As The Founder Of A Women-Run Magazine I Created A Work Environment I Never Thought Possible

By Daisy Helman

I didn’t mean to end up running an online magazine. I had always read lifestyle publications, in print and later online, but the actual idea of starting one didn’t really begin to surface until two years ago. I’ve always been a gardener, from childhood to now; my mother plopped me down next to her almost immediately, and I grew watching her run off to her garden club, eager over the latest orchid or hedge style.

As someone who actively participates in both the world of magazines and the horticultural world, I started to realize a gap, a need for a space dedicated to a modern approach to a natural lifestyle. What started as an attempt to patch up a hole eventually became a website that covers almost everything we can think of that relates to the earth, our natural world, the green spaces around us. As a group of women, we write stories for people.

I began Garden Collage Magazine, not necessarily thinking that it would be a primarily female office, but definitely aware that I was interested in working with other people who wanted to make a website that appealed to our readers on a universal level, one that was inspirational and informative for the novice and experienced outdoorsy human alike. But after the first, second, and then third female hire, I started to get a sense for how amazing the dynamic was in an all female workplace.

It was something that I had never experienced; unlike my daughter, I didn’t go to an all female college, and have been surrounded by men in every work and educational setting. It had never occurred to me that having an office population that skewed, or even just completely was, female was an option. I grew up seeing that most of my father’s business friends were male.

The idea that a company could consist of women and women alone was novel to me, but one that felt supremely right. I hired a few women, of various ages, all of whom brought different perspectives and relationships to the natural world. Everyone came from a variety of backgrounds, educational histories, and locations. I hired a few more ladies. I started to really get into the vibe. I started to realize that there might be something magical going on, in this office, with these people.

I don’t believe in a women’s only environment to prove a point. Of course, we would never not hire a man. But the Garden Collage office has a strong female culture, that arose organically and authentically, that I’m proud of. There is a really strong sense of ‘all hands on deck’. Women know instinctively how to pull it together. Maybe years of watching our mothers run family life and houses, which requires a huge level of organization and composure under pressure.

When we host events, everyone participates, pulling together solutions and hauling buckets of flowers from room to room. When it comes to making something happen, there’s very little hierarchy involved. And when someone is in the middle of a meeting and gets their period, someone else jumps in while they run to the bathroom.

There are benefits to being around other people who immediately understand the panic of forgetting a birth control pill or the anger that bubbles up when someone in a meeting calls you ‘crazy,’ or assumes that the flowers have to be pink. The flowers can be purple, black, blue, any color we choose. It’s a relief to be in an environment where being yourself comes first, and people understand if you cry a little bit on your way to the top.

As a women run office, I think that we innately choose topics and stories that highlight women and their endeavors and businesses. We tend to gravitate toward telling female stories, which still don’t get quite enough visibility in a world where there are thousands of women doing fantastically cool things and getting no recognition for them.

There is no doubt among us that putting women front and center on our site is a huge priority, and we are constantly searching and reaching out to women who are changing the world, be it a beekeeper or a fledgling beauty company. As an office, we collectively come from a variety of backgrounds, which directly affects our content. We carefully consider every story before deciding whether or not to go through with it, and as a result of our diverse backgrounds, have an enormous wealth of story ideas.

We’re not ashamed to use Garden Collage as a platform for social activism, supporting places like The Edible Schoolyard, promoting gardens and fresh food in schools. Healthy diets for children is paramount to our thinking, and we support an array of garden centers and environmental groups. We only get one planet earth and it’s our job to take care of it.

That’s not to say everything is perfect. We have issues just like every other office, but at the end of the day, we share a fundamental experience, one that binds us together and creates an underlying level of empathy. If someone is having a particularly hard day, they might admit that it’s a result of being harassed on the way to work, or being frustrated by an inability to find the right outfit.

Being able to relate to each other’s problems helps to create understanding, which in turn allows for productive solutions. I feel incredibly lucky to work with people who support and respect me, for who I am as a professional and who I am as a person.

 

 

 

Daisy Helman is a lifelong gardener and California native who currently resides in New York City. She founded Garden Collage Magazine in 2015 to “bring the garden into people’s lives”. She passionately supports a range of local and national nonprofits that underscore this mission, including Edible Schoolyard NYC, New York Botanical Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, The Garden Conservancy, Melanoma Research Alliance, and the Cultural Landscape Foundation. Throughout her life she has traveled the world in pursuit of great gardens, from The United States to India, Europe, and beyond.

Follow Daisy and Garden Collage Magazine on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and visit their online store.

 

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