Megan Grassell‘s very good year just got a lot more awesome.
The Wyoming teen entrepreneur behind the youth bra label Yellowberry reached a new peak yesterday when she was named to Time Magazine‘s list of the 25 Most Influential Teens of 2014. She is part of a roster of celebrated young people that includes Nobel Peace Prize co-winner Malala Yousafzai, Sasha and Malia Obama, athlete Mo’ne Davis, singer Lorde, blogger Bethany Mota and Rookie editor Tavi Gevinson.
For Megan, who turned 19 in August, the Time recognition comes on the heels of a six-month blizzard of international publicity following the launch of Yellowberry, the crowdfunded underwear label that makes age-appropriate training bras for girls aged 11-15. She came up with the idea when she took her younger sister, then 13, to a mall to shop for her first bra and was outraged by the sexualized nature of most styles available to girls.
“This morning brought with it tears of joy,” Megan wrote on her company blog yesterday after hearing of the honor. “The teens on this list are incredible in every way I can think of. From athletes, scientists, and social activists to fashionistas and musicians. There is incredible passion, talent and drive from each and every person. I am completely humbled.”
When Time first notified Megan of her selection by e-mail last week, she “wasn’t sure it was even real” and wasn’t convinced until the magazine article appeared online yesterday, Megan told Lingerie Talk. “I didn’t think I would have ever been thought of as truly influential. I was in disbelief. So honored to be included on a list with Lorde and Malala!”
Yellowberry became one of America’s most talked-about new fashion brands earlier this year when Megan’s inspiring startup success was featured in Forbes, The New York Times, Good Morning America, The Today Show, Today’s Parent — and countless other news outlets.
Readers of Lingerie Talk are certainly already familiar with Yellowberry and its dynamic founder. Our profile of Megan in April was one of the brand’s first press mentions and has been viewed by nearly 2 million Lingerie Talk readers — making it the most-read story in our site’s history.
The company — launched while Megan was still a high school senior, and with a mission to “change the bra industry” — sells stretch cotton bralettes with style names like Ladybug, Snowflake, Sugar Cookie and Tweetheart. It also uses its blog and social media to promote adolescent girls and profile role models.
“I think that what people realize is that Yellowberry is so much more than just a bra company for girls,” Megan said. “It is a social movement for change. It is also something that is needed by moms and daughters in the marketplace, so it fills a niche that has been somewhat ignored. The story is real, and it is one that every other mother/daughter and sister/sister relationship has encountered.”
Since its launch in April, Yellowberry has attracted a large, passionate community of followers — affectionately called Berry Girls — and their parents who appreciate the company’s vision of celebrating childhood and promoting self-confidence in girls. Megan in particular has become an advocate for girls’ empowerment and was recently invited to participate in the annual Dove Self-Esteem Weekend at the United Nations.
And being named one of the world’s most influential young people has made her aware of the responsibility that goes along with that distinction.
“I hope I can show someone what it’s like to find your passion and find your own self-confidence,” she said. “My passion, my drive and my ambition make me feel confident, and if that could influence another girl to chase after her own passions, drives and ambitions, then I think that would be pretty great.”
The Time magazine list also serves as a powerful rebuttal to anyone who underestimates the capabilities of young people, she noted.
“I know that my age has been my biggest obstacle with Yellowberry. I think that adults often think that people who are young are not capable of really doing something productive with their time. But I completely disagree. For me personally, I have a new perspective of the world and my own thoughts as to how things should happen. I’m not old enough to think to ask permission if I can do something, or if I can make something happen, because that’s not my mentality.”
Megan is slated to begin college next spring, and plans to juggle school and run Yellowberry with the help of family and co-workers. The busy company currently sells through its webshop but is aiming for a retail presence in the near future.
Starting a business while still in school has been “very real and very challenging,” Megan admits, adding: “But I like that it is hard. I like that it’s like problem solving each and every day.
“Plus, spreading the Yellowberry message makes me happy.”
NOTE: Yellowberry is donating $2 from every pink bra sold in October to breast cancer research.