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Go Ask Mom

Chapel Hill business boosts girls' body image with sports underwear line

Posted November 6

MaryAnne Gucciardi's career has taken her around the world.

Born in Massachusetts, she's lived in New York, California, Hong Kong and Italy, working as an investment banker and for Johnson & Johnson and major universities. In Hong Kong, she even founded and ran a company that supplied hotels with fabric from the United States.

But inspiration for new businesses can come from anywhere. And, in the case of Gucciardi, they came from home and her own daughter.

I checked in with Gucciardi, founder and CEO of Dragonwing girlgear and mom of a son and daughter in Chapel Hill, to learn more about her business and a Kickstarter campaign she recently launched.

Here's a Q&A:

Go Ask Mom: Why did you start Dragonwing?

MaryAnne Gucciardi: I started Dragonwing girlgear when I had difficulty finding sports base-layers for my athletic daughter. Things were too mature, didn't fit well or weren’t high performance. Sometimes, we ended up in the boy’s department, sending the subliminal message that being athletic was masculine. I made a small production run of sports camis for our team and sold them from the back of my car. I launched the business formally in July 2013 when we were accepted to The Grommet, an ecommerce platform for independent makers.

GAM: What products do you offer?

MG: We offer a variety of athletic support tops from the Half Tee and Un-Tee Sports cami to our most popular Racer Seamless Sports bra. We do compression shorts - another item where fit is an issue because noone wants a wedgie because there is too much fabric in the front, and a line of thermal base-layers made out of recycled plastic bottles.

We have an online store and also are carried by Soccer.com, The Grommet and Amazon.

GAM: What's been the response so far?

MG: The response from customers has been great. We are becoming known as the go-to resource for girls teen and tween sports underwear and for our ground breaking functional designs, superior fit, seamless construction, and use of cutting edge wicking, bamboo and silver infused fabrics. One of the joys of the job is getting to know our fantastic girls and moms -- they are all trying to do their best. They inspire me.

GAM: You recently launched a Kickstarter campaign. What's that all about?

MG: We are hearing from our customers that they want more sizing options so we can serve girls who are cup size AA to DD, so we are expanding the sizing options of our bestselling Racer Seamless Sports Bra.

Our second part of the Kickstarter is to launch our new Racerback Cami. Customers have been asking for a cool, breathable cami, so we developed the Racerback Cami. The new Racerback Cami provides girls options that they’ve never had before. Some girls want pads in their bra tops and some girls don’t. We added the thinnest removable pads so you have the choice of more modesty without adding bulk. It uses high performance Italian fabric, is UV50, provides wicking and is as soft as silk. The back of the cami and shelf bra are silver-infused, wicking mesh for coolness and odor control. Adjustable shoulder straps and the modified racer design means no droopy straps, a great fit and back support.

I am particularly focused on fit, support and performance tops because feelings about breast development are the leading cause of girls dropping out of sports. Keeping girls active is essential to their physical and emotional well-being, academics, leadership development and even their job prospects. Breasts - and body image - shouldn’t be a barrier for girls - for anything.

GAM: What do you hope for Dragonwing for the future?

MG: My hope is that we positively impact girls confidence about body image. One way we can do this is by making clothes that fit a girl’s body so she can do anything she wants - in sports and in life.

As part of its Kickstarter campaign, Dragonwing recently launched a contest for $500 worth of Dragonwing girlgear.

Go Ask Mom features local moms every Monday.

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