Opening your mailbox to a letter addressed from the Supreme Court of the United States is a great way to kick off your first day of being a full-time entrepreneur – especially when the back envelope flap reads, “Chambers of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.” More than two years later, we still vividly remember that day.
Pre-COVID, we started a monthly documentary club of all women. Similar to a book club, each month’s host chose a documentary for us all to watch, and then we’d meet up for dinner, wine and a full discussion about the film. In November 2018, we watched RBG, the documentary exploring Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life and career. Soon after, we all met up for a screening of On the Basis of Sex, the biographical film based on her life and early court cases. While we had always known of RBG, learning more about her life’s work fired us up and inspired us to create our first ARCHd illustration – the RBG dissent collar trio.
Contrary to what some people think, these are not “cute necklaces.” They are jabots, which Ruth Bader Ginsburg wore to feminize her Supreme Court Justice robe. She once explained, “The standard robe is made for a man because it has a place for the shirt to show and the tie. So, Sandra Day O’Connor and I thought it would be appropriate if we included as part of our robe something typical of a woman.”
As a tribute to RBG, this illustration features three of her jabot collars. The first is her notorious “dissent” collar, which she wore when sharing a dissenting opinion for the Supreme Court. The second was one she openly considered her favorite – and one she happened to wear to President Barack Obama’s first address to a joint session of Congress 😉. The second collar is paired with the copy, “When there are nine,” which was RBG’s response to the question, “When will there be enough women on the Supreme Court?” The third collar is our favorite of hers, with its jeweled tribal pattern. We paired it with the quote, “Be your own person,” which stemmed from a piece of advice her mother gave her, encouraging her to be an independent woman.
We turned this first illustration into a piece of wood art and set of marble coasters. And because it was inspired by the Notorious RBG, we decided to send a sample of each to her Supreme Court office, along with a letter telling her how much she had inspired us and thanking her for all her work in fighting for gender equality. We figured there was a slim chance that a package of wood and marble would actually make it through the Supreme Court security, much less to RBG herself. But, why not take a chance?
Prior to July 31, 2019, ARCHd was a side hustle. Then, on our first day as full-time entrepreneurs, we received this letter in our mailbox.
As soon as we saw the return address, our hands started shaking. And as soon as we tore open the envelope and read RBG’s handwritten message to us, we both cried. THE SUPREME COURT JUSTICE RUTH BADER GINSBURG wrote us a HANDWRITTEN note, thanking us for the art we had sent her and saying she would be displaying OUR art at her home and in her chambers.
We had mailed our package to her on a Monday, and the letter was postmarked back to us by that Friday. We will always remember how a woman who had the weight of the world on her shoulders took the time out of her day to hand write a note to two women in Tennessee. Talk about “empowered women empowering women.” Receiving a note from her taught us the importance of being kind, appreciative and thankful to those you inspire. Whether it’s taking the time to personally thank our supporters who leave us positive reviews; including thank you notes with every order; giving back to organizations who are making a true difference; or creating a full collection featuring various women who motivate us, that small act of appreciation from RBG has inspired us in so many ways across our business.
Looking back, one of the texts we sent our friends after receiving her letter that day read, “Immediately changing our business model to art of cool women.” Her letter inspired us to create and focus on our feminist illustration collection, which of course started with RBG herself.
Practically her entire life, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a warrior for women’s rights and gender equality. Her passing was a devastating blow, but her legacy will live on. We will always celebrate her and continue her fight for equal rights by loudly voicing our dissent when others try to infringe on those rights. And, we hope to inspire others to join us in that fight.
With thanks and every good wish,
Kristen & Lindsey Archer