Moving, Folklore, and Cultural Expression

As a Black woman-owned business, we prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion in various aspects of our operations. Our team is BIPOC-led, ethnically diverse, LGBTQ+ inclusive, and welcomes individuals whose first language is not English. We also encourage flexible scheduling to accommodate individual needs, exemplified by one of our team members, Lauren, who recently took time off to relocate, which we fully supported. Recognizing the importance of flexible work environments, especially for women (an IWG survey says 90% of American women prefer flexible work arrangements), is integral to our approach to entrepreneurship and leadership. To add to this, starting in 2024, we have included menstrual leave as part of our benefits package, drawing inspiration from European countries where this practice is already in place. 

Hear from Lauren: 

I came on board with the firm in May of 2023 during a huge transitional moment in my life. I was wrapping up my time as a staffing director for a summer camp in Western North Carolina in preparation to move to Chapel Hill and begin an MA program in Folklore at the University of North Carolina. More than just a change of jobs, going back to school meant that I needed to rethink how I organized the entire rhythm of my daily life. How could I support myself financially, work around a class schedule that changes every semester, AND have enough time at home to give my high-energy pup the exercise and attention she deserves? It seemed I was looking for the unicorn of jobs: remote, flexible, and meaningful. And then, I landed the position as an Operations Specialist with FUNKY BROWN CHICK, and it felt like the stars had aligned. Not only did I feel my skills and love of strategic thinking were being put to good use, but working for a progressive, socialist firm – which values its people as exactly that: people – was also allowing me the space I needed to navigate a stressful transition. 

The week that I packed up and moved to Chapel Hill, I told the team I would take a “Soft Out of Office,” meaning I would be keeping an eye on my inbox, and they could reach out if they needed me, but I wouldn’t be working regular hours. And then the chaos of actually moving set in. First, my car broke down. Then, a massive storm rolled through the area and took out my newly connected internet. To my dismay, I was told it would take a full week to get a tech out to fix it. So much for that “soft OOO.” These kinds of things are never fun, but when I finally gave in and told our founder Twanna I would be out until the following week, it wasn’t the unpacking, the car, or the internet that was the real culprit. 

Let me backup here for a moment and return to what I moved to Chapel Hill to study in the first place: Folklore. If you are anything like ninety-five percent of the people who have asked me what I’m getting my master’s in, you probably thought something along the lines of “You can get a degree in that? What does that even mean?” It’s a good question and one that people with PhDs in the field still have trouble answering. But of all the definitions of Folklore studies I’ve come across in the last three weeks, the one that stood out to me most was an analogy about moving. When you move to a new place (especially internationally, but sometimes even without crossing state lines), you have to adjust to many different things. There are big things – like a new language, currency, or even laws – but those aren’t the changes that make you feel out of place. The little stuff does that – like how close do you stand to others on public transportation? Do you queue up at the market, or are you expected to jostle your way to the front? It’s craving the food or flavor you just can’t get here or getting glared at for not knowing the tipping etiquette at a cafe. These things aren’t written down. They are learned by listening and observation, and they also happen to belong to the categories of culture that folklorists study. I didn’t move to a new country, but this may explain why I was in tears in the middle of Harris Teeter because I could not find the corn tortillas. 

Adjusting to the changes of moving, both big and small, is incredibly stressful. I was grateful to find the significance of that validated both in my field of study and from my place of work in giving me the space I needed to settle in. By giving their team members the autonomy to manage their own schedules, FUNKY BROWN CHICK is doing more than just creating a healthy work/life balance – they are actively honoring the humanity of each team member. Folklore is a field of study that also honors humanity by attending to the small things. It sees the immense value in “everyday” creativity, expressions, and behaviors. These are the daily ways in which we all make sense of and interact with our world, and – as FUNKY BROWN CHICK shows through their workplace policies – these are also our tools for imagining and creating a more empathetic, just, and equitable one.

Maintaining an open-minded approach when hiring for various roles is crucial. An example of this mindset is our selection of Lauren – a folklorist – as our Operations Specialist from a pool of 829 applicants, which has proven to be a successful match, particularly considering our focus on Arts of Social Change. If you’re part of an NGO or nonprofit and resonate with our values and approach, we encourage you to get in touch with us to explore potential collaborations.