By Adrian Rodriguez The Marin Independent Journal, Novato, Calif.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) "Epic Sky" is not just about female business ownership. For founder Antje Worring, the online fashion store featuring clothing, jewelry and accessories is all about empowering women. Young women specifically, who participate in the "Epic Sky" community by doing everything from designing jewelry, to writing to taking photographs.
The Marin Independent Journal, Novato, Calif.
Antje Worring has classy taste and a teen budget.
That's part of the reason the 17-year-old from Marin City started her own swimsuit brand, Karma Bikinis.
"I was always looking for nice, expensive swimwear because those were the only unique bikinis I could find," she said. She concluded that, "the only way to look cute at the beach was to make them myself."
Worring now creates swimwear for young women, but has also launched a special line through a new Sausalito-based company Epic Sky, an online fashion store featuring clothing, jewelry and accessories designed by teens for tween girls.
"We have two separate bikinis modified to be appropriate for the tween girl, designed so she could feel confident wearing it," she said.
Really, that is what Epic Sky is all about -- empowerment and confidence for young girls, said Monika Rose, co-founder and CEO. The company, which launched Wednesday, also serves as a platform for teen writers, photographers and artists who are a mix of budding journalists and feminists who offer a young woman's voice for the Generation Z girl.
"If you look at the media, it's all about celebrity dating and exterior beauty," Rose said. "It sends a message that if you're not 'perfect' -- to their standards -- then you're not valued. We are here to show girls that they have more to offer, and there is opportunity beyond what the media is telling them."
The fashionista and entrepreneur developed Epic Sky with co-founder Marian Kwon two years ago. Both live in Mill Valley, have tween girls and have been colleagues for about eight years.
Kwon admits, as mothers, they are removed from what it's like to be a teenager now. The idea is to mentor young girls to find their voice, she said.
"We want to inspire the epic in every girl," Kwon said, who is also head of marketing. "That's really our mission. And the designers, they just graduated from this tween age group, so they remember what it's like. The young people love that the product was created by girls just a few years older than them because it's relatable."
In addition to Worring's swimwear, Epic Sky features another local designer, 16-year-old Ellie Toole of Mill Valley, who creates handmade jewelry.
Like Worring, she also launched her own company, Ellis Handmade Jewelry, and designed a line for Epic Sky, because "it's hard to find jewelry that feels stylish but is casual enough for the day-to-day life of a teen," she said.
Julia-Rose Kibben, 15, of San Francisco, who wants to be journalist, writes for Epic Sky.
"I write about girls to inspire other girls," she said.
One of her favorite assignments so far was interviewing The Harder We Fall, a local all-girl pop rock band.
She went to the band's rehearsal, and "being in a room with five girls who were so powerful was very epic," she said. "It's wonderful to be a part of a company that is as passionate about me as I am about it."
The Epic Sky management team members are also all women. The Epic Sky team provides mentorship to the teen designers and they earn royalties on their products.
Additionally, the company benefits from tween girl consultation through focus groups.
Jessie Fischer, a 13-year-old from Mill Valley, has been lucky to offer her expertise as a teen advisory board member, she said. "Everything is so cute and flattering," she said. "It's exciting that I get see everything coming out of this new company."
Parents agree. Mill Valley resident Neysa Furey has a 13-year-old daughter, and she said shopping for pre-teen girls can be a nightmare, saying shorts, skirts and dresses are often too revealing. "We've been following the website and it's nice that there are fashions that kids like, that flatter their figure but are not so revealing that a mother has to worry," she said.
Additionally, she is a fan of the articles and photography, she said. Parents worry about what their children are doing online, she said, and "I feel as a parent I can trust my daughter on that site. It's not Kim Kardashian; it's positive, yet interesting to my kid."
As the company's first teen designers, Worring and Toole are thrilled to see where the company takes them.
"I've learned about co-creating and working together," Toole said. "I couldn't have chosen better women to work with and be mentored by. They are so inspiring."