How Scarf Monkey was born
Welcome to Scarf Monkey's Blog!
26th July 2018
While the rest of the UK is sweltering in boiling humidity, the Scottish Highlands are a balmy 26°C with a lovely strong breeze. What better time to start Scarf Monkey's blog, to talk about all the ups and downs of starting a new business, and the reasons why it's more than just a business to me, it's a project from the heart.
Where to begin?
Let's start with the pink. While a little pink is lovely, too much is just ... too much. Imagine reading this blog if all the words were pink instead of just a few. When I look through the photos of my 1970s and 1980s childhood, pink doesn't really feature much, if at all. There are green dresses, blue trousers, red blouses, yellow pyjamas and stripey jumpers - some of highly questionable taste for sure - but very little pink. Now, when I look down 'girls aisle' (there's another topic for later), it's a sea of pink, usually pale pink, a bit of white and yellow, the odd pastel blue, but mostly, overwhelmingly, pink. It's limiting.
Then, there are the slogans: 'when I grow up I want to be a unicorn', 'born to be beautiful', 'beach babe', 'princesses have more fun', 'rainbows forever'. I found myself having an internal dialogue - and occasionally accosting another innocent bystander - with, 'when I grow up I want to be an astronaut', and 'born to be an engineer', 'future beach lifeguard', 'sporty girls have more fun', 'smart girls forever'.
The final moment came in Tesco (not many life changing experiences happen in Tesco I suspect) while I was looking through the girls clothes, there in sparkly pink sequins on a pink t-shirt ... 'GOOD AS GOLD'. It might not seem as bad as 'princesses wear pink', but I think it's worse. I think it's dangerous. I think that the clothes we put on our children tell them what we value about them, and although being good has its place, you can bet your very last penny you'll never ever see such a thing on a boys t-shirt. That's why it's dangerous. I knew immediately I could do better. By happenstance I had read a quote of uncertain provenance (possibly Eleanor Roosevelt) the day before: 'well behaved women seldom make history'. Now that would make a better t-shirt, I thought. And then I knew what I would do.
I had wanted to stop teaching for a few years. I loved the kids, there are few things more entertaining than a room full of teenagers, and I challenge anyone to find a job so full of belly laughs. After 22 years though, it was enough, I was becoming jaded, and that wasn't healthy for me or the students. I didn't know what to do instead, so for a while I carried on and pushed the thought of changing careers away. I was pretty successful as a headteacher, and I had never done anything else ... ever.
At the same time, I was becoming increasingly frustrated with the clothes on offer for my daughter. I would go shopping for news tops, skirts, trousers or even socks and come back empty handed time and again. It was just so much the same, pink pink princess, pink pink unicorn, pink pink puke: limiting at best, and limiting at worst.
And so, I decided I would make t-shirts, for girls. How hard could it be? But that's a tale for another day.
I'll write again soon. Meanwhile, have a look at some of my designs ...
- you won't find any princesses, but you will find a few astronauts
- you won't find any unicorns, but you will find a few wolves and tigers
you won't find anything saying 'good as gold', but you will find 'well behaved women seldom make history'
See you next time!