StereoType: Clothing Free of Gender-Based Labels
Founder Elizabeth Brunner was interviewed by FEMCITY® to talk about her inspiration for starting StereoType with the goal to challenge and change stereotypes that no longer serve us, as parents and as individuals.
I founded StereoType, a gender-free kid’s clothing brand inspired by my boy-girl twins, to challenge and change stereotypes that no longer serve us, as parents and as individuals. The StereoType is not just about designing and selling clothing, my mission is to inspire people to move beyond a barrier that doesn't really exist and to be themselves. That’s what my kids taught and continue to teach me about fashion and dressing beyond gender norms and I want to pass the lesson and that freedom along to others. I’m excited to share this evolving idea and inspire other parents to empower their kids to express themselves truly and authentically through their clothing, and not be afraid of it. Kids deserve to have fun, get creative, play and show up authentically as they are through their clothing choices.
WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION TO START THIS BUSINESS?
StereoType was inspired by my boy-girl twins and their love for sharing their clothes. Watching them dress themselves when they were really young, I was in awe of the way they joyfully broke all the ‘rules’ of gendered clothing, blending their wardrobes together with a sense of style that could only be described as ‘free-for-all.’
My daughter has always felt most comfortable digging around in the dirt in her dinosaur shorts, while my son gets pure joy from twirling around in skirts and dresses. As I watched my kids create their own ‘blended style’ mixing and matching items from each other’s closets, I myself started to unlearn all of the rules of gendered fashion that I collected throughout my life.
I created StereoType as a way for me to share the joy that my kids have experienced in creating their ‘blended fashion’ with their wardrobes and to advocate for self-expression of all humans, especially the small ones. By breaking fashion rules and disregarding the boundaries we put around what boys and girls should wear, we encourage a more playful, creative, expressive sense of self for everyone.
WHEN YOU STARTED YOUR BUSINESS, DID YOU EVER ENVISION THAT YOU WOULD BE WHERE YOU ARE NOW?
No, I didn’t. I had to talk myself into starting my business in the first place because I was envisioning a totally different life for myself and I knew this brand would take me somewhere completely different. StereoType is my calling and after grappling with it for a while I decided that I could no longer ignore the call. I’m so glad I did because I'm creating my vision which is fun and exciting! It doesn’t mean it’s all easy, but I’m moving beyond what I thought I was capable of and pushing myself beyond those edges. Starting a business from scratch is not for the faint of heart but it’s worth every single ounce of effort for me.
WAS THERE EVER A TIME THAT THINGS DIDN'T FALL INTO PLACE, STRUGGLES, OR CHALLENGES? WHAT WERE THEY AND HOW DID YOU GET PASSED IT AND GROW FROM THE EXPERIENCE?
All the time! In a new business especially there are always struggles and challenges because you’re learning on the job. The biggest challenge I have is not reacting negatively and getting frustrated when something doesn’t go the way I thought it would and giving myself grace to understand that it’s all a part of the learning process. I can put a lot of pressure on myself to get it all “right” but what I’m understanding is that there is no right or wrong and it’s all about the journey and the lessons that come along the way. When things don’t go “as planned” I know it’s just the Universe telling me to trust the process and have faith. I can be disappointed but I always remind myself that it’s all part of the bigger picture and part of the journey of creating a business from scratch.
WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST LESSON YOU LEARNED WHILE STARTING AND GROWING THIS BUSINESS?
To be patient with myself. There is so much I don’t know and it's okay. While it can be terrifying not knowing all the answers I’ve learned that I can trust myself and my instincts which is empowering.
I’ve also learned to design my business around my life and not my life around my business. That gives me peace of mind knowing that I’m in full control and can pull back when things feel too overwhelming. My kids help keep things in check too.
WHAT WOULD YOU TELL A FEM THAT IS STRUGGLING IN HER BUSINESS AND FEEL LIKE IT'S TOO DIFFICULT?
Go easy on yourself and take things one step at a time. When I’m feeling really stressed over my business I remind myself not everything is urgent even if it feels like it is. I’m running the show so I give myself time to figure out what is not working at the moment instead of rushing to make a decision.
Also, just one long deep breath can be a game-changer during stressful or challenging moments, so don’t forget to breathe consciously.
WHAT CONTINUES TO INSPIRE YOU TO KEEP ON GROWING YOUR BUSINESS?
I feel that it’s my moral obligation to do this business and that’s the truth and I am not just doing this for my kids but for all kids. I also have so many ideas that I want to see come to fruition that I have to keep going. It's exhilarating and exhausting all at the same time but it’s mine to create and that is the ultimate dream come true.
Final advice for those thinking of starting a business or looking to grow their current business?
Listen to your heart. Starting a business and keeping a business are going to require A LOT from you. The drive for your business has to sit in your heart in order for you to really align with what you’re truly building. You can’t fake it, it has to be real because the ups and downs of running a business will be a wild ride.