Business

3 Companies Changing How Girls Build Confidence

Graphic of playing on a playground to represent the time period when a girl's confidence drops.

Let’s face it, growing up can be tough. Especially for girls. 

Your body is changing; everything from growth spurts to acne to beginning menstruation. Throughout the years of puberty—and even in the years following—it seems to feel like a race to grow up. It’s a vulnerable time and tweens and teens are often impressionable—girls specifically.

Various studies have shown that a girl’s confidence plummets during the years of puberty. From the rise of social media influencers to the traditional high beauty expectations embedded into society, there isn’t much messaging out there that encourages young girls to just be themselves. These three companies are trying to change that.

By creating products that cater specifically to their young demographics, and messaging that centers on girls being comfortable in their own skin, Apricotton, RUBIES, and Blume hope to create a more positive growing up experience for future generations.

Apricotton

Apricotton

When Chloe Beaudoin and Jessica Miao realized that the problems they faced when bra shopping as a tween were still very prevalent in society today, they decided to fill the gap.

Apricotton wants to make the transition to wearing a bra easy, not awkward. The age-appropriate, high-quality, and supportive designs are made with a barely-there feel, so girls can focus on things like schoolwork or playing sports instead of how uncomfortable they feel.

In addition to its product line, Apricotton is very active on social media with an older sister-styled approach to talking about what could otherwise be awkward topics, so that no girl goes through puberty alone.

Apricotton

Apricotton

How was Apricotton started?

Chloe: Jessica and I went to Western University together. As a final school project, we were working on creating our own business. We were talking about ideas and our own experiences with puberty when we were younger. And—I’m sure you can relate—it’s not the best experience to go bra shopping for the first time. You have the highly sexualized lingerie stores, and on the other end, you have the cheaper quality, one-size-fits-all department store brands. At the time, Jessica’s sister was 12 years old and going through the exact same thing that we went through 10 years ago. So we realized that girls are still struggling with bra shopping and feeling confident during puberty due to this problem.

So, that’s kind of what started the idea of Apricotton. We graduated in spring 2020, into the pandemic, and we had a lot more time on our hands. So, we spent a lot of time designing the bras ourselves and getting feedback on the designs from tweens to make sure that it was something that they would actually want. Then we officially launched in November 2020 and we’ve been going strong for the past four months. It’s been really exciting and we have some amazing plans for this year as well.

What was it like trying to tap into your younger selves to connect with tweens?

Jessica: That’s a really great question. I think the first thing is that we see tweens as teens. So when you’re at that age—and I think the insight of having a 13-year-old sister helps—you don’t want to be perceived as a child. You’re trying to dress and act older than you are. Similar to how, when you were 16, you want to act 20. 

So, keeping that in mind, all of our messaging on social media is really to create a natural relationship with them. We have an older sister’s advice approach, talking about things like whether you can go swimming on your period. Having those kinds of posts allows girls to feel comfortable interacting with us. It’s really about establishing that personal relationship.

Do you have any favorite stories of feedback from a tween themselves or a parent who’s helping their child through that awkward puberty stage?

Chloe: There have been some really amazing responses! For me personally, I think one of the best responses was one of the reviews that we’ve gotten on our website. We had a mom say that she actually cried when she got the bra because it was something that she had struggled to find for their daughter. Her daughter was finally able to wear bras to school—she even forgot she was wearing it—which was something she used to feel really uncomfortable with. 

Our mission is to make girls feel confident through puberty. To see that it is working and that it is making a difference in these girls’ lives, and for the parents who get to see the change in how their daughter is feeling and thinking, makes us so happy. It shows that we are fulfilling exactly what we tried to create with our brand.

As you mentioned, this initially started as a school project. What’s it been like going from the idea and concept to actually starting and running the business? 

Jessica: This started as a 20-page business plan [for school]. You write about how you’re going to create Instagram campaigns and create these bras, and it’s going to do really great. But, the actual implementation was definitely pretty difficult. 

Because we launched at the beginning of COVID, there weren’t a lot of manufacturers that were open, so, it took a long time to find a manufacturer. Also, within our business plan, there were details that we didn’t expect. For example, when we were shipping with Canada Post, we had to deal with returns and exchanges that weren’t factored in.

I think the biggest thing that we learned was that as much as you want to grow as quickly as possible, it’s actually really great to have one or two months of structured growth. That way we were able to test things like different packaging. Now we wrap the bras, in a different way, for example. So I think growing a bit slower n the beginning and figuring out all of our operations really helped.

Through working with this age range of girls going through puberty, have you noticed any kind of trends within the market?

Chloe: I think that in the past few years, targeting tweens has become a trend, but it’s from a marketing standpoint. It’s trying to sell makeup or skincare, things like that that are usually considered for older people, and making it for tweens. It’s really just larger brands trying to find a new niche. 

For us, we didn’t target this age group because it’s a trend or a new potential demographic. It’s because of our personal experiences with bra shopping. As I said before, it was difficult when we were 12 years old, trying to go bra shopping for the first time because nothing has really made for us. They were usually made for older women who are developed and tweens were often an afterthought. They usually called them a training bra, with thin, cheap materials that didn’t do very much for support. There are girls who are going through puberty, who are starting to develop quickly and training bras don’t do anything for them. So that’s why it’s so important to us to target and create for tween and teen girls. So that they can actually find something that’s made for them.

When you need to wear something new, but it feels uncomfortable, or there’s no proper coverage, it makes you feel so much worse about adding this new piece of clothing to your body.

You guys are quite open in terms of the language you use in your messaging. You don’t shy away from words like vaginal discharge or talking about changes to the body during puberty. There’s no attempt at “cutesy” language. Why is this important to you as a brand?

Jessica: The reason why we decided to create Apricotton was really to make sure that no girl goes through puberty alone because it really isn’t addressed by anyone else right now in the bra industry. So, it was a very easy decision to have those authentic stories on our blog. It’s really just another part of our overall mission to support girls and make sure that they have the right bra because no other company right now is doing that.

Speaking of the right bra, are there more designs in the works? Are you guys trying to extend to your product line or are you going to stick with what you have right now?

Jessica: We’re actually working on three new designs right now, which is really exciting. We’re planning to launch them in late spring. Our first designs were more based on what we thought girls would be interested in. Now that we have a larger community, especially on Instagram and TikTok, we have a lot more feedback from girls on what they’re interested in in comparison to our original designs that had a lot of family and friend feedback. We’ve taken a lot of the feedback into the new designs and we’re really excited to launch those.

In the future, we want to launch into other kinds of apparel. We’re really interested in swimwear because tweens and teens face very similar issues with that bathing suits are either very mature and in women’s sizes, or there are childish swimsuits that are made for kids. It’s a similar issue to bras and we want to help. 

RUBIES

RUBIES

When Jamie Alexander struggled to find a swimsuit that his 11-year-old daughter Ruby could feel comfortable and confident in, he set out to make one.

RUBIES creates form-fitting bikini bottoms and underwear with soft compression to keep everything in place, so trans girls can show up with confidence and style everywhere they go.

The company’s mission to help trans girls around the world is further amplified by its Every Girl Deserves To Shine campaign.

RUBIES

RUBIES

How was RUBIES first created? 

As a family we were planning a trip to Panama and were concerned about what Ruby would be able to wear at the beach.  Instead of wearing a bikini that she wanted we had her wear board shorts.  When I returned I started searching for options and found them very lacking. When I realized there was a huge gap in the market like this that could significantly impact many kids just like my daughter Ruby, I decided to go for it and create the brand.

What was Ruby’s first response to the product? What did it mean to you as a dad to see that?

Ruby was really excited to finally be able to wear the same clothing items as her friends and do all of the activities she loves to do, comfortably and safely. As a dad, it meant the world to me be to be able to help my daughter feel as confident as she should and shine to her full potential!

What has the response been like from customers?

The response has been amazing and definitely one of the highlights of this journey! It feels really good to be able to make a real difference in people’s lives. Families are so excited that someone is designing products for their children.  They see the work I am doing as a role model for other dads and many have expressed that Ruby has been able to inspire their children.  

How does it feel knowing you’re helping trans girls through a vulnerable like puberty?

It feels great being able to help young trans girls with our products, growing up is a tough time for many children and it is amazing that we can help in any way during that time to make them feel comfortable to do the activities they love without having to feel self-conscious.

Beyond RUBIES products, how do you hope the brand helps trans girls on a larger scale?

Beyond our products, what has always been at the core of RUBIES is helping and supporting trans girls all over the world.   That is why we launched the “Every Girl Deserves to Shine” Campaign as we wanted to show our support to the community in a variety of ways.  Through the campaign we encourage people to support either via buying RUBIES t-shirts (where profits go to our GoFundMe campaign to provide RUBIES swimwear to trans girls from families in need), donations directly to the GoFundMe page,  submitting a postcard with an encouraging message that is included in every RUBIES package or by getting their company involved through one of our corporate program ideas in support of the 2SLGBTQ+ community.

Are there any other products in the works?

We are working on new products like underwear and bikini tops but another one of our goals is to expand internationally!  The main countries we have had customers make purchases from are the Unites States, Canada, United Kingdom and Australia but we would like to further our reach globally!

Do you have any favourite customer stories or experiences as a dad and founder from this time?

One of my favourite parts about this experience has been able to work alongside Ruby and receive her input on the product development and design for things such as colours and materials.  It makes both of us feel like we are creating something together.  Another great outcome has been the community that we have been able to build via our customer network, as we have really been able to provide support and encouragement to each other.  However, the best part of all is receiving feedback from customers and realizing we are making a difference in people’s lives.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I am designing some special patterns for the bottoms geared towards a younger group of kids.  The first pattern will be purple with unicorns and rainbows and geared towards kids 9 and under based on feedback from hundreds of parents and their kids.

Blume

Blume

Bunny and Taran Ghatrora are a dynamic sister duo who hope to educate and provide safe and effective products that help boost a girl’s confidence during puberty.

Blume began as a subscription for organic cotton menstruation products and has expanded into clean skincare aimed to make the hormonal changes of growing up less taboo.

The brand which focuses on self-care as a whole can grow with girls from their first period and into adulthood, instilling confidence along the way.

Blume

Blume

How was Blume created?

Taran: We first started the company more out of a need and curiosity than really thinking that it would become like a big company. I was in law school at the time and I was on a path to become a human rights lawyer. Around that time, I found out that girls in developing countries were missing school because of their period—up to 25 percent of schooling a month because they didn’t have access to period products or proper hygiene. I was kind of blown away and started to just kind of learn about it more, wanted to see if there was a way that we could help change that. As I was researching that, I learned a lot about how much stigma and taboo there was even here in North America about periods. I started questioning the experience that I had growing up and how little people really talked about it and how much of a difficult time it was.

I called Bunny at the time with the idea to start a subscription service, where we could make organic period products more accessible to people here in Vancouver. At the time you could only really find organic period products at Whole Foods. So, we started this subscription and we did education along with it about women’s reproductive health and periods in general. And that’s kind of how it started.

With young women going through puberty, why was it important to you to give back? 

Taran: One of the big things is that our family is from India. That’s our background and it’s where my dad was born. I very much felt like that could have easily been how I grew up if my parents hadn’t immigrated. My parents have always made school and education something that they’ve prioritized for us. So, it just seemed so unfair that so many people were missing so much of their schooling—and therefore at a disadvantage—because of something that’s biological. It really shouldn’t be holding people back. And so today, with Blume, we still have partial proceeds every month go to Days for Girls, which helps to provide period products for girls overseas in India, Nepal, and around the world so that they don’t miss school.

And product-wise, how does Blume differ from what else is on the market?

Bunny: For our period products specifically, they are made out of 100 percent organic cotton and it’s GOTS certified, which is the highest certification that you can get for organic cotton products, and it’s fully grown without any pesticides. So, while mainstream pads and tampons often include ingredients that can be toxic and potentially absorbed into our bloodstreams, we realize that it’s so much safer to actually know what ingredients are in our products. If there’s an option for a hundred percent organic cotton, it should be accessible to all people who are interested in using those products. 

Blume has built out product offerings that expand outside of just period-based needs. You also have some really cool skincare-based products. Skincare is obviously front and center during puberty with the changes in hormones. How did those products come about?

Bunny: Since we’ve launched, one thing that we’ve always done is just staying really, really close to our customer; learning as much about her as we could. And really learning about what pain points she’s experiencing and how we could solve those. In our research and a survey that we did, 60 percent of girls and women said that they felt their self-esteem plummet as they went through puberty. And so that sat really stuck with and has been our North Star, guiding the products that we launch. Throughout those conversations and throughout our own experiences and conversations that we had with our own friends, we realized that as you go through this kind of pivotal life moment of getting your period for the first time, you also start experiencing all these different things in your body changing.

Sometimes that involves acne and I know, growing up, I always used really harsh treatments on my skin that probably damaged my skin more than it did help. You also start using deodorant for the first time and I think, for many of us, that experience is often a little bit embarrassing. You pick the first thing you see in the drugstore and then you hide it in your gym bag. So, throughout those conversations, we wanted to understand what the moments are while growing up that really shape our perception of how we’re feeling during those times. How can we combat that with safe and effective products that are good for you, but also make you feel good? 

Building on that, what has the customer response been? Do you have any kind of favourite customer feedback stories?

Bunny: I don’t know if I can choose just one. I think it’s those customers that send us a note that’s like, “This has been my experience with acne. This has been how it’s made me feel and these are all the things that I’ve done to try to make myself feel better. It’s not until I started using Blume products that I felt better.”

It’s not just about the fact that it helps their acne, but it’s that it made them feel like they’re comfortable or could leave the house without makeup for the first time in 10 years. I think those moments definitely stand out the most to me because that’s something that I can relate to. And at the end of the day, it’s not about feeling good just because you have clear skin. Our customers have shown us that they now are able to feel confident regardless of what their skin looks like that day. And I think that’s just so powerful and it fills me with a lot of gratitude.

Taran: Our mission is really to make people feel comfortable in their own skin. That feeling of “no more hiding.” Cause I think that’s kind of the instinctive thing that happens when you have a lot of acne and I definitely felt that way growing up too.

I think the other thing that makes me really happy to see is when we get a lot of messages from people going through puberty, or from their parents, and they message us to say, “This is the first time that my daughter has felt comfortable having an open conversation about this,” or “She’s actually excited to like receive these products and feels seen in the marketing.” Those are the things that are super heartwarming.

We also get the funniest messages from the Blume community—some of our customers we’ve been talking to since the inception of the brand—and our team knows them by name. I feel really grateful that Blume has such a vibrant and engaged community. 

Do you think being young women and having those first-hand experiences has influenced your messaging?

Bunny: One hundred percent. A lot of the things that Blume focuses on comes from our own experiences growing up and feeling the shame and stigma around our periods and around being uncomfortable in our bodies. As we grew older, the macro conversations around how you should love yourself and so forth became popular. However, the micro conversations that are happening at home, with the people who are closest to us, are often still a little bit uncomfortable. 

And because Taran and I are sisters, we experienced a lot of these things together as well. So, yes, these are things that Blume does that are a direct reflection of what we’ve experienced and what we felt like we wish we had as we were growing up. And then what we wish that the next generation of girls and women will have as they grow up so that they don’t have to be in their 20s undoing the shame and stigma that they experienced as kids or as teenagers. Rather than being torn down and having to build ourselves back up, why can’t we just continuously grow? 

A lot of people on our team are similar to us in age and have also experienced these things. So we really look at what things we felt we lacked or missed growing up, or what are the things that we would want for our nieces or nephews or younger siblings as they’re growing up and navigating this world. 

You have grown up together and now you’re running a business together, what’s that like? 

Taran: It’s been good. I think for us, we don’t really know anything else because we started working together at a really young age. One thing that works really well for us, is that we both have very different skillsets and parts of the business that we own. Of course, there are a lot of things that we work together on very closely, like the product. But for the most part, I do a lot of the marketing, and then Bunny does all of the operations. So, I think that makes it really great because we have such complementary skill set

At the end of the day, what kind of impact do you hope Blume has on its customers?

Taran: We really want to make it so that as young people grow up, their self-esteem rises and doesn’t go down.  Another thing about that we found out that a lot of girls are dropping out of STEM fields between the ages of nine to 12. So, we really want to create a world where girls can focus on doing the things that they love or continue learning and not be concerned about if they have acne or getting period cramps in the middle of like math class. All of those things will still be a reality, but they shouldn’t be a hindrance in our lives or something that holds us back. So, it’s really about changing those stats and create a brand that feels positive and fun and is able to provide education and products that you can trust.

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