Shayna Brazier, a Vancouver, Washington native, spent a decade raising her four children. When she decided she wanted to re-enter the workforce she found endless challenges and blockades barring her re-entry. She decided to do something about it. Now she runs Women in Pants, a nonprofit dedicated to helping women with work history gaps get back into the workforce.
Brazier’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:
We help women with work history gaps gain long term financially stable employment. My co-founder Sara and I wanted to help women in our same situation know that they are valuable members of working society. It is hard to come back from a work history gap and be recognized for the skills that you acquired while not earning a paycheck. When we reached out to women in our circles, the overwhelming response was that this type of organization is needed.
The whole business is built on a personal situation. I have been a stay at home mom for over a decade and the challenges of stepping into the workforce have been huge. Everything from believing that I was worth more than a minimum wage job to knowing how to use LinkedIn. I had to filter through the millions of online offers promising to ‘make me rich’ and try to figure out how to start a business.
I had to overcome the feelings of being a “bad” mom for wanting more than just being a mom. I had to claw my way into a world that I had been absent from for so long that any meaningful “connections” I once had were no longer viable for me.
Success in my opinion is feeling satisfied with what you have and what you are working on becoming. This can take on a million different “looks” since we are all unique and all feel satisfied in different ways. For some it may be financial freedom, for some it may be harmony at home, for some it may be health, for some it may be recognition at work, and for others it may be knowing you put your all into something. I know people say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I also believe that success works much the same way.This may be cheesy but I have four kids and they are my biggest success. Not their academic abilities or their sports achievements, but the way in which they love others. If I can send four humans out into this world who truly try to love others and do their best to be good friends, then that will be the greatest thing I can do.
Our top challenge is raising money. I believe this is the top challenge for most non-profits. We are still a fledgling nonprofit (we don’t have our federal 501c3 yet), and we know that raising money will always be on the agenda.
It’s tough to say who my biggest role model is because I don’t think one person has it all. I have been influenced by so many people and hopefully in a small way I influence others. Having said that I really admire Ellen Degeneres. She had the balls to be who she is regardless of the hatred she knew she was going to receive. There is no way that she would know that if she kept being herself, her “come back” in the industry would far outshine her start. I want to have that kind of integrity.
We want to help 1,000,000 women gain long term financially stable employment. That is the long term goal. Short term goals are in endless supply. Everywhere from raise $600,000 to be able to implement our program nationwide, to finding the right members for our board. Brand awareness is definitely on the top of things to do as well.