The End of an Era.

Hi everyone! Anya here.

It's best to just rip off the band-aid, so I'll jump right into it: Collection 1 is ending! Three of Swords's first ever collection, Collection 1: Southern Gothic, will officially conclude on August 14th. Wow! I don't even know how to structure this blog post because I am feeling such a myriad of emotions, but let's get into it!

If I had to describe the 3 feelings that I experienced while launching Three of Swords and Collection 1, I'd land on...fear, stress, and euphoria.

I was fearful because...

(1) I thought no one would buy anything. I had spent over a year brainstorming concepts, putting those concepts to paper, designing, re-designing, and often trashing said concepts, and then I had to convince people that they were concepts worth putting on their body! I read somewhere that Robert Eggers doesn't watch his own films once they're complete, and I never truly grasped the reason why until I finalized Collection 1. By the time Collection 1 was released, every single aspect of every single item had been nitpicked over until looking at one more shirt or one more pair of joggers made me feel exhaustion at best and disgust at worst. Some designs were edited over and over and over to the point where I thought they all looked like shit (fun fact: the Seduce & Repulse top has 20+ different versions), so why would anyone buy anything from a collection that I was already over?

*Fortunately, I stopped obsessing over the details and realized that nothing I create will ever be perfect. Today, my designs are my babies, imperfections and all.

(2) I was broke.

My bachelor's degree was collecting literal dust at the top of my bookshelf and I was working closing shifts as a retail beauty consultant when Three of Swords began to blossom in my mind. I was paying rent in an overpriced apartment and those retail checks were not cutting it. I did my research and discovered print-on-demand, which saved me money (more on that later), but I still needed to pay for the site, the site's apps, documents to legalize the business, clothing samples, photoshoot accessories, etc. When the only thing you can afford for dinner is a $5 pizza (shout out to Little Caesars), dreams of any type of business begin to die.
How did I afford all of this, you may ask? The 1st stimulus check. Yep, that $1,200 went directly to Three of Swords. I don't know if that counts as "stimulating the economy", but a girl did what she had to do.

*For the record, my degree is still collecting dust. Can't win them all!

(3) I was (and still am) up against some heavy hitters. There are a handful of goth/alt apparel brands that I would describe as "big". Some have over a million IG followers and some have less than 50k, but all are highly influential in the scene when it comes to the current popular aesthetic. I'm a fan of a few of them, but I wouldn't even waste my time with a collab if offered by most. There is a variety of personal reasons when it comes to my dislike for most, but I will never deny that they are all far more popular than ToS (for now). I may not share the same aesthetic, desires, goals, or morals as some of them, but there is no doubt that there is a HUGE demand from fans who DO align with their aesthetics, desires, goals, and/or morals. When I started Three of Swords, questions that often ran through my mind were: "Am I being too controversial? What if people really do want to dress like they're attending a never-ending show at the Batcave, and I'm just the boring one? Do I look boring? Do people actually want to support alt poc? If so, why do I keep seeing the same 5 skinny pale models with pencil-thin waists and long, straight black and/or grey hair (+1 for Bettie Page bangs)? Am I just being bitter???".
Luckily, the overwhelming positive response that I received and continue to receive put all of those questions to rest. I may be wrong, but I believe that the demand has ALWAYS been there. Most of the "big" brands simply never cared to listen.

I was stressed because...

(1) There have been so many bumps in the road. This is not the place to complain and y'all do not want to hear a woman whine and moan for the next 30 minutes. I will say that 90% of the bumps resulted from relying on a print-on-demand service. Let me be clear, there is nothing wrong with using a print-on-demand service if you are transparent with your customers about how their items are being made. This is not a cut and sew production, so if you are also not at that level, do not lie and make it seem as if you are. Utilizing a print-on-demand service does have its perks, some of which include: (1) not having to carry any stock, (2) not having to worry about losing money if you can't sell your stock, (3) being able to quickly delete a particular design if it's not selling well, and (4) being able to get started with less than a grand. HOWEVER, print-on-demand ended up being a poor choice for me because COVID-19 resulted in slooooooow production and shipping times. We're talking ordering a shirt at the beginning of June and receiving it at the end of July slow. Plus, if you know me in real life, you know that I can be super bossy and demanding, so I need to be in complete control at all times. By using a print-on-demand service, some of that control was taken out of my hands and that did not sit well with me.

And finally...

I'm euphoric because...

(1) I get to work on my terms.
(2) I get to share the beauty, strength, and significance of goth/alt poc with the entire world. We listen to Boy Harsher and dream of attending Wave-Gotik-Treffen too!
(3) I get to show everyone that you aren't any less "goth" for rocking joggers and sweatshirts. Besides, goth is a subculture based around music, not fashion. Embracing the history and the bops are what's important, not piercing your bridge and wearing New Rock boots. You live in Target basics and your favorite bands are The Sisters of Mercy, Lebanon Hanover, and Dead Can Dance? You're goth, girl! Throw on your cutest pair of black leggings and come model for ToS!
(4) I receive messages from customers who happily express how and why ToS resonates with them. Every single time I receive one of these messages, I sit back and think about how rewarding it is to make people feel good. At the end of the day, that's what everyone wants. If something as simple as receiving a top with a cool image on it or seeing a ToS model that looks like you makes you feel good, my job is done. I can rest.

Collection 1 has meant everything to me. Its theme, Southern Gothic, is so intertwined with my own identity that I look at the positive reception it's received as a positive reception of myself. Honestly, the theme of ToS's first collection couldn't have been anything else. It served its purpose, and I will be forever thankful for it, but it's time to move on. I'm tired of looking at it, so I know y'all are too! So, here's some news regarding Collection 2 -

(1) Its title is B****** T** V****.
(2) Its theme is ************.
(4) It will launch mid-to-late September.
(5) All packages will come with surprises!

That's all I can say for now without spilling the beans. I love you, I thank you, and I hope that you're eager to see what's in store! Drink water! Wear a mask! Don't forget sunscreen! And finally, see you in September!