Handsome in Pink (HiP) is a groovy Oakland, CA clothing line that started in 2007. In 2016, we moved to Bozeman, Montana. Our mission has always been to empower people (babies, kids, and adults) by undressing stereotypes and offering clothes that actually reflect who we are and what we like to do. We believe that colors (such as pink and purple) and active imagery (such as firetrucks, tool belts, and electric guitars) belong to everyone and should be mingling, not dividing up along gender lines. The way we see it, there should be more sharing of clothes among girls and boys.
Helena and I have been best friends as long as we can remember. We met in kindergarten in 1977 at Hillcrest Elementary School in Oakland, CA. From the get-go, we were very different. Helena was quiet, shy, and very talented with the crayons! I was loud, outgoing, and needing an artist for the stories I was always writing. By first grade, we were already collaborating. I still remember writing my story about a monkey in a tree taunting an alligator in the river down below. I knew even at age six that my drawing skills were no match for this novella. Without pause, I went straight over to Helena’s desk to request her assistance. She was more than willing to help, and I swear her monkey and alligator illustrations were better than anything I could even do today! Our paths continued to be parallel and complementary throughout high school and beyond. We played on the same soccer teams, had the same piano and ballet teachers, were campers together, and later camp counselors. We’ve even had a go at being rockers in a chick band together in the late ’90s! And through all of this time, we both knew that there was another great collaboration bubbling under the surface....
Helena and I both have Masters Degrees, hers in Childhood Development and mine in Social Work. We both have always loved children and been their greatest fans and advocates. Eventually we both happily became moms. And this is where the plot thickens. When my younger son turned two years old, he entered a new phase — pink. He fell hard, and refused to wear any other color (except purple). It was his older sister’s favorite color as well (which of course was no coincidence, considering she was his hero), so the two of them happily skipped off to preschool each morning garbed in her wardrobe. I felt very supportive of my son, and was pleased that he felt such passion. My son had several other buddies who also loved these bright colors, so preschool was a fine place to be. The real problem set in when we were out and about in public. People were continually assuming my son was a girl and making him feel confused about his gender. He just loved the color pink — was he not allowed to just because he was a boy? But I could see society’s point — he was wearing pink frilly shirts with hearts, rainbows, and fairies. I immediately set out to find some more “masculine” pink and purple clothes. I combed the Bay Area, but to no avail. No one had what we were looking for. It was then that I had my “aha” moment: I would create a clothes line for boys who love pink. My second "aha” came moments later: I should recruit Helena to be my artist and business partner.
I was born in November ’72, which was fatefully the very month and year that the cult classic record album Free To Be ... You and Me was released into the world. I grew up hummin’ tunes about William wanting a doll and not having to change at all. The themes of challenging gender stereotypes and not feeling constrained by society’s expectations have always been at the core of my values. I even posed for my high school senior portrait with my favorite record album!
In 2003, my daughter Ani was born ... right at home under the glow of the full July moon. A year and a half later, my son Asa was born, early in the morning, again in the coziest place on earth, home. Motherhood has been a rollercoaster, from downright exhaustion to delicious exhilaration. Certainly one of my greatest joys has been watching my kids’ emerging personalities and interests. The phases keep coming, but I was particularly moved to action last year when my son became such an ardent fan of pink and purple. It felt extremely important to me to support him: a true Free To Be opportunity!
In the tiny portion of time when I’m not actively mothering or dreaming of new Handsome in Pink images and designs for clothes, I love snowboarding with my husband, hiking, swimming, sleeping in(!), climbing trees, picking summertime berries, taking photos, playing piano, singing love songs, creating new flavors with my beloved ice-cream maker, going to the farmer’s market, getting creative bursts after 10 p.m., spending time with dear friends and family, smiling, laughing, and finding the silver linings in life.