the World One T-Shirt at a Time
’08 wants to see a woman elected president of the United
States in the next election, during the year she graduates
from Smith. And she’s doing something about it.
Lane last summer
began Grit & Wit, a company that prints and sells fashionably
designed t-shirts adorned with slogans supporting her mission.
“Our next president,” says one slogan beneath
a generic female figure. “Sink Patriarchy,” says
another with a picture of a sinking ship. Another shows a
woman stuffing the word “patriarchy” in a garbage
people think feminism is just a movement from the past or
a cause fought only by masculine lesbians who burn their bras,"
says Lane. "I want to abolish the stereotype; feminism
shouldn't be taboo."
The t-shirts and
Lane’s company are her way of combining her interests
in art, government and business while supporting a greater
Since 1945, the
rest of the world has had 35 female presidents and 38 female
prime ministers, says Lane, a studio art major with a minor
in government. “It’s
astonishing how controversial the possibility of a woman U.S.
president still is. Grit & Wit shirts bring a woman-positive
message to the public.”
Grit & Wit from her home in Missoula, Montana, working
out of a space in her mother’s downtown art studio,
after becoming frustrated with the dearth of quality feminist
apparel available. She chose a name for her company that reflects
her business outlook. “I think that individuals who
wear these shirts have to have a strong backbone and a sense
of humor,” she says, “just like our shirts.”
Grit & Wit
is a one-woman operation: Lane designs her shirts and illustrates
the prints, purchases her own materials and contracts with
printers, manages ordering and deliveries, and generates her
own publicity, including her .
the company while attending school in the fall, she took a
break from college to give needed attention to the business.
She received a grant from the Harold Grinspoon Charitable
Foundation, a Smith program that gives cash awards to students
to help develop entrepreneurial endeavors.
So far, Grit &
Wit is off to a strong start, says Lane. She’s selling
her shirts at three stores in Missoula and seeking a national
distributor. She’s also adjusting her Web site to handle
online sales. Last month, Lane won a Most Likely to Succeed
business award at the New England Undergraduate Women’s
Innovation and Entrepreneurship Conference at Mount Holyoke
Perhaps the strongest
testimony to the power of her shirts comes from her teenage
“My 13 year-old
sister has given me reason to believe that even young girls
in middle school will receive the shirts well,” says
Lane. “I gave a group of girls at her conservative school
my ‘Our Next President’ shirts and they have all
worn them proudly to school. They always get comments that
turn into conversations. These shirts are successful if they
get anyone to talk.”
Lane says launching
her own company has been an invaluable learning experience.
And as a
side benefit, she’ll never run out of fashionable t-shirts.
“I love wearing Grit & Wit shirts,” she says.
“It’s the most straightforward and honest way
for me to receive feedback and get reactions. Plus, the designs
aren’t too bad.”