Ubuntu Women Month of Making: Maile Urbancic

Hello! My name is Maile Urbancic, and I made Ubuntu earrings.

Last year I founded BoutiqueAcademia.com, a small business that carries STEM-themed jewelry and accessories. There is great beauty to be found in math, science, technology, and other deep intellectual disciplines, and I think it is fun to take these aesthetic elements and create wearable art. I find it particularly delicious when it involves a symbol of academic, professional, or intellectual achievement. Being a geek-from-birth myself, the idea of strong, clever women wearing academic jewelry has a sort of liberated-from-conventional-fashion feminist flavor to me.

In any case, I have been using Ubuntu for a while, and the “Circle of Friends” element of the Ubuntu logo seemed perfect for earrings as a symbol of women in open source. A while ago I co-founded a nonprofit organization, Partimus (see partimus.org), that now builds and maintains computer labs in public schools in the Bay Area. The computers are all repurposed, using Ubuntu and other free software. I hadn’t been able to contribute to the Partimus work lately, so I hoped that the Ubuntu earrings might also serve as a fundraiser, with a portion of each sale going to them.

I wrote to Canonical and asked permission to manufacture the earrings. Here is an excerpt:

This project would have two main benefits:

1 – Children using Ubuntu would benefit from the funding. The Partimus staff volunteer their time, which means that all donations go directly to supporting the Partimus vision of maintaining and expanding computer labs running Ubuntu in low-income schools.

2 – Wearing logos and icons gives people a sense of belonging, of having a place in a community…The existance of Ubuntu themed earrings would be one more subtle indication that women have an undeniable place within the Ubuntu community.

Happily, Canonical gave their blessing, and the Ubuntu Earrings became a reality: boutiqueacademia.com/products/Ubuntu-Earrings.html. $6 from the sale of each pair goes to Partimus. The earrings have shipped all over the world, and have been blogged about in English, Russian, Spanish, Hungarian, Danish, and Japanese.

It makes me really happy to know that women all over the world are wearing these. I’ve read (with the help of Google translate and bilingual friends) some of the comments on the blogs. My favorites were the ones by women who were excited that there was an Ubuntu item made specifically for them. But I also enjoyed the skeptical ones that said there weren’t any women in open source. Those comments made me chuckle…because I knew they were wrong.

Thanks to Maile for being our sixth participant in the Ubuntu Women Month of Making! Please visit the wiki page or read the announcement for more information about this competition. We have now reached our October 14th deadline, thanks for everyone who has participated!

2 Responses to “Ubuntu Women Month of Making: Maile Urbancic”

  1. Anders F Says:

    Very cool. Especially, because to outsiders not familiar with the logo, it will just look like “normal” earrings, while leaving a subconscious trace of the brand somewhere deep in their memory 🙂

  2. tazz Says:

    This is awesome! Maile did a great job. Keep up the good work!

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