The story of Pourquoi Princesse is the story of my family. It’s not perfect. It’s often messy as life tends to be. I’m Laura, mom to a boisterous, opinionated four year old daughter and a calm, cuddly one and a half year old son.
The path to creating Pourquoi Princesse started in 2014 as my husband and I were preparing to welcome our first child into this world. We were giddy with delight when we learned the baby was a girl. And then, like a lightning bolt, she was here—all 3.5 kg of her (that’s 7 lbs and 7 ounces for my US peeps). Like every parent, our world was turned completely upside down with the birth of our daughter. She created a burning, unconditional love which brought out the most animalistic of instincts along with the drive to allow our children to thrive. This drive forced us to confront some brutal realities about the world she was entering.
These realities particularly bothered my husband. He wanted his daughter to live a happy, normal life, free of prejudice. He wanted her to be strong and know she could do anything. So he set out for the truth, researching what life would hold in store for our lively, headstrong daughter, including information on gender stereotypes and how they affected children. He was shocked by what he discovered, to put it mildly, and he began to notice these stereotypes in our everyday lives. Whether it was how women are portrayed in advertisements and television, or the types of toys designated as “girly”, he now saw it everywhere and he knew this isn’t what he wanted for our daughter.
As a woman, I had experienced bias because of my gender, but it was so integrated into my normality that I hadn’t thought much about it. But as a mother, the realization of normalized gender biases took on a whole different meaning. As I considered the effects of stereotypes on my daughter, I knew I wanted a better world for her. My husband and I both became passionate about the subject and constantly asked ourselves what every parent asks: How can we make the world a better place for our children—a world where they can thrive and reach their full potential? As entrepreneurs, we knew we wanted to tackle the issue through business, but we couldn’t think of what kind of business to start.
A couple of years later, my son was born—the polar opposite of his sister. He was zen and cautious. During my maternity leave after his birth, I received tons of boys’ hand-me-downs. One thing struck me as I was re-organizing drawers. All of his pajamas had motifs of dinosaurs, race cars, and robots in blue, brown, grey and green, while my daughter’s pajamas were full of hearts, flowers, stars, bunnies, and butterflies, and all in pink, purple and pastels. I thought to myself, “Why are hearts and butterflies reserved for girls as symbols of femininity? And why are robots and cars only for boys?” But most importantly, I thought about what messages we are sending to kids through their clothing and toys. I started to discuss my frustrations with other mothers, and found that many agreed with me and were highly disappointed about the lack of clothing choices for boys and girls, and the polarized separation of boys’ and girls’ toys into pink and blue aisles.
Then one day, my daughter, who loves princesses, dresses, and dolls, but equally loves cars, tools, and airplanes, asked me for a dress with race cars on it. As a proud mom who wanted to encourage all of her interests, I said of course. But just a few Google searches and store visits revealed a disappointing reality – the dress didn’t exist. I found myself gripped by the simple question: “Why not?”, and, with that, Pourquoi Princesse was born.
When I told Murielle about the idea, everything seemed to click in her mind. An entrepreneur and President of the Children’s Lifestyle Federation in France, Murielle knew she had to be involved. Pourquoi Princesse seemed to combine all the things she loved: a strong purpose and worthy cause, inspiration, and innovation to make the world a better place for her children. Inspired by her grandmother who was a self-made real estate titan and her mother who was a single mom, Murielle felt this fight was very personal. In addition, as a mother to two daughters, she had already experienced firsthand the disappointment of having to go to the boys’ aisle to buy science kits and Star Wars packs. She already heard her daughters tell her that girls couldn’t be engineers or work in technology, and she wanted them to know they could be anything they wanted to be!
Given her experience with children’s lifestyle brands, Murielle immediately transformed the initial concept of girls’ empowerment through clothing into girl power kits including activity booklets, clothing and a variety of different goodies. We both realized that in order to boost girls’ self-confidence and tear down any limits they may feel, we needed to lift girls up with positivity and possibility. Most importantly, we needed to intervene with this message as early as possible. We both wanted to challenge what it meant to be a princess and give girls strong female role models who are doing, or have done, daring things.
It’s been a long road to get to this launch, but we are so excited to share this with you and your children. We hope you become part of our community, and we can have regular conversations about equality and empowerment. Join the movement!
Laura Drewett is the CEO and Co-founder of Pourquoi Princesse. She’s also a mom to a boisterous, vivacious little girl and a calm, cuddly little boy. An American, she lives in the south of France with her husband and kids.