Above: The duo behind She & Me Collective, Tiffany Mabee-Sherer (left) and Amanda Rubin.
Before there was She + Me Collective, there were two neighbors, relatively new to East Greenwich, both looking for more lively, memorable community events. Amanda Rubin and Tiffany Mabee-Sherer had known about EG’s Summers End concerts and knew the music festival market was already cornered at the time; ideas for an art and farmer’s market style event were tossed around but neither was fully committed to the concept. It wasn’t until textile technician and designer Susan Troy of Susan Troy Cloth approached Rubin about putting together a holiday market, that the first She + Me Collective Market began to take shape. The women narrowed the focus to be on sustainable, women-owned artisans and makers that would be carefully curated for discerning customers.
Using her entrepreneurial prowess along with her years of experience representing buyers and within the retail industry, Rubin approached Crestar Framing on Liberty Street on the Hill with a request to make use of their large parking lot. She knew it was often empty on weekends when the business was closed. Crestar quickly obliged, and Rubin and Mabee-Sherer’s planning began in earnest. Through word of mouth, the reach of the artisans, and the power of social media, the women had 22 makers – even despite stringent social distancing and Covid protocols in place at the time – to showcase their goods. Nearly all artisans that participated that day sold out of their products. Maybe people were that excited to have a thoughtfully curated event to attend after being home for so long or maybe it was something else, Rubin wasn’t sure, but one thing was certain: She + Me Collective Markets had gained a strong East Greenwich support base with that first market in November 2021.
The next She + Me Collective Market followed six months later, in June 2022, at Eldredge School’s field. This time, it was an even larger event with more vendors, food trucks, live music, and logistical help from Amy Moore of the EG Chamber of Commerce and Andy Nota of the EG Parks & Recreation Department. The market was beautiful, well attended and successful by all accounts, Rubin remembered, “but it was HOT!”
Event space of any kind is hard to come by within the East Greenwich confines, Rubin attested, and “we know that we’re not only competing with kids’ sports conflicts for field space, we also compete for parent’s availability.” Although Rubin and Mabee-Sherer carefully plan the timing of She + Me Collective Markets to allow for high attendance, being beholden to the weather with outdoor events adds an additional layer of conflict they felt a need to address.
The third She + Me Collective Market was the pair’s first indoor and multi-day event, held at the former Benny’s location on the Post Road, in one weekend mid-November 2022 with help from Steve Lombardo of the EG Chamber of Commerce. Just as they had done since the first market a year prior, She + Me Collective found themselves turning away makers. Their focus on usable, shopable, and handmade products, led to Rubin and Mabee-Sherer to include makers from outside Rhode Island, including artisans from Massachusetts and Connecticut, and even those with impressive pedigrees such as a former designer for Marc Jacobs.
Despite the old Benny’s being in rough shape since being vacated years ago, She + Me was able to clean the cobwebs and use enough rented pipe and drape to achieve the upscale market feel they’re now known to curate. Unique to this third indoor market, She + Me featured a beauty bar, an actual bar, and a true market experience. “It was so nice! Each day we realized we were seeing new clientele. Friday night, we saw lots of girlfriends out shopping together, Saturday we saw bigger groups and families out together; then on Sunday, we saw multi-generational shopper groups and moms out solo. We catered to each of them and the whole weekend, people were leaving with bags in hand,” Rubin recalled.
After the most recent holiday mini-market at the Varnum Armory last month, She + Me Collective is looking forward to a busy 2023. The women are looking to collaborate with more EG businesses that want to use their space in a unique way and host markets with them. They are also actively making plans for more 1-on-1 work with makers and artisans to give She + Me attendees experiences over excuses to shop. Rubin and Mabee-Sherer are even considering hotel block discounts for makers and attendees in the future to help hold annual interest for their larger scale events. They’re also developing innovative business concepts to include speakers, dinners and other bespoke experiences for She + Me Collective. If you know of women-led EG businesses looking to collaborate, grow, and support one another, She + Me Collective might be just what you’ve been looking for.
It’s a shame that not all women-owned businesses of East Greenwich are allowed to participate. As a small business owner and glass artist in EG, I applied to be part of the Benny’s event and received no call, email or text.