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:

Backstage Pass: The Wicked + The Divine

When Kelly Sue DeConnick connected us with Kieron Gillan and Jamie McKelvie, the creators of The Wicked + The Divine, we had no idea what we were in store for – in the best possible way. It’s been two weeks since we launched and we’re still floating on cloud nine after a resoundingly positive reception from fans of the series. It’s been a wild ride, and we want you to get an insider look at how we got here. 


“Holy Shit”

I can’t even begin to describe the ripple of excitement that moved through our team when we found out that this was really happening. The moment this project kicked off, we were buzzing. Our biggest collab so far had been seven designs with Milkfed Criminal Masterminds, so you can only imagine how ridiculous it was for all of us trying to keep a 15 design launch for a fandom as big as WicDiv under our hats for roughly six months! 

As each god game to life through their design, we couldn’t help but sprinkle little teasers in where we could. We alluded to the line a few times on social media, liking and retweeting WicDiv content; little nods that we hoped wouldn’t go unnoticed and trying to not get too ahead of ourselves.

Then the lookbook happened.

While I didn’t get the chance to be there for the actual photoshoot, the pictures alone made me gasp. As more of us got to see the photos and videos from the shoot, you could feel the excitement mounting in the office. Watching some of the video footage, I was almost certain that at any moment, one of them would snap and the video would end abruptly, in flames. I highly recommend scrolling to the gallery at the bottom to see the full set of behind-the-scenes photos.

“The Recurrence”

The day before we pushed the button to start the show, Kieron and Jamie prepped the crowd. A few tweets before launch was all it took to get the energy going; by the time we deployed the collection, fans were waiting in the wings to honor their favorite deities.

At the stroke of midnight, October 10th, 2018, The Recurrence began.

The response was unreal. Twitter went first, with retweets and shares and replies coming down in a flurry. Instagram went wild. Everyone lost their damn minds and we were completely bowled over by the overwhelmingly positive response. We laughed over hilarious Twitter exchanges about moisture-wicking, and we teared up over the heartfelt reolier about our size options and models. There was some, ah… discourse, however, about Woden. 

Trust us when we say that we’re right there with you.

We also ran into one other struggle – international shipping. When we saw disappointment from our overseas friends over the cost of shipping to their countries, we realized this was the perfect opportunity to take a risk and try something new. For the first time ever, we rolled out a beta test for $10 international shipping through the end of October! After you’re done here, go check out our last blog post to read more about how we were able to pull that off.

As orders shipped out, we were greeted by a second wave of reactions. The tagged photos started rolling in, and everybody looks bomb as HELL. People across all platforms were chiming in to praise and share photos of people rocking their WicDiv Shells, and our ride-or-die Squad members answered questions about fit and quality. We included enamel pins on cards signed by Jamie and Kieron for the first 50 orders, and everyone (ourselves included) were pretty ecstatic about them! We’re over the moon about how this launch went.

#Norns ended up being the most purchased design, though some of us think it would have been #Woden, if he weren’t such an asshole (and that’s putting it kindly). However, #Minerva got an extra special kind of love…

“Mini’s Got Merch”

In a recent issue, we found Minerva wearing what appeared to be her own merch. Looks like she requested a hemming for her pair, but there’s no question that these are the exact design from our line! While we were in the middle of debating whether or not they had actually drawn us into the comic, this popped up on Twitter:

We can honestly say this is the first time we’ve ever been featured in a comic! How amazing is that?

We pick a member of the Bomb Squad every week to feature as our “Bombsheller Babe of the Week,” and making Mini our first ever comic book #BombshellerBabe seemed only appropriate. Besides, how often do you get to feature a god on your social media?


“Thank You, and Goodnight!”

For the final act of this blog post, we’d like to sing the praises of every single human who has been along with us for this ride.

THANK YOU

 

To our badass friend Kelly Sue DeConnick, for being the catalyst for all of this and for always being a pillar of support.

To ass-kickin’ new friends Kieron Gillan, Jamie McKelvie, and Matt Wilson for creating such an incredible series, for being so wonderful to work with on this project, and for not only boosting the signal about this line but also for being so damn enthusiastic about it – and US!

 

To the talented Tati and Ivy, who took the creators’ dreams for this line and helped make them a beautiful reality. 

To our fierce-as-fuck models, Essie Charm, Sheila the Slayer, Katie  Corr, and Luna Lyrik, for channeling their deities so perfectly that the internet fell in love with them – even Woden, despite… you know…

…Woden. 

To everyone in the Bombsheller office who made this launch come together with special thanks to our photographer, Stephen Klise, our videographer Ivy Chen, and our COO and creative director Jazzlyn Stone, for making the lookbook dope as hell. 

To our production team for cranking out so many orders (even in spite of a brief technical malfunction!) like champions. Emily, Emily Z, Jennifer, Rachel, Lee and Corey: Thank you for being the wind beneath the company’s wings!

A special shout-out to Harris Miller, Chrissy Williams, and Katie West, for getting us here – you’re the real MVPs!

And finally, to YOU, our Bomb Squad. So many of you suggested The Wicked + The Divine as our next collaborative work – the feedback and love we’ve gotten in response to this collection pushes us to do more and be more. We have so many exciting new things coming down the line, and we wouldn’t have the opportunities that we have were it not for you. We’re so honored to have such a badass squad behind us. Keep hitting us up on social media to let us know what you want to see next – you know we’re listening! 😉

“Encore”

Before you go, check out this collection of outtakes from our lookbook photoshoot!

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Bomb Squad Spotlight: Mandie Roman AKA Geeky Glamorous!

Get to know this badass geek.

Meet fandom fashionista Mandie Roman; Twitch streamer, host of Game Talk Live, and all-around badass babe. Her Instagram is a treasure trove of geeky fashion inspiration and creative “casual” spins on cosplay – and those seriously cute controller necklaces she’s often wearing? She makes them!

She’s been our Bombsheller Babe of the Week before, but after our COO, Jazzlyn Stone, had the opportunity to speak on a panel alongside Mandie at San Diego Comic-Con, we wanted to give you the opportunity to get to know her, too.

Geeky Glamorous lookin' good in #Graph

Geeky Glamorous lookin’ good in #Graph

Tell us a little about your gaming life. What was the first title you ever streamed on Twitch? Do you still stream it?

First game I ever streamed was Overwatch, which I still consistently stream. It’s my go-to when I just want to zone out and hang out with my viewers.

Hard mode question: what’s the first game you remember ever playing?

Oh gosh, this is tough! I had a few of those Tiger Electronics handheld systems, likely one of the Disney versions of those, haha. The first console game I remember playing is Super Mario Brothers for the original Nintendo.

Aside from playing games on stream, you’re also the host of Game Talk Live. How did you get your start on the show?

I wish this was a more exciting story, haha but I discovered the show through a friend, went through a few rounds of auditions, and got it! It’s been one of the best experiences, a dream job really to discuss and debate video games with some incredible guests and our live chat.

On the “glam” side of things – who are some of your biggest or current favorite fashion inspirations?

I am riding that vaporwave trend strong; I am all for ’80s and ’90s inspired design and colors. It’s also the era I grew up in so there’s a strong sense of nostalgia there for me. Additionally, I’ve been listening to a lot of synth-pop music lately and all the cyberpunk album covers have been super inspiring. I can’t wait for Cyberpunk 2077 to come out!

What inspired you to make controller necklaces? 

I originally launched the Geeky Glamorous controller necklaces back in 2012 when there was a huge lack of women’s gaming accessories available. We’re seeing a lot more nowadays (huzzah!) which I’m super hyped about. I brought them back because I missed designing and bringing more cute gaming stuff into the world.

Mandie's Widowmaker casual cosplay, via Instagram

Mandie’s Widowmaker casual cosplay, via Instagram

Of the inspired outfits and casual cosplays that you’ve done so far, does one stand out as your favorite?

My favorite outfits recently have been my Overwatch casual looks. I’m working my way through the entire line-up of characters, but so far it’s been Widowmaker. I wasn’t sure if people would get it and know who I was but she was super well received! It’s fun to put my own spin on the characters and what they would wear on a day off.

Before you go – any badass babes (streamers, cosplayers, creators) that you’d like to give a shout out?

My two baes, iamchubbybunny and yumewarlock! So glad to have these two hyper-supportive, creative, geeky babes in my life.

Thank you so much, Mandie! We’re honored to have you in the Bomb Squad and we can’t wait to see what’s next. Last but certainly not least – got any cool projects or events coming down the line that we should be watching out for?

I’ve definitely got some cool outfits planned for BlizzCon, and stay tuned to my website for more products coming soon!

Keep up with Geeky Glamorous

www.geekyglamorous.com

Twitch

Twitter  |  Instagram  |  Facebook

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

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