OPINIONATED Girls Nicole Hartley & Caroline Bernstein
Hi ladies. Happy Feminist Wednesday can you introduce yourself to our Bettys?
Hi! Our names are Nicole Hartley and Caroline Bernstein. We are two college students studying at University of Michigan and New York University, respectively. We recently launched a company earlier this summer, OPINIONATED Clothes, with the premise of intersecting fashion with feminism and women’s empowerment. Our clothes feature slogans and designs in support of the feminist movement, and a portion of proceeds each month are donated to a different woman-focused charity. Our August charity was the American Association of University Women.
How did you get started?
We met in our sophomore year of high school and have been close every since. We both had a mutual interest in feminism and activism in high school, and we were both involved in various non-profit groups. Going into college, we both continued to further our passions for women’s rights, and it was something we often discussed. This summer, we were brainstorming ideas of ways to get more involved in this movement, and we came up with this idea that combined our love of fashion and feminism. Both of us are very...opinionated, to say the least, and we knew right away that our brand had to revolve around that. The name stuck; we started researching how to open an online clothing store, and after lots of long hours and confusion and paperwork, OPINIONATED Clothes was born.
Why feminism is important to you and how it influences your work?
Both of us grew up in environments where we were surrounded by strong, hard-working women. Our mothers, teachers, and mentors drilled into us from a young age that we could be and do whatever we wanted, regardless of our gender. However, as we got older, we began to experience first-hand the challenges that women face being taken seriously in professional settings. Women have to work that much harder than men do to achieve the same things, and women have to think early on about things men don’t--like how their career choices will affect their personal lives or about the possibility starting a family. These are the sad lessons that young girls learn early on, and we want to stop that. Instead of sitting back and reading the statistics on gender discrepancies in wages or the gender ratio in a professional field and getting discouraged, we decided to do something about it.
What do you do to avoid feminist burnout? What’s your favorite self care practice?
Sometimes, the best thing to do is just take a break. We live in a world where we are constantly bombarded with headlines and breaking news, most of it depressing. The media can really take its toll on our wellbeing. As much as its important to stay informed, there are times we just need to unplug. Turning off the news, stopping scrolling through our Facebook feeds--these are ways that we can tune the outside world out and take time for ourselves. We both really enjoy finding fun new ways to work out, and we often go to classes together. Face masks, baking, and getting lost in mindless Netflix shows are some ways that we practice self-care. We are currently in the process of knitting each other scarves as holiday presents--something we can focus on when we are feeling stressed.
Do you have any advice for anyone starting out in your field?
You don’t need to be “smart” or “creative” to start a company; you just need to have the courage to take the actions required to achieve what you want and to own it. The hardest part is just getting started. If we had known going into OPINIONATED Clothes how many steps there are to start an online company, we never would have started. We dove in head first, taking every step as it came. And that is the advice we’d give anyone in ur shoes--dive in. Do you research, yes, but know that there is no way to be totally prepared. If you keep waiting for the moment that you are, you will never get anything started.
How can we support you?
Check out our website + social media here:
Facebook: OPINIONATED Clothes