By Nicole Villalpando
There’s no pink or purple or glitter or hearts or flowers in the Girls Will Be clothing brand, and owner Sharon Choksi has made sure of it. The Austin, Texas, mom was inspired by her 8-year-old daughter Maya, who at 3 decided that the pink and purple aisle, otherwise known as the girls’ clothing department, no longer suited her.
It was hard for Choksi to find girls’ clothing that wasn’t pink or purple, that embraced Maya’s interests while not making it too “girly.” She would find a girl’s shirt with a soccer ball, but it would be made out of flowers. Ick.
Maya would ask questions like: Why do boys get all the cool stuff? Choksi and her sister Laura Burns, who lives in St. Louis and is a graphic designer, and brother David Burns, who lives in Chicago and has an architecture degree, decided to start Girls Will Be. Choksi has a master’s in business from the University of Chicago and worked at Dell Inc. in marketing before she decided to stay at home with her children in 2006.
The three siblings did market research by going to a lot of children’s clothing stores and big department stores to see if they could find clothing for non-”girly” girls. They couldn’t. Choksi says that either meant this was a great idea that needed to be done or it was an idea that wouldn’t work. They decided to take the leap.
“Everyone I talk to would say, ‘Oh, so and so would love that,’” Choksi says. “Everyone knew somebody that would be perfect for the clothes.” The line launched in July and is in Austin stores 1379 and Bright Beginnings, as well as online at www.girlswillbehq.com. The line launched with T-shirts, which sell for $24.
The name Girls Will Be comes from the idea that girls can be anything: Girls Will Be Astronauts, Girls Will Be Neurologists, Girls Will Be Engineers, etc. It plays against stereotypes and focuses on girl empowerment.
The shirts aren’t what you would typically find in the pink and purple aisle. If you thought that you’d never find girls’ shirts with robots or sharks or dinosaurs on them, Girls Will Be has ’em. And if you thought girls don’t like bugs, see Girls Will Be’s “Don’t Bug Me” shirt with three caterpillars crawling across it.
Girls Will Be shirts don’t have to be for girls only. Choksi’s son, 5-year-old Jaiden, has four Girls Will Be shirts that he wears; the cut, however, is made for a girl’s body.
Choksi wanted to make sure they would fit real girls. She did a lot of research and found dimensions that would be more realistic than classic girls-cut T-shirts. A classic girls-cut shirt has capped sleeves that ride up the arm and a narrow waist. Girls Will Be shirts, which come in sizes 4-10, are larger than classic girls’ shirts and have longer sleeves but are not as large as a boy’s shirt. They are designed, Choksi says, to have the size fit the average girl of that age. So, a size 8 should fit most 8-year-olds. However, if your daughter is like Maya, who is in the 98th percentile in height, then go a size up. Girls Will Be has a size chart on the website and Choksi suggests measuring a girl’s current T-shirt and using the size chart to get the right fit.
While the shirts themselves are made in Los Angeles using Choksi’s perfect-for-real-girls dimensions, the designs are screen-printed in Austin by local company Kong.
“There’s a huge empowerment part in play,” Choksi says. “They are an OK size. It’s OK to like robots.”
And now Maya, and other girls just like her, have shirts that can proudly show off what they are interested in and who they are.