August 16, 2013

Spotlight: Darcie Blake

Darcie Blake's flower crowns and Sailor Scout pins
will have you emptying out your piggy bank.

Like many other broke recent college graduates, I love free things. Sometimes I will attend events solely based on if there's free food or drinks and I've entered one too many online contents than I'd like to admit. Whenever I see a giveaway show up on my Tumblr dashboard, I have to stop and look even if I absolutely don't need what's being given away. This mild obsession led me to find 19-year-old Darcie Blake's wonderful PigeonGrrls Etsy shop, which sells flower crowns for eight dollars, Sailor Scout pins for three, and t-shirts bearing the phrase "Slutever" across the chest in Sharpie for seven. Not only are Darcie's crafts super cute, they're also super affordable, which is terrific news for us who can't spend a ton of money on a flower crown (which can get surprisingly expensive). We talked to Darcie about the origins of the PigeonGrrls store, her digital zines and art, and who her dream pen pal would be (hint: it's a Sailor Scout). 

THE LE SIGH: First off, all I could about this summer was the heat. How have you been spending your summer?

Darcie Blake: It's been SO DANG HOT THIS SUMMER. but I've spent a lot of it floating in the pool and watching bad Lifetime movies every night. very exciting stuff. "Life in the fast lane", you might say. 

TLS: What's the origin behind the PigeonGrrls store? How did you start selling your creations?

DB: I was up at school and I got suuuper into making flower crowns and SLUTEVER t-shirts, and I made so many of them that I was just like “fuck it I’ll just give these to friends”, so I did, and I really liked doing that even though I wasn’t making any CA$$$$$H M0N3Y because it was just really cool to know that my friends liked the stuff I was making, and several times they would tell me to open an Etsy, but I couldn’t due to the fact that I was still
busy with school. Flash-forward to the end of March, when I had dropped out of college for personal reasons and to help me cope I began to make even mORE crafts, like decoupage pins and rosette pins and MORE FLOWER CROWNS. but then I had so much of this stuff that I didn’t know what to do with it, seeing as nearly all of my friends were at school. 

That’s when I opened up PigeonGrrls on Etsy. calling it “PigeonGrrls” wasn’t like well-planned out or anything, I just like pigeons and people online know me for using pigeon-related urls (a few of them have been “pigeonpuke”, “pukeypigeon” and my current one, “sadpigeon”), so I figured that continuing the pigeon trend would allow people to recognize it as me, Darcie. “Grrls” just relates to the current wave of feminism, which is verrrrrrry important to me. so that’s how PigeonGrrls came to be, name-wise. In order to raise awareness of my new shop, I decided that I should make a new blog devoted solely to promoting the products in my shop. so I posted the link to it on my personal blog and slowly gained a whopping 9 followers. then I created a Facebook page for it and invited every single person on my friend list to like it, and from that I initially got about 70 likes. 

But! That wasn’t enough and my Etsy shop only had 2 admirers and zero sales, and it certainly wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. That’s when I decided to make a giveaway, because I knew that giveaways get a lot of notes and a lot of attention really really fast. and THAT’S what got people to notice my shop. It’s cool to see what the PigeonGrrls blog has transformed into. I was expecting it to be kind of a cold shop, without any personality and just listing the products, but the people who follow it have really turned it into this community place full of life and cuteness!!!! And that’s what I really want. PigeonGrrls is all about love and feeling good about being who you are, and I think that’s the main message people have taken away from it.

TLS: The reason I found out about PigeonGrrls was because of a post on Tumblr. Has the Internet helped expand your audience for you art and store? Has it had any negative impacts?

DB: Thank God for the internet!!! It's so amazing that there's this weird alternate reality that so many people all over the world have access to, and social networking sites like Facebook and Tumblr are PigeonGrrls' life force. I wouldn't be getting messages from girls in Sweden asking me for brooches if it weren't for the world wide web!!

Tumblr especially has been hella helpful because giveaway posts get so much attention-- PigeonGrrls' last giveaway got about 5,700 notes before the end of the contest! I mean it's not completely sunshine and roses because I've definitely received my share of nasty messages, but that's usually (hopefully!!) the worst of it!

TLS: I really admire your digital zines - how did you start creating them? What inspires you during the process of making a new one?

DB: Ahhh thank you!! I work really hard on my zines-- whether it's HERE COMES THE DOOM, which features me collages and words, or "These Days", which is a small zine that explores my struggle with depression and anxiety, or "Logos", "Parallax" (those names are
taken from Atlas Sound albums) or "Phillia", each of those featuring a collection of my prose and short stories. 

I'm not really sure what inspires them! Tbh I usually just put them together after I've accumulated about six short stories and prose OR if I come up with a common theme for my collages.

TLS: What can we expect next from the PigeonGrrls store? If you could make and sell anything, what would it be?

DB: What's next for PigeonGrrls? I'd really love to learn to sew and make my own clothes, like simple dresses and skirts and such, I think that would be really cool! But for the moment, I'm going to be doing some simple alterations and I might start selling some vintage clothes... who knows!

But if I could sell anything, I think I'd sell weird art films that I hope to make some day on VHS, because I'd love for people to watch my films on VHS because it's so old and it could just gurgle and spit up at any time, you know? I've always felt that VHS has a weird, dream-like quality to it, especially when it's scratched up and old. orrrrr I could just go with DVDs. we'll see!

TLS: When I was little I had a pen pal named Darcie – have you had a pen pal before? Who would be your dream pen pal?

DB: That's so cool that you had a pen pal named Darcie!! There's not too many of us in the world and I always feel like I've found another member of the secret Darcie(y) Society. When I was little my pen pals were just friends who had moved away and we usually stopped writing after the first two letters, but thanks to the internet I have all the pen pals I want!!

I think my dream pen pal would probably be this really cute guy who works at one of the local thrift shops (Savers). He's sooo tall and lanky and he's got dangly dark hair and he looks like he should be a member of The Strokes circa 2003. He's sooooo dreamy *heart eyes*.

I mean, it's either him or Sailor Moon.

Follow Darcie on her Tumblrs here & here and check out the PigeonGrrls store here

Written by Emily Thompson