blow glass beads, but I don't know any jewelers here.' And I said, 'Don't you worry. I can hook you up with someone.'"
Future plans include workshops and educational seminars for beginner entrepreneurs or those who already with skills, but need enhancing. On Thursday, the consortium was awarded a grant by the City of Buffalo to provide a storefront for displaying member products. Down the line, Metz Doyle said the consortium wants to get into women's business advocacy.
"Women bring something very different to the table. We think very differently. We operate very differently," she said. "Throughout history, women are not looked at for leadership roles and I just think that's ridiculous."