The New Witty, Feminist Fashion Brand You Need to Own ASAP

Things we think are cool: fighting the wage gap, clapping back against cat calls, and finding new ways to express the cool girl fashion you see everywhere at NYU. Luckily, there's a locally founded New York City brand that is managing to accomplish all of this. Founded by Brooklyn residents Kara McGinley and Cassie Lintelman, Femininitees is tackling feminist issues by stocking their Etsy shop with embroided t-shirts they hand sew out of their apartment. Whether you're a proud supporter of #FreetheNipple or ending sexism in general (or both), there's most likely a Feminitees tee for you. 

A few months after their launch, here's what Kara and Cassie have to say about the founding of their progressive and totally badass brand and what Femininitees has planned for the future.

HCNYU: What was the inspiration behind starting Femininitees? How would you describe your aesthetic?
 
Cassie: I've been designing and making my own clothes since forever, I actually went to school for Apparel Design and now work as an Assistant Designer for a women's clothing brand. One of my favorite designers is Rachel Antonoff, both for her creativity and women empowerment. Her Fall 2015 RTW collection featured a variety of different embroidered pieces and I was inspired to start working on my own embroidery. Kara and I were living together at the time when I brought up the idea I had about the free the nipple shirt. She's a creative writer and we just started bouncing ideas off each other when we were a little buzzed one night. We came up with a bunch of designs and realized we could create a platform that gave women a way to voice their feelings through fashion and donate to an amazing organization as well. 
We didn't want to tie Femininitees down to one specific aesthetic. The underlying goal was to make a line of shirts that would be appropriate for all women, not just a select few. We tried to mix casual, feminine and empowering aspects into each design and to use sizes and qualities that can cater to all different body types.
 
HCNYU: What are each of your career background and how have they helped you in building Femininitees? 
 
Cassie: I currently work on the design side of the fashion industry so I've been able to get hands on experience with the production and development side of things. Through my jobs I've also worked with buyers, wholesale and ecommerce which has really helped us to grow our brand both online and in stores. Having a creative background is always helpful when starting your own business and Kara and I are able to combine our different skill sets to make an awesome team
 
Kara: I'm a writer and a lot of my writing focuses on women's interests. So I contribute through the copywriting, social media, sales and PR, and the brainstorming of the designs. Cassie put me through embroidery boot camp so I can confidently say I can embroider a nipple onto a shirt now as well. I think our different backgrounds has helped make Femininitees successful since our minds don't work exactly the same way. 
 
HCNYU: How do you guys decide what will go on each shirt (i.e. the sayings and artwork?)
 
Cassie: It happens pretty naturally. We talk about what injustice we want to shine a light on and then think of clever ways to express it in a design. Usually we try to think of something punny and I draw it out to see if it's even possible to embroider and if we think it's an appealing design. We also try to listen to our followers on social media. We had one woman request a maternity leave shirt so that will be one of our next designs. 
 
HCNYU: Do you guys plan on experimenting with any other items of clothing besides t-shirts in the future?
 
Cassie: Definitely! Right now we plan on adding in some tanks and crew neck sweatshirts for different seasons, but theres always a possibility for us to grow into other categories as well. 
 
HCNYU: What is your target audience?
 
Kara: I'd say all women. We're thinking about doing menswear and we'd love for more men to wear the shirts, but right now they're just in women's sizes. Most of our buyers range from ages 18-35 with the exception of our moms.  
 
HCNYU: Have you had any buyers respond unexpectedly to your shirts? 
 
Cassie: A father messaged us once about the wage gap shirt after he ordered one. He said he just bought the shirts for his daughter and really believes in what we are doing and how important gender equality is. He said he knows so many hard working women that deserve just as much as their male counterparts. It was really nice to see a man respond so positively to the shirts especially since a lot of men make absurd excuses about the wage gap.
 
 
HCNYU: Have you come across any roadblocks in building the Femininitees business? How did you overcome them?
 
Kara: Neither of us expected this to pick up as quickly as it did, so a big roadblock was the labor. There are only two of us and it takes about an hour to do a shirt. We got 7 orders in one day once and almost gave ourselves carpal tunnel. 
 
HCNYU: What is the process of making a shirt? How long does it take to make one shirt? 
 
Cassie: After our first big push of orders we realized that doing everything by hand was not plausible for continued growth with the business. We wanted to be able to reach a bigger audience and participate in flea markets and wholesale business so we have begun to move some of our designs to machine embroidery. All designs are the same and we still do the Free The Nipple and Wage Gap shirts by hand to give our own personal touch.
 
HCNYU: How much has Femininitees grown since you started it? What do you expect for the future?
 
Cassie: It's grown a lot. We were featured on TeenVogue.com which was insane and a dream come true. We're just really excited that people are excited about what we are doing and we love that we are able to give back to NOW. Originally, we weren't even supposed to launch until May but decided to just dive head first in and launched in February. 
 
HCNYU: Kara: It was a little scary money-wise, investing our only free time (we both have full time jobs) and basically any money we had into inventory was a big risk. But it was an easy risk to make because we truly believe in what we are doing and have seen firsthand these shirts and our message influence people, even if it is just slightly.
 
HCNYU: Where can our readers buy your shirts?

Image 2/3 courtesy of Lucy Helena Photography.