By Megan Harman
A new Toronto-based e-commerce company is striving to send a message that girls’ education is important, both through the merchandise it sells and the causes it supports.
La Petite Écolière is a line of girlswear that boasts positive messages celebrating education, such as ‘Brains are Beautiful’ and ‘Love to Learn’.
The company’s goal is to inspire girls to pursue education, and to support charities that are working to advance education for girls and women, says Roberta Lindal, founder and CEO of La Petite Écolière.
“I hope to inspire girls to have a dedication to their education, and to know that no professional fields are off limits to them,” Lindal says. “I hope to inspire parents to have these conversations with their daughters, not only about their education and future goals, but about not taking it for granted. Because many girls worldwide do not have the resources we do.”
Lindal has spent much of her career working for charities dedicated to children’s education, and in those roles, she observed benefits that can result when girls become educated.
“For girls and women in developing countries, an education can prevent child marriage, [increase] child survival rates, and increase wealth for both the girl and her country’s GDP,” Lindal says.
In Canada, Lindal says that although statistics show that more women are graduating from high school and post-secondary school, there is still progress to be made. Specifically, she notes that there is a lack of women pursuing education in fields such as science, technology, engineering and math (a.k.a. STEM), and when it comes to leadership and board level positions in many fields, women are vastly outnumbered by men.
“Systemic and sustained efforts from schools and universities need to prepare women to get into leadership roles, and STEM programs and careers,” Lindal says.
La Petite Écolière offers T-shirts for girls between the ages of 2 and 8 years old, and with growing demand from an older demographic, the company is now expanding its production to include certain designs in women’s sizes.
The company also plans to roll out additional products and school supplies in the near future, such as notebooks, lunch bags, and pencil cases.
“We are always releasing new products and designs tied to our mission,” Lindal says.
Lindal comes up with the concepts for the products, and works with graphic designer Derek Sharpe to bring her visions to life. All of the merchandise is designed, produced and printed in Canada, and is made with organic cotton and bamboo materials.
In addition to selling merchandise through its website, the company is currently in the process of launching a wholesale program in order to sell items through retailers.
Proceeds from every purchase at La Petite Écolière are invested into charities working to advance education for girls and women. One of those charities is Plan International Canada, which works in Canada to improve the status of women, as well as working to improve the quality of life of children, families and communities in developing countries.