Parents face innumerable challenges daily — from “What’s for dinner?” to big-picture quandaries such as how to support a child with big feelings or foster confidence and independence from a young age. As a mother of two, I find that my mind is a metaphorical hamster wheel. And now that my daughter is a pre-teen and puberty looms, one of my circling thoughts is actually about sports.
This is not because I’m a huge sports fan. But I do see the value in participating in one, as it promotes physical health and confidence while also providing opportunities to work as a team and build resilience. Despite these benefits, statistics show disparities in girls and boys playing sports. A recent national study of youth ages 7 to 17 showed that girls were more likely to have never played a sport (43.1 percent) than their male counterparts. The study also highlighted a lack of female role models (in coaches and assistant coaches) in youth sports and the lingering gender stereotype that boys are better at sports than girls.
When my friend Ellen Krissman launched Marie Birdie, a golf apparel line aimed specifically at tween and teen girls, I immediately connected with the ethos of her brand. It’s a clothing line with a pointed purpose. Krissman, who has two young daughters of her own, talked with L.A. Parent about her vision for the company.
When did the idea for Marie Birdie first occur to you?
The idea started taking shape two years ago. We are a golfing family, and I was having trouble finding clothes that my oldest daughter liked, that fit her well and weren’t too thin or ruffly. When I encountered the same problem the following year, I asked several mom friends about their experiences, and our frustrations were almost identical. I did some research and discovered that tween and teen girls and their participation in a sport was critical in aiding their success in school and boosting self-esteem. Also, the benefits of staying in a sport throughout high school positively impacts girls’ college and professional lives.
How do you connect this research to Marie Birdie?
Other apparel brands in the golf industry seemed to want to keep players as little girls forever — or have them jump into womanhood with clothing designed for adult bodies. So, my mission became to make clothes for the sport of golf that are tailored to tween and teen girls, celebrating this stage of growth. I want to support girls where they are, and at an age they most need that support, in order to stick to a sport.
My 10-year-old daughter likes to roller skate in her Marie Birdie outfits. Did you know they’d be so versatile?
I hear this often! Parents say, “My daughter wears this to school, to tennis, to camp.” And that’s part of the DNA of Marie Birdie. I wanted to create a quality product that helps our girls feel confident and comfortable, all while “growing with her.” All materials feel luxe while being quick-dry and UV protective. Skorts have pockets and an elastic back waistband, so they can last for more than one year of sport and growth. As a golfer myself, I know this matters. We perform better when our clothes move with us, and we don’t feel confined.
What do you say to local families looking to give golf a try?
The good news for Angelenos starting in golf is that we live in a great city for golf, especially if you are a junior golfer. Los Angeles City Golf makes it easy to book a round, see courses near you and connect to other golf resources around town. Weekday rates are as low as $6 per junior player on weekdays and $10 per junior on weekends. And if you find the golf course too intimidating, start small with putt-putt golf, or spend an hour and a half together as a family at the driving range one summer day or night after work. That’s a low-pressure and fun way to get to know the game. And recently, junior high schools are adding golf to their sports rosters and related summer camps are popping up at public courses. Golf is certainly gaining traction as a sport, and we are helping make that path a little easier for junior girls interested in the game.
What other data bolsters your mission?
We know that girls look for role models in every arena — think of how inspirational Naomi Osaka was for young girls playing tennis — and that we need more of them. Another component of Marie Birdie is our ambassador program, which we call The Birdie Bunch. We are connecting young girl golfers with peers who are working hard on the course. This gives them a sense of community, and we think community keeps kids in the game.
To learn more about Marie Birdie, visit mariebirdie.com or @mariebirdieofficial on Instagram.