Paving The Way

"If they don't give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair," Shirley Chisholm.
By Karen Giberson

Folding Chair

I’m not going to kid you, last October, when I opened my birthday gift from my mother-in-law, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the tiny folding chair necklace inside. The miniature sterling silver charm was meticulously designed with an articulated seat and a pavé diamond seat back. I am fortunate to own a lot of jewelry, but this one is quite unique.

I was already familiar with the brand Pavé The Way with Philanthropy is Beautiful and its founder/designer Joan Hornig. Launched in 2002, the collection is known for creating impactful symbols, all meant to start conversations, empower the wearer, and most importantly do good along the way. To that end, 100% of the brand’s profits are donated to charity. Each purchase keeps the giving going, and the number of charities benefitting from the brand’s philanthropy is on the rise. Because I knew a bit about the brand’s business model, I had no doubt that there was deeper meaning and inspiration behind my tiny folding chair charm.

The design, cleverly named Take Your Seat, was initially inspired by Shirley Chisholm. Representing New York’s 12th district, Chisholm was the first black woman to be elected to Congress where she served seven terms from 1969 to 1983 and was a strong advocate for women’s rights. “If they don't give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair,” she once famously said.

Two recent events, however, elevated the symbolism of the chair even further. The first was in June 2022 when Roe v. Wade was overturned; the second was in August 2023 when a racial incident in Montgomery, AL, involving a folding chair, led to a viral meme moment. Soon, the Take Your Seat necklace was spotted on influencers, including Lindsay Peoples, editor-in-chief of The Cut, and Whoopi Goldberg. The necklace quickly became a bestseller, raising thousands of dollars for charities.

As I further contemplated what my little chair meant to me, I thought about my mother-in-law, who is a vibrant and inspiring woman; a single mother who was a trailblazer in a male-dominated career. I thought, too, about my dearest friends, all accomplished, strong, and smart women. I feel very fortunate to live in an era where powerful women like Chisholm have helped to pave the way for all women, and I am very proud to wear my new necklace.

Take Your Seat is available in gold-plated or sterling silver, has a 20” adjustable chain and is made of 100% recycled sterling silver and ethically sourced diamonds. Starting at $295