It’s not exactly a secret that we are huge supporters of initiatives and campaigns which encourage young girls to get interested into STEM industries (science, technology, engineering and math). Many of our readers are already familiar with what companies like Google are doing, organizations like Girls Who Code, and brands like Goldieblox which are allowing basic engineering and problem solving concepts to be embedded in girls’ daily lives from a young age.
But those aren’t the only areas which are promoting the need for women in STEM. If the fashion industry is the last on your list in terms of helping close the gender gap in STEM, you’d be wrong! There’s Victoria’s Secret model Karlie Kloss who launched a coding school scholarship for girls after taking a class herself and realizing what a valuable tool it is to propel girls into jobs in some of the fastest growing industries in the world.
In May 2015 we also shared a Kickstarter campaign which caught our eye, launched by a medical student who has created an activewear clothing line that was different to the other brands. Lizzie Cochran studies at Columbia University who found a unique way to combine her love of fashion, science and social good.
Epidemia designs are not only an awesome collection of leggings, tees and tanks, but the actual designs embody the idea of “wearing your heart on your sleeve”. Literally. The colorful patterns featured on some of the pieces are based off what tissues, cells and muscles found inside the body. Lizzie used scans to implement the images onto her collection, which then become walking advertisements for science and the study of the human body.
Lizze got the idea from her own study of muscles and tissues and was inspired by how beautiful some of the patterns were. The new collection is called ‘She’s Got It’, where each piece has its own signature look as well as message: “she’s got nerve”, “she’s got heart”, and “she’s got brains” are the kinds of clothing item descriptions straight out of a feminist fashionista’s dream!
As for the social good aspect of the brand, we had a chance to talk with Lizzie about how she is now leveraging Epidemia to become a way to help girls get involved in STEM organizations. In particular, they have partnered with Girlstart and donated $5000 of their profits which have gone toward scholarships for girls who cannot afford to take the program. When we interviewed Lizzie, she was halfway across the world in Tanzania but managed to find some time to tell us more about what Epidemia is doing today.
We are already big fans of Epidemia and your story, can you tell us what the reaction has been since the line launched after your successful Kickstarter campaign?
Thanks so much! We just launched the line a few weeks ago and so far we’ve had a really solid response. Lots of our Kickstarter backers have reached out to tell us how much they’ve enjoyed wearing the leggings. One of the most popular features has been the deep pockets on the leggings and capris that give wearers plenty of room to carry a cell phone, keys or a wallet securely without getting in the way of your ability to move comfortably. Customers also really like the fit and feel of the leggings, especially the moisture-wicking fabric and mesh for extra breathability.
With so many athleisure brands to choose from today, Epidemia stands out from the rest with its unique STEM aspect. Do you find this has become a good way to start a conversation about the need for more women in STEM?
Absolutely! Starting conversations about science and women in STEM is one of the primary goals of Epidemia. Our hope is that by representing science in a creative, cool way, we can communicate the idea that STEM fields are not innately masculine.
Can you tell us about your recent trip to Tanzania and what you were doing there?
I actually just got back to Texas last week after spending two months in Dar es Salaam working on the pediatric oncology ward of Muhimbili National Hospital. I had the awesome opportunity to work with some terrific doctors who have done a tremendous job of improving treatment options and survival outcomes for children with cancer in Tanzania.
The latest collection, called ‘She’s Got It’ was launched in early July. What is the significance of the name?
The prints for the “She’s Got It” line feature microscopic images of nerve, brain and heart muscle cells. So the prints are called “She’s Got Nerve,” “She’s Got Brains” and “She’s Got Heart.” These cell types offered the perfect opportunity to be pun-ny while also embodying the mission of the company. We want to use the cell image prints to encourage a re-defining of what we think of as body image.
Tell us about your involvement with the Girlstart organization and how Epidemia designs, although being a startup, has contributed to them?
We’ve known from the start that we wanted Epidemia to do more than just talk about the need for more support for women in STEM. Girl Start is an incredible organization that provides summer camps, after school programs, and more for young girls who are interested in science. So far Epidemia has contributed $5000 to Girlstart that was used to fund scholarships allowing girls to attend summer camp who might not have otherwise been able to afford it.
You seem like a determined woman and a go-getter which is super inspirational to us! What advice do you have to other women and girls out there who are yet to find their “thing” or who are struggling to make their ambitions happen?
I think I would just say to try not to worry that you are falling behind when things don’t happen when you want them to. I think there is a lot of pressure on young people today to know exactly what they want to do and who they want to be before they really get a chance to explore their options.
It took me seven years to get my bachelor’s degree, with many detours along the way, and while I certainly did not take the most efficient route to medical school and founding Epidemia, all of the detours and roadblocks played a part in allowing me to pursue my dreams today. So essentially, try not to get discouraged, keep going even when things look grim, and don’t be afraid to act on whims from time to time.
To purchase items from the Epidemia ‘She’s Got It’ collection, click here.