We are so excited to feature an interview with UP-STAND Founder & CEO Christine Serdjenian Yearwood! See below:
Question: Who is UP-STAND?
Answer: UP-STAND is a movement committed to making public spaces and transportation safer and more accessible for pregnant women and families. I founded the company a year after giving birth to my daughter, and continue to manage it as CEO.
Q: What do you sell in the shop and how else do you gain awareness to the cause and raise funds?
We have a four-pronged approach to growing our movement:
- We currently sell pregnancy awareness items such as Baby on Board pins, parking passes, and #GrowingAHuman tanktops and t-shirts. We have gift sets and offer baby shower packages for these items as well. We also sell items to spread recognition and start conversations about the work we’re doing, like cup cozies and greeting cards.
For any establishment that has a waiting area or limited seating, like doctor’s offices or coffee shops, we sell priority seating signage with custom framing so that those who are pregnant, disabled/differently abled, elderly, or have kids are better able to access those spaces. We want to change the norms around how people consciously interact with one another. It’s a great way for an ethical, inclusive business owner to make a small investment with a big impact!
- In addition to the awareness and accessibility products that we sell, we also increase awareness using our social media outlets. On Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and our blog, we post news related to pregnancy, parenting and accessibility (hooray for the Babies Act and BABES Act!), and bring attention to other businesses and organizations doing great things in line with our mission; we’ve shouted out Mamava, Willow, Noobie, Kroger, NYC Parks, and even stadiums, airports, and subway lines!
- We host, sponsor, and participate in community events to improve the health and safety of pregnant women and families. A few of our past events include organizing a clothing drive for a women’s shelter with Bergen County Doulas, sponsoring Moms In Training, co-sponsoring the Allergy-Free Teal Table at a Halloween festival, and collaboratively hosting two park clean up events.
- We advocate! Among other projects, our goals include ensuring there is a pregnancy/family advocate on transportation authority boards, and securing more inclusive priority seating signage on public transportation.
We personally invested in UP-STAND because we believe in its mission, and it operates based upon the sales of our awareness products. Your purchases matter!
Q: Where can we find you – online only ? at events ? in retail stores ? shipping worldwide or USA ? etc
A: You can find us online at www.up-stand.com, Amazon, and Etsy, with worldwide shipping available and discounts via social media. We are also sold at The Brass Owl in Astoria, New York, and sell at a limited number of markets. You can see our signs displayed at Caffino, Il Fornaio Bakery, and Café Via Espresso, as well as in the office of Assemblymember Aravella Simotas.
And if you join one of our community events, we often donate products to volunteers, so come out!
Q: When did you start the business and where do you see it, a few years from now?
A: I started the business in 2015, when my daughter turned one year old. Since then, we’ve really made some waves! We’re honored to have been featured in Fit Pregnancy, Beyond Mom, and on the Pix11 and NY1 News. We want to continue to build on this momentum!
We are in the process of developing relationships with larger chains, organizations, and transport authorities in order to sustain the movement and grow our impact in the long term. In a few years, we’d love to have our products available in stores nationwide, have worked to change policies and practices on a larger scale through our advocacy work, and include consultancy services to make spaces and events more accessible to families. And of course, we’ll continue with our community involvement and aim to grow our social media presence!
Q: Why is UP-STAND important and what do people (pregnant or not) need to know about the cause and company?
A: We have two groups of people join the cause: Pregnant women and parents, and people who support safety and accessibility for pregnant women and families.
Pregnancy can change a woman’s body in extreme ways, often before it’s visible: Women experience fatigue as early as week one, with nausea between weeks 2-8 often lasting throughout most of pregnancy, and early backaches and headaches, dizziness, a shifting center of gravity and imbalance, carpal tunnel syndrome, leg cramps and blurry vision. Yet even with so many complications, we heard from many women that they rarely advocated for themselves because they realized other people might have hidden disabilities, or felt dejected from prior bad experiences. And parents! The accommodations that parents need just to get out and about so they can participate in regular life are astounding, yet are so rarely provided. Our products do the asking for them, and our movement encourages other people and places to be aware and provide accommodations whenever possible.
In this way, our movement isn’t just for pregnant women! Supporters find what we do helpful as well – by joining the conversation, they are better able to understand what pregnant women or parents might need and offer them those safe spaces and accommodations. Spouses/partners, legislators, business owners, and friends can be receptive and active in this way; they also find our products helpful in their ability to offer without offending anyone. We take the guesswork out of the process and enable productive conversations and actions.
There are so many ways to get involved with our movement, and we really want you to join!
1. We love to collaborate, so if you have an idea or a skill, please email us at email@example.com!
2. Make a Purchase. You can support the UP-STAND movement by purchasing our awareness items for yourself, a friend, or business. Each purchase sustains the work we’re doing.
3. Spread the Word. Grow the movement by including us in a resource guide, shouting us out on social media, or asking your favorite businesses to display our signage. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to let us know.
Please follow us on social media to share the latest stories and updates, or post your own photos and tales and tag #up_standmovement. We love to see our products at work for you!
4. Support businesses that promote accessibility. When establishments display our UP-STAND signage to encourage an environment that is supportive of customers in need of accommodations, they reach a larger audience and are able to bring in more business. Go in and thank them for leading our movement to create accessibility for all!
5. Volunteer. We organize and participate in community events and health and wellness initiatives. Email us at email@example.com if you’d like to be involved with planning or executing an event! Or, follow us on Instagram and Facebook to find out about what’s coming up and how to contribute.
**Use code BBBDISCOUNT for 10% off your first purchase at http://www.up-stand.com/!