In June of 2010 we launched Her Universe, the first sci-fi merchandise line just for women. The overwhelming support we have received from everyone, both women and men, has been incredible! Yesterday, I received another reminder of this support when I read this fantastic article: Back off, guys: It’s our turn
I would like to use this blog post to address some of the questions, concerns and comments that have arose from Erika’s piece. First of all, I tend to call myself a patient person, but this whole process has definitely tested my patience. This is the first time that female fans have been given anything like this, and I want so badly to give the women everything the men have (30 years worth) in one year. That simply cannot happen. I am listening to all of your comments, I know what you want and I am actively working everyday to make that happen. However, everything just takes so much time! Keep in mind girls, it took me three years to convince people that there are enough female sci-fi fans who will buy merchandise and to get Her Universe up off the ground.
When I get overwhelmed by a big task, I like to break it up in steps. My husband says that I was inspired to do that by the New Kids on the Block and their classic hit “Step By Step.” Yes, I admit it. I was a massive NKOBT fan when I was younger and I will probably be lining up to buy tickets to their new concert with the Backstreet Boys this summer, but I digress… We had to prove one thing this year. We had to prove that there is actually a female fan base that will buy female sci-fi merchandise. Guess what? WE PROVED THAT!!!! After 5 conventions and online sales we can now show that the women are there and that they will buy. Step 1 Accomplished! We can check that box!
Step 2. Go beyond conventions and our online store and enter the retail space. Let me start with the exciting news, we are now selling on StarWarsShop.com and fingers crossed, we hope to be selling our product at Disney this summer! Disney!!!!! That’s a HUGE step for us and we are very excited!!! We are also going to be adding Syfy and some of their shows to our line. SYFY!!!!!! A television network, now wants to recognize their female fans that make up 49% of their total fan base!! Seriously now!!! How cool is that??? Look what we (and in we, I mean all of us female fans) have accomplished in less that a year. Now, as for the opportunity to walk into JCPenny, Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Target, Sears, etc., and buy female sci-fi merchandise… we have a LONG way to go. They are still not convinced that there are enough female buyers to support sales in the mass markets. I know we can prove them wrong, but it’s going to take a lot more than 3,541 fans on Facebook, 2,286 fans on Twitter to change their minds. We are working hard to increase awareness about Her Universe and you can continue to help by spreading the word to people you know. Simply put, if there is a demand, they will sell it. So lets continue what we have been doing and prove that there is a demand. The more we all band together, the more they will pay attention to us! We are on the right track! We are making great progess! One step at a time. Let’s take the opportunities that we have been given and make the most of them. Hopefully it will take us WAY less than 30 years to catch up to the guys!
I am going to stop there with the steps and address some of your comments…
The Truth…You have no idea how hard I have tried to offer you all the cheapest price possible, while not compromising the quality. Giving you a quality product is very important to me. I could not put my head on the pillow at night knowing that I just sold you a shirt that will shrink two sizes after you wash it. I have chosen higher quality garments and with the higher quality comes the higher price. We also do not get the same price breaks as the bigger companies. Due to the fact that we are a small company, we have to order in smaller quantities. We may only order 144 t-shirts at a time, where as a bigger company orders 10,000 shirts at a time. As I am sure you know, the more you buy in bulk, your price per unit goes down. The reason the guys can walk into JCPenny and buy a Star Wars shirt for $9.99 is because they have proven that there are enough male Star Wars fans to support those large orders. Another factor is that well made garments tailored for the female figure are expensive, especially if ordered in smaller quantities.
The truth is that the majority of the garment manufacturers do not even carry blank garments beyond sizes XL or XXL. This drives me nuts! They only way to get garments larger than XL or XXL is to custom make them yourself. However, you have to order larger quantities to be able to place these custom orders. We are able to offer three of our styles in plus sizes because we were able to track down some garments that the manufacturer actually had in stock. However, at this point we have to place a custom order to get the expanded size range we want and I am proud to say that we are working hard to make this happen. We have some exciting ideas on how to address sizing issues for female fans and within two years, I think you will see us making huge strides.
All I can say is that I hear all of your comments. I was very overwhelmed going into the design process. People gave me this piece of advice, they said “You will never make everyone happy.” However, I can at least try. Each of of shirts was designed with a different type of girl in mind. My goal was to offer at least one shirt to each girl, no matter what their taste is. That is why all of our shirts look a little different. The Daddy’s Little Girl shirt for example was actually designed with the younger fan mind and that is why I chose purple. I did know that we would have several adults buying it because of the father/daughter relationships but my target audience was the younger girls. That shirt is so popular, I am considering making an adult version in different colors and with a more adult design. I have learned so much this year about what everyone wants and I can’t wait to release new products!
Ugggghhhhh….I am just as bothered by our shipping prices as you are but there is a good reason why our prices are what they are. Simply put, we want to ensure that your package is safe and securely shipped. Again, due to the fact that we are a smaller company, we do not get the cheaper shipping rates. We are not shipping massive quantities daily. We want to ensure that your package comes to your door in good condition and we are able to track every step of the shipping process. This also includes international orders. I would LOVE to expand to other countries but the safest way for us to ship and monitor our packages world wide is to use FedEx, and that is why our shipping prices are so expensive! I will continue to do my research on how to provide our merchandise to our international customers in a cost efficient way, but right now the shipping prices are what they are, I can’t control them.
I was always taught that honesty is the best policy and I hope that I have addressed some of your questions and concerns. I cannot thank you all enough for your continued support! I think we all need to look at the bigger picture and look at what we’ve achieved this past year. We are not going to make 30 years of progress overnight but we can continue break down the stereotypes and change people’s minds. The odds have been against us for more than 30 years but guess what I say to that… “Never tell me the odds…”