Last week, with a month left to go, Grace Bear hit her target goal.
“I reached 50,” she told Patch.
The 7-year-old had given herself until July 6—her 8th birthday—to make and sell 50 tutus in order to donate the proceeds to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and St. Jude’s Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, TN.
As she teetered on the brink of the 50 mark, Grace's mom, Cher Bear, posted a message on Facebook last week that helped surge to the finish line.
“As soon as I posted that on my wall, she got two more,” Cher said.
Grace, a student at St. James School in Sewickley, was inspired last summer to make a difference after watching her mother cut her hair to donate to the nonprofit Locks of Love organization. Grace’s hair wasn’t quite long enough, so she came up with her own way to help those in need.
“She said I need to find something else to do,” Cher said.
With help from her mother, and a YouTube video, Grace began making hand-crafted tutus from her Crescent Township home. In the beginning, her mother helped sew the elastic and showed Grace how to tie the knots. Grace now does it all, with the exception of cutting the tulle.
In January, Tough Girl Tutus began taking orders and escalated from there. As Grace posted more creations, buyers became more specific in the colors they wanted with hot pink and dark purple being the most popular. She has since sold more than 60.
Grace 'n Motion
While she has met her goal, Grace plans to keep making tutus. She also has a new business venture: Grace ‘n Motion, a clothing line for girls who want to play sports. The clothing line, named for Grace's Pittsburgh roots, carries shirts, hats, boxing gloves and other items that focus on golf, karate and boxing, all sports Grace loves to do.
After looking for golf clothing for girls, and not being able to find any, Cher said her daughter decided she would make her own. A friend who is a graphic designer helped with the logo.
“We have printers working on hats, T-shirts and polo shirts,” she said, “It will all be online.”
Grace ’n Motion will also continue selling tutus, which are even popular with adults. Cher said Grace sold eight adult tutus. She received an email from a woman in Pittburgh who told her she and friends were having a "Tough Girls Tutu Night Out." The plan was to wear the tutus out and when curious people asked about them, the women would explain Grace's mission.
Grace plans to split the $500 in proceeds between Children's and St. Jude's. Children’s Hospital sent an email telling the girl they were "super proud" of her. The Pittsburgh hospital is planning a ceremony to allow Grace to present the donation in the main lobby. She plans to bring some extra tutus to the hospital when she goes, her mom said.
Grace hoped to personally present a donation to St. Jude’s as well, but the hospital has strict rules about visitors under 16. Her grandparents and great-grandmother, who live in Memphis, will present a check on her behalf instead.
'I did it! Love Grace'
Grace attends PSKC Karate School in Sewickley, where her mom believes she picked up some great qualities that helped her push forward.
“When she set out on this project, she was going to do it and she was going to finish it,” her mom said.
The last message on Grace's blog reads: "I did it! Love Grace."
Grace’s efforts have captured the attention of American Girl Magazine, which plans to feature her in the upcoming November/December issue.
While many have been inspired by Grace's efforts, none can be more proud than her mom and dad, Bo Bear, a C130 pilot at the 911th Airlift Wing in Moon Township.
“We are constantly amazed by our daughter and believe what she accomplished is wonderful...,” she said.
To learn more about Tough Girl Tutus, visit its blog.