In honour of International Women’s Day, coming up on March 8, Malindi Taylor, part owner and marketing and restaurant sales coordinator for Fanny Bay Oysters and part owner of Taylor Shellfish Canada, has started a fundraiser called Girls That Shuck, selling T-shirts through Fanny Bay’s website, with $10 from every sale benefiting the Battered Women’s Support Services in Vancouver. We chatted with Malinidi to find out more about this amazing initiative. —Vita Daily
Hi Malindi! When and why did you launch the Girls That Shuck fundraiser?
I grew up in the shellfish industry on the farming side in Olympia, WA, as part of the Taylor Shellfish family. I’m the fifth generation of my family to farm shellfish alongside my dad, sister, two uncles, and six cousins (five of which are women). My sister Diani, cousin Jada and I have been talking about Girls that Shuck as a vague idea for years. We’ve always loved being women in the industry and trying to support other female growers and shuckers in this male-dominated industry. During Covid we, as a company and family, put a lot of projects on the back burner just to keep things going. Our farms and oyster bars faced huge struggles, we lost a lot of long-term employees to needed lay-offs, uncertainty of the industry, and some bad management. It felt like we tried, but we definitely failed a lot of people. Now that things feel sort of like they are getting back on track, and more of our female generation are taking over the company we wanted to materialize our idea of Girls that Shuck as a positive online community space for women in the oyster industry. This space also has the intent to share stories and knowledge from female oyster shuckers/growers, and to raise money for local women’s charities through fundraising off some fun merchandise that celebrates women and female shuckers can feel impowered by wearing.
Who or what inspires you to do what you do?
As a kid I was always inspired by watching the female farmers and the women in the shuck room, especially by Xinh Dwelley. Xinh was one of the top shuckers in the US that worked at Taylor Shellfish and eventually was the chef at Xinh’s Oyster House in Shelton, WA. I grew up with her being a total idol and teaching me her “if they can do it I can do it better” attitude. I got involved more on the restaurant industry side of the oyster business when Fanny Bay Oysters opened their first oyster bar in downtown Vancouver. And I quickly noticed that women in the industry often don’t get the credit that’s due to them for being top shuckers, and often witnessed women leaving the industry due to lack of training, support, or opportunities. I’ve personally had horrible experiences with starting out fresh in the restaurant industry and having men (even men in my own company) not give me the time of day or treat my ideas as a joke. I’ve been called a kid, bitch, asked what I was wearing, been told I’m stupid or out of line for asserting my opinion. I’ve always treaded lightly around the major male egos because I was raised to be nice to everyone and be fair to everyone, but enough is enough.
Can you speak a bit more about being a female in a male-dominated industry?
You go to these major shucking competitions and its mostly just men competing. I even been where they separated the few female contestants into their own category, and it felt a bit like a backhanded attempt at showcasing women as part of the event. I grew up seeing women dominate the field and I’m not sure where that went, but I hope by sharing the stories of the women in the industry helps rebuild that space for more women in the oyster industry on both the growing and the shucking side.
What’s the goal of Girls That Shuck?
To tell the stories of the women in the global oyster industry, both shuckers and growers; to fundraise for local women’s charities; and to dominate the oyster world with girl-power!