The PFZ Story
KIDS SHOULD NOT HAVE TO BE BRAVE TO WEAR CLOTHES THEY LIKE!
My story begins with my daughter who is now ten years old. At age three, she began to make her own choices about the clothing she wanted to wear. She did not like pink and she did not like sparkles. She liked bright and bold colors. She liked things not found in typical girls' departments.
Back in 2010, when she was five, she wanted to wear a tuxedo to her violin recital. She always loved ties - especially bow ties. From a very young age she wanted a tuxedo. She would say, "Mom, I want a tornado!" [sic] We searched and searched and couldn't find one for girls...so we bought her a boy's tux. She wore it proudly with her black and white Jordan high-top sneaks and her (then) long hair pulled back in a ponytail. Since then, she has opted to wear suits for many occasions.
"SUIT HER" - SUITS FOR GIRLS
Suits are completely missing in the mainstream girl apparel market. I know because I've looked and done the research. I've spoken with others who have looked as well and who also ended up having to buy a suit for a girl that is fitted for a boy. While a lot of girls love dresses (both for fancy and not-so-fancy occasions), an alternative is sorely needed. Lots of little girls like suits, tuxes and ties. Many parents have sent me pictures of their girls dressed in suits, but they are boys' suits. Women wear suits and it is not only acceptable, but stylish. Why can't little girls? They should not have to wear a suit that is too broad in the shoulders, short in the arms and baggy in the pants. In short, they shouldn't have to wear a suit that isn't tailored for their bodies. Enter SUIT HER!
SUIT HER will offer hip, unique, ready-to-wear suits for girls aged five to twelve that are full of fun detail and made to fit a girl's body. The designs for the initial SUIT HER collection for girls will go into production once the funds are raised and the campaign closes. They will be high-quality suits with hand-picked fabrics and lots of attention to detail and fit. Finally! Girls will be able to choose a suit made just for them!
Our initial collection will offer three different looks: The General She (casual), The Classic She (semi-formal), and The She-She (formal). Each jacket can be paired with a bottom of choice (pants, shorts, or skirt). This provides several styles to accommodate a girl's personal taste in a variety of circumstances, from casual to dressy. In addition, we will offer a white, Oxford-style, button-down long-sleeved shirt along and will be featuring several super cool tie options from Cyberoptix Tie Lab. Below are the specific designs for each suit in the collection:
The She-She is exactly as it sounds...a high-end look for any formal occasion. Wear it with a skirt, pants, or shorts depending on the event. The bright red buttons and satin details will blow everyone away!
The Classic She is that classic suit look, but with unique details like burlap elbow patches and dark purple satin trim around the pockets. This look is strikingly fashion-forward with our crisp, white button-down shirt and tie of choice. (Tie pictured is a dinosaur silkscreen pattern by Cyberoptix Tie Lab.)
The General She is a fun take on the military look, featuring army green cotton twill fabric, gold metallic buttons, and a star on the back of the jacket. Also included are several detachable epaulets for added color and flair.
Our ties are colorful and fun! We have teamed up with Cyberoptix Tie Lab to offer these unique silkscreen designs.
Our Team: Fashion Designer & Manufacturer
I have hired fashion designer Karen Patwa, who KNOWS suits because she's been custom creating them for women for years. You can see some of her work on her website Dangerous Mathematicians. Her background in physics is not only cool, but also mission-aligned with the PFZ brand and SUIT HER's stereotype-busting approach to girls' apparel.
For manufacturing needs, I'll be working with the woman-owned manufacturing company Julie Hutton, Inc., based in New York City. Julie has been in the business for twenty years and her "Personal Label" division specifically helps the budding designer navigate the process of clothing design from beginning to end, ensuring a successful result. Her company uses six different factories right in Manhattan. To that end, I am happy to say that all of our products will be made in the USA.
Where will the funds go?
With your help, the money raised will go toward full designs, fabrics/materials, patterns, sewing and prototypes of the three different suit options. We will use a standard model to fit the prototype and ensure proper sizing.
The majority of the funds will go toward actually producing the suits in terms of manufacturing our initial run, as well as an e-commerce website that will also include PFZ's current merchandise. In addition, we will use some of the funds for marketing and advertising, including a promotional video.
Once the campaign has ended, it will take approximately six months to get from sketches/designs to final product, manufacturing and shipping. There are many steps in between to finalize details and make sure the suits will be everything we want them to be. I will maintain communication as to the timeline and what is happening at every step along the way. The long-sleeved, button-down shirt and ties will retail separately. Our focus is on a high-quality product with attention to detail. We will offer pre-ordering as soon as we have samples and sizing in hand.
As you can imagine, this is a considerable endeavor. I am a small shop with a mighty goal to create more unique clothing options for kids. As a result, I will only be able to manufacture in small batches (initially). I am adamant about maintaining production here in the United States and believe it's an important part of our mission.
In 2008, I found myself unemployed due to layoffs during the recession. I decided to pursue my passion for providing non-stereotyped clothing and toy options for girls like my daughter, so I sold my wedding ring to get started and created the Princess Free Zone brand, blog and website. I knew that my daughter could not be the only girl who preferred non-princess, non-pink, non-glittery clothing, but rather race cars, building toys, and super heroes. And come to find out - I was right.
My goal has always been to create a clothing line for girls that offers ALL girls more choice in how they express themselves. After all, if they're not seeing alternatives to princess and pink, they can't choose something different; and many do not even consider going to boys' aisles or departments. And why should they have to?
Princess Free Zone has been producing fun, hip t-shirts for girls since 2010, including designs like a dinosaur riding a scooter, an octopus with a mustache, and a crab made of tools. In addition, we've introduced a line of gender-equal tees featuring the phrase "SHOW YOUR COOL" for both girls and boys.
I also wrote and published a children's book called "Super TooLula: The Kind Warrior" which features a young phenom named Lula who has her own tool belt and helps her dad with carpentry projects. She uses her super hero gifts and magical tools to protect and come to the aid of kids who are mistreated or bullied.
Through my website, blog, and social media, I have learned that there are countless girls who aren't being recognized or respected in the mostly pink-and-princess departments. Behind them are supportive parents and relatives looking for more choices, who don't want their girls limited by what big companies decide is for girls. I've worked hard for six years not only to provide alternatives for kids, but to build community and engage in a conversation around gender identity and stereotypes so that I could be a part of the change I wanted for my daughter and, ultimately, all girls.
Recently PFZ was featured on The Huffington Post as one of "12 Brilliant Kids' Clothing Lines That Say No To Gender Stereotypes." I've also been a guest on CNN's HLN speaking to princess culture and how girls particularly are bombarded with messages that deplete their self-esteem, body image and confidence. I was an invited speaker at Emory's Health and Humanitarian Summit where I discussed the insidious and harmful nature of gender stereotypes and gendered marketing, particularly on children.
What is the long term goal?
We are starting with SUIT HER as the initial offering toward more suit designs (like a fabulous red suit and even a patterned suit) and eventually a full clothing line. Once the SUIT HER line is off the ground and running, PFZ will be introducing more new and exciting apparel that defies stereotypes and offers girls more than princess, pink and sparkle. Our intention is to fill in the massive cavity created by big corporations with fun and unique options so that kids can fully express their individuality and uniqueness. While our current t-shirt designs can be worn by both girls and boys, eventually we would like to add more apparel that would appeal to boys as well. It is important to keep chipping away at the stereotypes that limit all children.
I wholeheartedly believe that SUIT HER is a game changer. It's going to be an exciting journey and I hope you'll join me.
Risks and challenges
There are always going to be risks involved when taking on a venture of this magnitude and one that has many moving parts. While PFZ has been around for a while and has already created some product, we haven't taken on anything of this scope in terms of full apparel options and mass production. Since we are not able to purchase and warehouse large inventories (at least at the beginning), our greatest challenge will be making certain that the manufacturers we work with are consistent and ship on a timely basis. I believe that I have a solid team in place that can ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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