Caroline Bernstein and Nicole Hartley are two opinionated college students with a new feminist clothing line.
This Summer, the girls launched OPINIONATED Clothing, an online store with a mission.
The clothes are not just cool, they are charitable. Each month, the girls choose a charity to which they donate a portion of the proceeds. This month, they are donating to Advancing Equity for Women & Girls or AAUW, a non-profit that shares the same goals at OPINIONATED: empowering women.
I had the opportunity to ask the girls some questions about feminism, their goals, and being women in business.
Tell me about the origins of OPINIONATED! How did you get this company up and running?
NH: Feminism and women empowerment have always been very important to me. In high school, I created a book about driven women in the Princeton area and taught self-defense classes to the girls at my school. After this idea started to blossom, I contacted my partner-in-crime, best friend, and feminist advocate Caroline. Caroline and I met sophomore year of high school and have been close ever since. She immediately was on board with the idea and we started designing clothes.
What were some of your fears going into launching OPINIONATED?
CB: My biggest fear was, and still is, the investment. When it comes to a business, you have to spend before you earn, and earning is not guaranteed, so that is kind of terrifying. Between domain names, clothing samples, advertising, and business fees, the costs really start to add up, which is scary when you are nineteen and in college and not making a ton of money.
NH: I think my top two were definitely that no one would like our clothing line that we worked so hard on and that no one would take us seriously as we are young women who are not even halfway done with college. Being a young woman in the business world can be very intimidating to say the least.
Why do you think it is important to have brands like this, designed for women and by women? CB: Less than 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women. This is 2018, not 1818. Yet women are still disproportionately misrepresented in positions of leadership. Most of the corporate and political world is still old white dudes. This is problematic for so, so many reasons. Representation matters. If we can be a part of a culture that promotes women in business and serve as role models, then that is awesome, and we are going to do that in the best way that we can.
What is your plan for later collections and will you be including slogans geared towards trans-women and binary people as well? NH: What I love about our company is that we not only stand for women empowerment, but also feminism. Like one of our shirts says, “Feminism is for everybody” and I definitely believe that we will create more collections to help everybody feel comfortable in their own skin (or in their own clothes!).
CB: We want these to be clothes that anyone can wear regardless of gender or sexuality or race or religion. I am very adamant about making sure what we put out there clothing wise and social-media wise shows our commitment to intersectionality. Finally, who is a woman inspiring you right now that everyone should know about? CB: Nadya Okamoto! She is a 20-year old woman who founded The Period Movement, a youth-powered non-profit that works to change unfair policies and disparities in all things period related...She just wrote a book called Period Power that I am psyched to read. As anyone who menstruates knows, anything that makes it easier (and less expensive) is awesome.
NH: I was just reading Forbes’ America’s richest self-made women article and on that list was Vera Wang. She too started in fashion at a young age and look at her now.
Be sure to check out OPINIONATED Clothes!
Emma Ragusa is a Copy Editor for The Rational Creature.