Bomb Squad Spotlight: Geek Girl Strong!

During the weekend of GeekGirlCon, we had the pleasure of meeting up with Robyn of Geek Girl Strong. GGS is an inclusive health-coaching community with a heavy focus on the physical and mental wellness of folks who “identify as girls/women and do not fit into any one box,” – particularly those of us that identify as being “nerdy” or “geeky.” If she looks familiar, you may have spotted her in the Jordandené catalog, sporting (among other awesome designs) her “Geek Girl Power” tank or tee.

We were elated when she agreed to a photoshoot with our photographer, Stephen Klise, and wanted to take the time to learn more about her journey to being the Geek Girl Strong. Make sure to check out the full gallery after the interview!


You’ve been pretty active all your life. Was there anything in particular that ignited your interest in athleticism?

Doing dips and looking fashionably non-compliant in #BitchPlanet-Floral

My mom put me in dance classes at a YWCA when I was 3 years old after I wouldn’t stop dancing around the apartment. I was literally that kid who’s mom would give them pots and pans to bang on while she was in the kitchen.

Both of my parents really love music and it was almost always on. When music videos (and MTV) became more popular my mom would have that on a lot and I’d stand in front of the TV, teaching myself the choreography. She also put me in soccer at age 5, which I loved.

From there it was a string of different activities all the way through my schooling. I was allowed to quit an activity but I had to have another one lined up that I was going to try before doing so. Those included; softball, theater (mostly as a dancer), track and field, cheerleading and probably a few others slipping my mind.

I recently got back into pole dancing in a way that I haven’t been for a while. I’ve been at it for about 5 years now and have only recently begun doing it for me again (not just so that I am skilled enough to teach my clients).

I was never really a “gym person” until after I left Cross fit about three years ago, now my time at the gym is solace to me. I spend more time doing cardio than ever before (I was a sprinter, not a distance runner). I’m always looking for ways to see what my body is capable of, from brute strength with power lifting, to more muscular endurance focused movements like 100 push-ups. As I get older I’m learning how to better listen to my body, rest when I need, rehab areas when they need it, stretch… I’m in a pretty good spot currently.

On the nerdier side of things, what’s your favorite geeky activity and/or series/fandom right now?

Right now, I think reading comics, though that’s been pretty steady for the last 10 years. I’m a huge Marvel Comics fan and Image does amazing things, I also love a lot of lesser known titles and creators.

I actually just finished Nautro Shippuden after having put it off years ago when I got too frustrated by fillers during [a particular story arc, omitted for spoilers]. I’m glad I finished it up though. I doubt I’ll be watching much of Boruto but it was fun to go down a deep Wiki and YouTube hole to see what happens with all the characters.

Oh, I’ve also been going pretty hard at Mario Party ever since getting that a couple of months ago! Nintendo has really impressed me with the Switch. 

“Geeky” hobbies these days have become a lot more socially acceptable than they were even just 10 years ago, but women, POCs, and people who otherwise don’t fit the “nerd” stereotype still have to work hard to be accepted and deal with gatekeeping. You’ve said that for you, “living [as an athlete and a nerd] as a teen was at times far from easy.” What kind of struggles did you find yourself facing back then?

Robyn (right) and a friend at Preview Night, at her first San Diego Comic Con. Via Instagram.

Ooph. Well, like I use to tell my students… being a teen is just hard. You’ve got a lot going on in that body and no clue what to do with any of it. I just didn’t “fit” anywhere.

My friends from my neighborhood (of mostly low income and black folks) didn’t fully understand the part of me that went to school in Chelsea, a neighborhood in Manhattan. A lot of my school friends knew I liked Pokemon and had a boyfriend who built computers in his room while I played his video games, but I didn’t talk about that stuff with them too much. My friends on The Sims Online (yeah, I did that) didn’t know much about me at all, even though I could spend an entire day in that world.

I was a small-statured black girl living in the ‘hood, who was trying to learn how to skate board (it didn’t work out), while practicing cheerleading moves, commuting 45 minutes to school, never failed a class, and would have other kids in the building over to play her N64 (later, Playstation 2 as well). All of this, and I came home from middle school with a black eye a couple of times, to my divorced parents’ dismay. There was a lot going on and looking back I can see how it is all related.

You’re an advocate for mental health as well as physical health. What would you say is the link between the two?

I wouldn’t even say that there is a link. Instead, it is just all intertwined. I fully believe that they are dependent on one another. If one is severely lacking, the other will not thrive.

Studies prove time and time again that addressing physical activity allows for our brains to function better and addressing our mental health allows us to physically feel better.

I’ve been so depressed at different points in my life that physically I felt that I just could not get up. I know that by taking care of my mental health it will allow for me to get to the gym, make dinner, and more. I know that by staying active it helps my brain deal with stressors that are all the more stressful for me since I live with a mental illness.

Though, that is just one simple example. There are lots more out there.

I know that Geek Girl Strong’s roots are in clubs and councils you founded at the school where you worked and that encouraged you to branch out and work hard to offer more to the masses. So how did GGS get started from there? (i.e. were you setting up local workshops or did it start with online coaching? Etc)

I decided to branch out because of people at Geek Girl Brunch asking if I trained adults! They would tell me that they might have enjoyed PE if I were their teacher (a huge compliment) and were willing to see how that would be.

I attempted online coaching at first and it did not really take, I have long distance clients now but at the beginning I did a lot of in person private training. Then when a local news network wanted to do a piece on me (which ended up never happening) they asked that I have a group they could come see. That’s when I started Fangirl Health Club; it was just a room full of people I always knew who were willing to let me try teaching a group of adults for the first time since college.

What do you think is the key to motivating kids, especially young girls, to get physically active and interested in athletics?

Early on… create situations in which they can feel successful. Who wants to do something they suck at over and over again? Especially in front of their peers?!

When they do well, celebrate that. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watching young girls be reminded that they need to be smart while young boys are reminded that they should want to be physically dominant… and smart. I think we’d all be better off if we celebrated all skills and intelligences more often.

Most importantly, listen to them. Then meet them where they are, relate the activities to characters and stories that inspire them if you have to. It can be as simple as starting a game of “Steal the Bacon” off with “WELCOME! TO THE 75TH HUNGER GAMES! TRIBUTES, STEP FORWARD.”

Just let them know you see them.

What about adults? Particularly, adults that were never really into sports or being active as kids?

You know, I’ve realized in the last 3.5 years that it is almost exactly the same answer as above. Some big differences are in the fact that sometimes teaching adults movement can be difficult because they make have some un-learning todo. Kids are usually a pretty clear slate in this sense.

What’s exactly the same, is giving people the opportunity to experience success in movement. To create an environment in which they know they will not be judged for trying… and themes still work really freakin’ well.

For those of us nerds ready to get moving but not sure where to start, what are some activities we can do at home?

The first thing that comes to mind for me in terms of movement is honestly just to walk/move more. Go for a walk, park the car a little further away from your destination than you have to, take the stairs, ride a bike, go out dancing with friends… all of those things really do make a difference.

When it come to a full exercise I would suggest bringing on a professional for a least one session to ensure that you are not going to injure yourself. Apps and other digital programs becoming readily available is fantastic but the number of people I see doing things that I could really get them hurt concerns me.

Stretchin’ out and kickin’ ass in #ZapBangPow

In terms of movements I’ve say to have locked down? The Squat, the push-up, the plank and the ability to reach your toes. These are all movements can be done with no equipment at all and are more important than we give them credit for.

I know that I want to be able to reach down to the floor to pick things up, tie my own shoes, and get off of the floor if I do happen to fall… for as long as I can.

Then, gameify your workouts! Find a way to make the enjoyable and a part of the life you already have. You can do this by turning a Twitch-watching session into a workout game (think of how you can turn movies and tv shows into drinking games, but add squats).

Are there any upcoming events or projects we should be looking out for?

Things tend to slow down for the Holidays we’ll be having some awesome deals for Small Business Saturday and Cyber Money. Then in February we’re hosting our 4th annual pay-what-you-want 1up Challenge which happens completely online!

To stay up on all of this and more people can sign up for our newsletter here: bit.ly/ggsnewsletter

Any organizations, resources, or other fit nerds you’d like to give a shout-out to?

Definitely! The folks at Yoga Quest have always been really supportive of me and whenever I attend one of their yoga classes at conventions I have a great time!

I was recently on a panel with representatives from US Quidditch, Hogwarts Running Club, and Jedi Saber Guild. They are all out there doing some really awesome physically active and geeky things. I’ve also always really liked a lot of the geeky themed workouts shared over at darebee.com!

“The whole #GeekGirlStrongxNYCC 2018 team.” via Instagram

Thank you so much for taking the time to hang out with us and answer our questions, Robyn!

Check out the full Geek Girl Strong photoshoot below:

San Diego Comic Con 2018 Recap!

If you’ve been following us on social media, you know that for the last few weeks, we haven’t been able to stop talking about San Diego Comic Con. While we didn’t have a booth at the convention this year, our COO, Jazzlyn Stone, spent the weekend talking on panels, getting to attend a seriously amazing geeky fashion show, handing out prizes, and getting to meet you – the members of our ever-faithful Bomb Squad!

After giving Jazzlyn some time to recoup after her busy and exciting weekend in San Diego, we just had to sit down and pick her brain a bit about the experience. She spoke on three different panels alongside our friends from Espionage Cosmetics, with a rotation of other awesome professional geeks to talk about their experiences and to share their wisdom about building their careers.

Each panel focused on taking your passion for the nerdier things in life and establishing a career around them, with focuses on slightly different areas of the process. “Building your own Themyscira” talked finding your niche and building the professional relationships needed to turn it into your life’s work. “Level Up: Be a Nerd Boss” tackled the technical side of getting your brand off the ground, like marketing, licensing, sales. Last but certainly not least, the “How to be a Nerd for a Living panel shared how they got their start and tackled questions about what it took to carve their paths in the industry.

"Building Your Own Themyscira" Jazzlyn Stone (COO), Sam Maggs (Writer), Robyn Warren (Geek Girl Strong), Jaimie Cordero (CEO & Glitter Jedi of Espionage Cosmetics), Jordan Dené Ellis (Jordandené & Sartorial Geek), Rose Del Vecchio (FanMail). Moderated by Lisa Granshaw (GeekFold).

“Building Your Own Themyscira”
Jazzlyn Stone (COO), Sam Maggs (Writer), Robyn Warren (Geek Girl Strong), Jaimie Cordero (CEO /Glitter Jedi, Espionage Cosmetics), Jordan Dené Ellis ( Sartorial Geek), Rose Del Vecchio (FanMail), Lisa Granshaw (GeekFold).

Was this your first time being on a panel?

No; I did a panel with Nerd For a Living previously at C2E2! That’s how I met their producer, Wendy Buske. She’s amazing, so I was really excited to work with her again. When she was like, “Hey, do you want to come to San Diego to be on this panel?” I was like, “Forever YES. Just – blanket yes.”

What advice would you impart on somebody preparing to speak on a panel for the first time?

Chug water in the hour beforehand so your mouth doesn’t get too sticky while trying to talk. Eat food – like real food. Don’t over-practice; you’ll likely have an outline beforehand and it’s good to read that a couple times, but don’t practice your answers because you’ll sound too forced. Be authentic, but read the room. If people obviously want to hear more about a story you’re telling, you can divulge a little bit more. I was on three panels that were similar, and different parts of a story I told at all of them got more exciting at different parts depending on the crowd.

"Level Up: Be a Nerd Boss"  Jaimie Cordero (Espionage Cosmetics, CEO), Jazzlyn Stone (COO), Jordan Ellis (The Sartorial Geek), Allison Cimino (RockLove Jewelry), and Mandie Roman (Geeky Glamorous)

“Level Up: Be a Nerd Boss”
Jaimie Cordero (Espionage Cosmetics, CEO), Jazzlyn Stone (COO), Jordan Ellis (The Sartorial Geek), Allison Cimino (RockLove Jewelry), and Mandie Roman (Geeky Glamorous)

What was your favorite panel moment?

When Susan Eisenberg leaned back in her chair and winked at me, very secretly and quietly. It was amazing and I almost screamed into the mic. But I didn’t, and that’s probably one of the chillest moments I’ll ever have.

Do you have any favorite sentiments or pieces of advice that really stood out to you?

So much! I was taking a lot of notes during each panel because so much wisdom was being dropped. A few favorites:

“Think about it like a stovetop, you can’t burn all four burners at the same time or you’ll burn too much gas. Switch your energy between the four to stay focused and move forward.” – Robyn Warren of GeekGirlStrong, on sticking to four points of focus to avoid burnout.

Jaimie Cordero (CEO & Glitter Jedi of Espionage Cosmetics), Travis McElroy (The Adventure Zone podcast; My Brother, My Brother and Me), Susan Eisenberg (Voice of Wonder Woman, Justice League / Justice League: Unlimited), Tomi Adeyemi (author, Children of Blood and Bone), Ben Blacker (Vertigo’s Hex Wives, co-creator of The Thrilling Adventure Hour), Jazzlyn Stone (COO)

Jaimie Cordero (CEO /Glitter Jedi, Espionage Cosmetics), Travis McElroy (The Adventure Zone podcast; My Brother, My Brother and Me), Susan Eisenberg (Voice, Wonder Woman, Justice League / Justice League: Unlimited), Tomi Adeyemi (author, Children of Blood and Bone), Ben Blacker (Vertigo’s Hex Wives, co-creator of The Thrilling Adventure Hour), Jazzlyn Stone (COO)

“Stand out by finishing something. Create something, make something, and just ‘do’. Don’t be a afraid if the first round is bad.” – writer Sam Maggs, on how the biggest hurdle in starting something new is actually starting!

“I could have saved a lot of time by asking the customers wanted they wanted first, and not just assuming.” – Jaimie Cordero, CEO of Espionage Cosmetics, on listening to your customers and fans!

We also talked about our “bugs” and seeing them not as flaws but as features instead. My OCD and ADHD were hell when undiagnosed, but now that I’ve gotten ahold of them I’ve learned to redirect that energy and use them as tools instead of letting them hinder my lifestyle. I’m learning to rethink what I originally saw as flaws in my design.

You also got an invite to the Her Universe fashion show – what was that like?

The fashion show was fucking amazing. It was like a Beyonce concert – everyone dressed to the nines to be there. Also, some of the designers were their own models and I was in the front row (very luckily – thank you, Espionage Cosmetics!) and so I got to see them before they walked out on stage.

I would see them right before going out on the catwalk and they’d be backstage pumping themselves up and then they’d step out like “HELL YEAH!” and it was really sweet and also really inspiring to see what these people were doing. The one I voted for (and won!) was inspired by Ripley from Alien[s] and she didn’t even have to pump herself up on stage, she just got onstage and her music came on and she just did it. It was so good, I was losing my mind – we were all losing our shit. It was a really, really good show.

Speaking of showcasing fashion, you wore a skirt prototype to the convention. How did that go?

People were really excited about it and asked me where I got it! I think they were really excited that I was actively trying out a prototype at a convention and that they had the chance to see something that no one else has yet. I got the most compliments on that outfit. I, personally, am even more excited than I already was about this skirt because of how much shit I shoved into those pockets and it stayed up!

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Thank you, Jamie Rage, for this adorable photo!

Last but not least – favorite cosplay?

An amazing Shade the Changing Girl, and an incredible Jon Snow:

If you know either of these talented humans, please let us know so we can give them proper credit!

Bomb Squad Spotlight: Tracey Wong (aka MacTrayy)!

If you’ve been following us on Facebook or Instagram, you might remember a cute and colorful little video that we posted last year in anticipation of National Butt Day:

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The talented human shakin’ these pastel #CakeWalk shells is Seattle dance educator and Bomb Squad babe Tracey Wong. Tracey is formally trained in waacking, voguing, hip-hop, and house, and minored in dance at the University of Washington, where she took courses in modern dance, jazz, and ballet. She also currently reps more than one dance crew; Malicious Allure, a waacking and voguing performance group,  kiki house, and crew, and Chinatown After Hours, a collective group of street dance battlers and organizers for the community.

She’s also the event organizer for Funkee Monkee’s monthly open sessions, as well as the organizer for the annual all-womxn dance battle Queen of the Hill @ Folklife Festival – the largest waacking battle in Seattle, Punk & Funk. She also works at a local and POC-owned boutique called Moksha, located in Seattle’s International District. Not just a boutique, Moksha collaborates with and gives artists platforms for their work.

As if all of that isn’t already completely badass, she’s also training in Northern Shaolin Kung Fu and has recently taking up DJing. You can probably understand why we wanted to learn more about her.

Make sure to keep reading after the Q&A for Tracey’s upcoming classes and dance battle events, plus a sweet behind-the-scenes video of Tracey showing off her moves for this photo shoot!


Have you been a dancer your whole life? What got you into it?

A year after my training in the studio, I began learning more of the foundation in hip hop and other street and club-style dances.

 actually started training in dance at almost the age of 21. I had always loved to groove and get down with my friends at functions and dabbled a little in Lindy hop whenever my mentor would take me, but I never had the financial privilege or knowledge about dance classes that I could take. I took my first hip-hop choreography class with my homie, Alexa at Westlake Dance Center. After that, we kept coming back every week to take it because it was so much fun. After class, we would just be so pumped. We did a student performance called Sign of the Times and after that, I kept dancing more consistently.

More and more opportunities kept coming my way to move towards performing, competing, joining crews, and I kept saying yes and worked hard at whatever I committed to. I worked really hard! What kept me STAYING was learning about the rich culture in street dances and knowing that there was way more than what I thought street dance was. There was a community that worked hard to keep the culture going and help elevate folks.

Did you have any heroes in the dance community growing up? 

Dang, a lot of folks inspired me in the community. I looked up to folks for different reasons and could learn a lot just from watching ’em. One person who comes to mind right now is Rina Pellerin from Vancouver, CA. She inspired me to want to learn how to waack and I took my very first waacking class was with her a few years ago.

Two other people that I look up to as mentors are Kumari Suraj and Dani Tirrell. Both Kumari and Dani have taught me about the importance of understanding the history and roots of street and club-style dances. All these street/ club-dance styles came from black/latinx communities and a lot of the times many folks don’t know much about the culture so there is a lacking of the feeling and essence for the dance styles. I am definitely still learning, but I appreciate these two a lot for being able to challenge me to do better, to explore what inspires me, what the dance means for me, and to keep diving deeper in my own individuality.

One more hero…my boyfriend, Lonnie! He has been with me since day 1 of my dancing and before I thought to continue dancing, he saw the fire in me and told me to always go full out 100% in it because he believed in me. If I never had that push, his constant love and support, I would probably not be where I am today.

You instruct classes on waacking – is it your favorite style of dance? 

Waacking, Voguing, and House are my favorite styles of dance. These are all club-style dances and the dance styles I typically do when I am at the club. These are my favorite because these are styles that help heal me. When I do these dances, I feel feminine and empowered. I feel as if I am re-claiming my body, my sexuality, myself. A decade ago, I was struck and dragged by a speeding car as a pedestrian and had major physical injuries to the body and mind. Functioning physically and mentally were difficult. It was a lot of trauma I was trying to heal from and I am still trying to navigate my healing process with this.

These dance styles are more than dances, but a culture – conversations I share in exchanges with my friends in the dance community. It is so releasing to be able to free myself completely through expression via movement and my experiences to drive my movement.

 

You recently posted a video on Instagram of you DJing – how long have you been DJing? Are we about to see the rise of bb DJ HAI CHEW?

I am definitely a bb when it comes to DJ-ing. However, I am feeling really grateful for so many opportunities being given to me so it drives me to work even harder. I started learning from DJ magicsean in the fall and had my debut in February of this year. I have 3 gigs lined up for next week and it’s so much fun being able to create good vibes especially for my dance community to get down to! I am still trying to decide what my DJ name is going to be, but leaning towards DJ Mac Tray!

If you had a chance to collab on a music video with any musical artist, who would be in your top three choices?

(1) Erykah Badu

(2) Sade

(3) Louie Vega

Last but not least… Favorite Bombsheller design?

#Seattle1890 – I have so much love for Seattle as I grew up in Beacon Hill. Of course, so much has changed since then, but I have mad love for my community of folks that still keep it 206.

#killbill – The Bruce Lee leggings because he and martial arts are huge inspirations for waacking. He is also my role model and makes me feel proud to be a Chinese American.

Tracey in #Jungle


Thank you so much, Tracey, for taking the time to let us get to know you better and for a great photo shoot! You can find Tracey on Instagram as @Mactrayy to stay up to date on what she’s up to next, and make sure to check out some of her upcoming events below this adorable behind-the-scenes video!


 Upcoming Events

Tracey recently placed in semi-finals in a solo competition and her group Malicious Allure placed 2nd in the crew competition! Check out these events if you need a little help with your dance moves or just wanna cheer her crew on at their next battle!

FUNKEE MONKEE :: Funk, Soul, and Disco Open Session 

MONTHLY OPEN SESSIONS

Upcoming Dates: Tuesday, 5/1 and Tuesday, 6/12

830-10pm @ The Beacon: Massive Monkees Studio

$5 Drop-In

More info

 

PUNK & FUNK (VOL II) :: Waacking and Open-Styles Dance Battle and Party 

A FUNDRAISER FOR QUEEN OF THE HILL

Saturday, May 5th | 4-10pm @ The Beacon: Massive Monkees Studio

*4pm-5pm: Waacking Workshop with Sheena

*530pm: Battles Begin

More info

 

QUEEN OF THE HILL :: All-Ladies 7-to-Smoke Openstyles Dance Battle 

DANCE WORKSHOPS/ PRE-PARTY/ QUALIFIER BATTLE

Saturday, May 26th

12pm-3pm Dance Workshops @ Washington Hall (open to all)

430pm-8pm Qualifier Battle & Dance Party @ The Beacon: Massive Monkees Studio

MAIN EVENT

Saturday, May 27th 2-330pm @ Seattle Center’s Mural Amphitheater

“Special shout-out to Trichome Seattle… a local and POC-owned shop in Chinatown/ID that also supports me and will be helping to sponsor Queen of the Hill. Please go support!” – Tracey

More info

Looking Back at Emerald City Comic Con

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Exactly one week ago, we returned to the real world after an incredible weekend at Emerald City Comic Con. Our first year of having our own booth on the show floor went far better than we could have imagined; even though we’re back on our daily grind, we’re still glowing from the experience! After some time to reflect, we thought we’d share some of our favorite things from the convention.

We’re so proud of how our booth came together. It seemed right at home in its corner of the show floor, and it was exactly how we’d envisioned; bright, bold, exciting, and sleek. Our signage, all made in-house (yes – even the plastic tags!) let everyone know exactly what we’re about. Our new mirrors were adorned with bold words meant to embolden everyone that stepped into our fitting rooms. The entire weekend, people were excited to try out superhero level spandex, were intrigued by our ability to print on demand, and asked if they could buy our pink and holo bags, because they’re just that damn pretty.

We wanted to start our first year on the show floor at ECCC with a bang, so we started a scavenger hunt, of sorts. We came armed with a bag full of tokens, each good for one free pair of shells. We gave tokens each day to artists and bloggers at the convention, then they Instagrammed and Tweeted where to find them until a lucky winner showed up to claim their token. Throughout the weekend, we gave away 10 free pairs of shells! If you needed any evidence that it pays to follow us on social media, there it is. 

Our booth debut also included two live signing events! On Saturday, we had a live signing event with artist Jen Bartel – the talent behind #GalacticCats, #StellarDinos, and #CelestialCetaceans. If you’re not familiar with how a live signing works, it went like this: 

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The ECCC-exclusive variant of Jen’s #StellarDinos featured appropriately green dinosaurs, to keep with the Emerald City theme. Each fan went home the very next day with a memory that is actually not only unique but also wearable, with signatures that will never wash off or fade. Suck it, “permanent” markers!

On Sunday, we hosted another live signing for Kelly Sue DeConnick, the writer for Bitch Planet and Pretty Deadly. This live signing was scheduled just days before the convention, though you might not have realized it if you came to the signing. When we learned that Kelly would be joining us at the table, our production team was able to print a backdrop just for her – that’s right, that badass Bitch Planet background was made by our team the same weekend as the signing! That’s the beauty of on-demand printing (and having an amazing production crew to do it).

Over the course of the weekend, we met so many of you. We had a blast talking to you, laughing with you, shopping with you, and talking spandex with you. So many of you went out of your way to find us, and some of you made a point to introduce your friends to us. A few of you came by just because you wanted to us see that you were proudly sporting shells, which is just so amazing to us. Our hearts couldn’t be any more full, and we couldn’t have gotten to this point without your love and support. 

Thank you.

Thank you for getting us to Emerald Comic Con.

Thank you for making it amazing.

Thank you for supporting us. 

We’ll see you on the show floor next year!

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Ana Forrest Is The Real Deal

Ana Tiger Forrest has a fierce gaze. She does not skim the surface. She cuts right to the core. I don’t know if I’ve ever met a harder badass in my life.

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She came to Bombsheller for a photo shoot this month with José Calarco, her partner in business and life. Together they created three new designs with artist Pedro Diniz, based on the artwork of the aboriginal tribes José has spent the last 30 years with in Australia. José is the founder of Descendance, a dance company that puts aboriginal culture on the national stage and advocates for their human rights. Since coming into each other’s lives, Ana and José have blended their pursuits, combining aboriginal music and culture with Forrest yoga poses. I went to the series of workshops they taught in Seattle, and I can say with the conviction of first hand experience that they are the real deal.

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What makes Forrest yoga interesting to Bombsheller is the emphasis on thinking for yourself. Rather than passively accepting traditions handed down from a different era, Ana Forrest pushes yoga forward because she believes practices are meant to evolve to serve people’s lives as they are now. Developed in the 1970s, Forrest yoga is unique for addressing the particular neuroses of the 21st century. The poses and cues are made for people with messed up necks and wrists who have learned pay more attention to their computers than their own bodies. Native American ceremonies and aboriginal wisdom are purposely woven through to remind students of their connection to earth and restore harmony to our frazzled, distracted minds. José brings music and rhythm to the practice to both deepen and elevate the experience.

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Her own practice has evolved over time, most significantly to incorporate the aboriginal teachings brought in by José. Together they travel the world, teaching and singing, with the hope of propelling transformation in as many lives as possible. In their own words, the combined world of Descendance and Forrest yoga is a place of adventure, healing, culture, music, and learning to love again. Who wouldn’t want to live there?

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The three designs in their collection are full of color and stories intended to make your heart sing. So what are you waiting for? Grab a pair, ditch your old habits, and start living your fullest life right now.

Kelly Sue and the Girl Gang

“I’ve called you all here to dismantle the Patriarchy.”- Kelly Sue Deconnick

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Fighting for their lives…and their freedom!

6 months ago I was sitting on the floor next to my desk, staring at our shop copy of the Bitch Planet trade and a couple pairs of our #BitchPlanet leggings. When I imagined them on people, it was on a parade of people celebrating together, tearing down the patriarchy with their bare hands. Like the comic, it was loud and in my face. The design itself is much more subtle though.  A pretty, repeating pattern that we’ve come to call “stealth nerd.” When I wear them out, I only get approached by people “in the know”. “Do you read Bitch Planet?” they whisper.  Usually, no one around us knows what we’re talking about. It feels like we’re in a secret club. It feels cool. Same with the Non-Compliant tattoos. I’ve given more than a couple of knowing nods to someone rocking a NC tattoo.  They smile, we giggle. We’re a part of something. We’re in a secret gang. As much as I like the secret club of NC leggings and tattoos, I knew I couldn’t shoot the product subtly or politely.  I wrote an email to Kelly and the MilkFed team: “My absolute DREAM shoot would be Kelly Sue amongst a group of fierce ladies looking gorgeous and tough.” I pressed send and suddenly felt very heavy. I braced myself for a gentle let down from an intern.  Almost immediately I received a simple reply from Kelly Sue Deconnick: “I’m down.”

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That’s me laughing in shock as Kelly goes straight for the throat.

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Babe with the power

A few months later we had assembled a girl gang. There were a lot of moving targets.  I wanted to show our product on a range of bodies, because we’re really proud we can do that, but also wanted to create an actual girl gang in spirit. With eight models, and five crew we had a team of 13 badasses coming together for this shoot. Most of them had never met each other before. A couple of them I hadn’t met in real life. I wanted everyone on this shoot to have each other’s back. I spent far too much time worrying that shooting a group of strangers would look just like that: a group of strangers.  There is an old sexist trope that women don’t work well together. That we get competitive and will try to outshine one another. That, dear reader, is a large pile of utter bullshit. While shooting, I often heard yelling behind me. I’d turn around and the models would be giving each other piggyback rides, taking selfies and practicing with the butterfly knife. We had created an actual girl gang. They weren’t pretending, they really had each other’s backs. That is one of my favorite side effects of this shoot. Now, I often see these women interacting and supporting each other online. Most of them hadn’t met until this photoshoot, but now they are regulars in each other’s lives. I wasn’t friends with most of these ladies before, but I sure as hell am now.

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So.Many.Selfies.

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For obvious reasons, Jess is the first model I thought of when trying to create a girl gang.

I didn’t sleep the night before the shoot. I went into work early with a coffee and packed everything, pacing around our factory and triple checking my sloppy pile of lists. Ever on time, my good friend and assistant for the day Stephen showed up with our crime van and helped load everything in. We drank more coffee. We got stuck in traffic. We finally got to the studio and started setting up. The Espionage Cosmetics team rolled in chipper and eager to get started. Our wardrobe assistant Dinah (who is also a printer at Bombsheller and had printed all of the leggings for this shoot) came in and started organizing the jewelry and weapons table. I introduced everyone as they came in. “This is Victoria, she’s a badass Librarian. This is Rodina, she was Miss Ethiopia International.” At some point I got a text that Kelly Sue Deconnick and Kit Cox had arrived. I ran upstairs to meet them. After a tour (“This is the weapons table, pick whatever you like, but please don’t stab yourself or your fellow gang members”) Kelly asked if Kit could join the shoot. I played it cool, but I was excited. That morning – while pacing – I had grabbed an extra pair of leggings, tops and shoes “just in case”. Looking back, I’m pretty sure they were always intended for Kit. She had become my main contact at Team MilkFed and I had grown to adore her quick-witted emails. I took them up to hair and makeup and  went back to shooting the madness.

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In real life, Kit is the nicest person. In girl gang universe, Kit is scary as fuck.

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Our amazing hair and make up team from Espionage Cosmetics. They are best described as wizards. Beautiful and talented wizards.

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Dinah (on the left) was in charge of clothing, accessories, weapons, and nail wraps. Fun fact: Dinah also printed all of the leggings for the shoot!

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Helping Essie with her “shark knife”

We shot for about 5 hours. Every time a new model was ready, they would descend the steep stairs to deafening cheers and admiration. Finally, everyone was dressed, done up and ready to go. The full girl gang was assembled! We were ready. The whole day had been leading up to this shoot, but we had to be out of the studio in a little over an hour. Our gang was surrounding Kelly and I was rapid fire directing them, “Ivy stand here. Essie come over on this side, oh shit you have the shark knife, okay, stay there. Victoria over on this side, Jessica kneel down by Kelly. Rodina, you’re at the top with the spiked bat…” I went back to my spot by the lights to look at it in frame.

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Okay, deep breath, steady hands, lift the camera, look at your scene…

My breath caught. It was too much. For a moment, I couldn’t handle the scene before me. It was exactly what I imagined all those months ago, when I first sent that email “My absolute DREAM would be…” I felt my chest swell and half jokingly told them I needed a moment. Kelly Sue, the gravitational pull at the center of our orbit sat holding the sledgehammer in one hand and the spiked bat in the other. As I looked away she announced

“I’ve called you all here to dismantle the Patriarchy.”

And that’s all I needed. I took a deep breath and lifted my camera again. It’s not every day you get to shoot Kelly Sue and her girl gang, and if there is anything I’ve learned from being around these women that day, it’s that you don’t flinch around a gang of badass women.

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Girl gangs assaulting and killing for kicks!

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Girl Gang <3

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This was the first time we got to work with Alexa, but it felt like we had always known her.

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Going in for the kill.

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A photo of a photo of a photographer capturing a photographer photographing.

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Our wonderful crew from left to right: Dinah, Kit, Essie, Rodina, Alexa, Victoria, Ivy, Christal, Kelly, Jessica, and Dawn. Not pictured: Jazzlyn and Stephen

The behind the scenes photos I’ve included in this blog post were shot by Stephen Klise. Because all of our team was amazing (and because I love Instagram) I’m going to include their handles here. If you haven’t seen the Bitch Planet look book, check out the final product here. If you would like to discuss your own girl gang or send me some sweet gifs I can be reached at  jazzlyn@bombsheller.com.

Over and Out,
Jazzlyn