On the last Friday in January, super heroic women gathered at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center for the first ever Wonder Women Tech Global Summit. Women from across the District joined forces to tackle the underrepresentation of women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM) fields with their various unique “superpowers.”
And right outside of the summit gathering, allies to the super women—vendors, mentors, and workshop facilitators—were eager to offer the scientists and mathematicians whatever energy boosts they could.
In the case of Svaha, a Northern Virginia-based apparel company, that boost came in the form of gear.
Founded in 2015, Svaha sells clothes for women who work in STEAM—especially those who want to fight off the discomfort that can sometimes arise while working in male-dominated industries, and those simply wanting to show off their passions in an organic way.
Svaha’s dresses are designed with functional pockets, made with 100% organic cotton and eco-friendly organic dyes, and go up to 5x (their term for plus sizes). Their best-selling constellation dress even glows in the dark.
“What used to infuriate me was that when I would tell people that I’m a scientist, one of the most common responses was, ‘You don’t look like a scientist,’” Svaha co-founded Eva Everett says. “One thing we wanted to show was that women belong everywhere and we wanted to have clothing that lets people embrace their passions.”
Everett and Jaya Iyer founded the company while they were working together at ThinkGeek, a retailer that caters to “geek culture” and computer enthusiasts. At the time, Iyer was facing an interesting problem involving her three-year old daughter, Svaha.
Star crazed and space-consumed, Svaha couldn’t stop talking about planets and being an astronaut, and to Iyer’s surprise, she couldn’t find girls clothing that catered to her daughter’s interests.
Inspired by her daughter’s love of outer space, Iyer created Svaha to solve the problem, and launched a kickstarter with a goal of $30,000 to provide science and technology-themed clothes for girls. With 331 backers in support of the idea, Iyer and Everett met their goal.
“Launching our Kickstarter really helped us understand that people wanted this and there was a need for this type of product,” Everett says.
In a short of two-and-a-half years, what started as a kickstarter aiming to provide STEAM girls clothing has expanded its reach to clothing for adults and babies as well as jewelry and pajamas.
“Most of our kickstarter backers are still our customers. That’s very reassuring,” Iyer says.
Lisa Mae Brunson, founder of Women Wonder Tech, had only known the founders of Svaha through social media, and met them for the first time at her inaugural D.C. global summit. Established in 2015, Wonder Women Tech is a non-profit that provides year-round programming for women in STEAM fields. With more than 2,000 conference attendees and a social media reach of over 5 million, Wonder Women Tech has had conferences in Los Angeles and Long Beach, California. They’ve set London as their next location for June of 2018.
“Before Wonder Women Tech was born, I was rallying in support for Svaha,” Brunson says. “It’s amazing to see the growth that we have both made in this amount of time and how our missions aligned through Wonder Women Tech. When we decided to have a summit in D.C., I knew Svaha had to be here.”
Women who stopped by Svaha’s table validated Brunson’s instinct—they asked insightful questions as they admired the goods. One woman asked how accurate the code and algorithms were on the prints of their garments.
“One big challenge that we have in designing our clothes is they have to be accurate because they’re worn by professional women,” Iyer says.
Iyer and Everett have professors in the field develop the algorithms, coding languages, and formulas that appear on their clothes, and then they decide on colors and design.
Iyer and Everett are hopeful for the future of Svaha. They have ambitious plans to expand, and ultimately become a household name and favorite go-to shop for all those who love STEAM fields and want to buy STEAM related products.