During the first 2 weeks of November, $3 of every Sunrise Girl shirt sale will benefit Girls at Work, Inc. Click here to see the designs!
Gina Dobson launched Sunrise Girl in December of 2014. I spoke with her recently about what prompted her to start this new venture and what she hopes to achieve.
S: How did you first get involved in creating Sunrise Girl?
G: I have two daughters and I was feeling frustrated about the messages in the clothing for young girls that I saw. A lot of the common themes seemed to be peace, love, cupcakes, butterflies and the need to sparkle! There’s nothing wrong with any of that, but it didn’t match my girls. And I think there’s a lot more to being a girl than those things. I couldn’t figure out why there weren’t any clothes highlighting the other things girls like to do.
S: For your girls, what types of things were you looking for?
G: One thing was sports clothing that matched and supported their interests. My daughters are 8 and 6 and my older daughter played basketball at the time. There weren’t many girls in her league and I remember dropping her off at practice one day and hearing her say she wished she had a basketball shirt to wear. I went home and did a quick search and couldn’t find anything. In kids clothing stores, it was rare to see a sports-themed shirt for girls and if there was one, it was always “cutesified.” Again, it didn’t match how I saw my girls, and other girls, play sports.
S: Tell me about the girls you feature on your shirts.
G: The inspiration from the shirts come from real girls. The Love Bugs design is my younger daughter. I have mined my friends with daughters and they have been kind enough to let me feature their girls on the shirts. I start by asking the girls what they’d like to see on the shirt and I work with a designer out in California. I give her my vision and she comes up with the drawing, then I take that drawing back to the parents and the kids until we come up with something that everybody really likes.
S: What do you hope these shirts will do for other girls?
G: I really just want to send confident messages to girls.
It’s so meaningful to get it right. I recently got an email from a woman who thought it was so perfect for her daughter that she cried.
For me, Sunrise Girl is a labor of love. It’s about creating something I passionately hope will benefit young girls.
There was a time when my youngest daughter hated being different from others. She hated that she was the only one in our family with blue eyes. (My husband, myself, and my other daughter have brown eyes.) She even hated it when she wanted pepperoni on her pizza and everyone else wanted cheese! She didn’t like standing out or being different from others in any way. I think it made her feel alone. But now, she embraces it! And she got there through understanding the messages I’m trying to send through my shirts. She wears my Different is Good shirt with pride, and I’ve heard her use the phrase when she needs to remind herself that doing something differently than others is okay.
The fact that she absorbed this message by watching, participating, and understanding what Sunrise Girl is about, is a huge source of pride for me. I hope to do the same for other girls. What makes a Sunrise Girl shirt different from others is that our shirt designs will always:
- • depict girls as competent, capable, strong and intelligent
• feature girls actively engaging in a wide range of activities
• show girls with realistic and age-appropriate bodies
• feature girls of all ethnicities and abilities
• send a positive message
S: What has helped you get your brand out there?
G: The biggest boost for my business is the connection I’ve made with other similar business owners. I started introducing myself to a few of these businesses that were approaching the same issue, and I was invited to join them in a campaign we’ve called “Clothes Without Limits.”
It’s been phenomenal as someone who is new in this industry. I’m learning a lot from the women who have been doing this for many years. They’re great mentors and it’s very uplifting. Through this campaign we’ve gotten some great press and my business has gotten the publicity it needed. Cooperating with other businesses instead of competing has worked the best for me.