“Mary Margaret, you can't wear that!” I whispered to my 13-year-old sister in the dressing room as she tried on a leopard push-up bra that was as empty and as fake as the ad on the wall beside her.
“Yeah, um… I don't… I don't look like this…” she giggled and looked at me with sheepish eyes. She could magically go from bunny hills to mountain peaks in an instant. We came across the same thing at every store: push-up features, underwires, and padding that were all part of the standard to make a girl “grow” two cup sizes. I remember thinking to myself in anger, “What is the hurry to grow-up so fast?”
Having lost my other younger sister, Caroline, at the age of five I learned how short our adolescence really is. For Caroline, all it took was a simple misstep off of a decorated, moving float in a parade. Just before my eyes, I saw her blue ones close for one last time. However, in her absence, Caroline is still powerful in my mind. She taught me through both her life and her sudden death, to slow down and enjoy each day as its own. It wasn't until years after she died that I really understood her most meaningful mantras. They are now the backbones of my company Yellowberry.
Before a fruit is fully ripened, it is just a yellow berry. The berry first is green, and as it grows and ages it becomes closer to its final stage of red, purple, orange, or pink. First, however, it passes through several shades of yellow. Those yellow stages take time, but they are what will eventually create a beautiful berry.
About a week after Marg's failed shopping trip, I experienced my first raffle success. I won a bra. Unlike the ones Mary Margaret and I had found earlier, this one was made to wear every day with no padding, no wires, and no expectations. I looked at my mom, my epiphany moment.
“I'm going to do this. I’m going to make my own bras for girls.”
At first this idea was a like the battered, brass trumpet my brother used to honk in my ear to wake me up every morning. Both would not leave me alone until I jumped up and did something about them. So I started my own business, Yellowberry, when I was 17.
I didn't care how many adults chuckled at my idea and brushed me away with the wave of a wrist. Many of them were very successful entrepreneurs who couldn't see that I had more than just an idea. I was told to have fun and enjoy high school, to stop worrying about changing the bra industry. But I am most inspired and motivated to do something when someone tells me that I can't.
This company is my effort to help other girls who feel the same way I do: that our society pressures us to look and dress a certain way at a very young age. Mary Margaret should feel confident in whatever she wears, not that she is lesser than her peers if she looks different than a goddess-like model ten years her elder.
Each bra is made with one of these statements attached to the tag in my own effort to share their wise values, as well as to keep Caroline's memory alive. These statements help reiterate the value behind my simple goal: build a bra that is unique and colorful, made for all girls who love and enjoy their youthful, yellow stages in life.