Shaping Youth Interviews Girl Mogul Founder Andrea Stein

All Things Girl Week continues on Shaping Youth with some incredible resources and inspirations coming your way!

From 2,300 girls trained to be social change agents in 6 metro areas in 26 days via Carrie Ellett’s crew at Girls For A Change to a firstperson overseas experience at the YWCA in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia shared by International Fellows Program college recipient Anne-Reed Angino from our own GWLN.org Santa Clara University group of empowered leading ladies…But first…

How are we doing with our ‘tee party’ gang? Are you slingin’ those slogans to champion change for girls? Here are a couple of wild inspirations to fuel your creativity. Check this out…The World’s First Multimedia Novel Published on a T-Shirt? Yah. That’s right a novel ON a tee. Talk about tech-tee gimmickry and 21st century publishing trends!

The “Manga Man” T-shirt displays a QR Code that links to mobile site builder Winksite, where readers get the narrative from author Alexander Besher. Very meta-multimedia and cool on the futuristic capabilities front. It’s all very ‘dance of darkness’ anime style, so time to get some GIRL MOGUL mojo into the mix…Here we go:

Shaping Youth: ‘Girl Mogul’ is all about encouraging successful girls and their dreams…What were your dreams as a girl? What dreams have you accomplished, and what dreams are you working toward?

Andrea Stein: I dreamed of being everything from an astronaut to a writer, to a media mogul to a scientist.  It was more about what I didn’t want to be, but there were always some common themes — I usually envisioned being the boss of me…In one sense I have accomplished a lot of my dreams — a lot of the things that people check off of their lists — from my education, to my career, to my family, to my “dream house” (an old fixer upper).

But my dream of creating something big, of running the show really came together with the idea for GirlMogul — all of a sudden I have the right vehicle. My dreams right now are focused on building and growing GirlMogul — to turning it into a “big” company that really has an impact on girls’ lives.  I believe in the power of focus, so I am not thinking too much beyond building GirlMogul.

Shaping Youth: Girl Mogul character icons seem ripe for a line extension or publishing play (right down to the tiny little ‘TM’ in the corner of each character’s persona! yes, I notice these things!) So what ARE your future plans?  (and how can we all help?)

Andrea Stein: I want GirlMogul to be big enough to make an impact on as many girls’ lives as possible. I see it as a lifestyle company — with products to help girls at every stage develop their interests, talents and abilities — and live out their dreams.  I see us offering a wide range of products from t-shirts, to books, to games, to more learning kits, like our science and entrepreneur kits.

As for the GirlMoguls, I see them as a cornerstone of the brand.  There are big plans for those girls. I loved series books when I was a kid — from Nancy Drew, to the Boxcar Kids, to the Hardy Boys. I am working on a series of books featuring the girls where they get to explore some of their “Futures” and show other girls out there that it really is possible to be a doctor or scientist, or a government leader.  As for helping — of course, spreading the word about our site! As for the GirlMoguls series — know any good writers, editors and agents?

Shaping Youth: What are your 3 top favorite films, role models, cartoon characters, and websites recently?

Andrea Stein: Films — Hmmm — I have two young children, so it’s hard for me to get to the movies, but I tend to like escapist adventure movies.

It can be hard to find ones with good female role models though, so I liked the Mummy — with Evie as the brainy & go-getting heroine.

I like Legally Blonde, the first one, and almost anything with Keira Knightly, from Love Actually to the Pirates of the Caribbean.

Role Models — My mother & my mother in law — for different reasons. They’re very different but they are great models. Hilary Clinton for consistently breaking barriers.

Cartoon Characters — The Backyardigans — I think I like them more than the kids. Wonder Woman, and Velma from the Scooby Doo.

Websites Mommy track’d.com — no working mom guilt there. I read the WSJ everyday and I just found Mrs. Magoo Reads — teen girl writes book reviews — I think she’s read more books than I have!

Shaping Youth: What’s new, hopeful, vibrant, and positive we should know about to encourage others?

Andrea Stein: I think this year’s presidential race with two diverse candidates was a great thing in terms of finding role models. The green/environment movement is moving mainstream too, and that’s making it easier for us all to do our parts — from eco-friendly cleaning products to solar panels popping up on suburban homes.  We (as a consumer) culture are starting to care more about where things come from — from the kinds of food we eat to the conditions our clothes are made in.

Amy’s note: For the holiday season, GirlMogul is supporting the Athena Collaborative expanding the population of capable women entering and thriving in significant roles in competitive organizations where math and science are key (e.g., investment banking) NYU Facebook group here

They’ll be donating 10% of the profit on the sales of any Computer Geek, Science is Cool or I Like Math shirt to the group, and offering 15% off your entire GirlMogul order by entering ATHENA2008 at checkout; so shop for a good cause! (full feature on more positive picks like this when Shaping Youth pulls together our holiday ‘pay it forward’ guide to gifts–AJ)

Shaping Youth: How have things changed (if at all) for girls since YOU were a kid?

Andrea Stein: I think it may be about the same. I remember being worried about fitting in and being very conscious of cliques. I was also pretty sure that there were a lot of girls who weren’t as dumb as they acted.

There were body issues and back stabbing and a focus on shopping and flirting with boys. But my parents didn’t buy into any of that — both my parents worked and education was a top priority.

I don’t have any brothers, so my dad was always very encouraging about us trying new things — he’s also a science and math guy and definitely tried to encourage more “boy” interests. On the one hand this made me somewhat of an odd ball, but luckily I had the support to keep true to my self and I think that served me better in the long run.

Shaping Youth: What’s your opinion of the David & Goliath line, Happy Bunny, etc.—How does your philosophy differ?

Andrea Stein: Hmm, well I think GirlMogul is about respect. Respecting yourself, developing your interests, developing your brain. And being positive.  If you don’t respect yourself no one else will.  All I can say is: Dumb blonde jokes hurt all girls…

Shaping Youth: Is there room for a BoyMogul line? Or similar positive messages to reach male moguls searching for identities?

Andrea Stein: Of course. I know things are not this dire, but it seems as if there is a general dumbing down today — people think it’s cool to not be smart…and boys are just as susceptible to this a girls. We need to encourage all kids in general to be smart, educated, and more interested in peering in microscopes than in posing for the cameras.

Shaping Youth: Tell us about the GirlMogul entrepreneurial backstory— the name…vision, the works.

Andrea Stein: The GirlMogul name was literally a middle of the night inspiration — it struck me and I couldn’t sleep so I got up and bought the domain name. I had thought about creating an entrepreneurial kit for girls.  While I was researching that, I was shopping for my daughter and all I seemed to see was Future Princess and Future Diva. This wasn’t the message I wanted to send to her.

I was up at night, not able to sleep, and a whole lot of things were running through my mind — the Princess issue, to what I wanted to do with my life.  And suddenly, it all came together — why wasn’t there a Future Rocket Scientist shirt? And why wasn’t there something other than a Princess character for her to look forward to? From there GirlMogul had its purpose and the characters were born.

In order to get to a finished product, I sketch out the concepts and give reference items from colors, to pictures, anything that helps convey the picture in my head.  I then work with several different designers to create the designs. I sketch out the concept and they work on it to make it something final — and ready to be printed on a shirt.  I am always looking for inspiration — from magazines, to TV even to how food is packaged.

Shaping Youth: What inspired you specifically to focus on girls as an under-served audience? (e.g. counter-acting toxic media messaging? Hyper-sexualization of retail? Alternative choices for femme forward thinking…wanting to create entrepreneurs or what?)

Andrea Stein: All of the above. (see Entrepreneur Kits, financial savvy, future CEO via lemonade stand at left) I went to an all women’s college, my mother did too — I was always a feminist. My father is a feminist — it’s just not something I even had to think about. I was the girl who got the male high school English teacher to substitute a Jane Austen book instead of Moby Dick, because it wasn’t fair that we only read “dead white men.”

GirlMogul came about as a reaction to all the pink princesses, the starlet train wrecks and hearing a lot of women my age talking about being anti-feminists. It made me kind of mad because without the sacrifices of the “feminist” generation — we wouldn’t have the educational, athletic or career opportunities.

Flex time, mommy tracking and on and off ramping wouldn’t exist without our trail blazing feminists.  And I think we need to remember not to take it for granted. And I don’t think 10 year olds belong in makeup or half shirts — call me old-fashioned, but I think we’re pushing kids into the surface aspects (appearance) of maturity way too soon.

Shaping Youth: So how do you feel about “the F word’ –as a TERM? What’s your experience/feedback among youth and teens with this moniker? You’re branded on the site as “feminist fashion for the junior set” –is that working for you?

Andrea Stein: I think we need to re-claim the word feminist. And allow it to mean being a girl/women who is going to make her own choices, think for herself and live her life regardless of what others want and think she should do…The Feminist movement gave us choices, and sometimes, like anything it went too far in one direction. (e.g. pioneers get the arrows in their backs, the settlers get the farms)

I am waiting to see what the feedback from girls and teens will be for the term feminist — I also use girl power, which I think has a less negative, hipper connotation. But when you’re trying to build a company in a niche space that is not so well defined, something like the term feminist is a good descriptor… people know where you’re coming from — if they only like Princess tees, they know GirlMogul isn’t for them.

Shaping Youth: What about extending the GirlMogul line into a virtual world or entertainment vehicle…Creating branded ‘avatars’ that travel with their positive tees sans cleavage to promote positive messages to kids as an alternative paper doll to the Zwinky/Stardoll digital divas? Would you consider that kind of counter-marketing?

Andrea Stein: Yes. I would love to have GirlMogul avatars. (I sometime use Rose as my picture on virtual networks) For right now we have a blog, that’s growing in content and in scope (from quotes, to profiles, to science experiments). I am doing some research into creating a social network/virtual world as well, complete with user blogs, message boards and avatars.

Shaping Youth: Where do you feel we’re headed as a retail culture? Do girls identify with your ‘branding’ messages? (e.g. is it an alternative/indie crowd? Mom-gift givers?)

Is the bell-curve swinging? Or is it still a stark polarity between media depictions of “Girls Gone Wild” and “Girls Gone Mild”?

Andrea Stein: Right now parents are identifying with the message. Young women (college and twenties) also identify with it. I have gotten a lot of kudos from homeschooling moms, who appreciate the message because it is counter to the Girls Gone Wild culture. I also get a lot of comments from Dads who are happy to see something besides a tiara for their daughters to play with.

That being said, I think that there is still a polarity — I get a lot of “I like what you’re doing..” but not everyone who says that buys t-shirts, so I don’t know if everyone is as ready for it as they claim.

(Amy’s note: Speaking of dads seeking tiara-less fashion, don’t miss this ‘angry professor’s’ hilariously apt ‘anti-princess bedtime story’ after her daughter was pinkwashed at a Princess Party! It’s brilliantly powerful and needs a publisher pronto. She’s my newest find, complete w/pithy disclaimer, “This blog is 100% FERPA compliant… It is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. The Angry Professor is the creation of Mr. Norrell, who lives in Guam with four rhesus monkeys and a gecko. He has never taught at a university.”  Funny! Also, check out this Dad’s eye-view (and this one I know for SURE is a Dad) at Thingamababy who blogged about seeking anti-princess tee slogans awhile back…I swear, it’s not my nom de plume, his initials just happen to be AJ too! πŸ˜‰

Shaping Youth: Do you feel boys in our society are threatened (identity-wise) with the same media/marketing influences girls are? If so, how? If not, why not?

Andrea Stein: Yes. I have a boy as well.  He’s sweet little boy who loves the color pink, playing dress up and purses.

Our society still has ‘strict rules’ for what is boy stuff and girl stuff and it amazes me that even the girls his age seem to know the rules — and feel free to tell him so.

I feel he should be free to express himself…at the same time I worry about what will happen if he still likes these things when it’s time to go to school.  But I wouldn’t dissuade my daughter from liking to carry a tool kit around.

Shaping Youth: Are you familiar with the She’s Geeky conference I wrote about here? How/why did you choose to focus your characters on math, science, politics, engineering?

Andrea Stein: I’ve always wanted to focus on the less-favored subjects for girls. Great opportunities exist for women in those fields, but you do need to prepare for them.

(Note: Daisy at left, is the GirlMogul computer and technology whiz. “Need your cell phone fixed or your iPod downloaded? It’s a snap for Daisy. What she really likes, building solar powered remote controlled cars and spy cameras…not that she uses them or anything like that. If it’s broken, Daisy can always fix it – and she’s always showing the Girls ways to make things better with a simple gadget.” –See GirlMogul Adventures for more –AJ)

I worked in the software development field and I found that it offered a lot creativity, respect and flexibility. I didn’t always have to be at my desk in an office to get my work done. And because I was a knowledge worker, my knowledge was valued.

My gender was much less relevant as long as I could find a solution to the problem. I think there are lot of opportunities like that in Information Technology, engineering and scientific research, but you have to prepare for them. Technology is what creates the future and more women need to be a part of it — but it’s something that girls don’t get interested or stay interested in because they don’t get the encouragement, they don’t think it’s cool, etc… so why let the boys have all the fun?

(Amy’s note: GirlMogul Poppy at left is the science pro and inquisitive soul, asking ‘why’ all the time; her storyline says she received a chemistry kit when she was four, and has been experimenting ever since; esp. using organic ingredients to create all natural skin care products. —I’ve got to hook up Andrea with the Teens Turning Green eco-safe cosmetics crew; it’s a partnership in the making! And get this: Poppy “also loves animals of all kinds, even snakes, and is always trying to nurse an animal back to health. Always writing down experiments in a lab book, Poppy helps the team think through solutions using a “scientific approach”. Perfect fit. -AJ πŸ™‚

Shaping Youth: As a young entrepreneur, (like Ashley Qualls mega-success with WhateverLife, etc.) did you get a lot of ‘whoa, slow down!’ messaging when you whizzed by with a ‘can do’ attitude and energetic fervor? If so, how did you handle it, (people being intimidated, threatened, whatever) and if not, how did you avoid it? (I still need to interview Ashley on this!)

Andrea Stein: Yes. I did. You shouldn’t worry about it. Just keep going.  One trick I found was to listen first, talk later. That doesn’t mean never speak up.  It just means take a little time to observe the situation before diving in. And try to keep it positive, even if you disagree. That being said, being a little older and wiser, I am more likely to jump in and start giving my two cents.

Shaping Youth: Are you planning other positive, empowering statements asking teens to contribute ideas in UGC/contest style? Like our ‘tee party’ contest? Could readers someday see their slogans on your GirlMogul tees?

Andrea Stein: I would love to do that — also as I mentioned if you would like some shirts to help kick off your blog with a contest I would be happy to supply them. We’re always looking for more slogans and/or concepts — I would love to do a design a t-shirt contest.

You heard it here first, ladies…Start submitting those slogans and see if we can pop them into a ‘Threadless’ type of contest where GirlMogul picks their favorite and brings the design to fruition! Sure would be fun!

Meanwhile, know that we have three hardback Packaging Girlhood books awaiting you regardless. So keep those tee slogans and girl power ideas coming…Now through Dec. 1st when we pick the winners!

More girl goodness up next…stay tuned as ‘All Things Girl” on Shaping Youth continues!

Shaping Youth’s Related Posts on Girls, Math & Science (a few anyway!)

Stargazers and Students: Google Sky & Slooh “Sexy Up” Science

Math, Media, and Pi Day Converge As Kids Honor 3.14

Kids, See How You’re Smart: Use Your Intelligence(s!)

Multitasking for Studious Souls: Mobile Prep, Flashcards & More

Misguided Media: Space Station History Takes A Back Seat to Britney?

Shaping Youth’s All Things Girl Week Salutes Danica The Mathlete

Danica McKellar First Honoree for “People Shaping Youth”

Math Celeb Danica McKellar is Exponentially Positive

Dumb Like a Fox: Danica McKellar Sells Smarts

Ask Danica McKellar About Math, Now Through Sunday

Talk of the Nation, pbs: Encouraging American Girls to Embrace Math

Kiss My Math: Showing Pre-Algebra Who’s Boss

Math Doesn’t Suck–How To Survive Middle School Math

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Comments

  1. Hi Amy – thanks for the plug. But I’m a mom, not a dad. Cheers!

  2. OMG! So sorry, I’m mixing up my professors…(“Eating Wombats” is an ‘angry professor’ as well!) ..Apologies, will fix it pronto! πŸ™‚ Mea culpa!! (and oh, so ironic, given the ATG week!)

  3. Is it ok if I syndicate this post on my site?

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