Photography by Stephen Klise
Spot yourself in the crowd? Post it on social media and tag us! #Bombsheller
The numbers are tallied and your votes are in. Put on your glitziest outfit, break out the champagne, and take a scroll down below to see the winners of the 2018 Best of Bombsheller Awards!
F I R S T P L A C E
Design: Milkfed Criminal Masterminds
Art: Laurenn Mccubbin
R U N N E R U P
by: Akana Fuji
F I R S T P L A C E
by: Jamie McKelvie and Matt Wilson
R U N N E R U P
by: AJ Hawkins Art
F I R S T P L A C E
Design: Milkfed Criminal Masterminds
Art: Laurenn Mccubbin
R U N N E R U P
by: Jamie McKelvie and Matt Wilson
F I R S T P L A C E
by: Jen Bartel
1 S T
R U N N E R U P
by: AJ Hawkins Art
2 N D
R U N N E R U P
Design: Milkfed Criminal Masterminds
Art: Christian Ward
Use code BestOf2018 for 10% off the collection!
Remember back when we prepared for 2018 with a big 2017 retrospective post? Well, if you can believe it – 2018 turned out to be even bigger. We accomplished and learned a LOT, attended and spearheaded multiple events, organized some killer collabs, and met so many incredible people along the way.
We put our 2017 wall to shame and kicked 2018’s ass.
Even after taking out the more personal highlights and behind-the-scenes accomplishments, trying to condense our entire year into one blog post turned out to be a challenge! We’ll start off with some honorable mentions before we dive into the highlight reel – make sure to stick around for the gallery of 2018 photoshoots at the end!
On Firsts and Failure
We got to experience having our own booth at a convention for the first time at Emerald City Comic Con – one of the biggest conventions in the greater Seattle area! We’ve done pop-ups and been guests at conventions before, but having your own space is something special. The whole weekend exceeded our expectations and allowed us to host two live signings – one with Jen Bartel and another with Kelly Sue DeConnick! The experience really lit a fire under us to really immerse ourselves in the world of geeky conventions. Spoiler alert: we’re going back this year! 😉
We also managed to score a booth at GeekGirlCon – not only did we get a panel there, too, but we also opened the Fashion Show! The convention was the weekend before Halloween, and we knocked the fashion show out of the park in some of our favorite horror-inspired Shells:
In between the two cons, our COO, Jazzlyn, spoke on panels at C2E2, San Diego Comic Con, and New York Comic Con. SDCC sticks out, especially – we attended a badass fashion show, got to meet members of the Bomb Squad, real-world tested a prototype product, and Jazzlyn spoke on three panels. It was a pretty incredible weekend!
Check out our convention recaps here:
Other Notable Firsts:
We hit a few snags in our plans this year. The one that sticks out the most is probably trying – and failing – to release a new product this year. So what happened? Well… a little bit of everything.
We ran low on fabric – at one point we were totally out and had to rush order more. We took on a lot of projects. Pretty much every one of our factory’s machines malfunctioned in the last half of the year – it seemed like as soon as one thing was fixed, something else broke. Our heat press actually broke down right before the holidays and our team busted their butts to keep us on schedule. Still, there wasn’t enough time to dedicate to perfecting the launch, and to top it off, an error in size scaling of a prototype set us back quite a bit. 2018 just wasn’t the year for a big launch!
We embrace the failures with the successes. Instead of letting them get us down, we’re focusing on the things we accomplished and what we’ve learned from the things we didn’t. We can’t wait for you to see what we have in store (literally and figuratively) for 2019!
We put a lot of time and energy into testing out everything we make before it goes out into the world. Here are the things we tried this year!
We’re always making new friends and meeting new artists, and this year was no exception. Our travels through the world of conventions opened us up to the chance to work on some seriously great collabs – and we have many more to come!
Not to mention, we also…
Three times each year, we do a factory pop-up sale where we sell ready-to-wear Shells!
Don’t worry, we still print on demand – events demand stock and sometimes artists need samples, and anything that doesn’t immediately find a new home ends up at one of these sales. If you’re ever in Seattle, come party with us!
This was a busy year for us on social media! We started two new campaigns that we’re excited to make a tradition, upped our posting schedule, and tried to get verified on Instagram. We’re… still working on that one. New goal for 2019?
We’re… still working on that one. New goal for 2019?
Our web queen, our graphic artist, and our community manager/copywriter (psst – that’s me!) worked together to give our website a fresh, updated look:
We love having little treats at our pop-ups that you can’t get anywhere else. Even if you don’t plan to shop, always plan to come by our booth at conventions – you’ll likely still walk away with something fun!
Last, but certainly not least, we got to interview five different badasses from the Bomb Squad on our blog. Shout us out on social media using the tag #Bombsheller and tell us who you’d like to see an interview on next!
That’s a wrap on 2018!
Thank you so much for your love and support – we say this often because we truly mean it from the bottom of our hearts. We couldn’t do what we do without you, our badass Bomb Squad! We want you to start your new off with a bang – enter this code at checkout through 1/12/19 for 10% off of your next purchase:
One final note. This year, we also welcomed our photographer, Stephen, to the team! He’s shot for us before, but he officially joined the Bombsheller team and has been hard at work to bring more life to our Shells through photography ever since. He doesn’t just shoot our lookbooks; he’s also been dedicating time to product photoshoots of some of favorite designs! We love our 360 viewer, but when trying to decide on a design, nothing compares to seeing Shells on real, human bodies. We look forward to more photos in 2019!
You may have seen a few of these images floating around social media but we wanted to give them their own spotlight moment. Make sure to check them out before you go!
“You know what we could do? We could make a design out of the back page ads. That might be fun.”
Kelly Sue is always creating. We’d just spent a fun night talking about Bitch Planet and pitching ideas back and forth about future designs. The idea hit her as I was petting her dogs on my way out. I agreed wholeheartedly, trapped between the excitement of the idea and her adorable dogs. I thought about it on the drive back and throughout the night, until I fell asleep in my little rental airbnb bed in someone’s converted back porch. A few months later my niece would text me a picture of the back page ads from the copy of Bitch Planet she was reading.
“Aren’t these cool?”
It reinvigorated my craving to make the design.
“How does Bombsheller choose designs?”
It starts with “You know what we could do?” which turns into, “Would I wear that? Would YOU wear that?” and grows from there. Printing on demand allows us to do a lot that larger clothing manufacturers can’t do. One of those things is that we can cater to a fanbase of one, another is that – when the stars align – we can create, present, print and ship a design within 24 hours. Sometimes sooner. This is what we call a “TechFlex” and if you’ve been to one of our live signings, you’ve seen them at their best.
Bitch Planet is intense. It’s also gorgeous, poetic, unapologetic, inclusive, and radical. Hell, Facebook wont let us run any boosted ads that involve their designs due to the mere title of the book. #HeyKidsPatriarchy would be even more in your face; the ads that make up the design range from funny to horrifying. They’ll have you laughing, but also slap you with some cold facts about domestic violence.
Cold facts don’t historically sell clothing. We had to decide if we wanted to lean into the essence of the design, or try to make it more palatable to a larger audience. It’s a delicate balancing act when you take on a license. As a company we need to stay true to our brand, but we also want to showcase what we love about our collaborations. Ultimately we decided we loved Bitch Planet too much not to do it justice, so we leaned in, Non-Compliant as ever.
Having fun isn’t hard, when you have a library card!
Compared to our last Bitch Planet photo shoot, this was a much smaller team. Our sole model would be the amazing Camille Primous, a Primary Therapist who moonlights as a Salsa instructor. On makeup was one of our favorite makeup artists, Sheila, who modeled #Morrigan in our WicDiv shoot! We had our amazing photographer, Stephen, on camera, and myself as creative director. In post, we had Emily and Ivy working on copy and graphics to recreate some of the ads in the lookbook. Since launch, fans have asked us for high-res versions so they could print them at home. <3 One of my favorite easter eggs is that the ad for Democracy actually links to vote.org!
The set was minimal to give focus to the busier design and the piles of books that would act as costar. Camille, Stephen and myself brought books from our personal collections. Looking back, it’s fun to match the book to the person. We included some books from our artists such as Big Gal Yoga and The Little Book of Big Babes by Rachelle Abellar. We weighed every detail; do we keep the used stickers on the book bindings, or does that distract from the image? We decided it added to it, because recycling and reusing is a key element in what we do. We included a necklace gifted to us by a fan who works at Babeland (18+ warning: you can find the necklace here). The black sparkly top is a lucky thrifted find, and the amazing holographic shoes are from our friends at Wildfang. Even the sledgehammer is from our first Bitch Planet shoot, a nod to the original design that got us here. The Devil is in the details.
The team put the lookbook together in a week. After receiving approval from the Milkfed team, we launched it on December 5th. The night of the 4th, my pure excitement took a hard left into nerves. Shit. Maybe we had leaned in too deep? Maybe we would alienate fans that hadn’t read Bitch Planet? I took a deep breath, and reminded myself that the Bombsheller team loved it. The Milkfed Team loved it. Kelly Sue Deconnick and Valentine DeLandro loved it. Again, the great thing about our business model is that we can cater to a fanbase of one. If someone really liked the design, chances are they would like how we chose to show it. I trusted our team.
Luckily, our fanbase gets us, and loved the lookbook! We’ve been getting tagged in photos of happily non-compliant fans on IG since launch. Every time it’s a like a warm hug – a reminder to keep going. When you order a pair of Shells, you will it into existence. We get to make them and Kelly Sue, Valentine and Laurenn McCubbin get to design them, but because we print on demand they would not exist without your order. You are just as important in the creation process as we are.
Thank you for the continued support, and for allowing us to make a look book that includes comic books AND Bell Hooks.
See y’all next year! Stay Badass.
During a recent trip to Seattle, Bomb Squad member Kurt Reinhardt stopped by our factory (“The Bombshelter”), where we got the chance to talk about his #CheekyMo design, his glorious beard, and his involvement in the Movember awareness movement. So far, all of the interviews I’ve done for blog posts have been done over email – so I was excited to hear his story in person.
Kurt is almost immediately clockable as a gentle giant; tall, broad-shouldered and strong, but with unmistakably kind eyes and a friendly smile behind that attention-grabbing beard. He seems like the type of guy to make friends everywhere he goes, and is unabashedly passionate about the things and people that he supports. It actually came as a surprise to me when he told me, later, that he had only just learned about us when he visited our booth at ECCC earlier this year. His enthusiasm for Bombsheller had me certain that he’d been a longtime Squad member.
He and his friend Rebecca, both proudly wearing their #CheekyMo Shells, had just come from a photoshoot on Capitol Hill with our photographer, Stephen Klise. I asked how the shoot went and Kurt said that it was the first time he’d really done something like that before – that he’d had a lot of fun with it and was eager to see how the final photos would turn out.
More so, he was excited for more opportunities to bring attention to The Movember Foundation, which aims to bring awareness to not only prostate and testicular cancer, but also men’s mental health and suicide prevention. We sat down to talk about his involvement in raising awareness and funds for the cause.
“Prostate cancer rates will double in the next 15 years. Testicular cancer rates have already doubled in the last 50. Three quarters of suicides are men. Poor mental health leads to half a million men taking their own life every year.”
“That’s one every minute.”
(via The Movember Foundation)
How long have you been raising money for this cause?
I’ve been doing it, I think, for about six years now, though I wasn’t super successful in raising any significant amount of funds at first. Over the years, people started to know me because I have the big, giant beard. So, instead of doing the traditional “shave everything off and grow a mustache for a month,” I decided to be creative and do all of my fundraising a month before Movember starts – people donate towards the cause and every dollar is a vote towards whatever colors I dye my beard for the month of November. It’s been a unique and really visual way of raising awareness and money and it’s been far more successful! It’s been fun!
So what initially prompted you to start doing this?
Honestly, initially, it was just kind of a fun, goofy thing to do. Then I started meeting people who were personally affected – friends whose fathers had died of prostate cancer.
The first year that I did the Pride beard, I was in the parking lot of a Whole Foods and a gentleman just happened to walk by and said, “Hey! What’s the deal with your beard?”
I said I was doing this to raise money for the Movember Foundation. He was about my age and said, tearing up, that he’d just lost his son of 23 years to testicular cancer. He was just a young man… it was very personal and emotional.
It became really personal when I realized that I had suffered from symptoms of severe depression over the years, including suicidal ideation…Movember became something I really became passionate about.
That’s why I walk around with this beard all the time, now. I sometimes carry a card to give to people that explains why I do this and how they can find my page to donate.
Was that first Movember the first time you dyed your beard, then?
It was the first time I’d dyed it, yeah.
What colors/themes have you done so far?
I’ve dyed it four times so far and this is the second time I’ve done the Pride beard. The other time was a Seahawks beard. Last year was the USA beard – red, white, and blue!
What led you to designing Shells to help raise awareness and money for the cause?
I discovered you guys last year at ECCC. I’d literally just walked by the booth and thought they were so cool – tried on a pair, bought them, and wore them!
I fell in love with your product; I liked that it was this cool, small, Seattle-based company. You’re obviously passionate about what you’re doing – handmade products, which is really cool. I bought a couple pairs and have worn them at different event and I started to realize, obviously, that your niche didn’t necessarily cater to men like myself. I thought it would be a really fun thing to do – as a way to generate awareness visually and in a creative way – to have this burly, 6’3” lumberjack guy wearing some cool leggings, and being able to generate not just awareness but funds by donating all my royalties to it!
You’re continuing to have the #CheekyMo Shells up through December, right?
Through at least the end of the year. We’ll see how sales go! It might be nice to pull them at some point and re-introduce them next year for Movember – and maybe a new design as well!
That actually answers my next question! We were wondering if you’d bring them back next year and if you’d create new designs.
Yeah! I think we’ll definitely come up for something new and fun for next year as well.
So, earlier you mentioned your own mental health struggles. You’re also very physically active; how has that changed your life? Do you feel that your own mental health has changed by being more active?
Oh absolutely. Yeah. I would say I’ve essentially reinvented myself over the last several years. I had reached a point where I was at my lowest physically and emotionally. For me, initially it was kind of cathartic to just do something different and work on rebuilding myself. I’ve become much more physically fit, but also emotionally much more stable and have engendered so many new relationships as a result of just being part of a community.
Starting new routines and keeping them can be difficult. How did you get started with Crossfit and how do you keep at it?
Honestly, I got horribly sick on a work trip and ended up going to the doctor. I had a horrible lung infection, so I worked from from my hotel room. I was laying in bed in my hotel and the Crossfit Games were on TV. They were doing monkey bars (or something fun like that) and I thought “that looks interesting; that looks fun enough and weird enough that I could probably get into it.
When I got home, I found a Groupon for a three month pass and I thought, “I’ll give this a whirl and if I like it, I’ll keep doing it.”
I was gung-ho to stat… and then broke my tailbone the next day.
Oh no! Seriously?
Yeah – I was unable to do anything physical for months. I think I got a reminder email saying the Groupon would expire in three days. It was right after my healing period, so, I walked into the gym and it was this tiny, grungy, old garage, like a lot of Crossfit gyms.
The owner was older and more grizzled – as someone who’s in his 40’s it was nice to not walk in and have it be this young guys’ gym. I don’t know what it was about it – I think part of it was the community that was there that everyone was so welcoming from the second I walked in the door that it really became kind of my home away from home.
In the beginning, I would throw up running 400 meters in a warmup. It wasn’t healthy. They’d joke, “this guys gonna have a heart attack!” but I just kept coming back. I just did it, and I started to see results, and I started to feel better about myself. I started to have better self image and that has helped tremendously. Now it’s a matter of how I maintain this as I get older.
Thank you so much for joining us, Kurt! Before we let you go – any final shoutouts you’d like to give?
Big shoutouts to all of the gyms that are kind enough to host me, wherever I am during my travels. Hermes Crossfit, which is my home gym, Foundation Crossfit in Seattle and Crossfit Deliverance are absolutely fantastic. United Barbell in San Francisco.
I do want to give a shout-out to the artist who helped design the leggings, Michael Hancock! A good friend of mine from my gym. Close to my age, also has a giant gnarly beard.
If you haven’t already, please make sure to go check out the #CheekyMo Shells. If you’d like to order a pair, make sure to do so before the end of December. Remember – they might go on hiatus until the next Movember!
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?
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?
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.
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!
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: