Name: Sylvia Aghabekian Lowden
Business: Smarty Womyn, tee-shirts featuring STEM women
Location: San Francisco, California, U.S.
Reason for starting: I started Smarty Womyn because I was tired of seeing girls and young ladies wearing t-shirts with pictures of negative pop-culture stereotypes on them. We see a few t-shirts with men of high intellect on them such as Einstein and Mozart but how about women? There are so many of women of science that we never hear about. Smarty Womyn is one step of many that will change our culture and encourage girls to choose STEM careers.
How do you define success? The ultimate success will be when people no longer say, “Wow, what a great idea” when they see Smarty Womyn t-shirts. Success will be when seeing a female scientist, engineer or astronaut on a tee-shirt is so mainstream that it is no big deal. Then, girls will have the role models they need to feel they can pursue any path as an adult.
Biggest Success: So far, my biggest success was at Maker Faire where everybody loved the shirts.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it? My top challenge has been in finding the right mix of live event and social media that provides the attention the business needs. I originally thought all I had to do was put the shirts online, do a little social media marketing and they would fly off the shelves. Unfortunately, social media marketing takes a lot of time, which I don’t have since I work a day job in addition to this business.
So far, the t-shirts have sold much better at events. However, there aren’t a lot of events where these t-shirts are appropriate. And, events take time as well. As we are coming into the holiday season, I’m making more effort to be active on social media in an attempt to get more business.
Related: The Good Fight for Women in STEM
Who is your most important role model? For some reason, I’m having a tough time with this question. I suppose it’s because many of my role models in science and engineering have been men. I have a great admiration for Richard Feynman, Carl Sagan and Neil deGras-Tyson. The women who were leading the charge on feminism when I was growing up are right in there, Gloria Steinem, Betty Freidan. And even farther back, Margaret Sanger, Susan B Anthony, people who fought for women’s most basic rights. They all have helped shape who I am and what I believe in.
Edited by The Story Exchange