Bridget Stickline says that when her daughter Elle was young, she had a name for the strong, independent girls they encountered in literature: girlhero.
Now she owns a store by the same name in Greenspring Station—an effort to embody that confident, feminine energy through style and self-expression.
Girlhero, at 2360 Joppa Road at Green Spring Station, serves girls ages 14 and older with hand-chosen clothing lines from a local design team, as well as other items of flair such as jewelry, room décor and skin care.
The idea had been brewing for four to five years, Stickline says.
As the owner of Wee Chic Boutique, a children’s clothing store also located in Green Spring Station, she had seen her customers grow up for the last 12 years. She would hear from families that there wasn’t a store that served the needs of younger teens.
“A 15- to 16-year-old (individual) now is very different than they were 20 years ago, and I think the market kind of failed to pick up on that,” she says. “This kid is very different from herself at 13 and not quite where she’s gonna be at 22.”
These young women are on social media seeing styles before anyone else. They are designing their rooms with Pinterest. And because they’re more style savvy, they are looking for something more sophisticated, she says.
Stickline worked with local designer Dawn Sangley, president and creative director of Spry Design, to envision a space that would be stylish and mature but also have a personal touch so that teens would feel safe and comfortable in the space.
Sangley chose pale pink with natural woods tones and added fun creative elements such as a 10-foot long friendship bracelet and tack boards “similar to what they might have in their bedrooms at home,” she says.
She wanted it to be trendy but not so much so that it couldn’t be timeless.
“There’s something very inspirational about designing a store for young women,” Sangley says, explaining that it allows her to be creative in designing a space and one she knows will also inspire them to be creative in choosing outfits.
Stickline says these teens are at an age where they are learning who they are and where image is important. She wanted to cater to their aesthetics but also wanted to encourage them to express themselves.
“It’s so easy to put yourself in a box at that age,” she says.
That’s why she has a range of style aesthetics in the store—so they can see what jumps out at them and not be afraid to shop outside of the box they think they belong in, she says.
Her Wee Chic customers—now teens—came as an early entry group to try on clothing. Even they were surprised that Stickline and her team were able to help them discover new fashion pairings.
In turn, the teens were also a great resource for Stickline. They were able to say what was “cheugy,” or out of date.
Going forward, Stickline says her goal is to connect with some nonprofits, as Wee Chic did in partnering with ShareBaby and the Baltimore Child Abuse Center, and offer some fun classes at the shop, including fashion design and denim painting classes.
Hopefully, she will have something down the road for body positivity and internet safety, Stickline says.
“They’re spending a lot of time in cyber spaces,” she says of her customers. Although the shop classes are fun, she hopes to be able to deliver some practical educational tips into them too.