Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Generation Gendergirls: Sisterhood of Industry


“It’s not a man’s world anymore, and my mom and I are going to take advantage of it.” – Jessica Sanders

Living the American Dream is about freedom – freedom not only to live the life you wish as the gender your inside, but also to live, work, and play the way you want to. In 2002, 3G formed the Sisterhood of Industry (SI),a support group that lobbies on behalf of trans-family operated small and medium sized businesses nationwide.

In the late ‘90s, auto body mechanic Bryan Sanders was a single dad working lots of overtime to help raise his teen son Jacob, while each dealt with their transexualism.

They sacrificed more than most families when they transitioned to become Barbara and Jessica, and thanks to educational grants from SI, the Sanders girls opened Lady Sunshine Florists soon after Jessica graduated college with her BS in Horticulture. Working together with state agencies, the SBA, and 3G partners such as Collins Sisters CPA and the Gender Family Law Centre, the new business grew from a staff of 3 to 68 in 2010, and Lady Sunshine won numerous awards, including Best Green Business Entrepreneurs and the Tolerance Gold Standard as “best employer for trans-family” (currently eight former 3G family clients work for Lady Sunshine, including the head of HR and her sister , a regional sales manager ).

The business is profitable, and perhaps more importantly, Barb and Jessie felt blessed to have to grown their love of floral design and working together as mother and daughter into this successful enterprise. “After years of shutting down the voice inside,” Barb admits, “the freedom of being a woman, with my best friend, business partner, my pride and joy – thank you SI and thank you 3G!”

2010 will be a busy year for the duo – Barb will now go her long delayed college degree, while Jessie returns for her MBA. They will open a second greenhouse and distribution facility that will employ 50 more staff once fully operational. Jess will also serve as co-chair of the newly formed SI Leadership Forum, which will mentor new trans-family start-up businesses.

And in June, mother and daughter will wed their fiancées in a dual ceremony. Of course, there will be plenty of pretty flowers at the church!

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