I was lucky enough to catch up with Carly, owner and founder of riotcakes, a totally awesome shop themed around empowerment. Read more below.
Can you tell me a little bit about what it was like starting riotcakes?
The launch was back in 2014, while I was still working full time in a bookshop. I didn't have a lot of time to spare, but I used much of the little time I had to prepare everything leading up to my launch, like reading a bunch of articles and books, ordering supplies like my button machine, and registering my business.
It was a time where I was getting very passionate about feminism and I noticed that there weren't many feminist items out there that combined the important political message with a cute design. Since I couldn't find it, I made my own!
My queer identity evolved with my shop, which was at first primarily feminist but now includes a wide range of LGBTQ*-related items.
My first shop was on Etsy, since that is the easiest way to open your own. Everything I did back then was handmade, from punching my own buttons, printing my own stickers, to stamping and taping my own packaging. Over time when I started making money and getting orders in I was able to reinvest it back into the business, so now I have items that I design and which are professionally manufactured elsewhere, like my acrylic jewellery or my notepads. I still punch my own buttons, though!
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Carly and I'm a queer, introverted, cat-loving, artsy, mentally ill, left-wing, inclusive feminist, English nerd residing in Germany. Most of my time is spent growing my business and going to university (or revising for it).
How have you found the business climate to be, as someone fairly young?
Starting out I was only 19, but the combination of youthful passion and a deep love for planning and organising have been good for my business. The climate in the handmade and online business community is very friendly. A lot of people of all ages, but especially young people, are finding out that starting a business isn't as daunting or difficult as we'd imagined or as it used to be.
Where does the inspiration for your designs come from?
Everywhere, really. My goal is to spread positivity with empowering and validating designs, so I try to keep my eyes open for ideas that do that. I'm generally inspired by feminist and LGBTQ* discourse online (on twitter and tumblr mostly).
When I started I dabbled in any style I came across that I liked. Now I've honed in on the style that suits my business best, which are sort of cute, colourful and positive designs.
What are your favorite items in your shop?
This is a tough question, but it will have to be my Feminist Sloth stickers, my Busy Feminist notepad, any of my Rebel the Unicorn Cat items, because she's my mascot, and my Rainbow Pride necklaces.
Which items sell the most? / Which items are your best sellers? / Which items are the most popular?
The longest and best selling item is the Feminist Sloth Sticker Set. They started out handmade with me having to handcut every single one of them, but now they are available as big vinyl stickers that are precut and very durable and weatherproof. They've come a long way and have been really popular, in part thanks to being featured on websites such as Buzzfeed or the Stuff Mom Never Told You blog – and of course because sloths are cute and amazing!
Another big seller is my Rebel the Unicorn Cat enamel pin, since pins are all the rage right now. I love Rebel a lot because I spent weeks designing her and she is my mascot, so she really embodies my business: part unicorn to represent queerness and part cat to represent feminism!
What are your plans for riotcakes in the future?
There is a lot in the making, like a collaboration with the Feminist Sticker Club in October and also a second enamel pin! I'm planning to extend my jewellery and stationery collections and have lots of big ideas for those, so stay tuned for that! In the long run I want to grow my business enough to be able to do it full time after university, so everyone's support means the world to me.
Are you currently working on any new designs?
Coming out soon are the aforementioned pin as well as a lot of different Pride buttons. They feature pride flags for lots of different identities from the LGBTQ* community, for example a few non-binary genders.
Where can our readers find you/follow you and where can they purchase your pieces?
You can find my site at riotcakes.com and I'm @riotcakes on tumblr, twitter and instagram! I'd love to see you there.
As a special treat for the readers of Bruised Knuckles you can get 15% for 2 weeks with the code “BRUISEDKNUCKLES”.
If your feminism isn't intersectional we don't want to talk to you.