Who remembers their first friendship bracelet? We loved the days of that rainbow accessory, but Jewelbots have modernized it in a huge way. They're raising the BFF bracelet bar from something that's not only colorful—but can change colors, too. But the way they do it is the coolest part: through tech and coding that wearers do themselves.
Co-founders Sara Chipps and Brooke Moreland wanted to do more to get girls excited for future careers in STEM, so they created Jewelbots friendship bracelets. They're an "open source" wearable device, which simply means that wearers get to customize it however they want through coding. It's jewelry that combines tech and style in the ultimate way.
"We were talking about how most girls don't realize that tech is something really cool. Learning to program can open all these cool possibilities to build all these great things, and I didn't really know about that growing up," Moreland explains. "So we wanted to make something that girls would really want to play with and pique their interest because they actually want to do it. Not just because it's good for them or it's educational—it's just something cool that they'd actually like."
Before they even decided to build a customizable friendship bracelet, they went to the experts to see what this coded wearable should actually be. Those experts—aka, the awesome girls who'd be using the device—wanted something they could use with their friends, making friendship bracelets the most obvious way to get girls excited for tech. (Secret coded messages between BFFs? Who wouldn't love that!)
"We started talking to a lot of middle school and high school girls about what was important to them, and the thing we kept hearing over and over was their friendships," Moreland says. "Girls really like their friends ... That was important to them. So we wanted to make something that involved friends communicating with friends."
With an idea, the support of the young girls they worked with, and a willingness to make the product come to life, the Jewelbots team set off to raise $30,000 in a month to get their idea off the ground through a Kickstarter campaign.
And they exceeded that goal—in the first 24 hours. In fact, they've raised over $166,000 at this point, and they were even backed by Bill Nye The Science Guy!
"It was really, really encouraging to see that kind of response," Moreland says. "We really felt that we were on to something."
And it turns out, they really were onto something. The product, now available through retailers like Target.com, has sparked an unbelievable response from girls who are taking their product and truly making it their own.
From customizing the colors to red and white for Valentine's Day to building different, personalized timers, Jewelbots have seen their dream become a reality—and are making their mark on the future of women in STEM-related fields in the process.
"The other day we had an after-school group from Girls Who Code come by our office and test out the product together," Moreland says. "Seeing a bunch of girls play with the bracelets in real life is awesome. They were having so much fun, and seeing their eyes light up is really amazing."
Jewelbots' plan is to release new charms and new bands, but even more, they hope to continue their work getting young girls interested in STEM.
"We're going to be adding cool camps—Learn to Code with Jewelbots—this summer and during the spring," Moreland explains.
If anything's clear, it's that this is just the start for Jewelbots. They're changing the world of tech—one friendship bracelet at a time.