This Sunday, March 8th, marks the 107th International Women’s Day, a day to recognize and celebrate women across the world and their accomplishments. It’s also a day to educate people about the struggles of inequality many women, both here and abroad, still face. In the United States, the celebration has been extended to the entire month of March and dubbed “Women’s History Month.” Therefore, we thought this would be a perfect opportunity to reach out to our Coolshoes Community, and celebrate the fact that we have been a majority women-founded and operated business in Atlanta since the 1970s.
In fact, the business was birthed four decades ago by one incredible woman, Janice “Abbadabba” Abernethy. Nearly forty years have gone by and the business - Abbadabba’s - has grown from a one-woman operation into a thriving company of 30+ employees, 4-store brick-and-mortar locations and an online store. It was Janice’s passion through the years that has kept Abbadabba’s going and growing.
When asked about her tenure at Abbadabba’s, Janice replied “What an amazing and incredible ride it’s been! In the beginning I never envisioned anything other than doing it all myself, but as things grew I hired my first employee (a woman), and later enlisted the help of a bookkeeper (who also happened to be a woman). There was never meant to be an exclusion of men; it just seemed the business attracted women! Nurturing, fitting, following up, always trying to deliver on service and satisfaction….These are things women do so well.”
[We must mention that in 1986, however, Janice employed one very important man...her husband Bill Carmichael! In 1991 the couple incorporated the business, and its been owned 50/50 ever since.]
But Janice isn’t the only woman of importance at Abbadabba’s. With the exception of Bill, our CEO, our entire senior management team are women. This team of women works tirelessly and collaboratively to run the Abbadabba’s organization from finance to buying, e-commerce to store operations/human resources. All of the women in our senior management crew climbed the ranks from salespeople working with customers, to store management and then beyond. There’s no Glass Ceiling at Abbadabba’s. We may be small, but the sky is our limit.
“I can’t imagine Abbadabba’s without ‘Abbadabba’ [Janice] at the helm,” says Kristen Smith, Chief Financial Officer and 15.5 year employee of Abbadabba’s. “I’ve learned so much about business, be it negotiating, merchandising or just attention to detail from Janice over the years. I would not be where I am today, either personally or professionally, if I hadn’t learned from one of the best.”
We also have a very diverse staff, and an even more diverse market with women making up a majority of our customer base...many of whom act as the “Chief Buying Officers” of their own families. We’ve always made it our practice to pay our employees fairly, regardless of gender, race, religion or sexuality; and we’re committed to the same principles of fairness and equality in all of our dealings with our customers, our vendor partners, and all other entities with whom we engage. We value the needs of all of our Abbadabba’s “family” and provide benefits that help our extended family of employees and their families succeed, grow and thrive - from exceptional medical benefits, to a company-sponsored 401(k), to allowing for school schedules and paid sick days. It’s important to us to support our staff and view them all as individuals, rather than a cog in a machine or a number on a timecard.
From Janice at the top all the way down to our newest employees on the sales floor, our company is filled with great female role models. Over the years, female employees have built upon their Abbadabba’s experience and moved on to high levels in other retail stores, to own their own businesses, to project management at renowned media, architecture and design firms, and more. We’re proud of their time spent working for our company, and we strive to continue supporting them as they move on to new ventures, as well. Women-owned businesses represent one of the fastest-growing segments of the economy. There are currently over 10 million women-owned businesses in the US, and we are proud to say we are one of them.
To learn more please visit http://www.internationalwomensday.com/
And to learn more about Abbadabba’s History, click here