by Elizabeth Brunner
Launching a new business is very much like raising my twins. It’s really scary, I never felt fully prepared for it and I have no idea what I’m doing most of the time. But it’s also exciting, exhilarating, and it has expanded my heart and my world.
Much like parenting, there are no instructions. No matter how many books, podcasts, and TED Talks you listen to, nothing really prepares you for the actual journey of being an entrepreneur. It’s a 24/7 commitment that demands your attention in almost every possible way. You’re up at all hours trying to nurture and grow your “baby,” you’re constantly thinking about it, wondering if you’re doing all the right things, and it requires a lot of planning ahead. You have to find people who will also love your baby and help you raise it. Convince them to join you on your journey, that it’s worth their time and effort. The list goes on and on.
Reflecting on the first anniversary of my business launch, I can’t help but marvel at the unexpected path of getting here. I really resisted starting another business because it wasn’t part of my “plan.” I had already closed down my first fashion line, Piece x Piece, and was planning on taking some time to focus on parenting my young boy/girl twins.
But much like my first business, where I created new designs out of recycled fabrics, I had no plan or intention of starting a business but I felt moved and compelled to solve a problem.
After watching my twins dress themselves, I could clearly see that self-expression and individuality is essential to their happiness. They dressed themselves beyond their gender and that was natural for them. They blended their clothing together, mixing and matching from each other’s closets, and the opportunity to do so made them truly joyful. Every time they dressed themselves, they found a sense of their own unique identity. This required me to let go of any assumptions of how they “should” dress and unlearn some things that no longer held my beliefs. My calling began to become louder and louder especially as the events of 2020 began to unfold.
How was I going to soften the sharp edges so that I could keep the innocent hearts of my twins tethered even when I myself felt so untethered? The fragility of humanity was palpable in many ways and I felt it deeply. As uncertain and lost as those times felt, it was also a time of clarity, when my vision of the brand was coming into focus. Creating this business became the antidote to the calamities of the outside world. I was completely entranced and felt an internal guidance that kept telling me to just keep going. It was like I had a key to a special doorway and on the other side was what felt like freedom from what is to what could be.
I also started to realize that this wasn’t a solo endeavor. My twins were literally the DNA of the brand; my co-founders and the spark that ignited the idea for StereoType.
Integrating them into the business little by little feels natural and easy, like it was truly meant to be. As they grow and understand the outside world, I want us all to be on this journey of learning, growing and stretching together. They also teach and inspire me, so it’s a win win. I want them to see that I don’t have it all figured out, that it’s okay to learn as you go. I try to tell my twins as often as I can that I’m learning and growing just like they are, and sometimes it’s not easy and can take us places we didn’t expect but we understand more about ourselves when faced with challenges.
As I began to put the pieces of my vision together and thought about the launch date, I knew it had to be 11/11/20. There was absolutely no other date that would do. I know many associate 11:11 as a magic number, a sign to make a wish, receive a message, or trust in the Universe. But the reason I choose 11/11 is because my twins were born on January 1, and if you multiply that by 2 you get 11/11. So much magic that I couldn’t let the date pass by without StereoType being officially born into existence and introduced to the world.
My collection is not so much about dressing gender-free but more about embracing the masculine and the feminine. I want people to see that as equal in value. No diminishing. No categories. No labels. Just playful, imaginative kids clothing that ignites the freedom of self-expression, inspires, and delights. One year in and I can honestly tell you that I’m challenged every single day as a parent, and as an entrepreneur. I’m learning to show up and lead in many different ways that aren’t always comfortable or easy. It’s truly a ride like no other, and like parenting I’m in it for the long haul. I know there will be ups and downs and beautiful swells of chaos mixed with the quietness of the smallest of details. I’m here for all of it.
Thank you for joining me on this journey and believing in the message and mission of StereoType. I’m just getting started and I’m so excited to share my journey with you.
Elizabeth Brunner is the Founder and CEO of StereoType, a gender-free kids' fashion brand that challenges the norms and stereotypes of traditional clothing.