No STEM Clothing Lines For Girls? No Problem. These Moms Just Created ‘Budding Stem’

budding-stem

If you’re a fan of ABC’s ‘Shark Tank’, you will often hear the entrepreneur sharks say that being a successful business person doesn’t start with a great idea, it more often starts when an innovative person sees a problem and decides to fix it.

That’s definitely true in the case of these two “mompreneurs” from Washington state who wanted to ensure their daughters, and many others in America, didn’t have to grow up with a limited view of what girls can do.

Jennifer Muhm and Malorie Catchpole are the co-creators and co-founders of Budding Stem, a clothing line that encourages, inspires and caters to young girls who happen to be interested in science, tech, engineering and math.

Neither women have a background in fashion or business, but they are darn good moms for wanting to change the gender perceptions that seem to limit girls in the world.

Jennifer was going through a Halloween costume catalog with her daughter who wanted to be an astronaut. No surprise, there were no female astronaut costumes available.

“She looked at me and said, ‘I can’t be an astronaut. They’re only for boys’,” said Jennifer to ABC News.

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Malorie also has a daughter who is into trains and when her and her husband were looking for underpants with trains on them to buy their daughter, they only found options in the boys’ section. She shared her frustration with her friend Jennifer and the idea was born.

“It was that moment that it kind of clicked. I said, ‘You know what, Malorie? We should make underpants with trains on them … and then we thought why just underpants: there are no dinosaurs or rocket ships on leggings or dresses for girls.”

They got to work, did research on the market, and knew they had a unique idea. Not letting their lawyer and public relations careers deter them, they designed their own patterns, bought material and created prototypes of clothing featuring dinosaurs, rockets, and trains on them for girls.

Their “stemwear” comes in pink and blue, and they plan to expand in other colors in the future. Both the moms want people to know they aren’t against the princess culture or the color pink which is so stereotypically pushed on girls from a young age in consumerism, they are simply trying to provide an alternative to cater to all types of interests.

“We’re not anti-princess. We’re not anti-pink. We’re not anti-girly. We just think there needs to be more than just that offered for our girls,” said Jennifer.

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The idea was formed in April 2014, but just recently the moms launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the production of the range, and exceeded their asking amount of $45,000 before the end of the campaign! What does that tell us? There is clearly a demand for this idea and these two women have jumped on this opportunity to dominate an area.

“We tell our girls they can do anything. Be anything. So why is it so hard to find clothes for young girls who want to explore the universe or dig for dinosaurs? BuddingSTEM is ready to change that — with a complete line of girls’ clothing celebrating space, dinosaurs, and other things all kids love. We decided if we couldn’t find what our girls wanted, we’d just have to make it ourselves!,” says the campaign description.

“Kids literally express themselves through their clothes, and at this really young age, it’s a really critical point in their development in terms of figuring out what it is that they can and can’t do, and figuring out gender roles,” they told People magazine. “When we package space and dinosaurs as being something that’s for boys, a 2, 3 or 4-year-old girl sees, ‘Oh, space is for boys. Space is not for me. Dinosaurs are for boys. Dinosaurs are not for me.’ ”

“They might have an interest in it, but they’re establishing their gender identity at this point, and a lot of them aren’t willing to cross that boundary. We wanted to make something that was for girls where they could still be feminine and still be girly, but reclaim these topics because they’re not gender-specific. There’s nothing masculine about a dinosaur.”

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But they aren’t just in it for the fame and fortune, at the heart of their idea is the desire to be great role models for their daughters and other girls.

“One of the things that I’m happiest about … is what I think we’ve shown our daughters. We’re two working moms. We don’t have a background in fashion, and we saw a need and we worked hard,” said Malorie.

“If there is something that is not fair — because my daughter will say that it is not fair — you can actually start working toward doing something about it,” said Jennifer.

The women will have production out of Seattle and Los Angeles and will no doubt be a very popular product on the children’s market. Their story reminds us of little Sophia Trow from the UK who complained to shoe company Clarks when she couldn’t find any girls shoes in their dinosaur range.

Her letter to the company went viral, and while Clarks promised to address her concern in order to cater to a wide range of buyers, Sophia’s story ignited worldwide support from the female paleontology community who wanted to show her that there are women just like her who like dinosaurs and they applaud her courage in speaking up.

With moms like Jennifer Muhm and Malorie Catchpole in the world, the future female STEM population are going to have a support system from a young age because their daughters, and many others, will be the generation to change the ratio in these industries that are still male dominated.

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