Matriarch: the next chapter
Our founder Ria discusses our next exciting chapter at Matriarch.
Well, this feels rather dramatic, doesn’t it?
Guess who’s back on the blog! It’s been a while, I apologise but I do have an explanation for you because we’ve been growing. In many ways, Matriarch has been going through its awkward tween/puberty phase. We’re still sort of in that but the hormones are starting to level out. Moving away from the analogy, Matriarch has been in a transitory period and we are finally gaining some clarity on our path and our future! So where better to explain this than the blog? It’s our bread and butter after all.
July 2019 - I started Matriarch as a blog for myself to explore and deal
with a lot of the issues I was experiencing as an 18 year old. These were impacting my mental health and identity and Matriarch was the space I created to explore and air out those kinks. It was exactly what I needed, and moreso, what others needed as they found it relatable, representative and inclusive. This was something I had been searching for online myself so I really felt like I was onto something.
I didn’t know how, but I had a certainty that Matriarch was my future.
February 2020 - (this is an anecdote I love referring to to show our growth). I am working on campus with my pals Ben and David. They asked me whether Matriarch could be a full time job and whether I could actually make it into something sustainable, purely out of curiosity. I didn’t have an answer for them. I knew the answer was yes, but I didn’t know how.
November 2021 - At this time, I’m struggling to think of a product for Matriarch to sell so we can in fact be a business and a full time job. Nothing fits right. We make content about human stories and compassion - how can we sell a commoditised product from this? We can’t.
I am also thinking a lot about my anti-racism actions and getting frustrated by the lack of effort and change I’m seeing in school curriculums and half arsed Diversity and Inclusion commitments from businesses that are more engaged with brand image than real culture change.
“I’ll do that”, I think to myself.
February 2022 - we deliver our first inclusion workshop for school pupils.
September 2022 - we deliver our second inclusion event to Verizon UK. I know. It still hasn’t sunk in.
LHS: delivering a panel to Verizon celebrating South Asian Heritage month. MID: delivering our Privilege and Unconscious Bias workshop (repeat request) for our first school client.
When I tell you lightning struck, I really mean that. I had been working in the Learning and Development industry for 3 years, I had been witness to and helped to design and deliver D&I sessions in the corporate world and when I evaluated them, I wasn’t satisfied. There always felt to be something missing from them, I just wasn’t sure what. At this point, ED&I (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) spaces were incredibly few and far between in schools, it just wasn’t a thing in the same way. But I knew it was necessary. Because that’s what I needed when I was younger.
I experienced exclusion and discrimination from a young age at school. It sounds sad to write, but as a 7 year old child, I needed someone to tell me that I had no fault or part to play in the racism my teacher enacted on me. A duty of care there was missed. Where was the understanding? Who was contextualising this for me? Who was correcting this behaviour? Who was addressing these issues so I knew how to deal with the fallout and impact it would have on my growing up?
Unfortunately, as you can guess, the answer was no one and nothing.
I want to highlight how lucky I was to have parents who raised their daughters with a clear understanding of racism and where this had infected their experiences. My parents did so much to love and protect me, but it’s the unfortunate truth of being a person of colour that you’re never too young to experience racism.
And so I wonder, what if I had been exposed to anti-racism from a younger age and been taught all the way through school about contexts and systems which inflict and promote discrimination. And what if I had been exposed to the tools to combat and deal with that? How much more comfortable and certain would I have been in my identity? How much more prepared would I have felt for life?
It was just clear to me that I couldn’t wait around for someone else to provide inclusive work to schools and other organisations, delivered in the right way. Let me clear up what I mean by this. Far too often are topics around discrimination are watered down or softened up to make those with privilege and power (they come hand in hand) feel more comfortable. And in doing so, you don’t do justice to those who experience the discrimnation and issues you’re trying to combat.
This is wrong.
Topics around discimination and oppression are uncomfortable. They are some of, if not, the most contested, complex and impactful parts of the human experience. And to me, to Matriarch, if these conversations are easy, you’re not doing them right. But I wasn’t seeing anyone doing it right and embracing discomfort and expecting difficulty. What kind of change are we really making if it stays within our comfort zones and doesn’t challenge our perspective? Not much.
October 2022 - Enter MatriarchLtd. - delivering game changing inclusion work, like never before.
I am unbelievably proud to say, Ben and David, that Matriarch is a real and growing platform and business. And what ties these two parts of Matriarch together is that key word: inclusion. We create inclusive content on our social platform (@mtrrch) and deliver game changing inclusion work through our business (@mtrrchltd).
The social platform you know and love will still, always, be creating fantastic content which is inclusive, challenging and engaging.
But we have a new path to carve out to spread the soul of what Matriarch is outwards, into other parts of our world - this comes in the form of our inclusion work, delivering to schools, corporates and other organisations.
As with the rest of Matriarch, this feels very self-fulfilling in many ways. I have created something, which at its core, is to make people feel less alone and more included, in countless ways. This was something I searched for my whole life. I yearned for places where I felt more included, more wanted, more validated and more at home. Matriarch has fulfilled that for me, other people too and to now be able to pay this forward so less people feel as I did leaves me without words.
So, here we are, a growing business and social platform. Matriarch. Who would’ve thought it.