A couple of months ago, Gimmie Flair reached out to ME (yes, ME!) and asked for some pins to sell in their shop. I was FLOORED, flabbergasted and flattered to say the least that this huuuuge shop found lil ole me AND liked our designs! I then looked into Gimmie Flair and fell head over heels in love with what they do and the shop owner, Summer. Now, here we are! I had to interview her and her partner in crime. Read all about this team that runs THE largest online retailer for flair! Their personalities are raw, genuine, hilarious and a little kooky - just how I like it.
I'm Summer Allen. I run Gimmie Flair. It's the largest online retailer of pins and patches.
Dang. You literally just went into my next question. Your bio says you're the largest online retailer of pins and patches -- how did that happen? That's so impressive.
It was never meaning to become that. I started with twelve artists. I think I emailed about a hundred and got twelve -- they thankfully believed in it and were cool with consignments since I had no money to fund it. I was not planning on starting a business. I did it as a nerdy way to meet new people in LA and because there weren't any places on the internet where I could buy a bunch of flair and not pay separate shipping costs. That's how it got started two years ago.
Cool! When did it become your goal to make this your full time job? What moment did you think, "This is what I have to do with all of my time. This is my passion now."
What's funny is I don't think there was ever that moment but it definitely just became a thing where people started emailing asking to be in the shop and I would accept them if I liked their goods. From there, the holidays hit and we did pretty well. I was home. My husband was working nonstop. He was working about ten hour days.
Oh that's it? JUST ten hour days?
Yeah, that's it - haha. I just decided that I don't like doing things half assed so because it was making us money - I just kept having it grow. I never hit a point where I was like, "This is going to be my full time business" -- it just kinda became my full time business.
Oh okay. I wish I had that happen ;)
It was just a little, fun project and then it became what it is now.
We were talking about how you balance being "real" with your followers: you share your life, your viewpoints about certain things and I think that translates so transparently to your followers. I love that so much - it's why I'm interviewing you. What made you want to take that approach as opposed to shops that only show products and we never even see their face?
I can attribute that to Ban.do -- what makes me love their business is how transparent the owner is. She shows that you can run a business and have major mental health issues. You can run a business and show people every side of you even if it's bad. No matter what I think every single business thing I've ever done - I want people to not look at it like it's a faceless company that you can't relate to. I always went into it wanting people to know who's behind it - seeing little glimpses of our lives. I think it's really hard to attach yourself to a business without knowing who runs it. I guess that's how I kinda have gone through life or projects -- I always want to connect to who's helping us.
I totally agree. I think because you're so real with your followers with sharing your anxiety and things like that - it makes a very unique and raw connection. What kind of advice to you have for someone who wants to start their own business but might struggle with anxiety or depression?
As silly as it can sound - it's just to push through it. I've always known I can never get anything done if I'm going to let depression take over me. No matter what, as much as I daily face the fear of failure and insecurity, I also think it's going to do a lot worse for my mental health in the long run if I don't finish the projects that I start out to do. If I don't give something 100% I think it'll affect me worse. A lot of my anxiety and depression is based on insecurity, attacking myself, not feeling like I'm doing enough and I've realized at this point that if I really don't give something my all - I'm going to feel much worse in the end because I will feel like I didn't do something that I really wanted to do. My advice is even if things feel like it's never gonna get done - just give yourself little goals, push through it and not be so terrified of failure that you don't do something that you want to do.
That's amazingly solid advice. Have you always felt that way or how did you develop this mindset? It's incredible you have that logical mindset because some people never find that courage and strength.
I think I've been lucky in the sense that if I gave something my 100%, if I really follow through - it was always a positive response to that. If i actually took the time and didn't give up - there's never been a point where it's been like, "Well.. you should have never done this."
Besides that little voice in the back of your head of course... *relatable*!
Yes! If you really believe in something and you give something all of your energy - you're going to get positive feedback. You're going to at least touch someone somehow. I think through experience and seeing that happen I've gotten more confident with following through with my wacky ideas that are in my head. That positive feedback will fuel you and help you continue to do more things.
As simple as that sounds ... people just don't think that way. It's so good to hear that especially from someone like you that has this booming business. Your husband was even able to leave his job and join you. I think that's a goal of so many people. Who wants to work a 9-5 office job? No offense if that's what you like but most people I know hate that. What made you want to step in and help Summer? Did you always want to own a business together? Did she just need your help?
It was never the original idea to run a business together. At the time it was more because I was working so much. I was managing a a health foods store. I had no business doing that, ha. I shot up the ranks pretty fast and they gave me the opportunity and we just moved, we needed the money, so I was just looking at it as a better way to provide for our family. At that point - we were living pretty much only on my income. I put myself in that situation and did it for about a year. It really messed with me mentally. I was constantly stressed out. Basically on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
Checking yourself into the hospital kind of nervous break down. All from work.
At that point - Summer offered the chance to quit the job and help her. She really needed help. The business had been booming so much more too.
What do you do specifically for the company? A little bit of everything?
My position is posting products on the webpage, handling all customer service emails, and when we are shipping I wrap and ship the packages. That's my little corner of the business.
And you're not having nervous breakdowns anymore?
I actually remember we went to Disneyland and we booked a hotel a month prior. He had just told his boss that he wasn't going to be coming back for his mental health. I had just seen the weight come off of his shoulders thinking he doesn't have to ever go back to that job again and he gets to work from home. It was a different person. He want to his therapist the week after and she was shocked at the difference in him too.
It was fate!
I still get dreams sometimes where I have to go back there and....
Well that sounds like a nightmare.
I got told by a lot of family and friends that this could be not a good thing to do. A) you're taking this really good income and saying goodbye to it and also you'll be working with your husband and that is, sometimes, risky. Our relationship is really really good and of course there was that fear if this would work. I'm not the easiest person to work for. I'm a control freak and have a clear vision of how I want everything to be. It's been a year and a half of us doing it and there's been no issues.
You two seem like you have such complementary personalities.
What do you look for when you're inviting people to sell at the shop? Do you have a recipe you follow?
I do. It's funny, in the beginning I was very much into my personal taste.
My personal taste is the stuff that doesn't sell as well. I like low brow, super dirty pins. They're my favorites by far. When we started I was taking in all these perverse kind of shops, haha. The stuff I was seeking out was not the stuff that's our big sellers. So now, there's a balance between me looking for stuff I know will sell and what I like. I like stuff that's original and I also love pop culture. I definitely go in making sure I bring in artists I love and also bringing in more mainstream stuff to keep it very versatile and provide a range.
As much as that sounds easy - I know a lot of people that would not get stuff just because it'll sell well. They see it as "Selling out" or whatever. I don't get that!
There's merit to selling stuff that doesn't appeal to your personal taste but will make you money. You have the ability to put your attention on stuff that you do care about.
You like to drink and have a good time. Me too! What cocktail would best represent you?
Representing the business would be more a Mai Tai - a high alcohol, fruity cocktail. My personal favorite cocktail is an extra dirty martini - which may also represent one side of the business. I do like to have the dirtier side to the business too.
Why not just mix those two drinks together?
That sounds terrible. It'd be like an olive flavored drink, haha. I feel like we have multiple sides to the business: very cutesy and then the perverse side.
We just got a pin in that says, "Butt Stuff".
We may be doing Butt Stuff in exclusive rose gold.
Oh god - I love that sentence. It sounds so fancy.
We have one seller who didn't know my last name in the beginning and now every package she sends me says, "Summer Buttlover". It's my favorite thing ever.
You just told me a crazy amazing story about Weird Al and Jack Black - which was...amazing to me! (This was off the record :P ) I can't believe the amount of cool people that you meet - in my standard of cool, haha. Soooo I saw a couple of weeks ago that you were Intsagram storying with Jeff Goldblum. I rewatched that a few times because I was just like WHAT?!
Have you seen all the photos?
She has a folder on her phone of just Jeff Goldblum photos.
Wait, have you met him more than once?
I've met him about twenty times?
Woah WTF!??! How do you know him? Why have you hung out with him so many times?!
We have people who follow Gimmie Flair just because of me and Jeff Goldblum. The story with that is not as cool as it could be.
I think it'll be really hard to let me down with whatever story you're going to say.
Jeff Goldblum does play in LA frequently. He has a residency at The Rockwell. That's his Jazz Ensemble. My friend, Robin, went and told me I had to go. So I went. This was probably four or five months ago. I usually see him weekly. There's been a few weeks I haven't seen him. What he does is he will play jazz on Wednesdays at The Rockwell. I went the first time and I made an impression. I have my separate funding each month to do this. It's like $20-$25. What he does is he comes out a half hour before the show starts and hangs. The first time I went to see Jeff I hit up a tiki bar beforehand. On Wednesdays they do $4 drinks that are ridiculously strong. I had 4 or 5 of those. I then went to another bar and THEN went to see Jeff Goldblum. I started off pretty tipsy. I felt like I was losing my mind - I was right next to the sexiest man alive. The more I was drinking at this show - the more I was like..."I need to do something." I went up to him during that time he hangs in the crowd and he was whispering in my ear about my tattoos. He's the most touchy person ever but in the most beautiful way. I lost my shit after I met him. Long story short - by the end of the night I decided I wanted him to grab my butt. I went up to him and was really drunk and asked him to. I have this hilarious photo of him reaching up and grabbing my butt. After that I decided i'd go to the next week's performance. He remembered me and now I go each week. I hit this point where he comes up to me now and says hi. I've given him Jeff Goldblum flair. He's the coolest, sweetest person. I could say a million things about him.
That blows my mind. I'm shook AF. I can't get over how humble he is!
He just wants to stroke your arm and hug you.
I hate being touched but I would be so happy if he stroked my arm.
I'm addicted to Jeff Goldblum.
You don't make your own pins or anything. Do you plans to do this?
Yes! There are talks of a clothing line too.
I was just wondering because you seem so creative and I can imagine you making a huge, crazy amazing line!
We will though -- it's a plan. I have an idea for some collabs too.
How do y'all #staynerdy?
I collect a lot of ugly toys from the fifties and sixties. I'm very into messed up looking stuffed animals. I have a toy cabinet that has generally nerdy shit too - I collect Harry Potter and Buffy stuff. My main musical interests are ragtime 1920's and 30's. I love old standards! I don't know why I'm like that but it's just a part of my personality. If I hear an Andrews Sisters song I'll just cry my eyes out. Most people don't get it.
The more obvious ones would be I read a ton of graphic novels - more than most people should. Watchmen is a given for a favorite. The whole Prometheus series is really good too. Besides that...hm. Reading up on secret societies and cults fascinate me. I'm really into Irish music. I'm a big fan of The Dubliners.
We're all a little nerdy.
Honestly - I think these are the coolest people I have ever met. I really hope one day we can be IRL friends and go to a Jeff Goldblum show together. Thanks so much for reading - I'll see you next week!
A huge reason I was MIA is because I MOVED! I moved to a beautiful condo with Stephen. I am going to post a VLOG giving you a tour soon! But I wanted to share this little tea corner I made for us :) How cute right?! I'm now obsessed with tea so let me know your favorite flavors!
PERFECT HUMANS NEWS OF THE WEEK
Our Holographic Ears pin is now available at www.PerfectHumans.co! This design is a collab with ibakemistakes and has rainbow metal, glitter, and a glow in the dark horn. You can't get much more magical than that!
INK OF THE WEEK
I got my first piece of ink from Mr. Chowdah at The Hideaway! I also made a bold statement by getting our Sailor Courage design tattooed on my arm forever! I'm obsessed - he's so cute and makes me so happy.