Art Inspires Activism: ARCHd makes Feminist Gifts for the Ms. Foundation Women of Vision Awards

On February 22, 2023, we received a message via Etsy that would lead to one of the most impactful and meaningful experiences we’ve ever had – as both business owners and women. Anna, an event planner in New York City wrote:

“Hi Kristen and Lindsey. I am producing a fundraising gala for Gloria Steinem and the Ms. Foundation on May 16 in NYC. I love your coasters with different kick ass women and quotes. I wanted to see if there was any way to get 600 of them by the gala.”

moving up the stairs to see a 50th anniversary sign

Three months later, on May 16, 2023, we found ourselves in-person at the Ms. Foundation Women of Vision Awards at the Ziegfeld Ballroom in New York City, personally handing out our feminist marble coaster sets as gifts to the gala's 600+ guests. This is the story of how that happened.

Seven Feminist coasters on gold background

Gloria Steinem was in the first group of iconic women we ever illustrated, back in 2020, for the launch of our feminist gift collection. We consider her one of the GOATs when it comes to fighting for equality and showing what it means to be a feminist through her everyday actions.

Gloria Steinem Coasters held up in front of 50th anniversary gala sign

From the moment we read that first Etsy message from Anna, we knew we had to do whatever it took to turn this potential opportunity into a reality. We honestly couldn’t think of a better group of people to have our products in their hands! A group of 600+ women passionate equality and women's rights? Perfect fit.

During the gala, the Ms. Foundation was set to honor these trailblazing women: champion of human rights and gender equity Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex; community organizer, political strategist and co-founder of Black Voters Matter LaTosha Brown; LGBTQ+ activist Rebekah Bruesehoof; activist and Director of Politics & Government Affairs of Gen-Z for Change Olivia Julianna; Executive Director of URGE Kimberly Inez McGuire; and co-founder of Dr. Shalon’s Maternal Action Project Wanda Irving. 

Corporate gifting projects like these require a lot of communication and planning between us and our clients. Back and forth, collaborating, pitching ideas, tweaking said ideas, etc. until we reach the ideal offering. The theme of the Ms. Foundation Gala was “Celebrating Generations of Progress and Power” and they wanted their gala gift (our coaster sets) to reflect that theme by showing women from across generations.

Black woman speaking at a gala with photo of young transgender girl holding poster on the screen behind her

In addition to our existing illustrations of Gloria Steinem, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Sonia Sotomayor, Stacey Abrams and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, we created two new illustrations exclusively for the Ms. Foundation gifts: Grace Lee Boggs and Miss Major. The Ms. Foundation team chose the quotes and we created the illustrations. They turned out to be two of our most favorite illustrations to date! Plus, our first illustration featuring the f-word 😉.

Marble coaster with illustration of black transgender activist Miss Major that says "Tell it like it f*cking is."


Marble coaster with illustration of chinese american activist grace lee boggs with the quote, "Activism can be the journey rather than the arrival." on a gold background

While we typically only offer our coasters in sets of 4, sets of 2 were a better fit for the gala's gifting purposes, due to the weight and budget for each gift. Let’s be real, marble is heavy! Each set of 2 coasters came with a Gloria Steinem coaster on the top, accompanied by one other trailblazing woman from this list:  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Stacey Abrams, Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Grace Lee Boggs or Miss Major.

Sign of Gloria Steinem and Stacey Abrams on a black table in between coaster sets

For the packaging, we sourced new clear-top boxes to house the new set of two coasters. Then we created a custom sticker for the back of the box, which featured the Ms. Foundation Women of Vision Awards branding. We also added an insert inside the box with our information and a QR code for guests to learn more about us (and hopefully shop online)!

50th anniversary sticker on white box with gold background

ARCHd info card with QR code on gold background

It took us approximately 6 weeks to handcraft all the coaster sets and get them ready to ship to NYC.

Feminist illustration marble coasters on tables in workshop

woman brushing gloss gel on marble coasters on a table in a workshop

two women standing on both sides of a stack of brown shipping boxes

All throughout production, we were trying to figure out a way for us to actually attend the gala. In person. We couldn’t swing the ticket price to attend as guests, so we made a bold ask to Anna, the event producer: could we attend the event if we volunteered to work as her assistants? It was one of those emails you send and think, “There’s no way she is going to say yes to this. But it won’t hurt to ask.” It was simply one of those opportunities we could not pass up! To be “in the room where it happened,” surrounded by empowering activists from all types of backgrounds, all wanting the same thing – equality and the right to do what we want with our own bodies. Going to the gala would be an investment in our business, but also ourselves. In a shock to us, we got the green light from Anna to come and work the event and headed up to NYC on Monday, May 15, to volunteer for the gala.

Two women in sequin dresses standing outside the Ziegfeld Ballroom in New York City

We both have years of experience in working large-scale events. So, while the behind-the-scenes action leading up to the event that night was familiar, it was still very exciting. We spent the morning watching the excitement of set up, rehearsals taking place, running a few errands and unwrapping our 625 coaster sets to prepare for them to be staged at the exit as guests left later that night.

two women unpacking marble coasters from bubble wrap

At around 5 p.m., guests began arriving for the pre-gala cocktail reception in the balcony of the ballroom, where the red carpet also happened to be. We stood on the outside perimeter of the room (often being mistaken for security because of our ear-piece-headsets and “all-access” lanyards), quietly observing all the AMAZING fashion with a voice and enthusiastic conversations taking place around us.

all access lanyard on woman then woman with earpiece

It was clear – everyone was there to celebrate feminism and fill their souls with inspiration to keep fighting the fight.

olivia julianna with woman taking photo at a cocktail reception

Around 5:30 p.m., the Founding Mother herself, Gloria Steinem, arrived on the red-carpet … mere STEPS from us. It was an awesome moment we will never forget. It felt surreal seeing this inspirational woman right in front of us. A woman who, during her lifetime, has had such an enormous impact on society in her fight for women’s rights.

Gloria Steinem and Teresa C Younger on red carpet

The energy throughout the program was next level. Every speech we heard, every person who took the stage, was on another level. The best of the best were all there sharing their stories, uplifting the crowd with their powerful words and reminding us all of the work that still needs to be done.

teresa c younger speaking on stage at ms foundation women of vision awards

“What brought me joy after Dobbs fell, was that the light went on for people. And that meant we were going to have more people in the fight together.”

– Teresa C. Younger, Ms. Foundation President and CEO

latosha brown, woman in pink dress speaking on stage at gala event

“My question to you is: what would America look like without racism? My second question to you is: what would this nation be if all human beings felt valued and respected?”

– Latosha Brown, Woman of Vision Award recipient

While we didn’t get to see the entirety of all the speeches, our favorite one we did see came from political and abortion rights activist Olivia Julianna.

olivia julianna, woman in black dress with her hands up speaking on stage at a gala

“Roe v. Wade came from two young Texas women, and I'm proud to say that I will be one of the new generation of Texas women who brings it back and indefinitely.”

– Olivia Julianna, Marie C. Wilson Emerging Leader Award Recipient

She turned a shitty situation (being body-shamed on Twitter by Matt Gaetz) into a truly impactful moment in history – raising 2 million dollars in ONE day for abortion rights. Everything she said was spot on.

“As an openly queer Latin woman, make no mistake I do not want to be equal to men in this country. I do not want the power to oppress with intention. I do not want to objectify on a whim or abuse without consequence. Becoming equal in an oppressive system does not make us free from oppression. It makes us the oppressor.”

– Olivia Julianna, Marie C. Wilson Emerging Leader Award Recipient

Meghan Markle, The Duchess of Sussex, was the final Women of Vision Award Recipient and closed the program with her inspiring speech. She spoke about being introduced to Ms. Magazine as a young girl through her mom’s magazine subscription and the impact that early glimpse of feminism made on her life.

meghan, duchess of sussex on stage speaking at the ms foundation gala

“The presence of Ms. Magazine was more than a tool that I inherently learned from. It was an invitation to paying very close attention to the fact that change is just one action away.”

– Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, Woman of Vision Award Recipient

Meghan’s stage presence was awe-inspiring. Her voice was calming, but impactful. She closed the incredible evening with this:

meghan duchess of sussex speaking on stage at ms foundation gala

“You can be the visionary of your own life. You can charter a path in which what you repeat in your daily acts of service, in kindness, in advocacy, in grace and in fairness. That those become the very things that are recognized by the next wave of women, both young and old, who will also choose this moment to join the movement and make our vision for an equitable world reality. In doing that work, it's this sisterhood, this togetherness. That’s the joy in it, as well.”

– Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, Woman of Vision Award Recipient

(And yes, we did spot Prince Harry from across the ballroom, as he applauded for his amazing wife!)

We ended the night on a HUGE high, as we joined other volunteers and Ms. Foundation staff to personally hand out our coaster sets to guests as they exited the gala and after party. We even got to give our coasters out to (and briefly chat with) a few celebs from our favorite TV shows, like Rupert Friend (Homeland’s Peter Quinn) and Wendell Pierce (Jack Ryan’s James Greer and Suit’s Robert Zane)!

two women in sequin dresses standing behind a table of coasters with their hands up

long black table with gloria steinem coasters on it beside a red carpet

three young women standing behind two tables filled with gloria steinem coasters

Want to know what was worth the trip? The enthusiastic response from everyone about the design and quality of our coasters! There were lots of audible gasps as guests discovered the coaster gifts were theirs to take home. And most had a hard time choosing between which badass coaster pair they wanted to take with them. It was truly invaluable to have that face-to-face time with all the guests and receive that real-time feedback for a project on which we worked really hard.

This entire experience still doesn’t feel real. It’s hard to wrap our heads around exactly how we got here. We had to take a step back, take a deep breath and appreciate how we’re right where we should be – creating art with a voice and turning that art into activism.

Special thank you to event producer, Anna Hauptmann (pictured below with us), for working with us on the coaster project and providing us with the opportunity to experience this wonderful event in-person!

photo booth print of three women making silly faces

Build your own feminist marble coaster set here!




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