2017: A Year in Review

Babes – we made it. We’ve left 2017 in our dust, and we’re moving forward into 2018 at full speed! While we’re happy to leave it behind, it’s always important to look back and celebrate successes, learn from experiences, and recognize the people that help us improve upon who we are and what we do. You, our bombshell babes, are the driving factor behind what we do; every goal we meet, every awesome opportunity we get, and every awesome collaboration we do is because of you.

You support us. You don’t just shop our site – you come to our sample sales and pop-up shops, we see you tagging your shells on social media, and you provide us with valuable, honest feedback. We’ve had a lot of great opportunities this year, and we owe that to you. Thank you for helping pave our way! Now let’s dive into it.


 

A Year at Bombsheller

In March, we saw the return of Bitch Planet as part of a full Milkfed Criminal Masterminds INC collection. Not only does this collection have designs for Pretty Deadly, ODY-C, and Sex Criminals, but the new Bitch Planet design a live drawing at ECCC ’17! Val literally designed and drew a pair of leggings right there at his booth on the show floor, which was fascinating to watch. When they were done, we sold pre-orders, took the design to the factory, printed them, and went back to the convention the next day for pick-up!

Val drawing live @ ECCC

April showers brought the Spring Sample Sale, and ENAMEL PINS. These pins are so cute! They’re not for sale online, but catch us at a sample sale and you might just walk away with one of your own. Our sample sales are a party every time – treats, mimosas, good music, and, of course, amazing people. We love getting the chance to talk to every single one of you!

In May, we started on our quest to bring you a better shopping experience. First, we released our Sizing video and added it to our size chart page. We want everyone to make sure they get the best fit possible – all you need is a measuring tape! Well… and maybe the latest HTML5 plugin update to view the video. We then debuted the 360˚ Viewer. A series of 2D images can only show so many sides, but 360˚ degrees lets you see every detail!

June brought us the talented Ashley Joncas and the badass selection of robot legs that she designed for us. Ashley carefully crafted each design with different kinds of bodies in mind and we think she really hit the mark – literally, everybody looks badass any of the three designs. To top that all off, she orchestrated an incredible photo shoot at the plane wreckage in Sólheimasandur, Iceland.

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Click here to see the full Human + Machine lookbook by Ashley Joncas!

August brought the return of our favorite holiday, National Butt Day. We know what you’re wondering and yes – of course we had peach cupcakes. We even had three brand-spankin’-new booty-themed designs for the occasion!

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We got up to a lot in September, we popped-up shop on Big Gal Yoga’s book signing and yoga tour. Valerie’s designs were not only available during her Seattle stop, but can be seen in her book (which we highly recommend). She embodies badassery through self-love and kindness. We couldn’t be happier to have been a part of her book launch.

Valerie Sagun was an absolute delight and we’re so proud of her!

Later in the month, we returned to the show floor at Knock Out PDX! We were so honored to be invited back to this incredible plus size fashion show and shopping event in Portland. We met a lot of incredible people, cried during Glitter + Lazers’ keynote, watched our designs walk in the fashion show, and got to see a lot of seriously bangin’ outfits. We’re excited to watch this small show continue to grow and we can’t wait to see where it goes!

 

We also launched the Bombsheller Beta Program and the response was overwhelming! We had over 200 responses in our first run of sign-ups and look forward to more. We take product development seriously. When we extended our range of sizes, we wanted to do more than just “scale up,” because that rarely works. Instead, we relied on people of all shapes and sizes to help us prototype each size until we got it right. As we continue to experiment with potential new products and improvements, we want to make sure that we aren’t taking shots in the dark. We’re excited to utilize this program to help bring you more high-quality clothing and we can’t wait to see where it takes us. Make sure you’re signed up for our email list and following us on social media for more opportunities to apply as a beta tester!

November was also a busy month. Taking one more step towards a smoother and more convenient shopping experience, we released our Wishlist feature. If you haven’t tried it yet, it’s simple – just sign in, then click on the heart on any product page to save it. To find your wishlist, just click on the little person icon at the top right of any page on the Bombsheller shop. We even provided buttons on the Wishlist page to make it easy for you to share your list with others!

Easy peasy

Easy peasy

We also had our last collab of the year when we released #GalacticCats by artist and pastel-punk land-mermaid, Jen Bartel. We’re pretty hyped that after her hiatus from designing leggings, she was excited as we were about getting her Galactic Cats design on our shells. If you haven’t already, go check out our blog post about her!

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Last but not least for November, we participated in Small Business Saturday with not only a sample sale. As always, the live sale was a blast and we were excited to meet and hang out with so many of you. We also may have had a high school prom level balloon arch in the doorway. There might be some awkward prom photos under said balloon arch – sorry, we’re keeping those ones for our own amusement. We also opened the online sample shop Cyber Monday, and we don’t unlock those digital doors for anything short of special occasions! We also debuted our new (and seriously cute) pink and holo shopping bags for events, so you can walk out of a sale in style… and maybe with one or two more shells than you planned on, now that you can carry more.

So... *sob* ...beautiful

So… *sob* …beautiful

At the beginning of December, we popped up shop at local yoga studio The Sweat Box on Capitol Hill to celebrate the studio’s 16th birthday! Our designs were featured in a yoga-centric fashion show, which was something we had never seen before. It was such a cool way to see our leggings in action, but also to see the positive impact that yoga and The Sweat Box have had on their students. There’s so much love here!

Photography by Donny Bryant

Photography by Donny Bryant

 


Behind the Scenes

Of course, there are a lot of things behind that scenes that speak to personal growth. Our team continues to grow bigger and stronger as we bring people on board. We continue to brainstorm and try new things. We spend a lot of time fawning over pictures you tag us in on social media and the kind things you say to and about us. We have plans that we have to keep mum about, but can’t wait to share.

We also spent some time updating and caring for the Bombshelter. We upgraded a few things, have fresh paint on the walls (our bathrooms are PINK now!), and have a sweet little sitting area with a family of plants that some of our staff have been lovingly caring for. It’s the little things.

We’ve got a lot more in store, just you wait – we’re comin’ for you, 2018. This has been quite possibly our longest blog post to date, and we’re hoping to have even more to report back on when we reach 2019!


Quick Stats for 2017! 

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What Does It Mean To Be a Badass?

We have always felt strongly about having a “badass” company and calling our leggings “badass.” Early on it was clear that there were many interpretations about this word and what having a “badass” company meant, but I started thinking about it again when I saw this sign across the street.

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There is the obvious stereotype of a badass: a guy with a motorcycle and a leather jacket who causes mayhem and doesn’t give a shit. I saw Deadpool and I liked it, but I think badass has transcended this narrow definition of a man with a bad attitude who can kill people without compunction. Besides, Toni Morrison said that “definitions belong to the definers” and Nicki Minaj said, “I am not a word/ I am not a line/ I am not a girl that can ever be defined” so let’s consider some more nuances of the word badass.

When I asked our team about the word, here are some of the phrases they came up with:

  • authenticity
  • not trying to be cool
  • the opposite of douchebag
  • doing what other people are afraid to do
  • living by your own values
  • setting your own terms

We also recognized that doing those things can cause disapproval, which casts the person living by their own rules as an outlaw. But “living by your own rules” is pretty close to “aligning your life with your values,” which is advocated by every self-help book ever written and Oprah herself. Could integrity be a central element of being a badass?

In her book Rising Strong, Brené Brown says we live in a world with a “badassery deficit” and gives her own definition of the word: “People who wade into discomfort and vulnerability and tell the truth about their stories are the real badasses.” We’re back at authenticity and integrity. It’s hard to imagine a tough guy being vulnerable, but isn’t David the badass for standing up to Goliath? It’s not badass to pick on little guys; it is badass to make yourself vulnerable in a risky situation. This is the kind of badass that means wearing a bikini to a beach for the first time in five years, or starting a company with a business model that’s never been tried before.

This makes room for a whole new league of badasses beyond the likes of Deadpool and any character played by Jason Statham. The new badasses are people like Sophia Amoruso, who started the company Nasty Gal from nothing; like Jessamyn Stanley, who practices yoga in a culture that believes fat people can’t do anything; like Beyoncé for bringing a #blacklivesmatter message to the Super Bowl. You can take on risk without a motorcycle. Just trust your gut and do what you know needs to be done. That’s something we can all aspire to.

Stick To Your Guns

You haven’t heard from us yet this year because we’re not posting any New Year resolutions. That doesn’t mean we’re not doing anything new. We just do new stuff so often that it’s a principle, a guiding value for the choices we make every day. We don’t need a holiday to declare new goals, though it makes sense for those who need more of a nudge, or as an excuse to celebrate — and we love excuses to celebrate. Instead, we’ll take this opportunity to let you know we’re sticking to our guns. Here are some of the values we’ve already established that we plan to take seriously again in 2016.

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The only person who can validate you is you. Self-worth cannot be derived from marketing campaigns or TV shows or new shoes. Maybe your own family doesn’t understand you. It’s ok. Not everyone will understand you. As long as you know who you are and live your life the way that makes sense to you, that’s all that matters. That’s how we live.

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Nothing new ever happens when you follow the directions. Growth will not happen in your comfort zone. We prefer to lean into the future and find out what we can do there.

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It’s been said that fashion is about dressing according to what’s fashionable, while style is about being yourself. If that’s the case, we are ALL about style. Besides, fashion “rules” change so fast they’re hardly worth paying attention to. Fashion is like the croquet game in Alice in Wonderland. Be Alice. Refuse to take orders from worthless cards.

Last but possibly most important…

Never half-ass anything. Whatever you do, use your whole ass. 

Hope to see your whole ass in 2016 — we’re sure as hell bringing ours!

Fashion Rules: Who Can Wear Leggings?

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These two rock stars are making their own rules

Has anyone ever told you that you can’t wear leggings?

We’ve met a few hundred people at events, and invariably there is a small but vocal contingent of people who have reasons why they can’t wear our stuff.

  • “Not at my age.”
  • “Not until I reach my goal weight.”
  • “Maybe twenty years ago.”
  • “You won’t have anything in my size.” (We go up to 2X right now!)
  • “No one wants to see that.” (This one is popular with both men and women)

The message underlying all of these statements is that there are rules about leggings, and apparently the rules exclude a lot of people. This makes me sad, but it also compels me to tell you something that I’m not supposed to say out loud because it’s a big secret…

Fashion rules are completely arbitrary and change every twenty minutes!!!!

Guys. “The rules” are made up and you don’t have to follow them.

You are not too old for leggings. Fashion doesn’t have to get boring as you age. Here are some women who prove it.

You are not too big for leggings. Whether you’ve got a tummy, a big butt, or quadzilla thighs — seriously, leggings were made for this. That’s what the elastic waistband and stretch fabric are for. Put them on and fill them out!

You are not too skinny for leggings. Women have told me that they can’t wear leggings because their butts aren’t big enough. Not a requirement, darlings!

And men, you are not excluded from the world of leggings. I have a Pinterest board dedicated to manly dudes in spandex. It is glorious.

Yet another person told me that “Lycra is a privilege, not a right.” This is a catchy little quote, but I must respectfully and adamantly disagree. Leggings are comfortable, and everyone deserves to wear clothes that make them feel good. Our fabric is made to shape itself around whatever shape you are. And if you are going to wear something form-fitting, it shouldn’t always have to be black. Color and patterns are fun, and they shouldn’t be limited to tiny sports bras and headbands. I want to wear art all over my body! Besides, we all saw Star Trek and know that spandex bodysuits are the future. We’re just starting at the bottom and working our way up.

So go ahead. Just try them on. You’ll be surprised at what you can do in them, and how damn good you look.

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High five to the future!

Bombsheller: The Name

Names have significance. They can be evocative, blunt, coy, ironic. A name tells you something about its owner. Despite the similarity to a common term for a voluptuous woman, that’s not why we chose Bombsheller. Here is the true reason.

A shell is an exterior covering that protects and conceals the thing inside. The shell of a bomb surrounds delicate contents of a volatile nature. Powders and chemicals hide quietly beneath the surface until they are detonated and break the shell, revealing the energy that had been contained.

Bombsheller is all about harnessing your potential. Our leggings are the shell that contains the explosive force that is you, whether you be man, woman, or robot. Only you can know the quality and extent of your energy. That’s why it’s your job to choose the Shells that best reflect (or disguise) the body they contain.

We have yet to discover the limits of human potential. There is more for us to accomplish, collectively and individually. You direct the energy of your life on the adventure of your choosing, making the discoveries and solving the problems that matter to you. Whether you’re changing yourself or changing the world, we’re helping you dress the part.

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The Bombshell Behind the Lens: Our Photographer Jazzlyn

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Jazz enjoying being in front of the lens for a change!

Before I joined Bombsheller’s marketing team, I modeled leggings for the catalog. Every week I came down to the Bombshelter, got into makeup, and giggled as I posed in pair after pair of sleek, stretchy leggings. Jazzlyn Stone, the photographer in residence, always had drinks and snacks on hand and made me feel like a total Bombshell.

As Bombsheller keeps growing, so does our need for amazing photos. Jazz to the rescue!

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Artist Ginny Ruffner, photographed by Jazzlyn, in her one of her own designs.

Part of what makes Jazzlyn an amazing photographer to work with is the fact that she sees models as co-conspirators. “I want models who like to get involved in the creative process,” she says. “Bombsheller is a really cool project, and I want to work with people who are excited to be a part of it.”

What’s so cool about Bombsheller? Everyone on our team will probably tell you something different. It could be the the on-demand manufacturing, or our ridiculous company culture (so many dance parties), or the rights and royalties our artists maintain. For Jazz, Bombsheller is all about self-expression. “Since anyone can design for us, our clothing is made to showcase and represent our customers,” she explains. “When I look for models, I want people who are expressive because I want their personality to shine through. It’s very collaborative.”

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One of many salsa breaks at Bombsheller.

Jazz views her work for Bombsheller as an opportunity to broaden the scope of what’s conventional in fashion modeling. “Our models are strong, confident, own their bodies, and own their space, which can be unusual in fashion photography. We’re a company of strong women, and we sell activewear. Of course we want strong models!”

One last note in this long List of Reasons Why Jazzlyn is Great; she’s committed to giving credit where it’s due. “I want to celebrate the models as people,” she says. Since she works in close collaboration with the models to make the shoots successful, Jazz makes sure that they’re credited for their work. She goes on: “When you’re creating something with a group of people, you want it to be fun. That way, everyone’s happy.”

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The author of this blog post being a goofball.

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Burlesque performer Karmen Sutra

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Our own Hot Little Boss getting ready for a photo shoot.