September Femme Fetale Feature: Young Entrepreneurs Show Us How to Be Opinionated
I think that we’re finding more and more that the older generations have a lot to say about Millenials and the upcoming Generation Z. I for one, had my own opinions until I came accross two badass babes, who say that their generation is just as motivated, postive and involved as ever.
Meet Caroline, 19, and Nicole, 20, of Opinionated Clothing. These two gal pal entrepreneurs are…well, I’ll let them tell you the rest.
Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? Who are you to each other? What significance do you both play in each other’s lives personally and when it comes to your clothing line?
CB: My name is Caroline Bernstein.Currently, I attend New York University where I am studying Public Policy. I am originally from Buffalo, NY, but I moved to Princeton, NJ when I was 15. That’s where I met Nicole. She’s my best friend, partner in crime, other half, and now, business partner. Nicole is someone whom I can always count on both personally and professionally. She’s definitely the motivator--whenever I want to give up on something or I get frustrated with something regarding our line, she helps me push through. I can’t think of anyone better to have started this line with.
NH: My name is Nicole Hartley and I am from New Hope, Pennsylvania. I am studying Economics and Chinese at the University of Michigan. I met Caroline sophomore year of high school. The term “BFF” sounds super cliché and cheesy, but I can say from the bottom of my heart that Caroline Bernstein is my best friend forever. She is the most caring and supportive friend you will ever meet. If I wanted to jump off a cliff, she would support my decision and then take my hand to jump with. When it comes to the clothing line, she keeps me grounded and realistic when my dreams for the company are not possible just yet. She is also someone who gives her 100% to each task she is challenged with. When she puts her mind to something, it will always exceed expectations. Who could ask for a better business partner?
The message is pretty self-explanatory--we want women to feel free to be “opinionated” without being [labeled as] ‘bossy’ or ‘bitchy’ or ‘too loud’.
Can I just say that I admire that you both are so young and are putting your energy into spreading positivity in the world. Do you feel that a lot of women and men around your age share the same passions? Why or why don’t you think that is?
CB: Thanks so much! Honestly, I think that people our age are a lot more politically active than people give us credit for. There’s this idea that our generation is very apathetic, but I really don’t think that that is the case. I see a lot of young people standing at the forefront of movements such as Never Again and the Women’s March, and that is really encouraging. I like to surround myself with socially conscious people who are passionate about making a change.
NH: Thank you! I think that while young men and women may not be picking up a paper newspaper to read the news, they are definitely reading what is happening in the world on their phones and other devices. Because of technology, it is easier for the younger generations to get notified of news immediately. I was also reading today that 1 in 10 members of generation Z want to start a charity. I think nowadays it is “cool” to be passionate about a cause. We all just want to make an impact and fight for something worth fighting for.
Explain what sparked the idea of creating Opinionated apparel. What message are you trying to send with your clothing line?
CB: The idea for creating OPINIONATED was all Nicole--she texted me with an idea, and I jumped on board. The message is pretty self-explanatory--we want women to feel free to be “opinionated” without being [labeled as] ‘bossy’ or ‘bitchy’ or ‘too loud’. And this goes for all marginalized groups. You don’t have to be a straight, cis, white man to vocalize your opinions.
NH: While doing another task for school, I created a tee-shirt and realized I actually liked creating clothes. I wanted to do more, but I also wanted to create something meaningful to me. I have always been passionate about feminism and right after the idea struck, I had to tell my best friend. Creating this clothing line, we are trying to let people know that you can be trendy and an activist. People who are tired of being called “too opinionated” when they are expressing what they believe should not feel they need to be silenced. They should step up to the occasion and own it.
I noticed that a portion of the proceeds from all clothing purchases on your site go to charity. Name some of your fav women’s charities.
CB: One of my biggest passions is healthcare. I’ve also been a sexually health educatior for the past couple of years. I think that access to safe and affordable care is one of the most important things anyone can have access to. That being said, I personally am a big fan of Planned Parenthood.
NH: Some of my favorites are RAINN, Girls not Brides, Dress for Success, Girls inc. and so many more. I like charities that make a women’s environment safer for her and her well-being.
I like to throw in some fun questions so your audience can get to know you better. As a feminist (if you classify yourself as one) what are some dating rules guys must follow? Give us “how to date a feminist 101” tips for the guys out there.
CB: I love this one! Honestly, this is something I think about a lot. Just like I like to surround myself with socially conscious friends, the same goes for men. If you aren’t a respectful human being then it’s not going to work. Just like, treat me as an equal and with respect. I’m not sure that I have any hard “rules” per say about dating. They just have to be a kind person, and to me, treating women with respect and being a “feminist” is a part of being kind.
NH: This summer, my boss told me that everyday his mom would make him his bagged lunch and before she gave it to him, she would kiss him on the cheek and say, “be nice to the girls”. I think the best advice I could give is that girls want more than any re-enactment of their favorite rom-com scene, kindness and respect. It is not a rule, but no girl (or guy) should take anything less. Give me kindness and respect or get out.
“Age is but a number. Dream it, do it, and don’t look back.”
How far do you want to take this thing with Opinionated clothing. Where do you see yourself in 5 years, in 10 years?
CB: Honestly? I have no idea. I’m kind of taking everything one day at a time. I would love it if our company really took off. Opening up physical stores would be really cool too. I’m staying optimistic, and I want to see OPINIONATED Clothes flourish, but there are other opportunities I want to take in the next few years as well. Currently I’m a sophomore in college. I think I want to go to law school, so I guess that’s where I see myself in 10 years. After that? I’m not sure--maybe I’ll go into politics. But it would be awesome to do all of this and keep OPINIONATED up and running.
NH: Well, considering I just bought a book called “How to do your taxes for dummies!”, I do not think that I can answer that. While I can hope and wish for our brand to flourish and be successful, I also know that Rome was not built in day. Every day I learn something new, whether it be a mistake or not. I do know that this is something I want to keep up additionally to the professional path I take in the business world.
Have you experienced any changes in your lives since starting Opinionated? Are your lives much busier? About the same?
CB: Life is definitely busier! I try to designate a good chunk of each day to OPINIONATED. Now that we’ve started doing some interviews and photoshoots, the amount of work we have is definitely increasing. Plus there’s the whole financial aspect to deal with, as well as extensively researching charities to make sure that we support their message and they support ours. But it’s a good busy! I really enjoy the work that we are doing.
NH: Busier? That the understatement of the year! But it is a good busy because I enjoy what I am doing. I know now that it is not all just photo shoots and creating clothing, but also the nitty gritty details of balance sheets and income statements. Both teach me new skills and that is what matters most. I also think that creating a business has made me feel more confident. If you can do it, I can do it too!
What advice would you give other 19 and 20 year old entrepreneurs?
CB: Not to sound like a Nike ad, but… just do it. If you have an idea, run with it. See where it goes. You are never going to be 100% ready, so just take the plunge now.
NH: Age is but a number. Dream it, do it, and don’t look back.
Describe your clothing line in one word. Give us the reason why you chose this word?
CB: Am I allowed to say ‘opinionated’? For obvious reasons.
NH: What Caroline said. One word. Eleven Letters.
Find out more about Opinionated Clothing on their website!
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