Molly Leger moved to Boston during a challenging time for women. The 2016 presidential campaigns were in full swing, and the nasty rhetoric about females was unavoidable. Leger — at the time working as a public school teacher — was desperate for a sense of community.
“I thought it was really important to foster a community that recognized the strong women around us,” Leger tells Exhale. “Nothing says strong female to me more than a woman-owned business.”
Leger created the Boston Women’s Market, an organization dedicated to the empowerment of women and women-in-business. It aims to support these women by providing business development workshops, networking and sales opportunities.
“For many women who run small businesses, this is not their only gig,” she says. “They’re mothers and students, and they’re doing this thing that they love at the expense of their personal well-being.”
On Sept. 29, Boston Women’s Market celebrated its one-year anniversary, and it has grown rapidly since its inception. What began as a pop-up market has transformed into a multifaceted organization.
“One of the ways we started to grow is through educational events and workshops. We participated in a wage-and-benefits-negotiation workshop,” Leger explains. “Another branch we’ve really started to develop is social networking.”
Just in time for gift-giving season, Boston Women’s Market will host a Holiday Market at AC Hotel Downtown Boston on Saturday, Dec. 8, where over 50 women-owned small businesses will sell their unique offerings. Check the Boston Women’s Market website weekly for features on the different business owners and women involved.
The market’s rapid-fire growth has been amazing, but demanding, for Leger. It is run on volunteers and limited funds, and Leger, herself, is already stretched thin. Today, she spends most of her time in Pennsylvania, where she’s currently pursuing a Masters in Education Policy at University of Pennsylvania and working at a policy research center at night. On weekends, she treks home to Boston to run the market.
“We grew really quickly. We’ve evolved and blossomed into something totally different. It’s a challenge to sustain that growth in a way that doesn’t take over your personal life,” she says. “It’s a lot. It’s hectic. But, it’s super fulfilling.”
In the coming year, Leger hopes the market will find a permanent home where shoppers can find their favorite local vendors each weekend. She also wants to get more community members involved.
“I think people see Boston Women’s Market and think, ‘Oh, that’s just for business owners,’” she says. “That’s certainly not the case. A lot of the work that we do is about bringing a community together that values women and their talents, and you don’t have to be a business owner to fit that mold.”