Pigtail Pals, created by Woman 2 Watch Melissa Wardy, is a premium t-shirt company for young girls that offers distinctive designs on stylish, premium tees. Pigtail Pals goal is to create clothing that depicts girls in ambitious and adventurous roles. Pigtail Pals encourage girls to Redefine Girly by inspiring girls to be smart, daring, and adventurous. Read below to find out more about this stay-at-home mom who wants better options for her pre-school daughter when it comes to clothes.
FG: What made you want to start Pigtail Pals?
MW: I created Pigtail Pals because it is my belief girls should grow up with and be exposed to empowering messages from the time they are tiny. My line of apparel is in response to what I felt was lacking from the girls marketplace. It is nearly impossible to find girl clothing that depicts girls doing the smart, daring, and adventurous things. Yet for boys, this is the default. My daughter is named after Amelia Earhart, and I couldn’t find anything with a cute plane on it unless I went into the boy’s department. All I could find on the girls’ side was pink and slogans about being sweet, pretty, and someone’s princess. Something seemed off, so I started paying more attention to messaging kids receive from toys, media, and apparel. It didn’t take me long at all to see that girls were being shortchanged and things needed to become more balanced. The A Ha! moment came during a playgroup when my daughter was about nine months old. One of the moms asked why I never have her dressed in Disney Princess gear. I replied that I didn’t think I’d encourage a love of princesses with her, that I didn’t want to teach her to wish upon a star for a prince. I’d rather she get into a rocket ship and find that star on her own. Then I complained I couldn’t find anything like that on a shirt for girls. A Ha! I jumped up and shouted that I had to go, raced home, filled a notebook full of ideas and sketches, and the rest is history.
FG: Part of Pigtail Pals mission is to redefine “girly” what does that mean exactly and how do you feel Pigtail Pals is helping to change that image?
MW: “Redefine Girly” means we need to change the way we think about our girls. Girls are smart, daring, and adventurous. So much of what is being sold to girls is stereotyped, limiting, hyper-girly and sexualized. I refuse to raise my daughter with these messages. I think our girls deserve better, and I want to encourage them to define for themselves who they will be in this world.
Pigtail Pals follows the belief “You can’t be what you can’t see.” All of our designs show girls doing things that typically fall outside of the socialized gender norms they are sold in childhood. For the little girls, they see themselves, in bold color, as pilots, race car drivers, astronauts, fire fighters, etc. For the bigger girls, they love the play on words that gives a new definition to an old stereotype. “Act like a lady…” is under our design of a female movie director. “Drive like a girl…” under our race car champ. The other half of Pigtail Pals is using my blog and social media pages to teach parents about media literacy, sexualization, commodification, and age compression. I inspire creative play and also take companies and retailers to task who are merchandising harmful products to our kids.
FG: What are some of the common misconceptions you think young women have about being women?
MW: Many young women today think that womanhood is a competition or game where sexuality is something you put on display in order to beat out other women and win approval and validation from outside sources. This concept doesn’t make someone a woman. There is a very narrow, manufactured ideal of what women in this country should look like, and it excludes a large majority of gorgeous women who fall outside of it. Being a woman means having agency. Sexiness isn’t a look, it is a feeling. I hope as more young women come into their own they realize that being a sexy, desirable woman means being confident and self-loving from the inside. Being a woman means recognizing your own worth, beauty, and talents, and sharing it with the world. As a woman, it is one thing to hear, “Oh, you look gorgeous.” It is entirely different to be able to say, “I feel gorgeous.”
FG: What is the most challenging part of your job?
MW: I’m am a work-at-home mom with two small kids, so the most challenging part of my job is striking balance between the demands of caring for my little kids and home and trying to single-handedly run a successful small business. I am determined to do both jobs quite well, it just seems I never have enough time for either.
FG: What can mothers do to help change the way women are perceived in society?
MW: Mothers can be better women. They can be confident, well informed, outspoken, engaged, and caring. They can knock off the Fat Talk and gossip and demonstrate sisterhood towards each other. As women we need to be authentic to be the best versions of ourselves. Mothers can make decisions that demonstrate respect towards themselves, thereby creating a legacy for their daughters.
FG: How many of your business decisions are based on know how vs. your intuition?
MW: It depends on the decision. Product development and advertising are know how, it comes down to dollars and cents. Collaborations and risks are intuition, but I know what is right for my business because so much of it comes from my heart.
FG: What do you consider to be some of the major highlights of your career thus far?
MW: Definitely meeting experts and thought leaders in my field, and having them all know me and my work within the first two years of business. That’s the power of social media, forged stronger with face to face meetings and constant support of each other’s work. To have some of my idols tell me I wrote a great blog post or am doing a great job teaching parents about sexualization in new ways…well that just sends me right over the moon.
By far, the greatest reward I get is when I receive emails from parents that say “You have opened my eyes and I have changed the way I parent.” That blows me away and makes every late night working and every sacrifice worth it.
FG: What is a spiritual mantra or philosophy that you live by?
MW: Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a singing bird will come. –Chinese proverb
FG: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
MW: The biggest messes usually have the simplest solutions.
FG: What would you tell your younger-self if you knew then what you know now?
MW: Every decision you are making is right and is leading you to a place of contentment and joy. And wear less patterns.
Finish this sentence….
FG: Women should stop complaining about______ and start doing _____________
MW: dieting and start doing things that honor and strengthen the gift of the healthy body they live in.
FG: If your life came with a soundtrack, what would be the top three songs?
MW: “Closer To Free” by BoDeans, “Crazy Love” by Van Morrison, and anything by the Indigo Girls.
FG: What project(s) do you have coming up?
MW: I just launched color tees for our original designs, in February I’m launching a second line of designs for girls that include bugs and dinos and pirates. The company is going to market in February 2011, and I hope to expand the baby line and toy options. I’m also writing a book for parents of young girls on how to work media literacy and empowerment into their parenting. 2011 is going to be a BIG year for Pigtail Pals!
For more information on Melissa Wardy and Pigtail Pals please visit the website: www.pigtailpals.com and blog: http://blog.pigtailpals.com. You can also join in on our conversations with their parent community on Facebook (Pigtail Pals – Redefine Girly) and Twitter (@PigtailPals).