Linda Maslechko, a former stock broker who left a successful Bay Street career to start a family, launched tween clothing manufacturer and retailer Triple Flip in 2005. The company, which opened its 13th store in September, uses unique sizing, marketing and merchandising tactics to promote self-confidence and body positivity in girls aged seven to 13.

Linda Maslechko of Triple Flip. Photo: Colin Way

Linda Maslechko of Triple Flip. Photo: Colin Way

When I started Triple Flip, my daughters were nine, 11 and 13, and clothes just didn’t fit them properly. It was perplexing: They didn’t have extreme body types, so why weren’t things fitting? I had to alter so much of what I bought.

“No one was paying attention to how bodies grow at the tween stage. When a girl is 10 years old and doesn’t fit into the size 10 that is ‘supposed’ to fit her, it imprints on her. It tells her that her body is wrong. I felt a need to call that out. So when my nine-year-old, Jenna, said, ‘Why don’t we start our own company?’ I knew I had to come out of retirement.

“As a dance mom, I had been making costumes, so I happened to have the measurements of some 400 girls—a very random sampling. I pegged them on a bell curve, and I discovered girls were taller, shorter, narrower and wider than the size ranges of manufacturers. So I developed our own sizing system that lets a girl transition seamlessly from a girl body into an adult body.

“Not long after opening our first store, in Calgary, a girl came in. The top half of her body was in adult sizes, but her bottom half was in the children’s range. When we put her in an outfit that was actually right for her, her posture went from slumped to proud. You could see it in her eyes: She loved her body for the first time.

“It’s estimated that a girl’s self-esteem peaks at age nine. We have to let girls understand they have a North Star inside of them they need to trust more. That is what our stores are all about. We’ll see a tween come in, deconstruct our displays and make an outfit of her own. We just give her the tools and let her go. It’s empowering; she’s in control. It’s not about an overzealous salesperson squawking, ‘Oh, you look fabulous!’ A nine-year-old can spot inauthenticity a mile away.

“That’s a big reason we don’t use professional models. Every year, we do photo shoots in every city we’re in. Thousands of girls enter to become models, and we choose them by computerized draw. We don’t know what they look like until they arrive. A lot of the feedback we get from the girls expresses what a difference the photo shoots made to their self-confidence. And the pictures we get are amazing: You see real girls doing real activities, like cartwheels or tae kwon do.

“My belief is that we should be doing more than just selling stuff; we should be making an impact on our communities. In that regard, our most successful initiative has been our pop-up program, in which we take a mobile store to an event—like a gymnastics meet—and give the club organizing it a percentage of sale proceeds. It’s cash that helps them fund their events, and we get to spend time with girls in our demographic who aren’t at the mall that weekend. It’s a win-win.

“We’re often told the company is great, but up until now we haven’t had the resources to really leverage that and bring it to more people because it’s been drip-fed by me. We’re doing a capital raise now, for the first time. Our objective is to grow our store count in Canada threefold and our e-commerce business tenfold. That will allow us to bring what we do to more girls. And that’s what I’m most excited about.”

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