Photo courtesy Princess Awesome
When Rebecca Melsky’s daughter was 2, she insisted on wearing a dress every day. “Only dresses, and only frilly ones,” Melsky tells Yahoo Parenting. Come bedtime, though, she often wore pajamas from the boys’ section, adorned with trucks, spaceships, or dinosaurs. “She loved them. And I thought, ‘I wish she had a dress with spaceships,’ or, really, any of the patterns we could get on her ‘boy’ jammies.”
So Melsky, a third-grade teacher, teamed up with Eva St. Clair, a friend with web-management background, and the two started Princess Awesome, a line of girls clothing with traditionally feminine colors and silhouettes that reject “girly” prints. Think A-line skirts with trains, or aqua dresses with pink dinosaurs. “We believe — and we know — that lots and lots of girls like things that are traditionally girly, and also things that aren’t girly, so we want to give them all of that,” Melsky says. “As a parent, I want to honor my daughter’s love of feminine fashion choices and also foster her interest in math or science or construction all in one outfit.”
Melsky and St. Clair — who have six kids between them — first launched Princess Awesome in April 2013 but quickly sold out of inventory and had to put business on hold. So on February 3, the moms launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds to start factory production on their “play dress” — a tank top with a twirly skirt — in four custom-designed patterns: pi, dinosaurs, pirates, and atomic shells. “We feel strongly that girls should not have to decide between wearing girly things and wearing math-y or pirate-y or dinosaur-y things,” they say on their campaign video.
Photos courtesy Princess Awesome
The crowd-funding campaign reached its goal of $35,000 in three and a half days, Melsky says. As of this article’s writing, Princess Awesome has raised more than $75,000, making it Kickstarter’s highest-funded children’s clothing project. Now that Melsky and St. Clair have surpassed their goal, they’ll use the extra money to start production on their “busy dress” style.
Support from parents all over the world is pouring in to the Kickstarter page, and not just in the form of cash. “As a scientist and a mom, I couldn’t be more excited about this movement!” wrote one commenter. Says another: “I’ve been shopping in the Boys’ section for my 6 year old daughter for years, and sewing robot patches on shirts with my incredibly bad sewing skills. She won’t wear dresses because they don’t have anything she likes: spaceships or snakes or ninjas.”
Melsky wants her daughter, and girls everywhere, to be empowered by the dresses, she says. “She can wear a princess dress and also do math,” she explains.
After all, as the Princess Awesome tagline makes clear: “Girls decide what it means to be girly.”