Interview with Connie Collingsworth of Butch and Sissy ( @butchandsissy )from @kleffnotes

I had the opportunity to chat with Connie, the founder and owner of Butch and Sissy. I had seen her products online and met her in person at ClexaCon 2018. Beyond buying a bunch of products from her, I also got to talking with her and when her podcast, Is There Gay Stuff In It?, started I was psyched. You can find her LGBTQ+ themed products on the official Butch & Sissy website and for this interview we chatted the business and the podcast. Thanks again to Connie for taking the time to answer all of my questions.

Could you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

My name is Connie. I am a self-employed business owner and designer. At 49 I am probably a bit older than your average reader. I live in Southern Kentucky very close to Nashville, TN with Stacey, my wife of over 27 years. We have been together since our very early 20’s and we have an adult son and a great group of friends here in our community in the South.

Your company, Butch and Sissy, focuses on LGBT+ products, could you describe the business in a bit more detail, including what sort of pieces you sell?

I decided in mid-life to pivot and switch the focus of my design work from working with and for Rock n Roll clients to doing my own LGBTQ+ design company and producing and selling my own products. I felt I could fill a need for well-designed and inclusive products for the Queer community.

I sell enamel pins, patches, button, stickers and T-shirts currently. I do have plans to introduce a few new lines in 2019.

How did you get into this business?

I had already been a designer for nearly 20 years when I was searching for keepsake gifts for our wedding. I wanted something representing us as being an out and loving proud Lesbian couple. I simply didn’t see much out there in the retail world that appealed to me. Luckily I have a few skills and tons of connections from all my previous years spent in the music merchandise world. So I made the enamel pins that we gave out ourselves and that sparked me to move forward.

What inspired the name Butch and Sissy?

To be completely transparent many, many years ago – in the ye olde 90’s,  there was a small restaurant in the Gay friendly area of Atlanta that was owned by a Gay couple then subsequently passed down to and run by a Lesbian friend of ours until it closed. It was called Butch and Sissies Double Wide Café. It has long been shuttered, but when I was searching for a name I wanted something that had a good sound but also represented something Gay, Southern and appealing. I thought that Butch and Sissy fit and I liked that these are two things that we aren’t “Supposed to Be” in our community. I thought why not take it back and embrace it.

You have released a few collaborations, could you share some of the details behind these and as a follow up, do you have any additional collaborations planned?

I have released two brand partnerships so far. The first is with Dana Piccoli. Dana and I met virtually on Twitter in the months leading up to Clexacon 2018 in Las Vegas. I discovered she is as big a fan and supporter of all things Carmilla as I am so I sent her some of my Carmilla themed pins.  We then briefly met in person at Clexacon. A few weeks after that we messaged one another about designs for her alter-ego “The Fairy Godmother”. During this transition in design and life focus I have taken on the mantra of Collaboration not Competition. I was happy to help Dana put a visual spin on merch that she can distribute at Cons and Speaking Gigs and any other events that she attends. She and I agreed to offer these items up on my site and also to use these products as a way to donate to a charities we both support.

My second collaboration began basically out of my appreciation and fan-girling over Valentine Smith. I discovered Valentine again due to Carmilla and Clexacon. I had seen her work on the Official Carmilla Merch store and also Instagram. Her work with textures and her dark themes are very similar to the previous work I did for bands when I was half of Print Mafia. You can see my previous work at PrintMafia.net. I contacted Valentine about possibly collaborating on prints but we then hit it off very quickly and immediately started bouncing ideas off each other for several of the shows and performers we both love. It has been great fun and we are both really pleased to be bringing fan art to the T-shirts we offer.  We also have big ideas for more items we will be exploring as we lead up to Clexacon 2019 in Las Vegas.

I do have some more brand partnerships in the works, but nothing I can speak on yet. Keep your eyes peeled to my Social Media though and I will share updates as I am able.

What are some of your personal favorite pieces?

I have to say I might love the San Junipero travel patch as much as any item I have ever made. I LOVE that episode of Black Mirror so much. Other favorites would be my Buckle Up Creampuff and Girl the Hell Up pins from Carmilla and the Bee Charmer pin that celebrates Fried Green Tomatoes.

What have been some of your favorite venues to be at as a vendor?

Clexacon 2018 has been the only vending I have done nationally as Butch and Sissy and I loved it. Within a few hours of being there I knew I had “Found my People” and we are really looking forward to returning in 2019 with an expanded double booth and a special setup.

Do you have any upcoming events readers can meet up with you at?

I am doing the local Pride here in our hometown and then the next event will be Clexacon. I plan to do RuPauls Drag Con in 2019 if I can make it work in my travel schedule. If the rumored CarmillaCon happens I will be there FOR SURE.

What do you hope to accomplish with Butch and Sissy?

I hope to be able to provide products for everyone that has ever felt they aren’t seeing themselves or their identity represented in the products they want to wear or display. It’s all about inclusion while still keeping style and design at the forefront of my work.

You also have a podcast, Is There Gay Stuff In It?, could you describe the podcast?

I had been a frequent guest for a few years on a fairly popular Design and Lifestyle podcast called Adventures in Design.  I would guest on that and discuss one of my favorite topics – television. So I was comfortable with the medium but had never given any thought to actually doing my own podcast. After Clexacon revealed to me the growing fandom and community for Queer Media I decided on the plane ride home that I would teach myself how to do it from top to bottom, My friend from the Adventures in Design show helped me with what I needed to obtain to sound Pro and I then taught myself how to record and edit audio over a weekend and I was off and running.  I still have tons to learn but I am having a blast.

We mainly discuss Queer TV, Movies, Web Series and Pop Culture. I feel as it grows the focus will become even more mainstream.

You’ve had a bit of a hiatus, is there a plan for more episodes in the future?

I have taken a short hiatus to finish up my first season and I will be coming back strong with an expanded and more widely focused Season 2 soon. I really appreciate the people who listen and let us know they enjoy it. You can find the podcast on iTunes, Spotify and any other platform you use to listen by searching Is There Gay Stuff In It?

I would love it if you would subscribe and leave a review for us. It helps with spreading the word.

Where can our readers find you and Butch and Sissy online?

ButchandSissy.co is my main website. All my products are there and you can even listen to the podcast there as well. I am @butchandsissy on Instagram and Twitter.

Share your thoughts with us in the comments or on Twitter, @thenerdygirlexp. You can find me on Twitter, @kleffnotes, on my blog, kleffnotes.wordpress.com, on my kleffnotes YouTube channel, and I run The Nerdy Girl Express Snapchat, thenerdygirlexp.

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