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New Girls' Clothing Line Challenges Gender Stereotypes

  • June Soh

Many little girls like dolls, flowers, butterflies and ponies. A lot of them also like cars, robots, dinosaurs, and spaceships. But most girls clothes only feature the flowers, butterflies and ponies. Two mothers decided to make clothes that reflect all the things that little girls are, and do, and love.

Six-year-old Bella loves to build houses and cars with Lego blocks.

“I like Barbie and also dinosaurs," said Bella.

So her dress has dinosaurs on it.

“I need a train to put on the train track," said her friend Penny, who also likes Lego.

“I like to make trucks," she said.

The four-year old also likes pink and purple, and the dress she is wearing.

“She really enjoys wearing it. It’s bright, comfortable, and unique," said Penny mother Cathy Tramontana.

Unique because it has a pattern of the mathematical symbol pi. Tramontana says the design opens the door to a conversation about math.

“We haven’t found this type of dress in a store," she said.

The pi and dinosaur dresses are from a new girl’s clothing line called Princess Awesome. Company co-founder Rebecca Melsky says their dresses feature some designs more typically found on boys' clothes.

"I think that a girl wearing a dress with science on it. She is telling the world that is something she is interested in. She can love girly things and also love science. It tells that science is just as much for girls as it is for boys," said Melsky.

It all started two years ago when Melsky was shopping for her 2-year-old, who refused to wear anything but a dress. She bought pajamas mostly from the boys’ section because her daughter also liked robots, trucks and spaceships.

“One day I walked out past the girls’ section of the store, I thought to myself we should make one of those cute dresses that also have a robot on it or a dinosaur because she will wear that. She will love that. Someone should do that. Maybe I should do that," she said.

Her friend Eva St. Clair agreed she should, and their business was born. Melsky, a school teacher with two children, and St. Clair, a part-time Web developer with four children, got together on Saturdays.

They used fabrics featuring trucks, planes, pirates and atoms. They also created art dresses based on works by Van Gogh and Monet.

“Usually Rebecca and I would be down in my basement. Rebecca would cut and I would stitch. And we got to where we could do about four in an hour," said St. Clair.

The first batch of 70 dresses sold out at St. Clair’s church bazaar. So the founders took their business online. The dresses sold very well there, too.

"They sold out so fast that we could not make them fast enough. We decided it is time to figure out how to go into a factory," she said.

So they turned to a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign. They met their goal of $35,000 within days and raised more than $215,000 total in pledges.

“Our biggest challenge is going to be how we expand as rapidly as people seem to want us to," said St. Clair.

The founders hope Princess Awesome will expand into products for girls of all ages and all interests.

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