When Mamie Dayan Vogel worked in the public sector, she instantly noticed the gender discrepancy in the workplace. Women were placed in more creative roles, while men worked with data, algorithms and software.
That division wasn’t OK with Dayan Vogel, and she decided to do something to help erase traditional gender roles.
“Why were all these women working with the font and the colors and the layouts, and why were the men working on the hard coding?” she said. “This seems bigger than (aptitude). It has nothing to do with gender at all. These were clearly the end result of a society that says these are the kinds of jobs girls do and these are the kinds of jobs boys do. That wasn’t cool in my world.”
Dayan Vogel, a former Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta employee who led Atlanta’s PJ Library efforts, decided to start with the next generation. She launched Constructive Kidicisms, which designs shirts and body suits for infants and toddlers to show they can be anything, regardless of sex. She said children need to grow up learning that boys can cook and girls can code.
Constructive Kidicisms has three lines: Future Careers, including “Future Madame President,” “Future Mathematician” and “Physician in Training”; I Can, with slogans such as “I CAN Cook & Code” and “I CAN Dance and Design a Business Plan”; and General Business, with such messages as “Citizen of the World” and “I Heart my Roth IRA.”
Dayan Vogel said she has received phenomenal feedback from parents and others in the apparel industry.
“Everyone’s really excited, not only because of the gender neutrality, but (because) I think it really resonates with people,” she said. “One other big part of the story is that when I was a child, people would say, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ A very exciting, bold question is
also huge and a lot of pressure because nobody talks about the options. People say, ‘Oh, I get it. I can be a mathematician or president or a doctor.’ I think it resonates with people because it makes them remember their childhood.”
Dayan Vogel hopes to sell a “My curves are beautiful” shirt, with the words forming a heart, for boys as well as girls because both need to learn that everyone is perfect as is, she said.
“I really wanted to impact that whole body image thing but starting at a young age and having a strong identity early,” Dayan Vogel said. “I wanted to begin the conversations of body identity and the way your body is made is natural and perfect. Whether you’re curvy or not curvy, it’s beautiful. I wanted the conversation to begin with positivity and that chunky babies and curvy girls are perfect just the way they are.”
Although Constructive Kidicisms was in the works for four years, the company’s website, www.kidicisms.com, just launched in October.
As a startup, Dayan Vogel applied to participate in a “Shark Tank”-style Salesforce pitch competition with Atlanta judges. She was one of four businesses that presented to the panel and a live audience.
“I had less than a week to prepare,” Dayan Vogel said. “I had never done a pitch. I had been working with a lot of contractors, and I have a network I can talk about this with, but I couldn’t delegate this to
somebody else. I’m the only one. I had to come up with a pitch deck and time myself and make sure it was legible and understandable and practice it with both people I knew and strangers. It was a lot of fun. I’m thrilled that I did it and ripped off that Band-Aid and tried something new, but it was pretty nerve-racking.”
Besides relaunching the company’s website, Dayan Vogel is working on a Kickstarter campaign that will launch at the end of May. The company also is co-sponsoring pop-up picnics in Jewish communities: five in May, five in June and five in July.
Dayan Vogel is working with nonprofit organizations to help children understand they can be whatever they want to be no matter what society says. In response to requests, she is looking at adding adult sizes to her inventory.
“I really want to have a mother-son or father-daughter matching pair,” Dayan Vogel said. “We need role models.”