One Step Back, Two Steps Forward

After 5 years of being an online store, Handsome in Pink has started dreaming of having our tees out in the world in “real” stores as well. But there’s a barrier in the road— and it’s name is “hang tags”. You know them. They are the thick card stock that hangs from clothes that says the name of the company and a little ditty about them that you cut off the clothing item when you get home with your purchase. We have never invested in hang tags, but in the interest of expanding into the universe, we must invest. So Helena and I have been meeting and planning our hang tags. They are expensive and you have to buy them in bulk: a thousand at a time. Gulp. In typical Helena and Jo perfectionist fashion, we keep going around and around with the design, coming up with bigger and better ideas each time we meet, and generally dragging out the process.




Last week, we concluded our meeting at my house with the decision that the best hang tag ever would have a photo of some really cute kids in their HiP clothing. Luckily, we didn’t have to look too far to find these models. Helena offered up her 5-year-old girl and boy twins, Anna and Charlie. Those kids are super photogenic and are just the same age as so many of our customers. And they don’t even charge by the hour! Perfect, right? So we picked out “Organic Dirtbike Pink and Purple Tee” for her son, and the “White I Love Math tee (with PINK heart)” for her daughter. Helena walked home full of excitement about the imminent after school photo shoot. (We live in the same neighborhood.)




Two days passed and I didn’t hear from Helena. I kept waiting for these adorable photos of the twins to arrive in my inbox. Nothing. Finally, I got an exasperated voicemail from Helena saying that she was having a big problem. For two days, she had been trying to get the photo shoot on, and Charlie was refusing to wear the dirtbike tee! He felt so strongly about not wearing the shirt that he cried about it! Now mind you, when he was 3 years old, he happily sported that very tee all around town. No problem! I asked Helena if she could possibly bribe Charlie into wearing the shirt. Ice cream? She said that he passionately explained to her that pink was for girls and he would have none of that shirt! No ice cream! Fortunately for us (and Charlie), Helena quickly found her 3 year-old neighbor boy who would happily model the shirt for the photo shoot.




So there I was a few days ago, walking down to Helena’s house to collect Charlie’s larger tee and exchange it with a smaller Dirtbike tee for the neighbor. I was far off in my thoughts, feeling disillusioned about the fact that in the last two years Charlie  (the son of a Handsome in Pink owner for heaven’s sake) had absorbed our society’s message that pink is only for girls and not for boys, even if it’s a tough looking pink dirtbike that looks like a motorcycle!

The Fabulous Kim!


In the middle of my thoughts, I was interrupted by a car alarm going off. I hate those things! I looked up to see what was going on and saw that a frustrated looking man was sitting in his car having a lot of trouble getting the engine started while simultaneously trying to figure out how to get his alarm to stop sirening. Facing his car was a bright yellow AAA tow truck. The driver was just getting out of the truck to help out this man. It was a woman! Wow! Way to break down gender stereotypes. If I could only pull Charlie out of kindergarten to see this!




I continued walking down to Helena’s house to make the t-shirt exchange. Somehow, my mood had lifted a bit. I felt a sense of renewal, that the world IS actually changing and there are women out there repairing cars even if there are simultaneously little boys who won’t wear pink. 15 minutes later on my walk back home, I saw the man with the broken down car driving merrily down the street, no more car alarm. The AAA driver was just getting ready to pull away from the curb. I ran up to her and without even knowing what I was going to say, called out, “Excuse me! Hi. Can I just say hello for a minute? Or actually, can I take a photo of you?” The driver was very friendly and wanted to know why the photo. I introduced myself and explained about Handsome in Pink to my new friend Kim. She suggested, “How about a photo in exchange for one of those purple and pink dirtbike tees?!?” It was a deal!
Kim explained to me that growing up, she was an only child. Her father was an architect who, like many architects, didn’t like to get his hands dirty. But he was more than willing to get his daughter’s hands dirty! He taught her how to work on their ‘67 VW bug. As a girl, Kim loved working on the engine of that car. She said that all her other troubles and thoughts would melt away when she was working on cars. Interestingly, Kim added that her formal educational is in Childhood Development and it has been extremely relevant for her current work at AAA. When I drew a blank face, she explained that often when she arrives on the scene, the driver is extremely stressed and has regressed back to the state of a tantrum prone child. Kim uses that child development understanding to connect first with the child— er, frustrated adult, before dealing with the car repair. Kim told me it’s like magic; her customers always calm down within 5 minutes of her arrival.
Well, in wrapping up this story, I would say, when everything Handsome in Pink stands for was on the line with Charlie’s refusal to wear pink, the universe responded with Kim! Perhaps we should even consider putting Kim, in her new dirt bike tee on our hang tag! What do you think?

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