In the Spirit

Kansas City mom Tricia Steffes celebrates tomboys with Crossing Arrows.

Tricia Steffes, owner and founder of Crossing Arrows


   Many parents know to pick their battles with kids, but Tricia Steffes decided to pick her battles with something much bigger: gender stereotypes.

   Through her children’s clothing brand, Crossing Arrows, the Kansas City mother of two calls to spirited girls, a.k.a. tomboys, by empowering them to embrace their individuality with fun and high-energy clothing while fighting gender stereotypes.

   Created in 2016, the brand was inspired by Steffes’ own experiences with her magnetic, spunky and spirited daughter, Allie.

   At 2 years old, Allie decided she had no interest in princesses or the color pink; she much preferred to express herself through boy clothes. After two and a half years of struggling to get her daughter into anything girly, Steffes gave Allie’s way a try, letting her shop in the boys’ section. Not only did she notice a difference in her daughter, but she also saw a need for more options for girls like Allie.

   “I realized over time how many children were more confident wearing what made them happy,” Steffes recalls. “And I realized that parents wouldn’t let their little girls wear boy clothes because of gender stereotyping. So that’s when I decided, ‘OK, I’m going to design a line of clothing that allows little girls to dress how they want without the stigma of being called a boy.”

   Crossing Arrows appeals to every kind of girl — from the rough-and-tumble athletic tomboys, to the creative, academic minds like Steffes’ older daughter Grace — through products like superhero capes, leggings and Rowen Christian couture jeans. Its best-seller is its collection of graphic tees printed by H&H Bandwagon. The tees are emblazoned with fun and encouraging messages, like “Superhero Ninja Princess” — because some girls want to be all three, Steffes says — “Donut Holes Not Gender Roles,” “Future Coder” and “Be Adventurous.”


Crossing Arrows shirts


   Designs like the “Squad Goals” tees feature real-life, literary and film heroes that girls are familiar with (think Ellen DeGeneres, Maya Angelou, Harry Potter’s Hermione Granger and Disney’s Moana and Mulan) while introducing them to new ones like Anne Shirley, Cassie Logan (Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry) and Jean Louise “Scout” Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird).

   Steffes found that adults want to celebrate their inner spirited girls, too. The company originally launched with children’s sizes, but after receiving an abundance of emails from mothers and other spirited girls wondering if they could get shirts in adult sizes, Steffes happily obliged.

   “It’s fun,” she says. “I’ve gotten such incredible feedback from people who have purchased from us — from parents, people who have come across our line and gone, ‘Oh my gosh, I wish they had that when I was a kid.’ It’s nice to know that we are making an impact.”

   Steffes wants Crossing Arrows to not only clothe children, but to also be a platform for child advocacy, something she’s been passionate about since college. Proceeds from the T-shirt sales benefit organizations like Harvesters and the Kansas City Child Protection Center.

   In addition to new graphic tee designs, Steffes is in the works of adding a raglan T-shirt dress, a bomber jacket and drop-crotch pants to its arsenal. She hopes to incorporate gender-neutral pieces, underwear, swimwear, pajamas in the brand, and she plans to host events geared toward empowering, encouraging and inspiring girls.

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Categories: Fashion, People