Episode 59: Don't Hoard Money
Published August 12, 2016.
Aminatou: Welcome to Call Your Girlfriend.
Ann: A podcast for long-distance besties everywhere.
Aminatou: I'm Aminatou Sow.
Ann: And I'm Ann Friedman. On this week's agenda, consumerism, our many feelings about shopping, and also the launch of our own shop and we'll introduce you to Caroline Knowles who's running the CYG shop. And finally we have an interview with Tuesday Bassen who is an awesome designer and shop owner herself.
Aminatou: This is also your last chance to get tickets to our L.A. show on August 18th at the Ace Theater downtown. You can find tickets at callyourgirlfriend.com or at the Ace website. It's going to be a really fun night. We'll be featuring guests from Who? Weekly, [0:00:43] and friend-of-the-podcast Steph Beatriz from Brooklyn Nine-Nine. So hope that you'll join us on the 18th. It'll be a fun night. Get your tickets now or they'll be gone soon.
Ann: And on this week's agenda, consumerism. Buying shit.
Aminatou: Good morning New York! Let's get this paper! [Laughs]
Ann: Let's spend this paper.
Aminatou: I know. Let's get it and let's spend it. That's the best. Yeah, today we're talking about buying things and making things.
Ann: We reference this obliquely with talk of drunk shopping more often than anything. [Laughs]
Aminatou: Yeah, you know, because one part of it is it's audio. It's hard to discuss shopping. It's like you have to see it. And also, spending money, it's a fraught thing. It's hard. At least for me it is a hard thing to talk about. You know, for consumer protection issues I like to not put them out there.
Ann: But Bloop is kind of putting them out there.
Aminatou: 100% it is. So Bloop is a collaboration that I do with friend-of-the-podcast Jenna Wortham -- we did a phone-a-friend with her earlier -- and it's the black Goop. And, yeah, you know, but that's part of it right? In some ways it's easier to just be like these are recommendations. But we're not really telling people our relationship with money in relationship to buying things. That's different.
Ann: Right. One thing, it's interesting to try to articulate some rules or feelings or a point-of-view around how I spend on not necessary things because necessary things I sort of put in a different category from shopping. Like I don't think of groceries and paying my electric bill and putting gas in my car as shopping. When I say that I'm thinking more like stuff I don't need, clothes and dumb beauty products and whatever. I don't know. Whatever else I spend my money on that I don't need to spend my money on. And it's also feelings-based.
Aminatou: Right. And I'm like I needed those things. I don't need electricity. [Laughs]
Ann: I picture you wearing the most luxurious clothes in the dark.
Aminatou: Yeah. I'm like sorry, I forgot to pay my light bill. If there was a way to get a paycheck where here's everything the government has taken care of you including water and toilet paper and all those things, like things I don't want to spend my money on . . .
Aminatou: I would be so grateful for that. I'm like maybe one day a socialist state will do that and I can move there.
Ann: I mean it'll be Amazon.
Aminatou: Oh yeah, no. All of the paper goods, all of that dumb stuff, I'm on Amazon Prime, like subscribe. I subscribe to all that stuff and it just shows up once a month or every three weeks or however often I need it so I don't have to think about buying it because it really annoys me.
Ann: Right. So, okay, how do you make choices about when you don't -- maybe you call it need, but when you buy something that you do not need for your survival or physical comfort?
Aminatou: So this is really interesting because for me it is very personal. I did not grow up wealthy at all and in fact I would say that . . . it's funny. I watched my parents become better off in my own lifetime and so I think I was really aware of there was a time where we had very, very, very little and now we have a little less.
And I think that even just because of birth order and where I was it's just something I'm more aware of than even my siblings because it's like by the time the baby showed up everything was lit. Or at least like it was fine. [Laughs] And I just have very harsh memories of growing up in Africa and not having things that were even necessities. And so in that sense I think that that's really shaped my thinking around owning things and the relationship that I have with buying. And some of it is a little neurotic and I definitely have that weird, I don't know, immigrant mentality of if you don't buy two of these you'll never see them again.
Aminatou: So I have been known to buy two of the same dress in different colors just because, you know, because I'm just coming from a place of scarcity. But I think, I don't know, then zooming out from all of that where I am right now is I actually buy less things but I am a stickler for good-quality items. I'm just like if I only buy three things this year they need to be the best three of that category that is made. So in that sense I've become really annoying because all I'm doing is research.
Talking about shopping or consuming is hard for me because we just don't have healthy relationships to money in general in our culture and so sometimes it comes off as really braggy or as really almost like you're pressuring people into a lifestyle choice that might not be the right one for them. It's like even having this conversation with you is a little hard for me because I'm like ugh. I hate making people spend money. I'll spend money on anything; I just hate it when I implicate other people in my financial choices.
Ann: Well, but I do think -- not to get too meta about this -- but having a conversation about how hard it is to both talk about, but also I think for me anyway, how difficult it is to feel like I can really articulate why and when I buy stuff, it feels sometimes so arbitrary. Not that I'm going out and randomly buying myself a car or something; it's more along the lines of a friend is, as you say, sort of influencing me. Like I'll be like oh my god, my friend has this really nice thing and I can totally see how that would fit into my life too because this friend is someone I identify with.
Ann: Which is something that marketers really understand, right? Like who is most likely to get you to want to buy something. It's someone who you know and love.
Ann: But also, it's interesting to think about how your upbringing influences you. My parents to this day are people who do not buy things they do not need. They just don't. And the one exception when I was growing up was books, like I was allowed to have as many books as I wanted of any kind.
Aminatou: Same. Same.
Ann: And it's like this is why I can never Kondo my bookshelves and this is why also it's the exact same thing. I just buy almost like . . . if I try to think about one item I buy unnecessarily, even if I'm not going to use it right away, i.e. read it immediately, it's totally books.
Aminatou: Yeah. I'm somehow spending less money on books. [Laughs] I don't know. So it's interesting. Right now I'm in New York so I'm not home and I'm kind of out of my routine but there is a temptation to buy something new every day.
Ann: New York makes me feel that too, yeah.
Aminatou: And the thing that's really funny about this is I don't shop at brick and mortar stores anymore. I just don't. I'm a deep online shopper or I will peruse a catalog and call a phone number and be like "Can you send me this?" I just am not interested in trying on clothes or going somewhere. But in New York, that has really broken me out of that. I'm just like oh, every time I walk like three blocks there's something I want and something I need. And also having to admit to myself that for a long time I did medicate with shopping. You know, it makes me feel good to own new things.
Aminatou: And that's a direct . . . those are the kinds of people my parents were. It's like when we had money we would spend all of it and when we had no money we would stay home. And so I always thought that whatever money you had in your bank, that was your accessible pile of money and you were supposed to spend all of it right before your next paycheck came. It's like how close to zero can I get? [Laughs] And I was like oh, this is not a healthy lifestyle.
Aminatou: But it's hard. It's hard, right, because your environment is also a direct -- you're right, people who influence you, and also just being able to . . . it's like being able to treat yourself.
Ann: I've sort of -- I'm at this place right now, and I'm not sure that this is like, you know, something that's going to last. But definitely I'm in a phase right now where I sort of fixate on a thing I've decided I need. Like we have discussed this. Like very, very nice high-end sweatpants do not come in a length that accommodates my legs so I'm perpetually looking for really nice sweatpants that fit me.
Aminatou: I feel like I found them for you and we'll talk about this offline.
Aminatou: I feel like I have two recommendations for you.
Ann: But this is just -- I'm saying using it as an example.
Aminatou: Yeah, no, that's true.
Ann: I'm not going to go buy six new pairs of shoes or a $24 lipstick but if I were to come across this specific type of item that I have in the back of my mind that I want right now I will snap it up and if I'm honest with you would pay a lot of money. You know what I mean? I've become kind of more directed in my consumerist cravings. [Laughs]
Aminatou: Yeah. I'm definitely kind of OCD about it, you know? There's the shopping for the home and there's the shopping for self and so there are things . . .
Ann: Interesting. And you consider those different?
Aminatou: I consider those different.
Aminatou: Where it's like shopping for my home is almost . . . that's a thing I have more impulse control around. I feel like those choices feel a little more permanent, which it's ridiculous.
Ann: You're going to sit on that couch every day. Yeah.
Aminatou: Exactly. It took me six months to decide the couch that I wanted to buy and then when I was ready to order it I realized that when you order a couch that shit doesn't show up the next day. They're like "Oh, it's going to be 90 days for delivery." [Laughs]
Ann: I've never bought a new couch so I do not know.
Aminatou: Yeah. I bought a new couch and it felt -- that was hard. I like to live the mindset of outside of experiences the most expensive and biggest thing I own needs to be my computer. And then once I started investing in my home I was like oh, shit. Because I like to be mobile also. That's the thing that I'm battling. I don't like owning a lot of things. I moved to this country with a backpack and a carry-on and now I own too many things so every couple of years I give everything away just to remind myself I don't need them which is its own sickness. [Laughs]
Ann: I've only done that once and it felt pretty good but I still think about a few of the things I got rid of in my purge. I definitely think about them.
Aminatou: Yeah. I don't know. And then there's things -- this is the first time in my life, I think, that I own more than four pairs of shoes at the same time because I went on a shoe-buying binge recently and I was like oh, these all look fine. Because I'm definitely the kind of person that I'm like I like this pair of shoes. I will wear it until it is done and then I throw it away. That's what I do. And now I'm like oh, you can have many choices. [Laughs] This is how this works. But that's a new thing for me. And it's not . . . you know, it's like traditionally people are always like "Women love shoes and blah, blah, blah." I've never been that girl and it's probably because I have larger feet. Also shout out Wendi Williams. Yeah, you know? I think it's really interesting the things that everybody decides is the thing that they want or need right now or what you have more of or things that annoy you to spend money on, you know?
Ann: Well, and this is all top-of-mind lately because today actually we are launching our own shop for CYG at long last.
Ann: I love how you're surprised. Faux surprised. [Laughs]
Aminatou: I mean, you know, I've been a little detached from it. I'm not going to lie. So I'm excited that it's launching. You put in a lot of hard work.
Ann: Yeah. Well behind the scenes we have a division of labor here at our three woman Call Your Girlfriend operation and the shop has been in my zone a little bit. But I've had a ton of help. We're working with this awesome woman named Caroline Knowles, no relation to Beyonc but we'll talk about that in a minute.
Aminatou: Both living in Texas, correct? We're both Texas residents.
Ann: Listen. Listen.
Ann: Anyway, so it's interesting. When we decided we wanted to do a shop it became clear pretty quickly that sourcing the stuff for it and also just the mechanics of doing order fulfilment is really not possible if you are not going to devote a significant chunk of your time to it. There are no services that are affordable that do fulfilment. Kind of the only solution is to work with an actual human being, like in our case Caroline, who is going to field all the orders and box them up and send them out herself.
Aminatou: I know. So two things there. One, thank you Caroline, and two, for everybody who is listening and thinking about buying things, please remember that when you are ordering things from us. [Laughs] There is one. This is a one-person operation who she is so professional and awesome but, you know, I'm like this is why people go to fast fashion because it's just easier to do.
Ann: Right. So anyway, so I had a little side convo with Caroline so she can introduce herself and talk a little bit more about the shop.
Ann: Hi Caroline. Thanks for being on the show.
Ann: Okay. First things first, I just have to be 100% certain. Your last name is in fact Knowles, correct?
Caroline: It is.
Ann: Are you in any way, shape, or form related to Beyonc and Solange?
Caroline: Full disclosure I'm not but I like to imagine. It's definitely my favorite question about my last name.
Ann: Oh my god, I'm glad I asked it first then. You are in charge of all things that are physical that have a Call Your Girlfriend on them.
Caroline: I am, yes.
Ann: Tell us -- tell everyone about yourself.
Caroline: Well, about me? I guess primarily I edit a zine about women artists so that's my number one project. And then I live in Texas. In my free time I like to help out other small businesses and projects that women are a part of. And I love buying stuff and products and consumerism with cool, independent stuff, so this is kind of like a dream thing.
Ann: Ugh. That makes me happy because we definitely wanted to work with someone that was not me, Gina, or Amina, because we have zero experience in this area. [Laughs] It is very comforting to all of us to have you running the show.
Caroline: I mean I do probably too much of my own shopping and I spend a lot of time on social media looking at that kind of stuff so it just seems like I should use that information and knowledge for good. So if I can help out independent ladies running their own businesses . . .
Ann: Yes, and tell me. Okay, so talk about that a little bit more. What of your experience doing the kind of online shopping that maybe we all do in not such a self-aware way, what about that experience actually feeds well with your work doing merch and running the shop? What did you learn doing that?
Caroline: Well, I think doing the actual shop and just how much work goes into it, lately I feel like it's so important for me when I buy stuff. I'm way into more buying from actual designers and people who are independent versus big shops, just from knowing how much work and time they spend, and it just feels more special in that way. So I think the hours that we've spent researching and producing and stuff like that . . .
Ann: It's funny because you don't always see it. I don't know. I'm already thinking about I know because we've worked on it a lot together exactly how many products we're selling.
Ann: It's like in some ways it feels like its' a lot. I know you have worked really, really hard on this. But on the other hand I'm like oh my god, it's only . . . like if you bought the complete set you would only get like eight things. It feels like so much work.
Caroline: I know, it is. Like for one thing it's just so many back-and-forths with vendors or just setting things up or getting little details or just things for one thing. So it definitely does give you a new appreciation for any time you go to a little shop or boutique and pick something up and you're like this was a lot of work.
Ann: So tell me when you are trying to seek out things that are maybe made by more independent designers, or I don't know, just in general, where do you hang out and do your consuming on the Internet?
Caroline: Probably on Instagram a lot just looking through feeds and the recommendations. I follow a lot of local boutiques and shops and just kind of see who they're carrying. And I like going into brick and mortar shops that I really like and know specialize in that. I've really been into that website, is it Garmentory, lately too where independent shops can sign up through them and you can shop them all at once.
Ann: Oh, I didn't know about that.
Caroline: Yeah, I love it. They do free shipping on everything. It's been super easy returns. I'm pretty obsessed with it actually. We definitely recommend checking them out and supporting independent shops and designers.
Ann: Awesome. And is there anything that you want to say to CYG listeners who are also potential or probable customers of our shop? [Laughs]
Caroline: Well, we spent a lot of time on everything. I'm super excited about all of it, especially the wine tumbler. I think that and the tote bag as a combination, you know, you still have a month or so in August to enjoy them and they're perfect for fall too. We spent a lot of time on them and got to work with small businesses like the screen printing company here and Kenesha's stuff, her designs are beautiful. I'm pretty pumped about it.
Ann: Yeah, Kenesha Sneed who designed most of the logos and the imagery in the shop also sells her own stuff under the brand Tactile Matters. So we definitely are personal friends which is why we worked with her but she's also exactly the type of independent artist and business owner that you're talking about too. Yeah, it's really cool.
Caroline: And she has a good track record. I mean when we first started looking together and I was looking around I was like oh, she did this stuff in Solange's shop which obviously I'm a big fan of. We share the same last name.
Ann: [Laughs] She came credentialed, totally.
Caroline: Good credentials, yeah.
Ann: So yeah, so now everyone can know you by voice as well as by email when they interact with you and the shop. Thanks, Caroline.
Caroline: Thank you.
Aminatou: Ann, when does the store launch?
Ann: Oh my god. So if you're listening to this episode the store should be live right now. You can go to callyourgirlfriend.com and click on the shop tab or you can go to shopcyg.com and it should redirect you. We're selling these adorable enamel pins. One of them is the logo for The Bleed which is our newsletter and I picture an army of CYG listeners walking around with this pin just nod acknowledging each other. And we also have some totes. We have a portable wine tumbler.
Aminatou: Yes, for when you come to our live show in L.A.
Ann: Totally, BYO. And, yeah, there's postcards. You can send your bestie some postcards. It's so funny because for all the work that we put into this it does not look like a massive amount of merch but trust me when I say Caroline has worked super hard and we're really happy to be able to sell some stuff.
Aminatou: Awesome. Send us all of your Instagrams and tweets and if there's anything you want to see in the CYG shop in the future let us know.
Ann: Totally, especially if it is a manufacturer who you really like. Because I think something that came up for us was trying to figure out how to source things in a way that was convenient and relatively affordable but also something that would meet our ethical standards and to find companies we would work with that met our ethical standards. And so for example our round buttons in the shop are produced by a company called Busy Beaver Button Co. which is in Chicago. It's a woman-run operation which is awesome. We paid more for those because we wanted to go for that type of outlet.
[Music and Ads]
Aminatou: We also really wanted to talk to an artist who we really like and whose work we have always been fans of who is currently battling a big company stealing her artwork. But also, you know, I think that it's a good way for us to reflect on the ways that we participate in this consumer economy. So we talked to Tuesday Bassen and have a listen.
Tuesday: I'm Tuesday Bassen, I live in Los Angeles, and I started out primarily as an editorial illustrator but over time I worked on children's apps, I worked on ceramics, and I really found that with ceramics my passion lied mostly in creating objects that were useful to people. I think maybe that comes from growing up in the Midwest and feeling a need to like if people are going to buy my things it might as well be useful for them too. And moving to L.A. has been incredible because all of the clothing that I'm making is made in Los Angeles and that's important to me and I like being able to be so close to what I'm making. Yeah, so I make work for badass ladies and I make things for badass ladies to wear too.
Ann: Ugh. And so as of late, I mean one reason why we're chatting with you now is you have been a fierce intellectual property warrior who has had to protect your designs. Tell us about that.
Tuesday: So Zara, for people who don't know what it is because I've run across an amazing amount of people who don't know what Zara is, Zara is I think the number one fast fashion retailer in the world. It's in almost every city in the United States in the malls. And over the past year I noticed through fans and people who like my work emailing me letting me know that they were stealing my catalog essentially. It started out with pieces that were a little bit more simpler like my heart lolly but they had changed enough so I didn't know if I could really say anything and I didn't know how much legal weight it would have. But as time went on more and more things were coming to light. And I don't know what was going on internally but it seemed like because I wasn't speaking up from the beginning that they were just getting more blatant until it was not even a trace. Like literally I think they just found my work online and then put it on the same objects that I was selling.
Ann: Yeah. And a lot of them -- I mean I actually haven't seen the Zara-produced version but I've seen the side-by-side photos.
Aminatou: I have seen them with my own eyes.
Ann: And Amina are they identical?
Aminatou: Oh my god, the lolly is shocking.
Tuesday: I know. It's crazy, right?
Aminatou: No, no, it's actually very shocking. There's also the . . . I think the first one I saw was maybe the eraser.
Tuesday: Oh, uh-huh.
Aminatou: The eraser is just like a 3D or maybe 2D eraser design and it says "Erase you" on it. And Zara has one that is identical. As far as I'm concerned it's identical. I was like maybe the font is slightly different, the handwriting, but it's like even the cursive looks the same. That's shocking. And then the lolly is like a signature Tuesday design that is just this heart lollipop patch. I am a frequenter of Zara. Like a lot of people don't realize this, they are literally the McDonald's of fast fashion and they've done it really well and they have positioned themselves at a price point where people think they're buying luxurious items.
Tuesday: Yeah, for sure.
Aminatou: People like to distinguish between Forever 21 and H&M but in Europe it's essentially the fast fashion chain, so for me it's where I went a lot. The lolly is crazy. The eraser, and then one of the banners. And I was like oh, I know this artist. This is crazy.
Tuesday: Yeah, the banner was the first one that I saw in person. All the other ones had been photographs that I'd seen and then I got tipped off to one of my designs which is a pennant that says girls on it. And I went into the store with one of my employees and we were both just like no fucking way. This is insane. Like they didn't change anything. And it's a lot more surreal to actually be in the mall seeing the theft of your work on at least 50 shorts that were out.
Tuesday: You know? Let alone in the back room.
Aminatou: Yeah, and then realizing that that's replicated around the country.
Ann: So I'm curious if you could talk a little bit too, Tuesday, about what made you . . . I mean was it after that mall trip that you got a lawyer and sent a letter and got serious?
Tuesday: Yeah, absolutely. I saw it in the mall, and before then I had kind of played it off, but this was so blatant to me that I knew something had to be done. And I employed a lawyer and we wrote a cease-and-desist letter. And what we got back, essentially -- not even essentially -- it said "Well, you're a small artist and we have 90 billion customers. Who's going to know this belongs to you?"
Ann: Oh hell no, they did not.
Tuesday: Exactly. And it wasn't even like "Oh, no, that's not what happened." It's like they didn't even deny it; they just said eat shit basically. Am I allowed to swear?
Ann: Yeah, you're allowed to swear as much as you need to.
Aminatou: No, this is a PG-13 podcast. [Laughs]
Ann: We've never had a non-explicit episode.
Aminatou: I'm curious though about even the process of getting a lawyer, right? Because the threat essentially that they're telling you is that you're not big enough but also we have more money than you so we will bury you.
Tuesday: Yeah, exactly.
Aminatou: In just like legal paperwork, and realizing that for -- you know, we're all aspiring boss ladies, but lawyers cost upwards of $400 an hour.
Tuesday: Absolutely, yes.
Aminatou: And they're very cognizant of how many minutes they spend working with you. And so even just getting a cease-and-desist letter, I'm just really curious about the financial implications of that for you.
Tuesday: Yeah, absolutely. Most illustrators I know don't have the financial means to pursue anything legally. You know, $2,000 for most creatives is -- for some people it's not what they have in their bank period. That would maybe be their entire month's money. So it's not practical to spend all of your money chasing after something that you're not sure whether or not they're going to pursue it further. So if you're spending $2,000 just to contact companies to get them to stop then what are you going to do beyond that? Because just to get them to stop is almost $1,000 if they even do stop but then where is your compensation for the theft of your work for how many pieces they stole? And you have to have more money to pursue that unless you find a lawyer that decides your case is basically so cut-and-dry that they'll work on contingency which means you pay them a percentage of what you make from the lawsuit later.
Ann: Right. And I think about Zara also before I became aware of them stealing your designs and designs by a lot of other independent designers we should say, too, I had sort of thought of the theft that a fast fashion brand does as mostly stealing from high-end runway designers that are selling individual pieces for a ton of money and probably have more money to protect their intellectual property. I hadn't actually realized that they were stealing from people like you too.
Tuesday: Yeah. Well, I think that's been their MO. Like Amina was saying, Americans like it because it is a higher-end fast fashion where they are taking from runways and stuff instead of just trickling down from sportswear like maybe other fast fashion companies would do. But yeah, there have been a lot of artists that they have stolen from this year and I'm sure many years before as well.
Ann: What would you tell our listeners who -- I'm thinking about a hypothetical person listening who's like oh, shit, I totally bought a girl's pennant from Zara, like what have I . . . what would you tell someone who is trying to make good choices as a consumer?
Tuesday: Well it's hard because, you know, being a good consumer often requires a lot of money as well. So, you know, if you're buying a dress from a local designer that's getting it made also locally you know that their carbon footprint is low, you know that they're creating it, you're supporting a local store that's carrying it and the artist and the craftspeople locally. But yeah, it costs money to pay people well. If you're buying sweatshop-made clothing, you know, maybe the people who are making it are making not even 25 cents a day versus if you're making it in Los Angeles they're making at least minimum wage which drives the cost of the garment up. So sometimes it's hard to be a thoughtful shopper because you just don't have enough money to make that happen, especially if you're getting paid minimum wage yourself. I know one thing that some people do is just buy used clothing and that's a way to sort of soften the ethical blow of buying clothing from a fast fashion retailer.
Aminatou: I'm so outraged. [Laughs]
Ann: You're just sitting there stewing.
Aminatou: It's like I'm literally -- I'm stewing because I think that you made this really good point about the fact that they steal from more luxury brands. That's a thing that honestly they can't really get away with now because those people can match them pound-for-pound in terms of suing them. Like Ivanka Trump, a lot of her line is stolen from really luxurious people.
Ann: American Grifters. [Laughs]
Aminatou: I know, American Grifters.
Tuesday: Oh my god.
Aminatou: This thing though -- the thing with stealing from independent designers is because these people are paying attention to the Internet, it's like them telling you that your brand isn't big enough is so insulting because clearly they know how big your brand is and the fact that they could capitalize on it.
Ann: They found you.
Aminatou: You know, they found you and they're keeping tabs on you. So I don't know. I think that one way for people to support this is, yes, of course everything costs money. But if there are artists you like on the Internet make it a point to buy their work.
Aminatou: You know? And not just admire it and click on it and whatever, share it with your friends. It's like if you can afford to buy one thing from them, do that. This is making me so angry.
Ann: Not to minimize anyone's anger in this moment but I'm also curious in hearing . . .
Aminatou: [Laughs] Don't police my feelings.
Ann: I know, I'm really trying not to. I'm like I want to leave some space for this fire to burn. I want to give it some oxygen. But at the same time I know that very shortly, Tuesday, you're opening a brick and mortar store here in L.A.
Tuesday: Yeah, I am, so that's kind of been insane timing with trying to field the press and talk to my lawyer and battle the world's largest fast fashion retailer and open my shop and keep my own shop online afloat.
Ann: I just heard I'm Every Woman playing.
Tuesday: I'm every woman . . . yeah.
Aminatou: Just call your own shop Zara. You should put a big billboard. You're like the working woman's Zara. Please come in here.
Tuesday: Yeah. So the shop is called Friend Mart and actually we are only carrying artist-run, artist-made businesses. So instead of getting products from third party businesses that maybe pay artists a lower fee for their artwork and then they do all of the work, I think it's really interesting what happens when artists are in charge of their own business and how it's made, being able to tweak every little thing. And I think it ends up becoming a more specialized product and a lot more interesting. So we have a ton of goods from artists that fall under that either locally or internationally.
Ann: And what was the impetus to have a physical store?
Tuesday: Well it's interesting because even though I'm not from Los Angeles originally I really strongly identify with living in Los Angeles and it's the place I think I've always been looking for but never knew what it was. Then once I visited once I just ended my lease and moved here. My consumer base for my brand is 60% from southern California which is pretty huge. It's like 85% women from southern California. It's crazy. So it just made sense to open up a brick and mortar. It didn't make sense to live online if everybody was right here. So I'm excited to be able to have the shop and see people face-to-face more often.
Aminatou: Oh my god, support your local girl gang for real.
Ann: Totally. [Laughs]
Aminatou: Tuesday, I saw during the Paris attacks there was a banner with some of your artwork printed on it.
Aminatou: Which is actually really cool because a friend sent it to me and I was like oh, I know who this person is. That felt a little surreal. How did you react to that?
Tuesday: I mean that was crazy. It was this banner that was, in the days following the terrorist attacks and the protests, that said "Girl gangs against fascism." And they used my artwork from my zine that I put out called Ugly Girl Gang. It was crazy to see my work transcend a self-published magazine and hold so much more work. I was extremely honored that it spoke to them in that way and that it was used for something so powerful.
Ann: That feels in some ways bigger and more important than going back to this kind of baseline question about being an ethical consumer. But at this point now you are, as a producer, you have to make tons of tiny choices I'm sure. Like everything from what neighborhood to open your shop in to what manufacturers you use for the materials to all of that stuff. I know we were talking about money as it relates to getting a lawyer, but your ability to make good choices about that stuff as a business owner is totally related to money too. I'm wondering if you could talk a little bit about that and how you made -- maybe some of the harder choices you had to make in setting up your business.
Tuesday: Yeah. Well, I don't think that I'm perfect as far as making sure that everything is as ethical as it could be. I think my pins are produced overseas and even though they're made in an audited factory I'm not there to be able to see it personally. So, you know, I guess cross my fingers and hope for the best based on the inspections that have been done. But it is cheaper to have things produced overseas even if it's in an ethical factory and I would love to have them produced locally if I could find something for that. So that's something that I'm working on.
Money-wise I feel like it's really important to me to pay my employees higher than the minimum wage and important for me to be flexible with them. I haven't put the hugest emphasis on making money and just hoarding it. It's more important to me to make this money, decide where it should go, and using it to make more products that I like, expand my line. Like for example I did the Mixed Emotions Club satin jackets last winter.
Ann: Which are gorgeous, P.S.
Tuesday: Thank you. And I'm still producing those but I have a full line coming out this fall that's all made locally. So to me it's exciting to expand my business so I can make more stuff instead of just hoarding money that, you know, maybe if I produced in a less ethical way I would have more money at the end of the day. But ultimately everything is great. I'm opening up the shop so I obviously am making enough money producing things ethically to be able to do that without relying on anybody else which is awesome. Yeah, I don't know. I wouldn't say that I'm in a financial advisor position but I try to kind of shoot straight from the heart and also think about ways to make my own business sustainable. And I think a part of that is treating people well whether it's my employees or manufacturers or people that I interface with on a day-to-day basis. And I try to do my best with that.
Aminatou: Ugh, I love that so much. Let's get this paper, ladies.
Ann: Ethically. Get this paper ethically.
Aminatou: Get this paper ethically. Also I just want my ringtone to be Tuesday saying "Hoard money."
Aminatou: Like I understand she's saying don't do it, but I saw an image of it and was like oh my god.
Tuesday: I mean you could hoard it.
Ann: I love the selective edit there, Amina. You just heard hoard money.
Aminatou: It's like all I'm hearing, hoard money.
Tuesday: I feel like that should go with a baby pool full of money.
Ann: New patch idea.
Aminatou: Yeah. Maybe you and I can collabo on a consumerist line. That'll be your high-end Zara line. Thank you so much for joining us, Tuesday. Can you tell everybody where we can find your work?
Tuesday: Yeah, absolutely. You can find it at shoptuesday.com or if you're in Los Angeles we are opening up the shop this weekend on Saturday from 6 to 10 at 970 North Broadway which is in the Mandarin Plaza in China Town.
Ann: And that's called Friend Mart?
Tuesday: It's called Friend Mart.
Aminatou: Thank you so much.
Ann: Thanks, Tuesday.
Aminatou: I am legitimately outraged.
Ann: I know.
Aminatou: I am so upset. I'm so upset. There's a bag I want at Zara and I'm not buying it on principle, because I don't think anybody should buy clothes at Zara, but actually the leather goods, that's a good investment. But you know what, Zara? I hate you right now so nobody will do anything for you.
Ann: I have to be real, when I had to wear biz cash as a baby working gal the only place I could find pants long enough was Zara.
Aminatou: No, it's true. We didn't have a gap but that was our gap growing up. It was legit.
Aminatou: I am going to go buy something right now that I've been wanting to buy all day. Just candles. They're all presents so I feel okay about them.
Ann: I hope you're just going to go buy out Tuesday's shop. You're just like click all.
Aminatou: I mean, yeah. And also I'm going to go smell some new fragrances.
Ann: Ooh, yes.
Aminatou: At the Barato store. And I will see you on the Internet, booboo.
Ann: Ugh, see you on the Internet. You can find us many places on said Internet, on our website callyourgirlfriend.com, you can download this podcast anywhere you happen to listen including iTunes where we would love it if you left us a review. You can tweet at us at @callyrgf, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, find us on Facebook and Instagram at callyrgf -- there's a pattern -- and you can even leave us a short and sweet voicemail at 714-681-2943. That's 714-681-CYGF. This podcast is produced by Gina Delvac.
Aminatou: Yeah, and thanks to our friends at Argot Studio in New York.