ATLANTA — Erin Friday is just a simple 8-year-old kid. She likes climbing anything she can, be it rocks or trees. And she loves any outfit that compliments her signature item.
“Anything that can go with a hat, that’s my little cherry on top - the hat,” said Erin.
The things she doesn’t like: being told she must wear pink or wear dresses to be a girl.
“I feel like when I wear those things, I’m not really me - Erin,” she said.
In fact, she’s experienced some bullying because of her choice to skip the skirt.
“Sometimes, people in my class say, 'Oh, well blue, green, yellow and all those other colors are for boys and, like, pink, purple and all those other colors are for girls'," Erin said. "I think that’s wrong. Anyone can like a color. It doesn’t mean they’re a boy or a girl.”
It’s a concept her mom, Allie, struggled with at first.
“I was fighting her to put her in a skirt to go to school because I wear skirts and that’s what I like,” she said.
Allie, who has another daughter and son, said that with them, it was easy. Boys wear pants and girls wear skirts and pink.
“I wanted to dress them alike and that’s all I knew is girls wear this and this is the section we have for girls and this is where you shop,” she said.
But with Erin, it was different.
“She made it very clear that I was not going to put her in any box and this is just who she was,” Allie said.
So, once she accepted her daughter’s choice of dress and attitude, she set her sights on making it easier for other parents in a similar situation.
It’s why she opened Atlanta’s first gender-neutral children’s clothing store -appropriately named Mini-Friday.
“The concept behind it [was] to let kids just be able to be free in who they were and be able to just choose their own style,” she said.
You won’t find ‘girl’ or ‘boy’ sections in the store. All clothes are laid out for you to buy whatever you want. The brands sold in the store are all exclusive to the gender-neutral mindset. Even the labels stay away from gender. Instead, labels simply say the age range the item would fit.
She opened in mid-May in the Kirkwood neighborhood. She said that so far the response has been overwhelmingly positive with many parents thanking her for opening the store.
And Allie continues to learn and educate those about raising a child who doesn’t want to be forced into a corner.
“You get the label tomboy and she doesn’t want to identify as a boy. She just wants to be a little girl who likes these things,” Allie said. “We live in a world where there’s already a lot of blinder on and I think it’s necessary and I think it’s needed.”
Even for those who might not agree, Allie hopes everyone will just take the time to understand a simple message much like the one painted on her store wall: "LOVE EQUALLY."
“When you pay attention to what your kid really wants instead of forcing it on them, it makes life a lot easier,” Allie said.
The store is located at 2033 Hosea L. Williams in Atlanta and current store hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.