Rebecca Melsky and Eva St. Clair weren’t impressed with the limited clothing options for girls, so they made their own! Princess Awesome clothing revolves around the idea that girls shouldn’t have to decide between dresses and dinosaurs or ruffles and robots.
Melissa Seymour: Hi, Rebecca and Eva! Tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do.
Eva: I’m a SAHM of four (ages 9, 6, 3, 1), and I moonlight as a web editor for a project in medieval philosophy. I’m originally from Tucson, AZ, and I have a BA from Stanford University.
Rebecca: I’m mom to two (ages 4 and 2), and I teach third grade full time in DC. I grew up outside of Chicago in Evanston, IL. I went to Brown University for undergrad and got my masters in education from Northwestern University. I’ve been teaching for 10 years.
MS: Why did you create Princess Awesome?
R: When my daughter turned two, she began insisting on wearing dresses every day. We could occasionally get her in a skirt if we called it a two-piece dress. Because she also likes rocket ships and robots and trucks and things, I would buy her pajamas from both the girls’ side of the clothing store and the boys’ side. One day I went shopping for pajamas for her, and, as I headed out of the store with my motley assortment of jammies, I thought, “I really wish they made some of those cute, twirly dresses with spaceships or robots because my daughter would totally wear that.” And then, “Maybe I should do that!”
When I asked Eva if she wanted to work together on this idea, she immediately said yes. Since that first conversation, back in April 2013, we’ve been united in our goal to provide clothing options for girls like my daughter who love twirly dresses, sparkles, and pink and who also love spaceships, dinosaurs, and pirates. And to provide options for the parents, like me, who want to honor their daughters’ feminine fashion choices and also help maintain their interest in science and pirates. We know a lot of little girls out there who fit this profile, and we want them to be able to wear all that they are in one article of clothing.
MS: What do most clothes or toys in our current market tell girls? What do your clothes communicate to them?
R: I think when girls walk through the aisles of most mainstream clothing stores, they are implicitly told that dinosaurs, trucks, cars, space, pirates, and so many other topics are “for boys” because you simply don’t find those things on the girls’ side of the aisle. There is nothing wrong with the rainbows, butterflies, and flowers that are offered to girls – we love those things, too! – but we want our clothes to help communicate to girls that dinosaurs (and trains, spaceships, robots, etc.) are just as much “for girls” as they are “for boys.” We want our clothes to communicate to girls that having feminine style preferences and enjoying hard science (or construction equipment or conceptual mathematics) are not mutually exclusive.
MS: How have people responded to your Kickstarter campaign?
E: It is so wonderful to hear the stories people have told us about how their girls dress and play – all the same things we’ve observed spending time around children – that kids have a wide range of interests and that they want to wear all of those interests all at once.
R: The response has been so overwhelmingly positive that we’ve been blown away. Parents are clearly looking for more and different options for their girls than what they can find in mainstream stores.
MS: What types of clothing do you offer? What are the prints or themes of your collection?
E: Right now we are starting with play dresses and skirted snapsuits for infants in five themes: pi, dinosaurs, pirates, atomic shells, and ninja. Our play dresses are made from 100% cotton and are soft, stretchy, easy to move in, and easy to layer with a long-sleeved shirt and leggings.
R: We are also immediately moving our line of Busy Dresses into development. Each of our Busy Dresses features a different form of transportation – trains, planes, or cars – that is attached to the dress which the wearer can drive, fly, or chug around the tracks, clouds, or road stitched onto the shirt of the dress.
MS: What are your dreams for Princess Awesome?
E: We hope first to change the way people think about girls’ clothes by offering something new and different. We hope our company is just the first of many to offer clothes that reflect everything girls are and do and can be.
R: We hope to continue to grow and expand and offer many different lines of dresses as well as other apparel that feature a range of themes from chemistry to fine art for young girls and up through teenagers. Throughout our growth, we are committed to manufacturing in the U.S. with sweatshop-free labor.
MS: Who is your hero/heroine?
E: My own mother, mother-in-law, and grandmother have most directly influenced me and given me confidence and courage. Outside my family, my heroine is Judith Martin (Miss Manners), who taught me that being polite and proper does not mean being a pushover.
R: I’d also have to say my mom. She has taught me so much about how to understand other people, how to communicate effectively and clearly, how to understand myself, and how to prioritize what really matters.
MS: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
E: We are so grateful to everyone who has supported our project! We are thrilled to be able to make awesome clothes for awesome girls, particularly here in America with sweatshop-free American labor.
R: We have also gotten to know many other companies that are expanding the clothing options for girls (and boys, too!). They were all founded by moms who had experiences similar to ours and couldn’t find clothes that fully encapsulated all that their kids were and enjoyed. Girls Will Be, Jill and Jack Kids, Jessy & Jack, Quirkie Kids, Handsome in Pink, and Princess Free Zone (as well at the current and upcoming Kickstarters Svaha and buddingSTEM) – just to name a few. These companies are doing amazing work.
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You can pre-order Princess Awesome clothing here: https://princess-awesome.backerkit.com/hosted_preorders