Posted on Leave a comment

End of Line

It’s hard to believe I’ve been working on Valkyrie Apparel for just shy of ten years. I don’t know where the time has gone.

What I do know is that it is time to throw in the towel. Valkyrie Apparel will be closing for business at the end of March.

There are many companies out there doing what I have been trying to do. Some are doing it better. Some are simply doing it cheaper. I’m incredibly proud of the work I’ve done this past decade but it simply isn’t profitable enough to be fulfilling anymore.

This decision was hard but after a particularly rough therapy session, I made two realizations.

I love my day job. I seriously absolutely love my day job. So closing my store doesn’t mean I won’t be living the dream anymore. I’ll be living one dream instead of trying to balance two.

I miss making art for art’s sake. It’s time for designing clothes to be my hobby again, and I’m going to be focusing on making them for myself and not other people.

For the next month, everything in the store that I’ve designed or helped develop will be 10% off. After that, I will be shutting the site down while I try to figure out what’s next for me.

I’m so incredibly grateful to everyone who has supported me through this journey.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Blue text on a black background with a blinking cursor. A screen shot from the first Tron movie.
Posted on 2 Comments

Anybody want a peanut.. er $200 Gift Card?

2023 is half way over and Halloween will be here before we know it! Oh and the dreaded winter holidays are looming right behind.

What better time is there to spread the love!

This giveaway opens today (Sunday 6/11) and runs until 6/25. No purchase necessary to enter. Winners will be chosen randomly on the 26th.

Time Left to Enter

00Days
00Hours
00Minutes
00Seconds

[rafflepress id=”1″]

Posted on

Let me tell you a little story about a shopkeeper with writer’s block.

Once upon a time a shopkeeper needed inspiration to reach out and engage with their customers. So they took a webinar with a marketing “guru” who suggested they use Google’s “People also ask” feature as a jumping off point. The shopkeeper Googled and Googled and then made a list.

The results were… interesting.

Being a nerd they then tried using those results to create some of that AI generated content the kids are all talking about. It went about as well as expected.

As you’ve hopefully guess, the shopkeeper was me. Now I present to you an AI generated blog post entitled “How should plus size people dress?”

Introduction

When it comes to fashion, there are endless options for people of all shapes and sizes. However, for plus size individuals, finding the perfect outfit can often be a daunting task. With the constant pressure from society to conform to certain beauty standards, it can be difficult to know what to wear that will make you feel confident and comfortable in your own skin. In this blog post, we will explore some tips and tricks for plus size people on how to dress in a way that flatters their body type and boosts their self-esteem. From choosing the right fabrics to embracing bold prints and colors, read on for some helpful fashion advice for plus size individuals.

Not bad at all. I don’t hate it.

If you want to wear something, wear it!

Snakes in the Grass Ball Python Leggings

Duh. We knew this. But let’s see where they’re going with this.

If you want to wear something, wear it! If a dress looks good on the hanger, chances are it will look even better on you.

Definitely written by an AI and not anyone who has ever gone shopping ever.

If someone says something about your outfit, who cares? They don’t know what they’re talking about anyway. Plus size people are just as entitled to their opinions as anyone else–and that’s what makes them so special: nobody has ever seen one before!

Better but wtf is that last statement?!?! Nobody has ever seen a plus sized person before? Or a fat person with an opinion?

Plus size people don’t worry about what other people think or say because they’ve learned not everyone is going to like everything in life; instead of wasting time trying to please everyone else, they focus on doing things that make them happy (and if others don’t like it then too bad).

Meh. I wouldn’t generalize but this attitude is definitely on the rise. It can stay.

If you don’t like how a piece looks on you, try something else.

Yes but… societal beauty standards basically tell us that only a certain body type is attractive and the rest of us won’t look good no matter what we do.

Not to mention that shopping can be an emotional mine field. A changing room shrinks smaller and smaller with each item that goes in the reject pile. The bigger you are the less likely closures will stay closed or be able to close at all. You can go to a store and try on 100 things and leave without a single item. So trying something else is easier said than done.

Take a risk! If you don’t like how a piece looks on you, try something else. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice from your friends or family members. They’ll be happy to give it to you!

I agree with taking some risks. I’ve passed up many an item because I assumed it would look weird on my body shape. Sometimes I was right and sometimes I was wrong.

While out shopping, friends and family have asked me to try something on “just to see” with mixed results. Sometimes they get to hear me admitting they were right as I come out of the changing room. Other times they hear “Nope! Fuck this fuckin’ thing!” as the item is flung over the door at them. (I will say as I’ve gotten older I’m more likely to show them how ridiculous I look so long as it covers up enough to prevent an arrest for indecent exposure.)

Plus size people should never feel they have to follow the trends of other people around them (unless they want to). Instead, focus on what makes YOU feel confident and comfortable in what YOU are wearing–not what others are wearing!

Yes. This is 100% correct. Good work AI.

You can wear whatever you like, even if it’s not what everyone else is wearing

STILL CORRECT.

The best way to find out what works for you is to try things out and see how they look on your body. If something isn’t flattering or comfortable, don’t be afraid to move on!

I agree with the comfortable part but I hate the concept of clothing being flattering. Many times what they really mean by flattering is it makes you look thinner when you are standing and someone looks at you straight on when the lighting is perfect.

Comfortable and allows freedom of movement should be your priority. If you can’t sit or raise your arms freely, I say skip it. The second thing you should do after trying something on is sit down – even for tops and dresses. It the cut of the clothing is too narrow you’ll find out when you sit. Certain fabrics and cuts are going to naturally ride up or slide down as you move around. We all know how much fun it is to keep adjusting our clothes when out in public.

If a trend comes along that doesn’t appeal to your style sensibilities (but does seem like something people are into), there’s nothing wrong with staying away from it–and even better: maybe instead of following the crowd, you’ll be able to create some new ones yourself by being different.

I don’t think the people in the target market for Valkyrie Apparel need to be told it’s ok to be different. For those of you who aren’t a goth, gamer or geek though this is good advice. It’s ok to hate Crocs and Uggs. It’s also ok to love them even if I cannot fathom why.

Conclusion

In the end, it’s all about finding what works for you. There are no rules when it comes to plus size fashion, and there never will be. So don’t feel like you have to follow someone else’s style just because they say so! If something makes you feel good, then by all means go ahead–wear it with confidence and pride in who you are.

This was a fun writing exercise. Admittedly I removed about 50% of the AI’s content because I felt it was too ridiculous to even make fun of.

Plus I’m wondering if I should check to see who the AI stole the good bits from.

But yeah I enjoyed this. Will have to try it again!

Posted on

Samples are in and we have winners and losers to announce!

[section label=”Media Left Large” bg_color=”rgb(64, 64, 64)” bg_overlay=”rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.73)” dark=”true” padding=”0px”] [row style=”collapse” width=”full-width” v_align=”middle”] [col span=”6″ span__sm=”12″] [ux_image id=”134518″] [/col] [col span=”6″ span__sm=”12″ padding=”5% 5% 5% 5%” align=”left” max_width=”520px”] [featured_box img=”134525″ img_width=”30″ pos=”center” title=”Tote Bag” tooltip=”Winner!” font_size=”xlarge”]

Winner!

[/featured_box]

We got lots of thumbs up on the bag and I really dig it. Straps are a little short for MY taste but I am looking into making them a bit longer with extenders from Etsy. This has already been requested in black or dark red/burgundy in addition to the brown.

[/col] [/row] [/section] [divider align=”center” width=”100px” height=”1px” color=”rgb(255, 255, 255)”] [section label=”Media Left Large” bg_color=”rgb(64, 64, 64)” bg_overlay=”rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.73)” dark=”true” padding=”0px”] [row style=”collapse” width=”full-width” v_align=”middle”] [col span=”6″ span__sm=”12″] [ux_image id=”134519″] [/col] [col span=”6″ span__sm=”12″ padding=”5% 5% 5% 5%” align=”left” max_width=”520px”] [featured_box img=”134525″ img_width=”30″ pos=”center” title=”Cotton Longsleeve Raglan t-shirt:” tooltip=”Winner!” font_size=”xlarge”]

Winner!

[/featured_box]
I love this one. It’s thinner than our standard long sleeve and definitly runs tall. I got myself a 5XL and the sleeves were super long. It tapers a bit towards the waist but not so much as I was uncomfortable.
 
And did I mentioned it’s 100% cotton?
[/col] [/row] [/section] [divider align=”center” width=”100px” height=”1px” color=”rgb(255, 255, 255)”] [section label=”Media Left Large” bg_color=”rgb(64, 64, 64)” bg_overlay=”rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.73)” dark=”true” padding=”0px”] [row style=”collapse” width=”full-width” v_align=”middle”] [col span=”6″ span__sm=”12″] [ux_image id=”134532″] [/col] [col span=”6″ span__sm=”12″ padding=”5% 5% 5% 5%” align=”left” max_width=”520px”] [featured_box img=”134525″ img_width=”30″ pos=”center” title=”Cotton Longsleeve Raglan t-shirt:” tooltip=”Winner!” font_size=”xlarge”]

Winner!

[/featured_box]
This fit better than expected. It will definitly fit bodies where your chest is bigger than your belly. BUT it’s a decent imitation of silk and I wore it comfortably all day Friday. It absolutely breaths better than a lot of polyester.
 
The bad news is that the feather graphic was not high contrast enough and I basically received a black top. Back to the drawing board there,
[/col] [/row] [/section] [divider align=”center” width=”100px” height=”1px” color=”rgb(255, 255, 255)”] [section label=”Media Left Large” bg_color=”rgb(64, 64, 64)” bg_overlay=”rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.73)” dark=”true” padding=”0px”] [row style=”collapse” width=”full-width” v_align=”middle”] [col span=”6″ span__sm=”12″] [ux_image id=”134533″] [/col] [col span=”6″ span__sm=”12″ padding=”5% 5% 5% 5%” align=”left” max_width=”520px”] [featured_box img=”134525″ img_width=”30″ pos=”center” title=”Cotton Longsleeve Raglan t-shirt:” tooltip=”Winner!” font_size=”xlarge”]

Winner!

[/featured_box]

I love everything about this one. It’s a polyester spandex blend but not the shiny clingy kind. The textured fabric (pique) breaths!

[ux_image id=”134580″ width=”50″ lightbox=”true” lightbox_image_size=”original”] [/col] [/row] [/section] [divider align=”center” width=”100px” height=”1px” color=”rgb(255, 255, 255)”] [section label=”Media Left Large” bg_color=”rgb(64, 64, 64)” bg_overlay=”rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.73)” dark=”true” padding=”0px”] [row style=”collapse” width=”full-width” v_align=”middle”] [col span=”6″ span__sm=”12″] [ux_image id=”134581″] [/col] [col span=”6″ span__sm=”12″ padding=”5% 5% 5% 5%” align=”left” max_width=”520px”] [featured_box img=”134524″ img_width=”40″ pos=”center” title=”Men’s Polo Shirt” tooltip=”Winner!” font_size=”xlarge”]

Loser?

[/featured_box]

I had high hopes for this one because it goes to 8XL. Unfortunately the fabric is a much tighter weave and resembles the shiny. clingy stuff.

However, I wore mine comfortable all day despite having ordered a size smaller than I should have. I may get a second sample in a larger size to see if it makes a difference.

[/col] [/row] [/section] [divider align=”center” width=”100px” height=”1px” color=”rgb(255, 255, 255)”] [section label=”Media Left Large” bg_color=”rgb(64, 64, 64)” bg_overlay=”rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.73)” dark=”true” padding=”0px”] [row style=”collapse” width=”full-width” v_align=”middle”] [col span=”6″ span__sm=”12″] [ux_image id=”134583″] [/col] [col span=”6″ span__sm=”12″ padding=”5% 5% 5% 5%” align=”left” max_width=”520px”] [featured_box img=”134524″ img_width=”40″ pos=”center” title=”Lapel Collar Shirt With Concealed Placket” tooltip=”Winner!” font_size=”xlarge”]

Loser.

[/featured_box]

This one is sooo close. SOOOOO CLOSE. It printed really well so this design will be on SOMETHING.

Unfortunately the shirt tapers making it feel like its a size smaller at the bottom. Plus buttoning it behind that placard is a pain in the neck. 

I’m going to keep looking for a long sleeve button up. If I can’t find one I like I may offer this since it is comfy BUT I will label it as not for pear shaped bodies.

[/col] [/row] [/section]
Posted on

Black Owned Business Lists

I started this as a Facebook post, then recreated it on Twitter. But I keep finding more lists. So I’m storing them all here.

https://stephano.me/fashion/blog/black-owned-kawaii-brands-list

https://shoppeblack.us/2020/04/black-owned-face-mask-businesses/

https://afropunk.com/2018/03/black-owned-goth-brand-collaborates-alternative-model-yasmin-benoit-latest-lookbook/

https://thehuntswoman.com/black-owned-plus-size-brands-boutiques/

https://themadmommy.com/black-owned-etsy-shops/

https://stephano.me/fashion/blog/black-owned-goth-brands-list

Chashudon Fashion – Otaku apparel

——–
Valkyrie Apparel is owned by a white CIS hetero woman who knows she’s privileged AF and right now it is time for her to sit down and let other people do the talking.

Posted on

Updates to the Valkyrie and Morgana Tees

We are going through our catalog and updating the images of short sleeve t-shirts using a new to us service that allows us to show our designs on a variety of human bodies.

As our tees are, for the most part, unisex this means I am including photos to represent more genders.

But in doing this I realized two of our graphics were not as inclusive as they could be.

A few years back I had an idea or a line of shirts with graphics of Legendary Women. Unfortunately, the Adobe filters I was using to create these images went away so I stopped after two. Mostly because when I switched to new art software I could not recreate the style of the first two. I had hoped to include women of color but the loss of my presets in Adobe Photoshop kinda made me flip the proverbial table.

While working on the new images though it occurred to me that I could easily change the skin tone on the two images I DID finish. This was the result.

   

Each page for those designs now lets you choose a skin tone.

  • Pale (which I thought was better than pastey)
  • Medium (because I didn’t want to use food as a description)
  • Dark (because that’s what it is)

(I figured 3 choices would please the Morrigan and keep me from going crazy trying to create a million new mockups.)

PUHLEEEZE tell me if there are better descriptions. I basically checked makeup sites for foundation shade names.

 

Posted on

It’s Time to Serve Some T*

* T as in “Truth” (As the young people are saying on the social media.)

I almost named this post “We are the clothing designers, and we are the dropshippers of dreams” but that is WAY too long.

When I started my business I planned to have a warehouse in my basement. I wanted to do this so I could measure garments to create my own size chart and take pictures using plus-sized mannequins. I quickly discovered that this was not efficient or affordable for me. So I started investigating dropshipping suppliers.

Dropshipping is a business model where an online store does not stock their products in house. They take your money and use it to buy the product from another company. That other company sends the product to you with the dropshipper’s invoice in the package. In some cases, the second company creates the product to the first company’s specifications too. THIS is my current business model.

I work with 3 suppliers. Two based in the US and one in Hong Kong. If you turned your nose up after reading “Hong Kong” then it’s time for the T. I have searched high and low for a dropshipping supplier offering clothing in our listed size range: Small to 5XL. In 5 years I have found TWO. Both in Hong Kong. And one of those companies was so unreliable I have stopped working with them. All of the US-based companies I’ve contacted either don’t offer products larger than 3XL OR they only deal with companies willing to buy thousands of dollars of products. Considering I don’t want most of their product line because it’s covered in rhinestones and flowers… it’s just not economically sound for us to work together. I’m not going to buy a palette’s worth of one dress and HOPE I get enough customers to order it.

SO that leaves me having clothing made on demand and shipped to you. I’m not a seamstress. Hell, I don’t even keep my fabric and paper cutting scissors separated. Making my products myself is not the best idea. Finding products for y’all in our size range became much easier because NOW I was at least in charge of what each item would look like.

We started with t-shirts and hoodies because those vendors were easy to find. The “print on demand apparel” started as a way for businesses and sports teams to customize uniforms. Companies like Red Bubble and Zazzle changed that. NOW we have started working with a print, cut and SEW supplier. This works great for everyone involved. I have creative control and no one has to deal with overstock.

That brings me to the current state of the world. Covid-19 is wreaking havoc all over and dropshipping businesses are feeling this in two ways.

1) Overseas suppliers’ warehouses are shut down.

2) People are freaking out about ordering things that might come from Asia. (Which frighteningly includes the local Chinese restaurant for some people.)

I’m telling you all of this because I was anxious about posting a notice about possible shipping delays. I shouldn’t be but people have made some crazy comments to me about using overseas suppliers in the past. But also there was TikTok drama about a dice dropshipper recently and I don’t want to be associated with that kind of asshattery. (My other website, Strange Child Productions, will have a blog post about that soon.)

As of writing this post, I have contacted my three suppliers to ask if they anticipate delays but no one has replied yet. Valkyrie Apparel will continue to process orders but our turn around times may be longer than usual. Please be patient and place any time-sensitive orders sooner rather than later. If things change, y’all will know shortly after I do.

Stay healthy everybody!

Posted on

How Did Pokémon GO Change the World?

In the summer of 2016, Pokémon GO premiered and swept the world, capturing tens millions of players and earning its parent company, Niantic, $950 million in revenue. While its user base has shrunk since then, the game is still wildly popular and a financial success for Niantic. This astounding phenomenon happened because of Pokémon GO’s merging of an established and popular brand, interactive gameplay and excellent use of augmented reality and location-based gaming. If you’ve been playing Pokémon GO since it came out, you’ve likely seen much of its impact for yourself. There is little doubt that Pokémon GO has changed the gaming world. Here’s a look at how.

Augmenting Reality

Although Niantic’s first AR game Ingress really built the foundation for augmented reality games, the technology didn’t really take off or become popular among users right away. Pokémon GO really put this technology on the map when it became a worldwide phenomenon. With the framework Ingress put in place with location-based gaming, Pokémon GO was really able to hit it off with users and make it go viral. All of a sudden, not only were people able to use this technology to interact with the real world—they were able to insert themselves into a nostalgic fantasy of catching Pokémon like they had always wanted to as kids. Other games have since followed suit and capitalized on users’ nostalgic desires, including Niantic’s own Harry Potter augmented reality game, Wizards Unite.

Accidents

Statistics show data suggesting Pokémon GO was responsible for accidents. This occurred because players became distracted by their phones and would accidentally trespass, walk into traffic, trip and fall or, in at least one case, get mugged. There was a long-term lesson here for players of augmented reality games. They soon understood that they had to be careful. Developers, too, realized that they had an obligation to do what they could to warn players to use caution when playing. Niantic has since added warnings to Pokémon GO and reduced the amount of collectibles available during bad weather events.

Physical Activity and Gaming

One of the biggest long-term impacts of Pokémon GO was that it incorporated physical presence into the game. Indeed, Pokémon GO was impossible to truly play unless you got up and went to various collection points, PokéStops and Pokémon Gyms. As such, it encouraged players to get off the couch and move, play with their friends and go into public spaces. The internet is replete with stories of players who credited this game with getting them outdoors, and many businesses in various locales have attributed their increasing foot traffic to Pokémon GO.

Pokémon GO was a very different game from anything that many people had seen before. In that sense, it absolutely changed the gaming world, and it will likely set the stage for many other augmented reality, location-based games.

If you’re a nerd but prefer your games to involve dice, check out our gamer shirts!

Posted on

Achievement Unlocked! Size-Inclusive Product Photos

Through dangers untold, and hardships unnumbered, and 6 months of whining and procrastinating I have fought my way to finishing Phase One of “Operation Size-Inclusive Product Photos”. There may still be kinks (the not-fun kind) to iron out, and pics I could redo… but in the end, I am happy with what I’ve accomplished.

The two completed product groups are the Empire Waist Dress and the Short Sleeve Tunic Dress.

What has changed? Why let me show you!

Products that fall into the aforementioned groups will be shown on a minimum of 5 different models.

Each of these pages now has two text links that look like this:

Shows that the View Size Chart & Model Measurements link is above the buy box,

If you click those links a window will open to display a size guide. Each size guide contains the manufacturer’s recommended size chart, photos of 5 or more models with their B-W-H measurements, fabric content & fit notes.

  • When you click the model pictures it will display their size, measurements and any comments they made about the sample they’re wearing in the pic.
  • Fabric content is there to give some context to…
  • Fit notes: Things to consider when choosing a size. These notes are based on product reviews, the model’s comments and our personal experiences with the product.

So what’s Phase 2? Another photoshoot! Stay tuned for details…

Posted on

New King in Yellow Promo

King in Yellow Tees & Hoodies are available here: https://wordpress-454519-1589811.cloudwaysapps.com/product-category/tees1/t01/

Text is from an excerpt from Act 1, Scene 2d of The King in Yellow by Robert Chambers. http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/8492

Soundtrack is Glimmers (Triangle, Trinket, Treasure 1) courtesy of John R Harford: https://aspectarts.bandcamp.com
https://www.patreon.com/johnrhaford