We started Svaha in 2015 after our founder couldn’t find an astronaut t-shirt for her aspiring astronaut daughter in the Girl’s section. She saw a major issue with the apparel industry and the message this was sending to her daughter. As an apparel professional, she also recognized a neglected market, since she knew that plenty of little girls out there loved Space, as well as Dinosaurs, Computers, and other STEM- topics. I had boys who loved pink and purple, as well as butterflies and cats - there was nothing out there for them, either. We teamed up to create our Children’s line, then later our STEAM-themed Women’s line.
From the beginning, our goal has been to change the world. We saw something that we didn’t like and we wanted to do our part to make a difference. Despite the daunting task, we knew we had an important message that needed to be heard. We wanted to shatter gender stereotypes in apparel. We wanted to teach kids that it is okay to like anything they want to like. We wanted to unapologetically celebrate femininity and encourage women in STEAM. We wanted to create products to empower people to embrace their passions. We were flooded with positive feedback about our mission… but as with so many bold, new concepts, the negativity crept in as well.
The most common negative comment we got is “Why Bother”? People would take the time to write to us to let us know we should just buy clothes for Girls in the Boys section, and vice versa, and to spend our time trying to solve REAL problems instead. We have others say that clothes don’t do anything to inspire kids, that only books do, and that our mission is pointless. We’ve had some write us to say women don’t need geeky dresses with pockets, they need to be paid more and have mentors; can we fix that instead? Why focus on clothes when there are real problems in the world?
We know the effect our clothes have because we spend hours of our days responding to hundreds of positive, uplifting messages from customers thanking us for what we are doing.
We bother because of the little girl whose mom wrote to us to let us know when her daughter wears her science lab dress, instead of people asking her about her favorite princesses, they ask her about what her favorite subjects are in school or what science experiments she likes.
We bother because of the boy who loves purple, and for the first time, he saw boys wearing purple shirts on our website and now proudly rocks an awesome purple Svaha shirt every chance he gets.
We bother because of the Teacher of the Year who proudly wore our dress while accepting her award, and reached out to us to let us know how much our clothing line meant to her.
We bother because of the engineer who let us know she is 1 of 3 females on a team of 200, and our clothes help get her ready to take on her day and remind her that Engineering is feminine too.
We bother because with our Dress for a Cause campaign, we are able to raise money for organizations that we care about so we can do our part to stand up for science.
We bother because we know that we are making a difference to so many people out there. We put our hearts into creating a clothing line with the mission of empowering our customers.
Yes, there are lots of “real” problems out there, and I wish we could wave a magic wand and fix every injustice in the world, but that’s not possible. No, we aren’t curing Cancer or solving Global Poverty, and we unfortunately can’t force employers to pay women in STEM more and to help them find better mentors. What we can do – what all of us can do - is help make small changes in the world to make it a better place. We may not be breaking down the wall, but we are definitely chipping away at it. I truly believe that everyone out there has the ability to do likewise, and that has a huge impact on the world around us over time.
Come to think of it, we did successfully change the landscape of the apparel industry in a major way. Thanks to our efforts, and those of other small businesses in our Clothes Without Limits family, major retailers noticed the success of companies like ours and took the hint: You can now go into a major store and find Girl’s clothes with Astronauts, Superheroes, Dinosaurs, etc. Target made a decision to stop having a “Boys” and “Girls” toy aisle. Over the last 2 years, many major retailers have moved toward more gender-neutral options. Thanks to few passionate “momtrepreneurs”, the world has changed significantly for the next generation of kids. When enough people start chipping away, walls come down!
The good news is that it’s pretty easy to ignore the negative comments when we’re inundated with positive comments from our amazing group of customers and brand loyalists. We will continue to zone out the negativity and keep working our hardest to change the world in our own unique way. You all amaze us daily and we adore hearing your stories! Thank you for reaching out to us to let us know how much our clothes have made a notable impact in your own lives. There’s certainly still much more work to be done, and we’re glad to have you along for the ride!
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