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Photo via Kickstarter/buddingSTEM
Photo via Kickstarter/buddingSTEM

If you’re a parent, how many times have you been bummed out when shopping for your daughter, and you’re staring down a sea of pink, ponies and sparkles?

Girls like dinosaurs, space and other science-related topics, too, but there just aren’t as many options for them when it comes to expressing their favorite interests with their clothes.

That’s where a new Kickstarter campaign comes in: The campaign aims to fund buddingSTEM, a science-minded clothing startup that will make rad clothes with astronauts, spaceships — and, yes, dinosaurs — for young girls. The idea of local women Malorie Catchpole and Jennifer Muhm, buddingSTEM will make T-shirts, leggings, dresses and onesies that feature these cool things that girls love.

Just launched, with 28 days to go, they’ve already got 70 backers with more than $6,000 raised toward their $45,000 goal.

GeekWire got a chance to talk with Muhm about the project. Continue reading for excerpts from the conversation.

Photo via Kickstarter/buddgingSTEM
Photo via Kickstarter/buddgingSTEM

Tell us more about the idea for the company.

Muhm: Malorie’s daughter is really into trains, and my daughter is into astronauts and space. We have had the conversation about children’s products, and the “princess” problem in general.

Then in 2013, when my daughter was almost 4, she wanted to be an astronaut for Halloween. We started getting these kids’ costume catalogs in the mail, and all the costumes marketed to girls were princess or cat themes. Boys got to be astronauts and firefighters, and my daughter looked at the catalog and said, “I can’t be an astronaut because that costume is for boys.”

At that very moment, my heart stopped, and I thought, if I don’t handle this in the right way, this is going to shape what she thinks she can be as a girl moving forward. And it happens so early, ages 2 to 4.

The great story we tell in the Kickstarter video is when Malorie’s daughter asked for train underwear, and it was only sold in the boys’ section, but Malorie and Dan [Catchpole, Malorie’s husband] decided to buy it anyway for Christmas. It was a week after, in the Chipotle parking lot, when we ran into them and started talking, “We really need to think about this, to make underwear for girls with dinosaurs and trains and all these things that girls really like that doesn’t exist for them.”

The more we talked about it, it was like, “Why just do underwear?” There really are no leggings or dresses, and really only a smattering of T-shirts out there for girls in traditional “boy” things.

What were the next steps?

Photo via Kickstarter/buddingSTEM creators Jennifer Muhm and Malorie Catchpole
buddingSTEM creators Jennifer Muhm and Malorie Catchpole. (photo via Kickstarter.)

Malorie is an attorney, and I work in public affairs, so neither of us have a background in fashion. Once we had the idea, we started doing a lot of research and talking with family, friends and contacts. We met with at least a couple dozen people about this time last year, and we got our business license established and started looking at manufacturers.

Last June, we went to LA to attend a kids’ clothing trade show, and that confirmed for us that there really are no products like this available. We met with manufacturers there to learn about the whole process. We’ve also done an extensive search for fabrics as well and really couldn’t even find a fabric selection. So it was like, “OK, we’re going to have to design the fabric ourselves.” Through different contacts, we found a textile designer to take our sketches into a print. Then once we had designs made, we had them screen-printed in LA.

Once you achieve your Kickstarter goal, what’s next?

When we’re fully funded, we can go into production with our first two prints with T-shirt dresses, leggings and T-shirts, and then we also will be able to start working on additional prints. At least through Facebook and personal conversations, we’ve had moms request T-shirts, pajama pants or yoga pants, so who knows? Maybe we’ll do adult products at some point.

Photo via Kickstarter/buddingSTEM
Photo via Kickstarter/buddingSTEM

How soon will the clothes be on the market?

We’re anticipating to be on sale in July. We plan to sell through our website, but we’ve also done a lot of research on where a lot of local children’s boutiques do their buying, and we’ve met with a couple people who do the wholesaling in LA. That’s a possibility for us, too, to work through LA Fashion Market or another rep to work with buyers to get them into stores.

Do you have other expansion ideas? 

Not to give away our great ideas, but I think there’s such a need for products like this for girls — that these aren’t just boys’ things — these are for all kids. All kids love dinosaurs. All kids love trains. All kids love space. It feels unlimited at this point where we could go with it.

Backpacks, bedding, when you go into a store, or catalog, or go online, there are very gender-specific items. Girls get ponies and ballet slippers, boys get the dinosaurs, trucks and trains. Seeing it as a parent, with my own child saying, “I can’t do this.” We can say, “Not only are there a lot of great female astronauts through this project, but hey, if you don’t like the way something is, or think it needs to change, you can do that yourself. You can be a leader and you can help create that change.”

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