It’s been amazing. There are moms who are so into the idea of giving their daughter a different way to express themselves.
While Hillary Whitaker, owner of CurieWear, stood in a children’s retail store, holding her baby girl, looking at a rack of pink clothes, she glanced over and saw another woman looking at a rack of pink clothes, holding a baby wearing the exact same outfit as Hillary’s baby. And that bummed Hillary out. “I wanted to give my daughter the opportunity to start a conversation instead of be assumed under a label,” Whitaker says.
So she decided to design textiles that would give her daughter that opportunity. She taught herself illustrator, connected with fabric manufacturers, and had her STEM focused designs printed. She then turned those fabrics into elegant dresses for little girls. “I’m not trying to make a girl masculine,” Whitaker says. “What I’m trying to do is open up things that have previously been stereotyped.”
Each fabric design has a special meaning to Whitaker. When she was a little girl, she wanted to be an astronaut. Her first big birthday present was a telescope. So she designed a constellation pattern. Later she joined the Navy and fell in love with Moby Dick, so she designed a nautical pattern. She studied aerospace engineering in college, so she’s currently designing a textile featuring the Corsair, her favorite airplane. And the CurieWear name and logo pay homage to Whitaker’s favorite scientist, Marie Curie, who discovered radium.
“I wanted to give my daughter the opportunity for her to explain that her favorite dinosaur was a brachiosaurus,” Whitaker says. “I want it to be natural that a girl is wearing a dress with microscopes on it.” And so do other moms to girls, many of whom have placed orders for CurieWear dresses. “It’s been amazing. There are moms who are so into the idea of giving their daughter a different way to express themselves,” Whitaker says. She explains that most customers have been the result of organic Etsy searches and word of mouth. “Moms are ordering these dresses and are just really excited to give their daughter an opportunity to wear something they love.”
Currently Whitaker’s big production bottleneck is the time it takes to design fabrics and get those fabrics back from the manufacturers. But as business grows, she will have the resources to order larger quantities of fabric and make more dresses in less time. Constructing a dress takes Whitaker less than a day, thanks to her sewing proficiency that she gained from living with her seamstress mother.
Whitaker hopes to diversify her product in the future by adding play clothes and boy clothes to her collection. She hopes that CurrieWear will succeed and give people something to talk about.
“I don’t want my daughter’s only compliment to be that she looks pretty. I want people to tell her that she’s opinionated, strong willed, and interesting,” Whitaker says. “I’m trying to give her the opportunity to be beautiful while being herself.”