Little girls often find themselves loving STEM but with no way to express it.

When my 6-year-old daughter, who has expressed freely that she wants to be a scientist who studies fashion when she grows up, requested a dress with a science girl on it, I immediately went to look for one.

Lo and behold, I couldn’t find one. While I wasn’t completely surprised, I was hoping to find at least something. Plan B? Find fabric for a home project.

As a DIY interior designer and founder of Making Home Base, I’m no stranger to making things myself. Thinking this option was a no-brainer, I again scoured stores and the internet for science girl fabric but there was no whimsical, fun aesthetic that showed off my daughters love for STEM and being a girl.

Plan C was more a more aggressive approach than I ever originally planned to take. Data from the 2015 Always Confidence and Puberty Survey suggested around 72% of girls feel like society dictates what they can and cannot do. Not having a dress isn’t exactly an emergency but having to tell a 6-year-old there is no science girl confirms the results.

So I didn’t, I created Annie The Brave, STEM-inspired dresses to instill bravery in little girls. And to give my daughter the dress of her dreams.  

A combination of my daughters Peighton Anne and Millie’s names, Annie The Brave represents a strong female who isn’t afraid to do or be anything. The word brave was derived from a TED Talk by Caroline Paul, one of the first female firefighters in San Francisco who recalled being told she was brave just for doing her job. 

We used Kickstarter to secure funding solely for production and we surpassed our goal.

I want Annie The Brave to be more than a whimsical, crowdfunded brand. My mission is to help reduce the gender gap of women in STEM and take little girls on a journey from their STEM fascination when they’re 2 years old through their careers in the field.

Research and personal conversations help me identify 5 target strategies to implement in the next 5 years.

Making sure the STEM component is found in all dresses – Any item we release, whether it be dresses, shorts, scrunchies, school supplies, must showcase a way to show off STEM. The less girls hide their so-called ‘boy’ interests, the more they’ll be inclined to further their studies in those subjects.

Partnering with STEM camps and organizations to increase female enrollment – There are a significant amount of STEM camps and afterschool programs, but all had the same consensus, there’s low female enrollment. To change that, we’ve partnered with several organizations – if you register for a session, you get a percentage off plus an Annie The Brave discount.

Bringing a strong, female character to life that girls can look up to from when they are little to post-college –Through paper dolls,coloring books,stories, costumes and physical dolls,Annie will come to live to help little girls through any STEM challenges they face. From being told STEM is for boys to being the only one in their friend group liking those subjects to picking the right high school and college classes, Annie will be there.

Teaming up with women in the STEM field for fireside chats – What’s the best way to learn about STEM and the real world? By the pros themselves. From interactive sessions for little ones to informative and thought-provoking conversations for older girls, we want them to know who paved the way and how they can break into the industries.

Creating limited designs where proceeds assist little girls in underprivileged areas who like STEM – Money begets money. And that rings especially true for STEM. Those growing up in underprivileged areas where camps, school activities and education opportunities are limited don’t always get to explore the world of STEM as a career opportunity. To make it possible, I’m enlisting the help from leading women in STEM to create custom dresses where proceeds will go back to these communities.

Creating and launching Annie The Brave has taught ME lessons about being brave. Because I had two little girls at home who needed to be reminded that they can do anything they wanted. I learned to embrace the unknown, be OK being the face of a brand, learn new skills, be more open to criticism, and made sure my daughters would never see me quit. I’m so excited to teach girls to embrace and excel in the interests that sets their souls on fire, not what society suggests. They can now show off their love for science, space, the ocean, construction, dinosaurs, and more, through their simultaneous love for dresses and climbing trees.