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Necessity is the mother of invention, and this mom saw a need. Sharon Choksi, a co-founder of the clothing brand Girls Will Be, first got the idea to launch a line of comfortable girlsâ clothes when she and her sister, Laura Burns, were having trouble shopping for their young daughters.
âMy daughter Maya was just 3 or 4 when she started having strong opinions about what she wore,â Choksi told TODAY Style. âShe had no interest in pink or sparkles or dresses. She liked to read about sharks and climb trees and do science experiments. So we ended up shopping on the boysâ side of the stores a lot because nothing in the girlsâ section spoke to her. And she would ask me, âMommy, why do the boys get all the cool stuff?ââ
Choksi became frustrated that season after season, there just didnât seem to be any options for her daughterâs tastes that didn’t follow gender stereotypes, and her sister shared similar issues. As a mom to twins, a boy and girl, Burns saw a big difference in gendered clothing in everything from size to design â even though her two children were virtually the same height and weight.
The sisters decided to work together to come up with a line of clothing that would offer an alternative to the short-shorts, skinny fits and frilly designs that often crowded the aisles of the girlsâ section. They also brought on their brother, David Burns, an architect with an eye for design, to help with graphics. Choksi, who has a business background, said that she and her siblings had complementary skill sets that helped get the company off the ground.
âAs a mom, itâs always been fit that stood out to me,â Choksi said of how the siblings began to brainstorm about the line. âI didnât want to just print designs onto existing blank T-shirts. Girlsâ shirts are very fitted and their shorts are very short, and there are often pockets that are unusable. Kids need to be active, and they need clothes that move with them.â
In their extensive research prior to launch, Choksi said girlsâ shirts were often 1 to 3 inches thinner than boysâ with shorter cap sleeves. And shorts for girls are almost one-third the length of common boysâ shorts.
After many brainstorms â often involving their daughters, Maya and Grace â they came up with an idea for an âin-the-middleâ fit that would allow girls to be active without wearing boxy or oversized styles. Additionally, they came up with strong, empowering phrases for the graphic T-shirts, like, “Be Awesome,” “I Will Be Me,” and “Bold, Daring, Fearless, So Many Things.”
âClothing is one of the biggest ways that kids can express themselves. Think about how much thought we put into our first day of school outfits!â Choksi said. âIf you tell girls theyâre only allowed to be interested in some things and not others, youâre limiting what they think they can do, be it science or math or otherwise. Are you going to wear a shirt with science on it or cupcakes? Choices are important.â
The company launched in 2013, with a Kickstarter campaign in early 2014 for their trademark ânot-so-shortâ shorts. It finished as the No. 1 most-funded childrenswear project in Kickstarter history at the time, and the ânot-so-shortâ shorts remain one of the company’s most popular items.
âIâve had parents who are so thankful for our brand, because theyâre tired of searching high and low for something their daughters want to wear,â Choksi said. âItâs especially touching when parents tell me how their girls reacted; how their daughtersâ eyes lit up when they saw our site and saw girls that looked like them and reflected who they were. One time, a mom sent me a sweet message saying her daughter said, âFinally, somebody gets me!â I just love that.â
Choksi said Girls Will Be is looking to expand its offerings by moving into the swimsuit and sleepwear realms, because âswimsuits have the same fit issue and pajamas have the same graphics issue.â
âItâs always been the case that we want girls to be comfortable with who they are,â Choksi said. âThey need to know that itâs perfectly OK for them to like tigers and science as much as they like kittens and butterflies. We always say we want girls to feel inspired and comfortable in our clothes. I donât ever want girls think they canât do something boys can do.â