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Go Ask Mom

Chapel Hill mom creates innovative line of clothes for tween girls

Posted November 21

Trying to find appropriate clothing for her tween daughter sent Shannon Tennyson to the drawing board.

A year ago, Tennyson founded CALZICO, an innovative line of clothing for tween girls developed, in part, with the help of her daughter, who just turned 11.

Tennyson, who has worked as an independent corporate change management consultant for 20 years, recently launched an online crowdfunding campaign through Kickstarter to raise money for the first full production run of the line's 2017 spring/summer collection.

I checked in with Tennyson by email to learn more about her, CALZICO and her hopes for bringing high quality, fun and age appropriate clothes to tween girls. (A mission, as the mom of two girls, I fully support!).

Here's our Q&A:

Go Ask Mom: How did you come up with the idea for CALZICO? What inspired you?

Shannon Tennyson: CALZICO was inspired by my own tween daughter and my corporate and personal travels. My expressive daughter had an early interest in selecting clothing and arranging the pieces to suit her style, mood or occasion. I quickly realized her choice of clothing was a natural extension of self-expression. She also had an interest in fashion and often sketched out designs and ideas and circulated them for feedback. As her desire to self-style grew, she wanted more options - more than I could find in traditional clothing lines. Our inability to find high-quality, multi-purpose clothing for her prompted the creation of CALZICO in 2016.

The ideas that are coming to life at CALZICO started with informal conversations with my 10-year-old daughter, Callie, nearly a year ago. We kept coming back to the same question: Why couldn't we find reversible and convertible items for tween-age kids? We scoured and we sketched. Then together, we dove head first into the fashion industry to make a change for the better for tweens.

GAM: The line is "globally inspired." Tell us about the offerings and the looks.

ST: I sought to bring to life my memories, and in turn, global awareness to the CALZICO line. In addition to being reversible and convertible, many of the designs have been influenced by travel experiences and feature textiles and prints from locations around the world. We’re globally aware and want to share that by adding an international element to the garments.

CALZICO’s first collection features six pieces for girls ages 6-14 that can be flipped and zipped, allowing tweens to create multiple looks. A skirt that converts into shorts and a jacket that can be worn four different ways are two great examples of what makes the CALZICO collection unique. The first collection features responsibly sourced textiles from South Africa, Australia, Indonesia, Canada and the United States and the collection will be cut and sewn in western North Carolina. We are working with a South African artist for our unique illustrations and celebrate world diversity by aligning with others who empower locally.

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

ST: Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform that enables people to support various types of projects by pre-ordering a product for future delivery. We hope to achieve our project fundraising goal in order to begin our first full production run of the Spring/Summer 2017 Launch Collection.

On Kickstarter, a "backer" agrees to back our project by purchasing an award (i.e. a CALZICO product) for future delivery when our production run is completed.

GAM: Why is it hard to find clothes for this age group?

ST: I think it’s more difficult because clothing choices are often of poor fit, poor quality, too youthful or too mature, leaving little to suit their "in between" growth needs. CALZICO is thoughtfully designed to inspire confidence in tweens during what is often a difficult developmental stage.

An important consideration in the construction of every CALZICO piece is how it will give tweens a boost of self-confidence. Each garment is designed to give the wearer the opportunity to make an independent decision about what they’re wearing and how they’re going to personalize it, encouraging them to develop a sense of identity and personal style. It also means we avoid skimp and sexy. Instead, we feature inspired global artwork. For example, one of our artwork tees reads "Kujiamini" which means confidence in the Swahili language.

Encouraging self-confidence and a sense of identity is an important consideration in the construction of every CALZICO piece. Each garment is created to provide tweens with choices.

GAM: What are your hopes for CALZICO?

ST: We believe confidence is contagious. Our hope is to inspire confidence in tweens through fun, convertible fashion. As it evolves, we want to stay true to the concept of versatility, comfort, and function as our key focus. Tweens don't need more of the same -- they need better fit, quality, choice, and inspiration over what the fast fashion industry is offering.

Long term, we have lots of ideas! We want to grow our collection of convertible pieces, as well as add fall designs and select boy’s items.

Go Ask Mom features local moms every Monday.

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