“Water the flowers every day. Watch quietly and observe. Go barefoot. Love the outdoors and nature. Seek and find a hug when you need one. Campfires are rare; eat as many marshmallows as you can.”
These words form the mantra of Yellowberry, a company determined to change the way that the lingerie industry targets young girls;
and, it began with one extraordinary high school senior from Wyoming: 18-year-old Megan Grassell.
It all started when Megan took her younger sister, Mary Margaret, shopping for her first training bra. Having expected to return home with a few simple, age-appropriate pieces, Megan was appalled by the options presented in the local stores. Shocked at the idea that girls had no choice but to buy highly sexualized, padded, push-up, and underwire bras at such a young age, Megan decided that something had to change.
As a high school student with no previous experience in the industry, she knew that turning her idea into a legitimate business would be a huge challenge. She wanted to provide underwear alternatives for more than just members of her own family, so she began working with a seamstress to design a more straightforward and natural type of bra for girls aged 11-15. She then pitched her idea for Yellowberry to the crowd-funding website Kickstarter with the aim of raising $25,000. A month later when the fundraising drive ended, donations had topped $41,000, making Yellowberry one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns of the year and financing the company’s entire first production order. More than a thousand people contributed to the campaign, and a good amount of those funds came from young girls and their parents who had been waiting for a brand like Yellowberry to come along to cater to a previously ignored sector of the industry.
Yellowberry bras emphasize the carefree and happy nature of youth, reminding girls that growing up is something to be savored and enjoyed, not rushed or forced. With several different styles available, their bras focus on fitting girls’ developing body shapes, guiding them away from the unrealistic expectations usually produced by much older models in underwear catalogs and posters. Yellowberry customers even have their own nickname — they’re the Berries to our Germies — to highlight the kind of childhood innocence the brand hopes to preserve.
However, Yellowberry is not just the result of one girl’s desire to find age-appropriate lingerie for her kid sister. It is the product of hard work, determination, ambition, cooperation, and, above all else, the belief that things only seem impossible until they’re done. Yellowberry is as much a statement of intent – saying that the lingerie industry must, can, and will change for the benefit of all women, not just young girls – as it is a grassroots start-up. It’s a reminder that nobody should have to grow up faster than they want to and that we can all change the world in some way. With plans to expand the collection to include new designs and underwear in the not-so-distant future, one thing’s for certain: This isn’t the last you’ll hear of Yellowberry or Megan Grassell.