Here we are! We made it to part three of our Kuvit Konversation with Vanessa. I am so excited to hear what people think about what was discussed, and what people think about this series in general, believe me, there is more to come. Again I just want to place a TRIGGER WARNING here due to some of the sensitive content discussed. Vanessa opens up about what pushed her to start building her company, Unicorn Tears XD, and some of the difficulties that come with starting a business as a young 20 something. I hope you all enjoy!
Vanessa Part Three:
Madison: So, what do you think pushed you to want to step out on your own and build something for yourself?
Vanessa: So, Unicorn Tears started because I had the passing of a really close friend and I was super depressed and needed something to focus my passion on that was, not stress free, exactly, because I know now that starting a business is not stress free at all, but something to channel my emotions into. And I wasn’t really trying to start anything huge, I was just thinking about opening an Etsy to sell my vintage clothes on, not going into clothing production or being in a store or even growing it. I wasn’t thinking about the nitty gritty, but I wanted to sell clothes! So basically I started it because I used a moving service, which was, the cheapest one you can do because it takes, three months to move your stuff across the country. It sits in pods and waits and then continues on its journey. But I had so much stuff, clothing wise, in my apartment by the time I graduated from college, I started a huge collection of clothes and also brought with me to college a huge collection of clothes, was not even at all the same size as when I started, I was, like, 100 lbs heavier, so I had all these clothes that I couldn’t fit. But I didn’t wanna get rid of them, glad I didn’t, but still, I was attached to it and I realized I had a negative relationship to clothes in some ways. In terms of holding onto things that didn’t fit in the hopes that I would eventually lose weight. Anyways, my friend Chandler had passed away, and I had packed up all of our stuff in that apartment before he had passed away and so I had a lot of Chandlers stuff in there, and by the time it made it across the country I had gotten all of the stuff, like, two months after he had died. Because it had taken so long to get here, so I had this pod at my parents’ house sitting there in the driveway, just full of emotional shit that I couldn’t deal with at that time. And it took me another three months to even open it, I had to pay to have the pod stay there, but it was worth it because I couldn’t even deal with it. With everything from the spices, to his clothes, just things that reminded me of him, it was just too much because we lived together. And I had already gone back to clean the apartment so the whole thing was just too much of an emotional disaster. As it typically is when someone dies, but it was just so raw that I couldn’t even deal with my stuff in that pod. And finally, ya know, I went to trauma therapy and also, you know, time heals honestly. So after about six months, I went to this pool party called the curvy confidence pool party and I met all these girls who told me about the Plus Bus. Which I had already heard about because they used to do pop-ups at the Rose Bowl Flea Market all the time! But I still had that pod sitting there, and I had met these girls and realized that I had all these clothes that were too small on me that I should just sell. I also had a ton of plus-sized vintage that I was holding onto for no reason that were gems, but maybe didn’t fit my body correctly. So I started a rack with one of my friends at the Plus Bus and we came up with the name Unicorn Tears, and yeah, it kinda started organically. It also helped me deal with my own trauma because I had to face everything in that pod, and I did, and I organized it. I took Chandler’s stuff and dispersed it around the house, and stuff, to remember him. But I was also super into fashion,when I was at Hampshire I was studying South Asian studies and anthropology, but people would always ask me if I was studying fashion. And I was always like, “No, I just really like dressing crazy and having cool unique outfits.” I love clothes from, the 60s, 70s, and 90s that are way more my style and I have a fair amount of vintage considering clothes today are made so horribly. Like, our clothes are meant to be thrown away in a landfill after one wear. Did I answer the question? What was the question again? (laughs)
Madison: You totally did, the question was just talking about how Unicorn Tears started.
Vanessa: Cool, I got super caught up in the potential of Unicorn Tears, but now I am at this weird place where I am wondering if I should pursue what I studied in college. Because I did my thesis on something completely unrelated to this and you don’t wanna feel like you threw your degree away, ya know? To follow some other passion, but my next phase is to figure out a way to combine the two.
Madison: Right! I mean, what you were telling me the first time I came over about how in your dream world you would be able to combine your passion for clothing and your passion for ethical manufacturing of consumer items. I feel like you can totally do that; that would be such a good marriage of interests that could get you excited in all realms instead of just one part of your many interests. And that can take on many forms, small and large, but to strive for that is a great goal to have.
Vanessa: Yeah, I mean, at this point I have to do other things in order to keep this dream alive, that’s why I work in order to bring some money in because I have to survive. I am selling things, of course, but not enough to quit my job, and it is hard to know when to give up and when to keep going.
Madison: Oh totally! But then you look at self-made stories and you always hear like, “I was about to quit year 10, but then Vogue contacted me and here I am now” so it is encouraging; it is just super hard to sustain the personal momentum and motivation to keep going down this path. Like, even when Taylor and I started Kuvit compared to where we are now, so many things are constantly changing and moving and shifting. The original plan is so far gone at this point we are on, like, business plan L right now (laughs).
Vanessa: Oh yeah! My original business plan is so in the past I’m on, plan 25! (laughs)
Madison: But ultimately that is exactly what this is about, sticking to something you love because you can visualize what it can potentially turn into and keeping that momentum up. Which is helpful because I have my sister there so we can lift each other up, if one of us is feeling down it's the other’s responsibility to stay positive and hopeful and vice versa.
Vanessa: It’s hard because you are always working, but also never working enough. With fashion it can be really hard to get started, you need patterns, and even when you get those you need to find a production facility, and even when you find that, you don’t have enough capital to afford them. The startup costs are just so high when it comes to clothing, especially because people won’t pay. People's perception of the cost of clothing is largely based on fast fashion and even then the average person doesn’t have that much actual spending money because we live in a fucked up world. So you have to make the clothes cheap enough so that the price that you set them makes you money, but also isn’t too expensive for the consumer. It can cost 70 bucks to make one garment, and then what do you sell it at? 70? Then you’re not making any money and you are breaking even, but if you price it at 120 so few people have that kind of extra money to spend on some luxury thing; so your ethics start to fly out the window. You start to cut corners on the ethics of certain things, like these little plastic clips or my packaging I know that it isn’t made the most ethically, but I have to package my items in something you know? And you can support these small brands with the hopes that they are ethical, but honestly, nothing really is, it's almost impossible in a capitalist world. A lot of people call their brand ethical, but they mean environmentally, not in the humanitarian context. They just mean it was made from hemp from somewhere, whether that hemp was manufactured in a sweatshop is not what they are talking about when they deem it ethically made. You also have to forgo a lot of things eventually and realize that this brand isn’t you, it is a business, which is really hard and I don't think I am there yet. And it is super hard these days because a lot of these brands take off because the person who made it has a ton of clout and followers.
Madison: Yeah, and nothing is made well or ethically at all, yet people will still buy it because they are supporting their favorite YouTuber or Instagram personality.
Vanessa: They will just stamp a word onto a cheap t-shirt, like...
Madison: like "LIT!"
Vanessa: Exactly like “Lit” or “Sup” or, a flame or something, and people will spend so much money on it. And on top of that, it is printed badly so it comes off in the wash!
Madison: Exactly and on top of it being poorly made it's $80.00!
Vanessa: Because you’re paying for this Youtuber’s name to be on it, and social media also skews your sense of reality. If you aren’t 16 living in a mansion you're a failure. Honestly, the enemy of success is comparison, and YouTube and Instagram are the perfect places for your doubt to creep in! You see this high school girl doing makeup and she isn’t even that great at it but she is like, “look at all of the free makeup that got sent to me!” and “I just bought my mom a condo and a car, how great is that!” (laughs)
Madison: And then they drop out of high school and you find out a year later that they are racist!
Vanessa: Yeah, or they are rapists or something.
Madison: Exactly and then we all realize that all of these companies gave this kid so much money without realizing what they were actually investing in.
Vanessa: But on the flip side is like, I wouldn’t turn down some insanely famous YouTuber that wanted to wear my clothes.
Madison: Ugh! I know because that is how marketing works now; that is how so many people are able to move their brand from zero to a thousand so fast.
Vanessa: Oh a hundred percent!
Madison: And it is so annoying because that is so not my personality… but that's another conversation for another day... I think I got everything that I needed! This was such a great conversation! Tell the people the name of your brand and where to find you!
Vanessa: It is Unicorn Tears XD, you can find me on Instagram @unicorntearsxd or @visualunicorn, or you can find me on Depop at Unicorn Tears XD, or my actual website www.UncornTearsXD.com!
Madison: DID YOU GET THAT FOLKS? (Laughs)
This was such a fun experience and it allowed me to reconnect with both Sophia and Vanessa which was amazing. I learned so much about Vanessa and her point of view and I hope you all did too. It feels so good to see something through to the end, and I can't wait to see what this series morphs into. As I said in part one, this project is something Taylor and I have been planning to do for about three years now, and there is nothing like making a dream into a reality. Stay tuned for so much more from us!
Thank you for the love and support!