Social media is an incredible thing. It can often feel like information overload, but it really does open and connect your world to people, ideas, brands and concepts that you may have never known before. Case in point, we recently got a notification that Melissa Wardy of [email protected] was following us on Twitter. We didn’t know Melissa or her brand, but were intrigued by two words in her Twitter profile description – REDEFINE GIRLY. Hhhmmm… we wanted to know more. After a visit to her site, we learned there are lots of inspiring layers to what Pigtail Pals are: an online marketplace, a blog, a community, and an advocacy group all created by Melissa, a stay-at-home mom turned entrepreneur who wants to change the way people think about girls and who believes girls deserve products that show them as smart, daring, and adventurous. We were SOLD! Here’s her story.

As Melissa recounts on the Pigtail Pals site, when her daughter was nine months old, she was in the middle of a conversation about Disney Princesses when she had an epiphany, “Why in the world is my generation, the most educated, most well-traveled, most worldly generation of women ever… why are my contemporaries still raising our girls to wish upon a star in hopes that her prince may someday come? Why aren’t we teaching our girls to get into her rocket ship and find that star all on her own?”

Pigtail Pals LogoFed up with the limitations and stereotypes found in children’s clothing, Melissa didn’t want her daughter’s world to be limited to “girly” things that are typically just pretty and/or pink. She wanted role models for her daughter that exemplified courage, intelligence, and imagination. With that, in March 2009, Melissa created Pigtail Pals, a line of tee shirts, gifts and other products that feature empowering art and messages designed to “Redefine Girly”. Pigtail Pals tell girls that BEING SMART, DARING, AND ADVENTUROUS IS BEING GIRLY.

Melissa explains, “I’m not anti-pink. I’m not anti-princess (although I really do not dig the Disney version). I’m not anti-girly. I’M ANTI-LIMITATION. I want my daughter to be bold. I want her to be unafraid to be intelligent. I want her to be respected for her accomplishments. I want her to know that she can be an astronaut, a doctor, a pilot, a carpenter, a firefighter. She will not be raised to think that the world belongs only to boys and that she is merely a pretty thing in it.”

Pretty's Got Nothing To Do With ItNot long after going into business, Melissa discovered parents everywhere who felt the same way about the marketing and sexualization affecting childhood. Pigtail Pals quickly took on a life of its own, expanding beyond just the product line Melissa was creating. Through workshops, social media, and blog posts Pigtail Pals is now educating thousands of parents about the need to preserve childhood through media literacy and creative play. Pigtail Pals has become a leader in advocating for kids, especially for girls.

For all of the above, Melissa Wardy is a Woman You Should Know.