Women Who Inspire: Megan Goodman


by Jaya Iyer May 26, 2016

Megan Goodman currently spends her time "crating" awesome things as the Creative Guru at GIRLS CAN! CRATE. Prior to this, she spent 10 years in the nonprofit sector. She joined Teach For America as a middle school teacher and later as a Program Director, completed a Master's Degree in Pedagogy and Urban Leadership at the University of Colorado at Denver, and worked to combat domestic minor sex trafficking as the Program Director of a local Tucson nonprofit. She currently lives in Tucson, Arizona with her husband, two children, and pug.
 
Our Interview with Megan Goodman:
 
Svaha: You're doing something pretty unique! Tell us a little bit about your company.
 
Megan: Our company, GIRLS CAN! CRATE (www.girlscancrate.com), is an all-female start-up that launched last September. Our mission is to inspire girls to BE and DO anything by introducing them to diverse, fearless women who made the world better. GIRLS CAN! CRATE is a subscription box company, so each month we "crate" and send out a box celebrating the life and accomplishments of a particular woman and a character trait that she embodied. Each crate includes a 20-page activity book with her unique story, games, and experiments, all the materials for 2-3 hands-on STEAM activities related to her and what she accomplished, and a creative play prop! We know that many girls face significant obstacles in reaching their full potential and we so partner with nonprofits working to empower girls and provide them with necessary resources. 10% of all our proceeds go towards these nonprofit partners. As kids learn about these diverse, inspiring women, it is our hope that they'll come to love themselves more, discover their own passions and strengths, and learn to better appreciate other people and their differences.
 
GIRLS CAN! CRATE - Painter CrateGIRLS CAN! CRATE - Painter Crate
Svaha: What was your inspiration for launching GIRLS CAN! CRATE?
 
Megan: One day my daughter said to me, "Mom, let's play princess and prince. I'll be the princess and you be the prince who rescues me." No, no, no! I replied, "How about we play prince and princess and you get yourself into a pickle and have to think your way out of it." She didn't love that idea. Most toys and products for young girls are about princesses or their appearance. Toys are more gendered now than they were 20 years ago. I spent the last decade in the nonprofit sector, and saw how important role models and representation are for girls. I began to wonder what it would look like if we could create an experience for girls that introduced them to all the incredible, fearless women who had gone before them and had made the world better, despite significant obstacles. Did you ever learn about female scientists, politicians, mathematicians, artists, and more when you were little? How about learning about women of color who broke barriers? I sure didn't learn about many. We formed GIRLS CAN! CRATE to counter this -- to help girls recognize how awesome they are, to teach them that they can rescue themselves, and show what potential they have to make the world better. The idea of a monthly subscription box seemed to combine everything we're passionate about: empowering girls to be future leaders and change makers, celebrating women, STEAM, creating, making, and teaching.
 
Svaha: Who are the people behind it?
 
Megan: There are four of us founders - Alison, Kristen, Monika, and myself, Megan. Alison handles most of our business and operations, Kristen does all of our writing, Monika tackles social media and marketing, and I do all of our graphic design. All four of us collaborate to design, test, and produce our crates! We all come in with very different, and useful, professional experience, primarily in education, leadership, and healthcare, but none of us had much business experience. We are on a steep learning curve. What we lack in know-how, we make up with passion to put out a great product and experience that truly inspires girls. We're committed to constantly learning and improving! We've had to be scrappy and we all wear a lot of hats, but it's such a pleasure working with such an awesome group of women.
 
The GIRLS CAN! CRATE Team!The GIRLS CAN! CRATE Team!
Svaha: How do you pick your themes?
 
Megan: Oh my goodness, picking the women we feature in our crates is so much fun, and very challenging because there are SO MANY incredible women to choose from. We've had people ask us how we'll keep GIRLS CAN! CRATE up, as though we'll run out of women, but the opposite is true. Our greatest challenge is narrowing down who we should focus on. One of our goals is that any little girl would be able to pick up one of our crates and see someone who looked like her and/or is passionate about things she's passionate about. So, we are very intentional in featuring diverse women in our crates. We feel so urgent in sharing about the many accomplishments of women of color, because women of color are so often underrepresented in history books. As a STEAM-based company, we look for women who accomplished significant things in the arts, science, technology, and more, as well as women who helped make the world better for other people! We want to encourage girls to grow more fearless and more themselves, and so we look for women who were true to themselves and their own passions and talents. So far, we've had crates featuring The Fearless Flier Bessie Coleman, The Persevering Painters Frida Kahlo, Lois Mailou Jones, and Mary Cassatt, The Pioneering Nurse Florence Nightingale, The Ambitious Astronomer Nancy Roman, The Powerful Poet Maya Angelou, The Creative Chef Julia Child, The Advocating Engineer Temple Grandin, The Undaunted Educator Malala Yousafzai, and in the coming months will be celebrating Mary G. Ross, Patsy Mink, Wangari Maathai, and many more incredible women!
 
Svaha: Why do you think your product is important?
 
Megan: Growing up, most girls don't learn enough about the incredible women who helped make the world what it is today. Women of color especially seem to be underrepresented in textbooks, history classes, and more. Girls and women are significantly underrepresented in all major leadership and decision-making positions. All too often, girls are taught to doubt their abilities, taught that certain things aren't for them, and that their value is in their appearance. By middle school, girls' self-esteem plummets. But role models matter - it's hard to read about Bessie Coleman and how AWESOME she was and not get inspired too, to not grow more fearless yourself. We believe that girls are amazing and have unlimited potential to be leaders and agents of change, but they deserve products that reflect that and role models who show them what is possible. We see our crates as a tool to help girls become more fearlessly themselves.
 
Svaha: What kind of response do you get from your customers?
 
Megan: People are excited about our crates and the experience they provide for their children. One of our favorite emails came from a mom after her girls got the Bessie Coleman crate. Her girls loved it, because they said Bessie looked like them! They had never learned about such a brave, inspiring lady who looked like they did. They even went on to have a Bessie Coleman birthday party months later and were still so inspired by the message Bessie taught them - that they can do anything. We've had other parents share that what they love most is the conversations and questions that come from the crates. Another mama shared that the Maya Angelou crate had led to a long, meaningful conversation about racism and privilege with her daughter. This type of feedback is so meaningful for us and gets us thinking about how we can keep improving.

 

GIRLS CAN! CRATE - Florence Crate
Svaha: Where do you see GIRLS CAN! CRATE going from here?
 
Megan: We want to continue to make GIRLS CAN! CRATE into a better and better experience and get our crates into the hands of as many kids as possible! We want our crates to be something that girls remember when they're 35. They may not remember the specific activities, but we want them to remember what they learned from women like Patsy Mink or Wangari Maathai, and we hope they are fearless in being themselves too! We want to grow our business, so that we can further our mission by creating an internship program for at-risk girls and by partnering with local nonprofit agencies serving women who have experienced domestic violence or domestic trafficking and provide jobs, opportunities, and training. We also have plans for turning GIRLS CAN! CRATE into curriculum, sharing our crates with partner nonprofits, and creating a second subscription box for older kids focused on social justice.
 
Svaha: Do you plan to add products for boys too?
 
Megan: I think GIRLS CAN! CRATE is for boys too. I want our sons to learn all about the fearless women we celebrate in our boxes too. I want them to learn what women are capable of and for them to become men passionate about gender equity. In fact, about 20% of our subscribers are boys. That being said, we do plan on launching a second social justice box for older girls and boys.
 
Svaha: What was your impression about Svaha clothing?
 
Megan: We loved connecting with Svaha clothing! We love their mission to break gender stereotypes through clothing and I totally connected with Jaya's story about wanting more and better clothing options for her daughter. One of my daughter's favorite outfits is a pink tutu, blue solar system tights, an Italia soccer jacket, and any zany accessories she can find. As a mom, I want to encourage my kids to be wildly, fearlessly themselves, and the clothing they wear is one important way they can begin to express themselves at a young age. I also think Svaha's shirts, dresses, and more, can lead to great conversations between parents and kiddos. As a mom, I'd love to have a conversation with my daughter about WHY companies like Svaha exist and then teach her to pay attention to the messages she's being sent by other clothing companies. Companies like Svaha can empower kids to be critical consumers at a young age.



Jaya Iyer
Jaya Iyer

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