Meet the Ardmore Bridal Designer Making Silk “Pussy Power” Scarves
Under her label Sewn For Good, Janice Martin is turning placards from political rallies into wearable pieces of protest art.
Sewn for Good’s Janice Martin. Photo by Tessa Marie Images.
On Jan. 20, 2017, Janice Martin hopped into a car with several women, only one of whom she knew. Together, they traveled to Washington, D.C., the following day to join an estimated crowed of 470,000 for the Women’s March. It was Martin’s first such political excursion—one she was determined to attend.
Upon her return, Martin was energized by the thousands of women she’d marched with, and ideas began to percolate. Flipping through her photos from the event a month later, she knew she had to do something with them. “I took 342 different photos of placards that I just thought were really clever and pithy,” says Martin, a bridal gown designer who works out of her Ardmore shop, Janice Martin Couture.
She originally thought she’d create a quilt. Naturally, the idea morphed into a dress—but the singularity of that deterred her. “There are a lot of [Women’s March-related] products out there that are cups or T-shirts, but women my age don’t need another cup—and I certainly don’t wear T-shirts,” Martin quips. “I wanted to do something that was really nice.”
So she settled on something more easily replicated: a silk scarf.
Then she organized her photos into five groups. “The category with the most [images] had to do with women’s health, [and] the news at the time was all about defunding Planned Parenthood,” she says. “That was my big-button issue.”
The result is her Pussy Power scarf, edged in pink and emblazoned with dozens of placards that say things like “My body, my choice,” “Nasty women keep fighting,” “The first female president is probably in this crowd” and “Eradicate the hate.” There’s even a take on the Christopher Gadseden-inspired “Don’t Tread on Me” flag—only with the snake in the shape of a uterus.
With a Pussy Power scarf around her neck, Martin attended the 2018 Women’s March in Philadelphia, where she gathered additional placards and asked people if they’d like to be a part of her project. “Almost everybody said yes,” she says.
The scarves are now made under the Sewn for Good label, which gives back to various organizations. Martin founded it several years ago, launching a number of campaigns, including one that benefited Covenant House. For some of her scarves, Martin uses silk sourced from Cambodia via the Tabitha Foundation, which benefits women and children.
In an effort to balance her bridal business with her side project, Martin tapped Lisa Waldman to work on the project. At the time, Waldman was Martin’s intern and a student at Philadelphia University (now the Thomas Jefferson University East Falls Campus). Waldman selected many of the placards on the Pussy Power scarf. “I was primarily interested in bridal and eveningwear at the time, but when she came up with this idea, I just took it and ran with it,” says Waldman. “I was never really politically inclined—I tended to shy away from politics—but this actually became a springboard for me to be more interested in the world around me. As I progressed, I learned more about it and came up with some stronger ideas for myself.”
Fittingly, Pussy Power benefits Planned Parenthood. Martin has launched additional scarves. Get a Clu, a purple scarf that stresses empowerment, benefits the ACLU. And a portion of the proceeds from the Made in America scarf—red, white and blue, with the saying “Make America, grand, kind, safe, gay… again”—go to the National Constitution Center. “Because we were being challenged by the [then] president-elect with the idea of bringing business back to this country, [I said], ‘Let’s make it in America,’” says Martin.
In order to do so, Martin has the scarves shipped multiple times within the U.S.—for fabrication, for cutting and hemming, and for pressing and packing.
The Made in America scarf resonated with Ardmore’s Sadia Malik. “I just fell in love,” says Malik, who has given several as gifts. “I thought to myself, ‘I never find clothing that literally describes how I feel the world should be.’”
Martin is currently working on a scarf inspired by the League of Women Voters, which she hopes to have ready later this year in advance of the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in 2020. Its current design features a subtle polka dot image of the Statue of Liberty, her torch shining light on the world, a beacon of hope in tumultuous times.