Lyon’s Corner Drug offers Pretty Brainy clothing
October 11, 2009
Steamboat Springs — Heidi Olinger was shopping for her niece Ryanne in 2001 when it dawned on her: There were no clothes out there that fit Ryanne’s personality.
“She loved science and she loved math, but she was also very girlish,” Olinger said. “And sometimes people hold into an idea that if a girl is into that, she’s not very girly. But she’s very well rounded.”
That frustration planted the seed for Olinger’s apparel company, Pretty Brainy. The line is meant for girls ages 7 to 14, called “tweens,” and focuses on being feminine and intelligent. Olinger started the company in October, and Lyon’s Corner Drug is the first Colorado retailer to carry the line.
The company’s mission “is to elevate and expand the perception of what girls are capable of, and we’re doing it with fashion as the medium,” said Olinger, who lives in Lyons near Boulder.
She uses the Pretty Brainy logo and includes “brainy” elements such as math problems and stories about female heroes such as Jackie Cochran, the first woman to break the sound barrier.
According to the Pretty Brainy Web site, “Cochran, who is featured on our World-Class Fly Girl T, was known to fix her hair and lipstick before climbing out of the cockpit of a plane, including the jet in which she broke the sound barrier.”
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Olinger’s line also is sold at a boutique in Wyoming. Pretty Brainy ended up at Lyon’s Corner Drug through a chance encounter.
At an apparel conference in Denver in August, Olinger’s eye caught the name tag of Tahnee Miller, co-owner of Lyon’s Corner Drug. She saw Miller was from Steamboat and stopped her.
“She was literally going through the hall on her way out to get her transportation home to Steamboat, and I saw her name tag, and Steamboat is literally one of my favorite places in the world, and I said, ‘Here, have a postcard,'” Olinger said.
Miller was intrigued.
“Heidi’s energy was pretty captivating, I think,” Miller said. “I enjoy her and her ideals.”
Miller has a tween daughter, 7-year-old Brooke. Brooke picked out her Pretty Brainy shirt to wear one day. She came home and got out five days’ worth of math homework that needed to be done.
“I said, ‘Oh my gosh, Brooke, this is fantastic,'” she said. “She did most of it on her own, and she said, ‘I am wearing my Pretty Brainy T-shirt.’ I thought, you must be kidding me – I’ll have to have a shirt for each day of the week.”
Olinger tries to create apparel that tween girls want to wear. One girl writes a blog on the company Web site, and others offer advice and approve the writing on T-shirts, Olinger said.
David Rodriguez, whose daughter models for Pretty Brainy, said the family was cautious about what message they wanted their daughter to represent.
“We had a couple of opportunities for her to model over the years, and we didn’t bite on any of them until Heidi and Pretty Brainy,” he said.
Rodriguez said he encourages his daughter to focus on what’s inside and not just her outer appearance.
“We felt this was a great organization, and we could be sure our daughter’s image would be looked after, cared for, and our daughter would be associating with a company with a good message,” he said.
Pretty Brainy shirts at Lyon’s cost between $26 to $44. The messages they bear appear upside down to an observer. That’s so the wearer can read the biographies and math information, Olinger said.
The clothing line is all about the girls, she said. Many girls start off about age 7 in a really confident, sparkly place and then lose some of that when they hit ages 11 to 14, Olinger said.
“We want to remind them of all the great things that they can do and that they are going to do with their lives,” she said. “But if we hit them over the head too hard with that, it’s not going to be as effective as if we approach them with here’s how you do the problem, here’s how you do the math, here’s a hero, but also, here’s a fabulous chocolate shirt.”