Welcome to On Small Business’s series spotlighting interesting crowdfunding campaigns. Every week, we’ll feature a new company or individual attempting to raise money through these new online portals.

Who: Jaya Iyer, 42, a former buyer for ThinkGeek and a fashion merchandising professor at Marymount University; and Eva Everett, 34, a molecular biologist who previously oversaw the customer experience department at ThinkGeek.

What: Svaha STEAM Angels, a line of science- and technology-inspired dresses.

Where: Oakton.

Raised: $29,428 (as of March 17) of a $15,000 goal. The campaign began March 1 and runs through March 31.

What’s the pitch?

Jaya Iyer’s daughter, now 4, has wanted to be an astronaut since she was 2. But when Iyer set out to find space-themed T-shirts for her, there was nothing available.

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“That’s when I realized there were so many things she wanted that just didn’t exist,” she said.

Iyer, who has a background in fashion merchandising, decided to make her own line of children’s clothing that breaks traditional gender stereotypes. She and co-founder Eva Everett set up a Kickstarter campaign in May 2015, where they raised more than $30,000 to make girls’ dresses with soccer balls and dinosaurs, and boys’ T-shirts with cats and butterflies.

Before long, they started getting requests from the mothers who shopped on their site: Why didn’t something like this exist for them, too?

Everett, a molecular biologist, could relate to the womens’ frustrations.

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“When I met someone new, the most common reaction I’d get was, ‘You don’t look like a scientist,'” she said. “There’s no reason you have to look masculine to love math, science and technology.

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Their new line, Svaha STEAM Angels (the acronym stands for science, technology, engineering, art and math), includes dresses printed with the DNA double helix, JavaScript and mathematical symbols, as well as an infinity scarf adorned with infinity signs. Once the project raises $30,000, Iyer and Everett plan to unveil an additional product: A glow-in-dark constellation dress.

How will the money be used?

Iyer and Everett set out to raise $15,000 to cover production, shipping and import costs for about 1,500 dresses.

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They met their goal in less than four days.

“Nobody else is making anything like this,” Iyer said. “If you think about it, there’s zero competition and we already knew there was a lot of demand.”

Many of the project’s backers are scienc- and math teachers, coders and engineers, Everett said. For a $49 pledge, donors will receive their pick of dress. For $69, they’ll get a dress and a scarf. And for $500 or more, project backers will get to design their own STEAM-themed apparel for the company.

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Last year, Svaha sold $45,000 worth of childrens’ clothing between June and December. This year, they are hoping for sales of $200,000.

How do you get the ideas for your designs?

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The process often begins with a Google image search, Iyer said. She sits down at her computer, types in a general term — “chemistry,” say — and combs through the results until she finds inspiration.

Once she is familiar with the topic, she sketches out a pattern, chooses colors and hands everything over to a freelance illustrator who creates the final design. The entire process takes a few weeks. From there, the sketches are sent to India, where the clothing is created using organic cotton and dyes.

Iyer and Everett have a number of designs in the works, including a caffeine-molecule scarf and a dress adorned with neurons.

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The challenge, she says, is finding topics that have broad appeal.

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“For example, the constellation dress — everybody likes constellations,and everybody likes black dresses,” she said. “You don’t have to be an astronomer to want to wear that.”

More in this series:

Editor’s note: Our coverage in this series does not constitute an endorsement. For more information about crowdfunding, please check out this SEC Fact Sheet.

Spotted or running a cool crowdfunding campaign? E-mail us here.
Follow Abha Bhattarai and On Small Business on Twitter.Welcome to On Small Business’s series spotlighting interesting crowdfunding campaigns. Every week, we’ll feature a new company or individual attempting to raise money through these new online portals.
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