*pause* Did you get that? If you’re skimming, take a second to go read that last line again. None of those numbers are typos. This. Is. Real.
For those who are hearing about this for the first time, here’s the spiel:
What’s the Genderplayful Marketplace?
Genderplayful is a plan for an online clothing marketplace that celebrates diversity in gender presentation and body types. This is for anyone who can’t easily find what they’re looking for in a typical clothing store, with special support for androgynous, unisex, butch, dapper, femme, gender-bending, gender-transgressive, and gender-fanflippingtastic clothing solutions for all kinds of bodies.
Genderplayful cares about custom solutions, and the marketplace will host a lively community that finds and creates those solutions together. Vendors will include indie designers, crafters, clothing makers, tailors, and people selling things from their closets and local thrift stores. Community members will pool notes on what they’re excited about, and vendors will take cues from buyers on what to create more of. The goal is to create a culture-rich gorgeous Internet bazaar for the playful, the exquisite, and the just trying to get dressed in the morning.
About the Fundraiser
If Genderplayful can raise $5,000 in community funding by January 15, 2011, founder Sarah Dopp will commit to making the project a reality. Anything above that baseline number will go toward making the project happen faster and better. (Really, she needs more like $50,000, but she’d rather do it cheaply than wait to do it perfectly.) All financial backers will receive perks based on their contribution level.
You can do that right here:
And please spread the word! The more supporters we can rally early on, the stronger this community project will be. The main event is taking place over here: http://genderplayful.tumblr.com
I’ve been humbled and overwhelmed by the letters, comments, tweets, likes, views, posts, and reblogs from the last 5 days. Ya’ll are phenomenal.
And videos are a lot to ask. I know. So far I’ve received four of them. I can work with that, but really, it would make a huge difference to our upcoming fundraising effort if we could bring in more. Also: all of the videos I’ve received so far appear to be from transmasculine crowd (trans men, butch/androgynous women). These are fantastic, and please keep them coming, but it would also mean a lot to the balance of the project if we could pull in some representing trans women, femmes (men, women, and so on), drag queens, and other genderfabulous faces.
So here’s where we get serious. If you’ve been thinking about making a short video of yourself explaining why this marketplace is important to you, go do it. Get it done. Go go go! Don’t worry too much about making it clean and perfect — I’ll be editing it down to chunks and weaving it together with other videos. You will be beautiful.
The best way to send them appears to be through Google Docs. Just log in, hit “Upload”, get it up there, and then hit “Share.” Share it with firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those who might be new to this conversation, here’s my overview of the project, complete with me sitting naked in a towel:
And here’s a small handful of the things people have written…
Why is a marketplace for androgynous clothing important? Because of people like me.
I want to be able to dress up, feel comfortable, feel like myself on a daily basis. I want to be able to have variety in my clothing styles besides just “jeans and a t-shirt” while mainting an androgynous image. I want suits and dresses and kilts and dress shirts that don’t accentuate the fact that I was born biologically female. I want to be able to find a place to buy and replace binders and packers of all varieties. I want a place where boots and shoes are bought and sold that fit my feet and don’t have a high heel.
To those trying to get this project off the ground, and turn this into a reality, I am grateful.
You’ve been to the department stores…
Here is an example of a genetic male androgyne shopping experience:
Go into any department store and look for clothes in the mens section, and you will find the following colors: beige, brown, gray, black, and navy blue. If you’re lucky you’ll find some red, forest greens, or maybe even a colorful Hawaiian shirt. The only place you’ll ever find a sense of color is in men’s dress shirts, but they all of the same cut, and usually are solids or pinstriped if you’re lucky – no scoop neck, V-neck, or something innovative and fun. If you want teal trousers or a paisley patterned shirt then you’re out of luck. Also, the men’s clothing isn’t fitted – it’s meant to fit baggy and not show off your figure. Fitted shirts or slacks are a rarity for men in department stores.
So you go shop in the women’s section and find the color and pattern you’ve been looking for. But the sizes aren’t big enough, the tail of the shirt is too short to tuck into your pants, the darts in the shirt are useless on your flat chest. The trousers would look cute on you, but don’t fit right around the hips, so you find a pair that does, but the pant cuffs are too short and barely cover your ankles.
I think there is a niche market for genderqueer fashion – the only other option I see is to break out my sewing machine and spend all of my free time making my own clothes, and I’m not that good at it anyway.
Buying from our peers just feels better.
Where I get my stuff from matters to me. I like the idea of being able to dress the way I want to and buy from my community at the same time. I love the idea of a place where the genderqueer community could come together to swap second hands stuff that worked. I adore the idea of having a place to talk about how to make stuff fit or look cool with other people who get it. It would be fabulous to have a place where I could find people who made genderqueer stuff and support them in making my life a little bit easier.
I am also super excited about having a place where I could sell (or heck, give away) some of my funky femme clothes to my super beautiful funky femme brothers and sisters and siblings.
These are rocking my world, ya’ll. Keep the stories coming!
Update 12/4/10: I made a video for ya. (Well, it was originally for Genderfork, but it’s for you, too.)
Also: I’m naked in it.
This is the week of shaking trees. Two days ago, I put out a call for stable employment (for the first time in six years). My consulting work has gotten thin and bumpy, and it’s time for something to change.
There’s another idea that’s been on the table for awhile now, though, and I think it’s time I told you about it.
I want to build an online marketplace for gender-variant clothing solutions.
Not a store where I sell to you, but a service like Etsy and Ebay where we sell to each other, in a focused, supportive community. And while we’re at it, we also trade all sorts of tips and inspirations on how best to look the way we want, gender-be-damned.
You know what I’m talking about. Tuxes for hips and breasts. Size 16 extra-wide high heels. Custom alterations, custom orders, custom tailoring. Hot unisex indie designer labels. Hand-made t-shirts. That awesome skirt from your closet that doesn’t fit you anymore. A good chest binder. That amazing jacket you found at a thrift store for $5 that you want to resell. And while we’re at it, let’s bring in styles from every subculture that celebrates androgyny, which is pretty much all of them.
I’ve been thinking about this for a year.
I talked to the staff at Genderfork last winter, and we agreed it should be a separate-but-friendly project (Genderfork is run like activism; this would be run like a business).
I did a bunch of research on software options, and had to table the idea for awhile because a good multi-seller marketplace solution didn’t exist. But I’ve got one now. It came out in September. We can do this.
I have the web development, the project management, and the community organizing skills to make this happen. And I love the people this will serve. Relentlessly.
All I need is time and money.
You know. That stuff.
I’m in talks with a family member who can give me a loan, but they need to know that there’s enough support for the project to warrant the risk. Also? Loans are stressful. It would be awesome if we could offset it with some community support. So…
Kickstarter is a service that lets community members donate to projects (and receive thank-you gifts based on their donation amount), to meet funding goals. The goal and timeline are set in advance. If the goal is met, the donations go through and the project happens. If the goal isn’t met, the donations don’t happen, and we consider it closed.
This is a test.
If we can rally a ton of community support, I will go all in on this plan and make it happen as quickly as is humanly possible. If we get only moderate support, I will take a day job and build this project slowly, in my off-hours. If support seems slim, I’ll consider it closed.
**How You Can Help Without Giving Me Money**
Do you want this to happen? Help me convince the world that it matters, that we need these clothing solutions, and that the best way to get them is to come together and create them collaboratively.
Here’s how you can do that. I want you to make a video of yourself explaining why this is important to you. Use your phone, your webcam, or whatever you have nearby. Don’t make it fancy; just make it real. Tell us what matters to you, what you need, or what you have to give.
I will collect these videos and edit them together to make a promotional video for the kickstarter campaign. Or maybe multiple videos, if you send me lots of great stuff.
The more faces we can show, the better.
Your voice will help me convince others that this project deserves their support. That it needs to happen.
How to get your video to me…
Chances are your video will be bigger than the average reasonable email size. So here are some options (just pick one):
A) Use Google Docs to upload the file. Then share it with email@example.com
B) Get a Dropbox account, put it in the public folder, and email firstname.lastname@example.org the URL to that file.
A Note on Privacy: I plan to use your face and your voice, but not your name, unless (maybe) you say it in the video.
Deadline: This Tuesday. As Soon As You Can. I’m going to start pushing things out to the world this week, so the faster the better, but I’ll continue to make use of material that comes in later, too. It all makes a difference.
This will matter.
Make a video. Do it for everyone who needs this marketplace, but isn’t ready to say so out loud. Do it this weekend. This is your art project. Go.
Update: If making a video really isn’t your cup of tea, another thing you can do is write a paragraph explaining why this is important to you. You can leave that in a comment below or email me at email@example.com, and it will find the right audience. Thank you so much!
Sarah Dopp likes the internet, project organizing, consulting, writing, editing, queer people, creativity, change, spoken-word poetry, fresh squeezed juice, and keeping her hair remarkably short. She lives in San Francisco.
The views expressed here are mine alone and not those of my clients, employers, projects, organizations, friends, family, or vacuum cleaner. ~s.d.