‘It’s too much’: Madame Premier clothing company up for sale

The owner of a popular Calgary clothing store that promotes equality in politics has decided to step aside.

Madame Premier began to sell her feminist clothing line online in 2019 and set up shop in the downtown community of Inglewood last year.

You’ve likely seen her work. The often edgy attire, toting phrases like “Madame Prime Minister,” “Give a damn” and “Girls just want to have fundamental rights” has been worn by members of every level of government.

“I honestly just wanted to wear something that represented my own values that a woman’s place is in politics,” said owner Sarah Elder-Charmanara.

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But now, citing her own mental health, Elder-Charmanara is putting the store up for sale.

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“I care a lot and maybe I actually care too much in some ways because it trails into my family life,” said Elder-Charmanara.

“It’s too much.”

Her decision comes as a disappointment to long-time customers and community members who stopped by Thursday after hearing the news.

“I’m devastated,” said customer and local political consultant Alison Pidskalny. “Not just to see that the business is up for sale but also to see that a woman who is a very important figure in the movement — to have more women in politics — needs to step back because of the climate in the province right now.”

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As an often outspoken voice advocating for equality, many feel Madame Premier represents a voice for marginalized groups. She has tried to maintain a non-partisan approach.

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Alberta NDP caucus member Kathleen Ganley knows the challenges of a polarized political environment.

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“It’s pretty intense right now… There’s a lot of folks out there who send a lot of nasty messages,” said Ganley. “Sometimes I wonder whether some of that isn’t intended to have exactly that purpose: to drive moderates out of the conversation.”

And while Elder-Charmanara is hanging up her own political activism for now, she’s hoping others will pick up the conversation where she leaves off.

“I do think that the next generation of political leaders will be better off. But it’s up to us to determine what that looks like.”

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