All Together Now: The Women of Rikumo
No matter who you are, you likely owe some part of your personal success to a woman. Whether it’s a mother, a teacher, a wife, or a best friend, many of the women in our lives can't help but make themselves memorable. In honor of International Women’s Day, we’re shining a spotlight on the ones we see a lot of around the office: a group of smart, funny, creative, and compassionate women that work tirelessly behind the scenes at Rikumo and Morihata. Though their amazing work speaks for itself, the things they do in the office and the store only scratch the lives they lead outside of it. Read on to learn about the artists that inspire them, the places they recommend, and the women they admire,(as it turns out, everyone really loves their mom).
Jenny, Art Director
My goals and aspirations have evolved with me as I've grown, but one thing that hasn't changed is wanting to be a part of something bigger than one designer or person.
There are honestly so many women I look up to. I'd have to say my mother is the one who I admire the most!
Currently, my favorite woman designer is Rachel Comey. My favorite artist and filmmaker is Laura Poitras, and my writers are Susana Cahalan (of "Brain on Fire") and Rupi Kaur. Finally, Valeska Steiner and Sonja Glass from BOY are my favorite musicians.
I've just always been drawn to strong, unique women who speak their mind, and are lucky enough to have met quite a few throughout my life. They are honest and generous, extremely humorous, (sometimes crazy), sensitive to the world, and kind.
My dream destination right now is Scandanavia. I love to travel!
Dani Jo, Sales Associate
I've wanted to be a famous musician since I was a child. With that, I'd use my platform and status to be an advocate for social issues I feel strongly about while also helping to bridge the gap between different communities I'm involved in. I've also always dreamed of starting my own non-profit company which provides helpful services for senior citizens who live alone in busy cities. I would do extensive background and personality tests to match each volunteer with an elder person to also provide companionship on top of errands like grocery shopping or errands that the client may struggle to do on their own.
My closest friend is Kira, who lives in Houston. We met while we both lived in NYC and bonded over our disabilities - she is half blind and I'm hard-of-hearing. She decided to learn American Sign Language in college which only strengthened our bond being that it is difficult to find hearing friends who are willing to learn and understand the Deaf community. She is also very passionate about social issues and educating the youth so much that she became a teacher, after learning Deaf studies and psychology/sociology in college. We come from extremely different backgrounds and are total opposites but very similar at the same time. She's the only person I talk to every day.
I never leave the house without the current book I'm reading plus my phone and headphones. On my days off I enjoy going to see movies like Hidden Figures or Moonlight, events at museums, live shows and reading.
The best part about being a woman is learning about how far we've come throughout history and creating my own path towards becoming a feminist. Colleges offer Women's Studies courses which, to me, is a big deal as there is so much to discuss regarding women's history, gender roles/equality and women's rights. The fight for equality is far from being over and I'm happy to be a part of it and make my mark in history.
Rosemary, Assistant Wholesale Manager
As a child, I wanted to become a fashion designer. I still want to work in fashion whether it is design, styling, or journalism. I also would love to own my own store of vintage finds and new pieces.
The woman I admire most is my grandma Rose. I was named after her and I have always felt a strong connection to her. She was such a giving woman. I always admired her unequivocal generosity. Also she had a great sense of style and I have many pieces of her jewelry and clothing which I always get compliments on.
My favorite journalist is Nellie Bly. I have always admired her bravery and dedication to get the best story. I remember that when I first learned about her in school, I was astounded to hear that she admitted herself into an insane asylum to uncover how poorly the women were treated. Not only did she have to fully commit to pretending to be mentally insane, but she had to give up all comfort and privacy. She also had to trust that she would be released at the end of her research period. I want to emulate this dedication, trust, and bravery in my career and in all areas of my life.
Right now I have Australia on the brain. It’s like, all of sudden all I can think about is going to Byron Bay. My knowledge of Australia is embarrassingly slim- all I know is that I have never met an Australian that I didn't like and that the culture is very similar to my home state of California.
The best thing about being a woman is the prerogative to have a little fun. Oh, oh, oh… go totally crazy, forget I’m a lady. Men’s shirts, short skirts. Oh, oh, oh... really go wild, yeah, doin’ it in style. Get in the action, feel the attraction. Color my hair do what I dare, oh, oh, oh, I wanna be free, yeah, to feel the way I feel.
Coral, Senior Sales Associate
Growing up I wanted to be a lot of things, but more than anything I wanted to be an artist. I’ve always found comfort in natural beauty and creation. I did not know what that career would look like, or be called. I did not want to be a teacher, or freelance artist. All I knew was that I wanted to use my talents to help people see the world in a different way.
The woman I respect and admire the most is my mom. No one in all my years has shown me to be as compassionate and inspiring as she is. She breathes life into me.
I hope to one day help my parents move back to their homeland.
I can’t leave my house without my keys. I hate depending on others to open the door. On my days off I like to spend time taking care of my home, and I also take advantage of the time to paint.
My friend Janay is my favorite artist. She has always excelled in the art of performance, whether it’s dancing, singing, playing her saxophone or guitar. She is the one who pushed me to develop my talents. She has also inspired my art in many ways.
The best thing about being a woman is that there is no end to what we can be. We are versatile creatures that flourish under pressure. In being a woman I can say I am more than just my job, my art, or (someday) a mom. My skills and my knowledge of the world are unique because I am a woman.
Caitlin, Merchandising Assistant and Online Customer Service
My mother is the strongest person I know.I do not expect to be exactly like her as I grow older, but I can see the traits that we share and it makes me so happy that I have some of her strength. She is a smart, successful and hardworking woman, who has never underestimated the power of just simply showing up. Throughout my entire childhood she never missed anything. She was present at every concert, every show, every ceremony, never missed a thing. You definitely do not think about it as a kid, but it means so much to have your mom so involved in your life.
One of my favorite female choreographers is Twyla Tharp. She has created some amazing works that are known around the world, which in and of itself is impressive. But she was also one of the first contemporary choreographers to have great success as a woman. Before Twyla jumped into the contemporary choreography pool, it had been a boys club. She "broke the mold" and gave women a concrete place in the world of contemporary choreography, and has created in every area of dance, ie. broadway, concert dance, small pieces, large pieces.
I am fortunate enough that my girlfriend Jodi is also my best friend. Jodi is smarter, stronger, and more creative than she knows. She has the ability to talk to anyone, which is my favorite quality of hers. She is my "person" because she brings out the best qualities in me and makes me a better person. Inevitably, I think that is what we all hope for in a partner, someone who makes you a better person and makes you believe that anything is possible.
My favorite thing about being a woman is that I can be strong and opinionated, and change people’s perceptions of women. We so often stereotype against young women, and assume they are not as intelligent, or as witty, or as creative, and it is the most rewarding feeling to be able to prove people wrong. I hope to pass my strength along to my future children, boys or girls, so that they can always understand their worth.
Magali, Copywriter, Rikumo Journal Editor
I wrote my first story when I was 16, after becoming really frustrated with the way girls were portrayed in the books I was reading (bossy, over-emotional, weirdly distant, one-dimensional). None of my friends were like that, and certainly none of the women I’ve known since have been like that. I had always been a big reader, but the feeling of euphoria that I got when I started writing was something I’d never felt before. I haven’t stopped since- my goal is to be the next J.K. Rowling!
I’ve always secretly thought I was the reincarnation of my great-aunt Marta. She was a teacher and the only writer in the family, so I feel a connection with her. She was also the kind of person who didn’t let anything stand in her way once she decided to do something, no matter how ridiculous it was (and it was often ridiculous). I only really knew her as an elderly woman, but even then she was this hilarious ball of energy who lived in an apartment in Buenos Aires with this tiny terrier named Paris who wore a bow on his hair and was the definition of extra. The only thing I didn’t like about Marta was that she made us drink off-brand Cola when we visited, which in Argentinean culture is unforgivable. All the women in my family are strong in their own way, but Marta really taught me the importance of staying true to yourself without ever saying a word on the subject. She led by example. I think I’m going to be like her when I grow up. Except for the off-brand Coca-Cola thing. I’m not a monster.
I’m addicted to Man Repeller. It’s one of the few fashion websites that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and it’s made this distant, often intimidating world feel very approachable, which to me is extremely progressive. Leandra Medine built this company that is really dedicated to staying true to your personal kind of weird and empowering women to be themselves. Authenticity is really important to me, so I really admire her. As for music, Natalia Lafourcade and Ximena Sariñana are two indie artists that are on constant repeat for me. They are both from Mexico, and listening to Spanish music makes me feel a little less homesick.
The best and worst thing about being a woman is the barriers you can break down when you insist on being yourself. I think quite often people don’t expect much from women and our society makes it really easy for people to not take us seriously. It’s inspiring when women with complex and unexpected personalities refuse to let others cram them into neat little boxes. They remind us that it’s possible to be beautiful and smart, serious and caring, silly and successful, as long as you stay true to yourself.
Kacey, Experiential Design Coordinator
Officially I’m the Experiential Design Coordinator at Morihata and Rikumo. Basically, I design and organize trade shows, plan and execute visual merchandising at our concept store, and coordinate our monthly Rikumo workshops. Unofficially, I am the resident model at Rikumo. You may recognize me from certain jewelry and kitchen shoots, featuring the tip of my earlobe, the bottom of my chin, and an elbow, if you're lucky.
When I was young I mostly wanted to be a fine artist, and as I got a little older I gravitated more towards becoming an architect. A few thoughts towards being a politician or a dolphin trainer worked into my dreams at some point as well.
If I could speak French, my dream destination would be France. I tried to learn once. It went the opposite of very well. Otherwise, I would say outside of the Philly city limits, perhaps in the country.
I associate a close female friend for each stage of my life so far. Grade school, college, and work: they are very different, genuine, amazing women that have taught me a lot about myself and helped me to realize there are so many right ways to travel through life. The woman I admire the most is definitely my mom, though. Any woman who is taken for granted, probably all too often, by her own four children over the span of 27 odd years and still manages to dedicate her life to her family is truly extraordinary. I love you mom!
The best thing about being a woman is being a human being.
Sarah, Sales Associate
I'm a retail sales associate at the concept store. On my days off, I make fiber art wall hangings and tend to my houseplants and garden. I also work at my other favorite shop in Philly, Vagabond.
I always wanted to work in fashion. I remember getting my first subscription to Vogue when I was 11 or 12 and getting hooked on studying each issue from cover to cover. I also wanted to have my own clothing line when I was younger. I'd still like to create a line but the focus would be on home textiles - pillows and throws - and maybe a kaftan or two.
The woman I respect and admire most is my mom. She raised me as a single mom and always made time to support me in my extracurricular activities. She is a retired science teacher and instilled in me a love for nature from a young age. She can identify almost any plant, bird, or flower! She's always there to listen to me and talk me through the ups and downs of life.
I've become a Glossier make-up addict over the past year. I always have one of their lipsticks or products on me. As a woman-owned business, I feel like they are refocusing beauty and skincare products on feeling good about yourself.
My closest female friendis one of the strongest, smartest women I know. She's a librarian who plays the bass (sometimes in metal bands). We both grew up in Georgia and now are in Philly, and it's great having someone who knows where you're coming from in your support system.
Mary, Operations and Merchandising
When I was young I wanted to be an artist. Being independent and able to create my own world and life experience has always been important to me. Also, having ideas and bringing that vision to reality to promote structure, harmony, excellence, and creativity. And learning, always learning.
In my off time I’m likely studying, working, or running errands. I also spend time with family, my dog, and try to get outdoors.
There are many women I admire. I’m always looking at everyone around me and pulling from those observations to apply to my own understandings and style of doing things. I have learned a lot from small business owners and those I work with.
My closest female friend is hilarious, intelligent, and quirky, definitely lives life on her terms.
My favorite woman artist is PJ Harvey.
WORDS BY MAGALI ROMAN