Jenna Busch is a massive fan of PopCycled Baubles. So when she decided to do an interview with the company’s founder Laura Rosado, she tapped me, Laura’s husband to facilitate the interview. That’s synchronicity right there.
Laura is the co-founder of PopCycled Baubles, a company dedicated to creating one of a kind artisan geek items made from real comic books, magazines and other associated materials. For over four years, she has travelled around the U.S. showcasing her wares at a variety of comic-cons and venues to spread the word of Geek Chic. PopCycled’s core concept is to create a welcoming shop that highlights the best of geek culture; something I think we can agree is needed more frequently these days. In fact, we here at Legion of Leia loved Laura’s items so much we had her custom make LoL pendants for us to wear! You can follow Laura on Twitter @drmrstheawesome as well as visit her store at PopCycledBaubles.com.
Legion of Leia: We love PopCycled Baubles. How on earth did you come up with the idea?
Laura Rosado: In the beginning, PopCycled was started to help ladies to have geeky and comic themed items. I know it doesn’t seem that long, but even four short years ago there wasn’t much for ladies to represent our fandoms. We’ve come a long way and now there are options, but we still work hard to produce uniquely functional items. How we got started though is a funny story. Approximately five years ago I was shopping for a friend who adores Batman and had asked us to find items that feature the Dark Knight. I went to our local comic book store to see what they have in the vein of necklaces, bracelets, and stuff like that. After looking around for a while I approached the counter and asked if they had any Batman stuff for girls, to which they responded “DC doesn’t really make Batman stuff for girls.”
I went home deflated, how could they not make Batman items for girls? Did they not think girls read comic books? I realized of course, that they didn’t. It wasn’t even on their radar despite a growing vocal fan base.
I figured, if I couldn’t buy a necklace with Batman, maybe I could just make one. I had seen a few DIY articles (this was pre-pinterest) on how to take an image and make it into jewelry, so I thought I’d give it a shot. Let me tell you, this was like opening Pandora’s box. I must have remade that pendant a half dozen times try to get my method perfect but in the end it was amazing. I remember when she finally opened the box she actually squeed with delight over how fantastic the final product turned out. Over the next few weeks and months mutual friends would tell me how much they loved the necklace and asked where they could get one. It just kind of blew up from there. The next thing I knew I was going to conventions creating a place where girls could let their geek flag fly. It was kind of amazing.
Legion of Leia: You mentioned PopCycled was made for women, did that mission statement change over time?
Laura Rosado: Absolutely. Options for female fans have come a long way in a short time, but we still work hard to produce uniquely functional items. We’ve worked hard to expand our products and started to be more inclusive for all buyers, male or female, covering a range of ages. Even the smallest geekling can find something at our convention booth. One way we do this is to create merchandise with characters across the entire spectrum from the super popular like the aforementioned Batman, Deadpool, and Harley Quinn all the way down to the often overlooked characters like Hawkgirl or Mera, for example. That’s the thing I find the most important, I want to create a zone of acceptance for buyers of all backgrounds. I try to cover as many fandoms as possible and work with our buyers to help them find something they’ll love. With that item, they are able to go forth and represent their fandom and share it with the world and that’s what I love to do, to help spread the love of geek culture.
Legion of Leia: So is it true you make all of your merchandise from real books?
Laura Rosado: This is by far, the most frequently asked question we receive at the booth, second only to “is this all really handmade?” The answer to both is: yes. We have a stringent policy against piracy and googling images off the internet. First, it’s highly illegal, but more importantly it takes money out of the creators pockets. There are so many people out there who devote their entire careers to creating these books and characters, it’s unfair to cheat them for their contributions. The way we tell people it’s the circle of life; by purchasing a comic book we ensure that the publishers can continue to pay creators and artists, who then create new content which we can then turn into new material! Secondly, it ensures a constant stream of new items and gives each piece a unique story. If we can’t find an issue or trade for a reasonable rate, we can’t recreate an item. Finally, it showcases the artwork in an entirely new scope. Instead of a book getting stored in a bag somewhere, we exhibit these wonderful pages in unique ways that draw attention to the sheer amount of detail and craftsmanship the creators put into every frame.
Legion of Leia: Speaking of craftsmanship, it’s clear you put a lot of time into making each piece perfect.
Laura Rosado: Thank you! I really do pour over each item and inspect them to weed out all the imperfections I can. I figure if you’re going to buy an item for a premium price it should look as perfect as possible!
Legion of Leia: You only keep your online store open for a limited time each year. Do you plan to keep your online presence year round in the future?
Laura Rosado: PopCycled is a traveling business; we visit comic cons and shows all over the eastern seaboard. We’re frequently asked at shows “can I find this online?” The answer is generally, no. We only operate an online storefront for about 8 weeks of the year, December through January. Since we travel so much and inventory changes constantly, managing items on two fronts is nearly impossible. With that in mind, I am always available through Facebook and email to help people pick out items or even create custom pieces year round.
Legion of Leia: I’ve hard you have a special going on this week concerning the Guardians of the Galaxy?
Laura Rosado: Yes! In our house, Guardians of the Galaxy is a huge deal so I decided it would be fun to celebrate the Guardians coming home on Blu-Ray with free merchandise! Any orders at our store over $20 will get a free embroidered 4×6 “Sapling” with purchase! Orders over $50 will include your choice of the “Sapling” or “Space Raccoon” with purchase. We’ve also made a few custom coaster sets featuring the Guardians of the Galaxy, so make sure to go check it out and use the hashtag #ShopGuardians when telling your friends!
Legion of Leia: Can you give us a sneak peak on new items you might be a featuring in 2015?
Laura Rosado: We plan on offering a number of new items in 2015 such as items for your hair. I am hopelessly addicted to hair clips and I want to help others share my obsession! I am also working on an entire line of machine embroidered art like our Guardians promotions, that will be sized for your desk so you can decorate your cubicle/office in proper geeky fashion. We’re also expanding our line of “Bags of Holding” with a ton of new characters as well as releasing a line of earrings, bracelets and cufflinks we’ve dubbed “Hero Paints”. All in all, it’s going to be an exciting year for us here at PopCycled Baubles.