Boss Babe: Rose Wolf Collective

I'm very excited to post about this incredibly driven boss babe, Alyssa Tanchajja of Rose Wolf Collective, who I've known for years from being in the same music scene! She makes gorgeous rings, necklaces, rollers, and other jewelry from gemstones and crystals inspired by Mother Earth. They are made in Brooklyn "where city rawness meets jungle beauty." I did this interview several months ago but have been waiting for the grand opening of CULT PARTY- a new collaboration store in Bushwick that features a whole geek girl gang of makers (vendor/ party info underneath interview)!

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Tell us a little about yourself!


Hi there! Born and raised in NYC but have lived in two other countries
and I have seen 2/3 of the world. Attended Parsons School of Design as
a photo major. Worked as a roadie for bands which allowed me to
travel. Then was involved with other projects in hospitality that
taught me a lot about running a business. If I am not exploring
another town or city I am wandering museums or hanging out at a show.
My #1 homie is my dog, Andy. She keeps me company when I am working in
the studio and when I get free time we like long walks by the water.
Now I run a crystal and gemstone jewelry business called Rose Wolf
Collective.
 

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Why did you decide to start your own business, and is it your
full-time job?


In 2015 I was living in the jungles of Guatemala and at the time I
wasn't working while I was there. I realized I am the kind of person
that needs to be creative and busy or my mind goes off track. Most of
my days started by walking down to the river and hanging with the dogs
who would show me where to explore. You can find stones and crystals
on the land. Some of the locals would make their own jewelry and
believed the stones were good luck and protection charms. It was a
magical place for me at the time. With no jewelry making skills
whatsoever I asked friends of mine to sit down and make some jewelry
with me. It was a fun experience to learn from the other ladies and
give each other advice on what to make. In June 2016 I moved back to
NYC with some jewelry pieces and designs along with a bag of stones
from Guatemala. The next month I started selling my jewelry. Now it
has been almost a year and I am very fortunate to say it is a
full-time job.
 


What is your most popular item vs your favorite?


These really beautiful and sparkly cobalt blue druzy rings are my most
popular. Once it hits the sunlight- boom, it's sold. The colors are very
intense and each one is unique. Or the bullet jewelry. Made with
recycled 9mm bullet casings with a crystal point inserted. They have
been featured in Teen Vogue and TimeOut NY.  My favorite item is the
quartz pendant. Each one is handmade by myself. Detail is very
important in making the pieces while I lay crushed stones on top of
the quartz. It is an original design of mine and I find it is what
makes my jewelry stand out the most compared to other designers.

 

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Owning a small business is incredibly rewarding but can sometimes be
viewed through rose tinted glasses. What are some challenges you face?
Do you have any advice for others thinking of starting their own?


It definitely is a 24/7 seven days a week occupation. Something not
many people quite understand if they do not own or manage a business.
So it can take a lot of energy and time out of a person. Personally, I
love running my own business and being my own boss. Sometimes it's
hard to not hang out with loved ones and put your work first, but the
success and happiness you receive from customers are rewarding. The
most challenging part for me is understanding the importance of rest
and self-care. If you want to stay strong to keep your business
running you need to learn to take breaks once in awhile!
 


What gives you the drive to keep doing what you do?


Two things. My customers and using my creative drive to help me with
my depression and PTSD. Something that has been a part of my life
since childhood. When I started making jewelry it became a stress
outlet for me. Whenever I felt sad and started crying I got up and
made a piece of jewelry. My motto became turn pain into power. It has
become a very empowering process for myself and when I share my story
with my customers they feel empowered as well.
 

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Where is your favorite place to vend?


I have only sold in NYC but all the Bulletin markets have been great.
Lots of awesome vendors and Alana and Ali who run it are badass.
Brooklyn Maker's Market is another fun one and the venue space is at
the Williamsburg Saving's Bank which is epic!

Do you have any plans to start making nerd culture inspired pieces?


Yes! Thanks to my friend Bill from Strange Flavor who put on Steven
Universe the other day. Some customers in the past had recommended it
but I never looked into it. It's a rad show and I find it interesting
with all the cross references of crystals. On the show, Steve is Rose
Quartz and he has healing properties. Rose Quartz, the stone
represents the power of love and positivity. It is often recommended
to those who have been emotionally hurt and need healing.
 

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What comic book/ nerd culture character do you identify with the most and why?


Xena Warrior Princess. Funny enough when I was allowed to watch
television that was the show that always would be on. Something must
have sneaked into my mind because one time at Comic Con someone
thought I was dressed as her when I wasn't in costume at all. Similar
to Miyazaki's female characters I am drawn more to strong female
characters that have little to no dependency on a male character.

Why is it important to you to support other women in the industry? Name drop a favorite boss babe that isn't Little Petal.


One of my favorite experiences in Rose Wolf Collective is meeting
other women who also run their own business by themselves. It's very
empowering in a world that is very discouraging of women being
independent free thinking boss babes. We all have each other's backs
and the support is endless. Debbie Allen from HISSY FIT CULT rules! I
always feel love and power from her and you can definitely see it in
her work.
 

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In fifty years, if the world could remember any one thing about you
and your business, what would you want it to be?


A goal of mine is to create a business model that gives back to the
community. I would like to teach other's how to make the jewelry and
show them they can sell it at markets and online. It would be nice to
return to Guatemala and build a community center for makers. After all
I owe my success to the place that started it all and I believe you
must give back when you are doing well!

 

Check out all of Alyssa's jewelry at www.rosewolfcollective.com and Cult Party at 53 Waterbury St. NY NY 11206

Follow her on Facebook/Instagram to see all her crystal and gemstone creations! 

If you are in NYC, come to the CULT PARTY grand opening tomorrow! Bring your girl gang for drinks, tarot readings, and a fashion show- as well to support the resident vendors: Hissy Fit Cult , Bread X Butta , Mariya Kelly , Bottom Rocker , Bela Noelle Vintage , Al Benkin , and of course, Rose Wolf Collective

Boss Babe: Geek Girl Strong

This week boss babe is Robyn Warren of Geek Girl Strong! She is a health and fitness instructor who coaches women in wellness and magic- and is the person I would want most on my side in any battle. Her classes range from personal lessons to the Fangirl Health Club. She is my woman crush everyday for how openly she discusses mental health and tries to build up a community of strong women. I have a huge goal of starting a side project with her and finding the time to do pole lessons. She is fierce and flawless and I want her to do this every day. Please check out her event with NYCC on June 25th! (And buy this week's Bitch Planet because she's on the back cover with Chavon of Geeky and Creepy)!

Tell us a little about yourself!

My name is Robyn Warren, some people on the internet know me as Stormy Riot. That's my gamertag and the name I used all over the internet while I was still a public school teacher. I was born and raise in Brooklyn, NY where I still live now with my 16 year old pup, and my partner/player 2/ex-boyfriend/new fiancé. I love video games, comic books, Harry Potter, Sci-Fi and more. I just started watching Star Trek and like it a lot more now than I did as a kid when I would watch it with my mom. I also love being physically active which leads us to...

Why did you decide to start your own business, and is it your full-time job?
 I created Geek Girl Strong after teaching Physical and Health Education in the NYC public school system for five years.  I realized that I wanted to live my entire life (not just in the classroom) as an example of better health. It's my brainchild, bringing all that I have worked on and towards together: wellness, female empowerment, and my geeky qualities.

More and more I am tempted to make the jump into making this my full-time work but right now I am also a Family Planning Health Educator at a Federally Qualified Health Center.

What exercise do your students enjoy the most vs what is your personal favorite routine?

I think that what they normally enjoy the most isn't necessarily what they want to do the most, which can be confusing...
I think they enjoy gamified workouts the most, ones that feel like playing. I think that a lot of them really like learning how to improve their arm strength, push-ups, pull-ups, the bench press... maybe even just lifting in general. They want to feel strong and express how bad ass they are! My personal favorite is lifting and dancing- separately and together as pole dancing.

Owning a small business is incredibly rewarding but can sometimes be viewed through rose tinted glasses. What are some challenges you face? Do you have any advice for others thinking of starting their own?

Time is the biggest challenge. I wish I had more time to put into my business since I am still doing other work full-time. Other than that I would say that the fear of not being financially secure is a very close second if not a tie.

I got some really great advice from a close friend of mine, Denise Cooper of Sexy Money, who is an amazing Financial/Business coach (I'll paraphrase) "Do you honestly believe that you/your business will put you in a position where you will not have a roof over your head or enough to eat? If that is the fear that is holding you back, realized how unlikely that is.

 Another piece of advise is to let yourself cry sometimes, running your own business is HARD and sometimes you're going to crash, just make sure to keep good/supportive company around and get back up.

 

What gives you the drive to keep doing what you do?

I have different answers for this from day to day.

Today my answer is that I am tired of making my bosses rich. I am tired of having to compromise on my ethics and feel as if the main goal of my work is not actually to help people but to meet numbers and make others money.

I want Geek Girl Strong to be a world force, a community, and safe space... while also being able to take care of myself and my loved ones.

What are some of your best health tips?

Based on feedback from clients and friends I would say the biggest on is practicing self-care and being proud of it.

To find physical activities that you enjoy. If you're not having fun and feeling good about yourself you're not going to stick with it. Just like anything else, if it no longer serves you in the way you presently need it, it's time to reevaluate!

Lastly, eating a tasty, nutritious, diet. Whatever that means to you! There's no "one fits all" for any health thing ever, that includes diets. I aim to eat food that I enjoy and that will allow for my body to run well!

One thing that I've shared in regards to food lately is that I have really tried to take white (processed/altered/bleached) grains out of my diet almost completely (outside of chocolate pastries because they are my much loved guilty pleasure). I look at white rice as chocolate cake because once all the other parts of the grain are removed it is a simple carbohydrate, just like the sugar in cake. So, my inner dialogue goes something like; Robyn, you either get to have that rice or some cake later. That rice ain't sh*t compared to the chocolate cake I just envisioned.

 

What comic book/ nerd culture character do you identify with the most and why?

I can never choose one so here's four I think of the most haha (sorry):

-Harry Potter. Only child with a pretty traumatic child hood. Not the worst in class but not the best. Gryffindor.

-Vin (Mistborn Trilogy). Pretty rough childhood (see a theme? ha. ha.), little but fierce, more sensitive than she lets on.

-Lauren Olamina (Parable of the Sower). This was pointed out to me by two exes before I actually read the book myself. They weren't wrong. (Yes, more trauma.)

-Storm (X-men). Childhood trauma (I know, I know), New York native, bad ass Black lady.

 

Why is it important to you to support other women in the industry? Name drop a favorite boss babe that isn't Little Petal.

Because no one else is going to do this for us. We need to continue creating collectives and trusts and spaces where we can walk through doors then reach out hands back to pull someone else through with us, continually.

Choosing one name is really hard!!
Instead of I would like to shout out two people who I would love to see turn what they already do/are great at into their work...

Ashley Warren, is a bossy geeky lady in the best way possible... it makes her an amazing event planner. Even when she has been a guest or participant at my events I can always found on her to keep things running smoothly.

Chavon Coleman of Geeky and Creepy, has this incredible skill... She e-networks like no one else I know, I go to her when I need to find deals on ANYTHING, and she's pushing me to be better with social media marketing.


Let's just say that when able to I'd want to hire ladies like these to make and keep Geek Girl Strong a success.

In fifty years, if the world could remember any one thing about you and your business, what would you want it be?

Just that I was an inspiration of some kind, that I created Geek Girl Strong and it allowed for people to take better care of themselves in a way that was best for them.

Check out all of Robyn's classes at www.GeekGirlStrong.com including her event with NYCC on June 25th

Follow her on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter to see pole, weight lifting, clients, and more! 

Don't forget to check out our Awesome Con Geek Girl After Party ! Robyn will be raffling off a FREE one hour in person or online personal training session!!!!

Boss Babe: Popcycled Baubles

Popcycled Baubles is a geek chic business that makes bags, necklaces, pocket mirrors, coasters, bows, and other accessories from licensed fabrics or upcycled comic book pages. Laura Longtine- Rosado is one of the most driven women I have ever met, with endless ideas and an admirable willpower to somehow accomplish them all. I previously featured her as a Badass Babe of the Week (she owns three of my dresses)- and it is debatably the most heartfelt one I ever wrote because she personally motivates me to be able to do more. I am constantly in awe of her stamina. Laura unfortunately won't be at our Girl Power Awesome Con After Party (she will be at HeroesCon) but she sent me over some fantastic photo props for pictures and a Wonder Woman coaster set for the raffle!

Tell us a little about yourself!

I was a nerd before I was a geek. The awesome 90's show X-Files was my first love, and I wanted to be Scully so hard. I didn’t see Star Wars until I was 18, and I didn’t even like it until Yoda showed up! Now Star Wars is at the top of my fandom list, along with a million (literally) other shows, cartoons and movies. 

I live in Charleston, SC which is a lovely city but it’s really hot here! I’d love to be someplace much cooler. I'm married and my husband helps me run PopCycled. We also have a pup who keeps my spirits high, in fact I called her my Chief Morale Officer. I work with databases and I really like statistics.  Basically, I am a Slytherin Jedi Master who loves fairies and the beach at night. I make stuff, do things, and hope to live to be a 120 (while still be sharp as a tack) working to make the world a better place.  

Why did you decide to start your own business, and is it your full-time job?

The first and foremost reason was a HUGE lack of fandom items for female buyers. I was just so sad to go to a comic shop and see nothing aimed with me in mind. So I made a plan to make fun jewelry from comic books and from that concept became Popcycled Baubles. We do so much more now, but it started with a single pendant in 2010.

Although Popcycled is a huge part of my life it’s not my “full time job” - I have two full time jobs, lol! I also work as a database administrator for a non-profit in my town.

 

What is your most popular item vs your favorite?

Right now, our most popular item is our 8-bit collection. Each is made bead by bead and they are stunning and quite a draw. I honestly don’t have a favorite item, I love them all like children (seriously). I make each one and love them equally and then see them off into the world to be loved. That’s my favorite thing, making an item that someone is excited to find.

Owning a small business is incredibly rewarding but can sometimes be viewed through rose tinted glasses. What are some challenges you face? Do you have any advice for others thinking of starting their own?

Keeping up!! Most every night and weekend is filled with to-do lists of items I need to get back into inventory, plus trying to work on new ideas. It’s hard to get new products into the shop when I’m so busy working on current items. Plus book work, and taxes, and trying to have a life…it’s hard. Taking time for yourself is key, I just took my first vacation in 5 years and it was so mentally cleansing.

My biggest suggestion to anyone looking to start a small craft business is this – do not undersell yourself!! You’re not a big box store; make sure you pay yourself a living wage.

 

What gives you the drive to keep doing what you do?

My customers, hands down. I will be honest, I have almost quit a thousand times – but then someone will come to my shop and squeak and cradle an item, and I remember. I do this for them and that feeling I get in providing handcrafted and unique items. It’s truly an amazing feeling.

What is your favorite convention that you vend at?

I’ve cut my convention “tour” down significantly, so I have more time to create inventory - I only kept the ones I enjoyed. My favorite though if I had to pick one is Dragoncon.  Dragoncon is my first love convention wise and even if I cut all my other shows out tomorrow – I’d still do Dragoncon.

 

What comic book/ nerd culture character do you identify with the most and why?

I have a fandom problem! I like too many things and can’t ever pick one. I have bits of everything all mushed up in my brain – can I be a Leslie Knope, Yoda, Peridot, Wonder Woman, Batman, Vader and Klingon hybrid??? LOL – that seriously scatter brained list sums up my personally pretty well.

Why is it important to you to support other women in the industry? Name drop a favorite boss babe that isn't Little Petal.

As we all know we women are still are fighting for equal pay in the workforce and many of us are creating to supplement income to pay student loans or even just make ends meet. I always try to support small businesses, like my good friend Emily of Cold Lipstick’s Garden. She is a hard working mom and business owner. We work together on some items and she’s an awesome person and I enjoy supporting her business however possible.

In fifty years, if the world could remember any one thing about you and your business, what would you want it be?

When I started Popcycled, there wasn’t many people doing anything like what I was doing. Now there is an explosion of crafters at shows and online. Not only that but in recent years, fandom items for women and now even little girls are becoming easier to locate, even in the malls. I’d love someone to recognize businesses like mine helping to create the groundswell of demand that has resulted in female driven items being commercially available.

Check out all of Laura's amazing designs at www.popcycled.etsy.com

Follow her on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter to see all of her adorable bows and bags and million other different trinkets, as well as Corde- the smiliest pup on Earth.

Don't forget to check out our Awesome Con Geek Girl After Party ! Laura will be raffling off a Wonder Woman coaster set!!! I'm so excited to take pictures with her adorable photo props!!

Boss Babe: BenaeQuee Creations

I came across Kristin Sirota of BenaeQuee Creations in an online Artist Alley group I am part of, and was immediately impressed by her bag designs. I tend to really love crafters that create pieces inspired by the character's costumes - the mindset being "what would they wear or carry with them in day to day life. Every piece she puts out is handmade and done with a tremendous amount of care. I am super thrilled to finally get to meet her at Awesome Con this year, where she is joining us and Jordandene at our Girl Power After Party!

Tell us a little about yourself!

I'm a mom to 2 adorable fur kids, River Tam, and Princess Leia (cats). I'm happily married to someone that was willing to uproot from NYC to move to sleepy Eastern Shore of MD, so that I could have a shot at finally doing what I love. I'm a costumer and have been sewing for over 20 years. It all started because of my love of dressing up as something different. I have more costumes than actual clothing, and most of my shoe collection is geared towards those costumes. I love craft beers and checking out new breweries with my husband. He's a trained chef, so we both also LOVE to eat and cook. My favorite fandoms are Star Wars and Doctor Who, but I really love mostly all sci-fi. When I'm not chained to my sewing machine, I can be found swimming at the local gym or photographing my cats.

Why did you decide to start your own business, and is it your full-time job?

I've always been the entrepreneurial type, from as far back as I could remember. I would organize my own lemonade stand (yes, cliche, but I did it) and yard sales. I made jewelry in 4th grade that I was selling to classmates. I was top cookie seller one year for girl scouts as well. My mother and father had their own business for a long time, and have expanded it since then. I love what I do, it is my full time job, and a true passion. I've had many jobs working for other people, I finally had enough and wanted to work for me. It's NOT an easy task, when you are the one producing everything you sell (with some help from my hubby), plus managing social media, emails, promotions, accounting, etc. I'm making it work though, and have come a LONG way in a year and a half since I started!

 

What is your most popular item vs your favorite?

My most popular item, is probably my Star Wars Light Speedy bag. Its a custom order item, since I have to get the fabric specially printed for me. My favorite piece that I've made, is actually a recent piece, which will be at Awesome Con. It's an all vinyl Wonder Woman inspired handbag. There are so many fun details I put into it. It was a challenge for my poor sewing machine though, so it may be a one of a kind for the moment.

Owning a small business is incredibly rewarding but can sometimes be viewed through rose tinted glasses. What are some challenges you face? Do you have any advice for others thinking of starting their own?

It's not always fun! It's a job, like any other. You have responsibilities and duties to attend to. You need to make sure your taxes are paid on time. You need to account for all your costs for your inventory. This includes gas and mileage on your vehicle. I've had to go 3 hours out of my way to source a fabric for a custom order before. That got factored into my cost. If you are making your own inventory, it is tiring. I have an alarm on my phone that reminds me to drink water and stretch. I often times start working at 8am and stop at 11pm with maybe 2 hours interspersed for various breaks. However, the reward of seeing my pieces in my booth at a show, and watching people light up when they walk out with their new purchase, makes it all worth it. I had a guy recently Skype show for his wife, who was unable to attend. It was the sweetest thing I've ever seen. She followed my FB page and saw what I was going to be selling and sent him to my booth to get them first thing. I've also made new friends from this adventure, and we all help each other out along the way.

 

What gives you the drive to keep doing what you do?

Seeing people get pure joy out of my items. My best friend cried, big tears and practically hiccuping, when I gifted her a purse she was eyeing up. I saw a woman give her husband the biggest hug ever when he pointed to a bag and said "I'll take it, she likes it". I make things that are useful and beautiful, for every budget. I have a ton of fun designing things as well. Most of the time, it's in my head and I just start cutting fabrics. Sometimes I'll actually stare at my pile of fabrics and accents materials and start laying them all out to see what looks good together.

What is your favorite convention that you vend at?

I've only been at this for under 2 year so I haven't done many shows yet. ReGeneration Who in Baltimore MD has been a favorite though. This year was my second time vending, 3rd attending. The crowd is full of fun and they come ready to buy something unique. My friends all go to the con as well, so I have them to hang out with after hours!

 

What comic book/ nerd culture character do you identify with the most and why?

Star Wars, forever. I met my husband through the fandom, we were married with music from the movies, and we even named our cat Leia. We're both members of the 501st and Rebel Legion and have been since 2002. We have enjoyed dozens of events over the years. The charity events are my most favorite. I LOVE seeing little kids (and kids at heart) light up when they see the characters they know and love. I've gotten so many hugs from little girls, saying that Princess Leia is their favorite, and they wanted to be just like Leia when they grow up. I was that little kid, and now I get to be the hero they look up to admire.

Why is it important to you to support other women in the industry? Name drop a favorite boss babe that isn't Little Petal.

You have to look out for your sisters. We're finally in an age (at least in this country) where we don't need our husbands or fathers to cosign a Credit Card for us. We get to do more than be secretaries and teachers (nothing wrong with those careers BTW). We can speak out voice and march to be heard as a much larger group. We still have a bit of a ways to go, and we need to support one another along the way. I really have way too many list to be honest. My friend Becka Doodles does amazing little cartoons inspired by fandoms and everyday life, She's teaching the next generations to also be awesome. Just a plug, she makes this ridiculously adorable BB-8 as a kitty pin (and tee shirt). I wear it on my Finn jacket and people LOVE it, he's just so CUTE! 

In fifty years, if the world remembered any one thing about you and your business, what would it be?

That I was the handbag lady. The one to go visit at a con or check out online. With custom bags for every taste and fandom, some of which were limited to one piece only. I'd like to think that my pieces will last that long (or longer) as well lol

Check out all of Kristin's gorgeous designs at  www.benaequee.etsy.com

Follow her on Facebook/Instagram to see all her new knit and crochet accessories and patterns! 

Don't forget to check out our Awesome Con Geek Girl After Party ! Kristin will be raffling off a Star Wars wallet!!!

Boss Babe: Level Up Nerd Apparel

Next up on my list of incredible geek chic boss babes who I want the world to know about is Lara Cooper of Level Up Nerd Apparel. Lara makes gorgeous nerdy crochet and knit accessories that constantly impress me (she made a Zoidberg out of thin air! And yes, she made that Super Mario Brothers blanket below). I have the privilege of calling her a customer and a friend. Donate to the "We Are All Wonder Women Fundraiser Contest for Planned Parenthood" by May 31st for a chance to win one of her Wonder Woman inspired headbands!

Tell us a little about yourself!

I am the owner and designer of Level Up Nerd Apparel, where I crochet and knit geeky accessories. I get my inspiration from video games, comic books, anime, tv shows, and general geekery. I am a fan of Avatar: Last Airbender, Dr. Who, Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, Harry Potter, and many many more! I came out of the nerd closet when I met my husband, who is an even bigger nerd than me and brought me to the dark side. We have two fur-babies, kitties named Bumi and Odin (just in case we weren't geeky enough) who gives us all the parental satisfaction we can handle. Crochet and knitting is the bulk of my entertainment, which I do in front of the tv with either a nice cup of tea or a tall glass of wine. When I can drag myself away from that, I enjoy playing board games and occasionally Magic the Gathering, and if I have any spare time after that, I'll indulge in some puzzle-based video games. But deep down, I live and breath yarn - merino wool flows though my veins!

Why did you decide to start your own business, and is it your full-time job?

Five years ago, I designed and made a viking hat for my husband. He and his friends said that I should sell them, at which point I scoffed and told them they were ridiculous to think anyone would pay for my hats. But it got me thinking, and I decided that since there was very little risk involved, and it could be a nice way to supplement my grad student income, I could give it a shot. It has been a wonderful roller coaster ride ever since, and I do not regret a single day of it. It is a side enterprise for me, because I have another love in my life: science. I work full-time as a wildlife reproductive physiologist, making endangered species have babies. I only wish I could split myself in two so I could pursue both full time! 

 

What is your most popular item vs your favorite?

My most popular item is the Link hat, both as a finished product and a crochet pattern. I think it has a comforting nostalgic simplicity that draws people to it. My personal favorite is probably the Pokéball scarf; I just love the subtle geekiness of it and the look on people's faces when they realize the ball is a scarf. Also, I'm quite proud of how quickly I came up with it. 

Owning a small business is incredibly rewarding but can sometimes be viewed through rose tinted glasses. What are some challenges you face? Do you have any advice for others thinking of starting their own?

My biggest challenge is that these are handmade items that take time; I can't crank out dozens in a day. So my best advice to budding entrepreneurs is to be realistic: how many items you can make in a day/week, how much the materials will cost you, how much you can charge for them, if there is a market for it, if you can live off of it. Of course, you can and should still dream big - but stay realistic and pragmatic.

 

What gives you the drive to keep doing what you do?

I have so many designs floating in my head, I'm going to create them whether people want them or not. So I might as well share them with the world. Also, nothing quite beats the look of exhilaration when a customer sees their favorite fandom represented.

What is your favorite convention that you vend at?

I have only vended at MAGfest, but I'm sure it would still be my favorite even if I did hundreds of other ones! 

 

What comic book/ nerd culture character do you identify with the most and why?

Poison Ivy is my favorite character of all time. She's not a villain, she just has a different priority: Nature. Everything she does is to protect nature from the wrath of mankind, and if that means taking down a billionaire playboy who probably doesn't recycle his batarangs and who drives a gas-guzzler like the Batmobile, so be it. If I had her abilities, I would do it too - though it would also extend to animals. 

Why is it important to you to support other women in the industry? Name drop a favorite boss babe that isn't Little Petal.

As women, we are constantly told what we can't, or shouldn't, do. I think it's important to remind ourselves that we can and should. We face all the same challenges as male business owners, but we have another set of social standards, expectations and constrains piled on top. One of us can succeed by pushing the others down, or we can all succeed by helping each other up. That why I love seeing women do well in their industry, especially when it's not done at the expense of others. One boss babe everyone should check out is Karen Hallion - it takes a lot of willpower on my end to not buy every single one of her prints!

In fifty years, if the world could remember any one thing about you and Level Up Nerd Apparel, what would you want it to be?

The year is 2067. Her Divine Yarnship the Empress Lara, Queens of Hooks and Needles, Mother of Yarn, looks over her dominion with pride and satisfaction, for it extends far beyond the reaches of the visible universe and was filled with equal opportunity crafters. The royal biographer asks her, "Your Yarnship, would you like to make a closing statement for your biography, perhaps looking back at your beginning." "Ms. Rowling, I'm so glad I figured out the formula for eternal life. Those 28 sequels to the original Harry Potter series alone have made it worth it. But yes, please take this down: it all started with a silly hat; love and support made the rest possible." 

Check out all of Lara's beautiful designs at www.levelupnerdapparel.com

Follow her on Facebook/Instagram/Ravelry to see all her new knit and crochet accessories and patterns! 

Don't forget to check out our Awesome Con Geek Girl After Party ! Lara will be raffling off her signature Pokéball scarf and Wonder Woman headband!!!

Boss Babe: Jordandené

Being interviewed always gives me the warm fuzzies inside, so I wanted to be able to spread that loving feeling. It only made sense to start with the company whose praise I sing the highest- both from the owner being one of the sweetest humans on Earth and from her shirts actually being something I wear on a daily basis because they are as soft as my dresses. Everyone, meet one of my Brooklyn Boss Babe Bestie's, Jordan Dene Ellis aka Jordandené

Tell us a little about yourself! 

I grew up in small town Pennsylvania, got married at 21, and moved to New York to be a teacher. I never actually started teaching and instead nannied for a few years while simultaneously figuring out how to run a business. I spend my free time watching all the TV (Marvel’s Netflix shows, Game of Thrones, and low budget true crime shows are my faves) and throwing ridiculous theme parties. I also obsessively go to comedy shows because they’re my happy place.

 

Why did you decide to start your own business, and is it your full-time job? 

I started Jordandené as an Etsy shop in 2011, and it took over as my full time job about two years ago.

 

What is your most popular item vs your favorite?

My most popular and favorite item are the same: my hand-lettered screen printed tanks. The most popular design changes every few months, and my favorite designs usually come out in the shirt of the month.

 

Owning a small business is incredibly rewarding but can sometimes be viewed through rose tinted glasses. What are some challenges you face? Do you have any advice for others thinking of starting their own?

Think really hard about why you really want to start your own business. If your reasons are to make a lot of money or have a lot of freedom, know that those things can take a really really long time and might not actually happen. It's really easy to feel alone and like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, and so many things can go wrong (and those things can end up costing a lot of money). My best advice is to find a community of people from the beginning who can offer their advice and support you through all of your ups and downs.

 

What gives you the drive to keep doing what you do?

Honestly, my customers. I never intended to run a business, and I don't think it's the only career I could be happy in. But, I’ve made so many incredible connections, friendships, opportunities, and memories that I don’t think I could ever leave.

 

What is your favorite convention that you vend at? 

I have a bunch of favorite conventions for different reasons. LI Who is my favorite after-hours convention experience. NYCC is great because literally everyone is there, and I get to meet so, so many people. MISTI-Con was my first convention and feels like home. AwesomeCon is my favorite "big" convention because the staff cares so much and makes everything run as smoothly and easily for vendors as possible. Honestly, I just love being at cons.

 

What comic book/ nerd culture character do you identify with the most and why?

Strangely I don’t really identify with characters in other stories - I don’t know know if it’s a weird quirk, but I’m purely an audience member with whatever I’m reading and watching. My younger self could relate to Hermione Granger (but not completely; I’m such a Hufflepuff!).

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Why is it important to you to support other women in the industry? Name drop a favorite boss babe that isn't Little Petal.

My business would be no where near what it is today without the support of other women in the industry, and I could never make that a one-sided relationship. Elena at The Colorful Geek is the only reason I was brave enough to enter the world of conventions, and my business would be so much different without everything she's done for me. My geek boss hero Allison at RockLove Jewelry has taken me under her wing in the kindest way and walked me through so many situations. There are too many women to name, from people who run conventions to other vendors to geek chic bloggers to cool women who just hang out in the industry, and I'll do everything I can to give back as much to the community as they've given me.

 

In fifty years, if the world remembered any one thing about you and your business, what would you want it to be?

I want to be a bright spot in people's memories: whether by a favorite product that made a great gift (for you or someone else), a positive customer service interaction, help we give through one of our charity partnerships, or knowing that hanging out in our corner of the internet is a safe and welcoming place.

Check out all of Jordan's amazing designs at www.jordandene.com

Follow her on Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest/Twitter to see the shirt of the month and her bazillion adorable customers! 

Don't forget to check out our Awesome Con Geek Girl After Party ! Jordan will be raffling off a prize of 6 months worth of her Shirt of the Month!!!