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Episode 16: The Age Play Clothing Biz

Members of the Show: Benny- [B] Mako- [M] Spacey- [S] Mae- [M] Rachel- [R]


Intro: (Benny) You're listening to the Big Little Podcast, a show by, about and for ageplayers of all kinds. We expect our audience to be mature, consenting adults- because sometimes the topics on our show are pretty adult too, just like you! If you're under 18 and looking for upfront advice about sex, please visit scarletteen.com

[Intro music]

[S]- You're listening to the Big Little Podcast, a show by, about, and for ageplayers of all kinds! I'm Spacey, and I'm here with my brother-

[M] Mako, that's me!

[S] Yay! And we are joined by yet another flurry of special awesome guests. I'm going to start next to me, because I like to, and I'm totally biased. But, here in our wonderful peanut gallery I have the lovely...

[Mae] Mae!

[M] Yay Mae!

[S] Yay for Mae! That's my mommy Mae, and she's awesome.

[M] And I've got someone next to me! My little girl Rachel. Hi Rachel.

[R] Hello!

[Mae] Hi Rachel.

[M] And we've got one more guest.

[B] All the way from Wisconsin, and I'm not in anybody's room but my own. My name is Benny!

[S][Mae][Mako][Rachel] Welcome Benny!

[S] Benny is somebody that's been on our radar for a long time.

[M] Yeah.

[S] He has an amazing blog, he has just really great tweets that I like to follow, and then he also operates this Etsy store that sells some really cool stuff. But let's not get too ahead of ourselves here. That's part of what we want to talk about today, is what's it like to operate a business, and deal with stuff that you're trying to get out to the ageplay community.

[M] Yeah, and my little girl Rachel who I'll speak for just a little bit, -'cuz I can do anything I want with her- is also a maker of clothing for littles; and we're going to get our groove on about all this clothing stuff.

[S] So I guess let's start the way we always like to start and we'll start how about with Rachel? Rachel, I would love to hear how you got interested in ageplay, and then maybe how you got interested in making ageplay stuff.

[R] Well I've actually been sewing since probably about the age of 7, because my grandmother taught me. And so I've kind of always been sewing. And it was kind of a bit of a long road to get where I am today. I always knew for a long time that I kind of wanted to be held accountable for things. Had no clue how to go about doing that. So my first word I ever typed into a search engine when I actually got my own computer was... spanking! [laughs] Found an ageplay slash roleplay group, and eventually I ended up meeting Mako, and then Missy, and after being friends for a long time they became

[M] Family!

[R] My mommy and my Mako! And I've always kind of had a younger mindset anyway, so it was just kind of a normal thing to just take the two things I liked, and put them together!

[S] Yay for normal! Well, how about you, Benny? How did you get started in all this fun stuff?

[B] Well, um, I guess I kinda came at it more starting out as a diaper lover. In my very early 20's, sort of discovered that adult diapers existed, which I was totally unaware of prior to that. Um, and found it just really super intriguing. And so I, you know, bought some; and did the whole hiding it from my wife thing for a while. And really enjoyed that; I'm also very involved in the BDSM community, and so I was a lot more comfortable with identifying myself as a submissive. And over time and with a new partner after that I got comfortable about it, and you know, told her. And we started integrating first diapers and then also bringing ageplay into that, into our relationship, which, you know was really super fulfilling and I've explored a lot of different areas of it since then. Including that I now teach classes on ageplay kind of at a bunch of different groups and events around the Midwest.

[M] So awesome.

[S] Indeed! I remember we just let people know about one you did in Minnesota.

[M] At Smitten Kitten!

[B] Mhm, yeah, that class went really well I had a great time.

[M] I think it's really kind of wonderful, there's this thing that my brother and I are always saying about how in the ageplay community, if there is such a thing, that it's really great to accentuate our commonalities, you know, the things that bring us together. And you can see that right here! Look at Rachel and you, Benny, the two of you are both into ageplay, and came at it from different places. And yet here we all are in the same supportive environment, I think that's awesome.

[B] I think so too. I occasionally see some sort of divisiveness develop between ageplayers and people who identify as AB/DL. But I'm seeing less and less of that these days, I think 'cause those groups are able to find ways to communicate despite having some different interests. I'm seeing that improve a ton. Over the last like year or so. I love that.

[S] Yeah, that's definitely part of our mission I believe.

[M] I think that that kind of positivity and communication just helps with that, you know?

[S] And visibility.

[M] It's so easy to gainsay people, but it's so much better if you don't.

[S] And the visibility.

[B] It's also really good for people like me who identify as both because people were always saying are you an ageplayer or an AB/DL? And I'm like I'm a four year old who still wears diapers. Like I don't know! [laughing] Both? Yes?

[S] I'm a happy person; how about that?

[M] Right.

[B] Yup, exactly.

[M] People do like their labels. [laughs]

[B] They really do. And Sometimes I just have to throw up my hands and be like look, this is me, you call me whatever you'd like.

[M] Call me over to get my diaper changed, but other than that I don't give a damn, right? [laughs]

[B] Pretty much! [laughing]

[S] Very good! So, you got into operating your own business here, and, so what was that like? What made you decide to sort of flip that switch to saying I'm just going to enjoy this stuff, to I'm going to share my stuff, and try to get it out to other folks?

[B] Well, much like Rachel, I've been sewing since I was a little kid. I got my first sewing machine from a garage sale from my parents when I was 10. After having a real passion for like hand-stitching stuff for my dolls and things before that. And I still have that machine, I've spent an awful lot of money refurbishing it. I never stopped; so when I saw things that I wanted, my automatic response for me is how can I make that, not let me spend a whole lot of money on it. So I started wanting some ageplayer clothes, so I started figuring out for myself how to make them, and I liked what I got, and so I started making them for my friends. In particular I was finding that there was a shortage (this is almost three years ago), there was a shortage of modern looking adult baby clothing. There's a lot of stuff with like gingham and ruffles and sort of older styles, but I really like the super modern appearance. You know, bright bold colors, and current images and I'm really into outer space stuff. Actually, Astronomy is the field I want to go into. And so I was looking for things with rocket ships and UFOs on them and just not finding it, and so, you know, the natural response was just “fine, I'll make some!”. Made myself a couple rompers, made my roommate at the time a couple rompers, figured out how to do a onesie, figured out how to do cloth diapers, and I was enjoying it so much that I needed someone other than my immediate friends. [to see them]

[M] You know, that brings up a point. We should talk about how there are a bunch of funny words for these sorts of clothing. That maybe people that are just getting started, heck, maybe even people who have been doing it for a while, don't know. What the heck's a romper versus a onsie? What are all these things?

[B] Um, everyone seems to have a different idea of that. Which means customers that contact me, I often have to be like Okay what does that word mean to you, send me a photo.”. What I call a romper for my own play and for my business is like if you take a pair of shorts and a shirt and mesh them together so they're connected at the waist, then put the way to get in and out of it as snaps at the crotch. Rather than having a shirt you pull on over your head and shorts you pull up over your legs. The whole thing goes on over your head. So that's what I call a romper. A onsie doesn't have the shorts basically, it just has the same crotch closing, but it just covers the butt and then stops. Onsie is actually a Gerber company brand name.

[M] Oh I didn't know that!

[B] Yeah, it's like Kleenex or Xerox, everyone knows what you mean, but it's technically a brand name. I think when you see them other places they're called body suits. Occasionally, actually, frequently people will contact me who are saying they want onsies but are actually looking for footie pajamas, or sleepers.

[S] Huh.

[B] Yeah. So that's why I often need to clarify to make sure we're on the same page about what it is that somebody's looking for.

[M] I love footie pajamas, I've got a couple of good pairs of those myself.

[B] I love them, too, but I fit into the ones from Target, so I don't tend to make them for myself very often.

[M] I'm so envious! [laughs]

[B] I'm really small.

[M] I'm not. [laughs]

[R] You're getting smaller, you probably could soon!

[M] Yeah, well you can't run your way out of being six feet tall. [laughs]

[B] Yeah, I'm five foot three, and I'm at the maximum height they will fit. I haven't met anyone taller than me, or at least an inch or two taller than me, who can fit into them, so...

[S] Well that's okay. Mommy and I have other places where we get awesome footed sleepers.

[B] Well, you know, at Target they're 12 bucks.

[S] She particularly likes the drop-seat kind, which makes them fun for, you know, access and such.

[M] I'll tell you a really funny thing about the, I have this one pair of footie pajamas that does have the tushie-access panel, the you know, the drop seat. And uh, I have this friend who has this company that does custom t-shirts and things, and embroidery. And one of my mommies, Kacie, has wanted me to put on the back of this particular pair of footy pajamas that I have; you know from Finding Nemo where they go “shark bait ooh bop bop”, you know when they're in the fish tank together? She's wanted me to get embroidered on the back of that, just forever, “Shark butt! Ooh haha”. [laughs]

[S] So that actually leads me to an interesting, question since both you and Rachel have been making somewhat custom, or I guess, definitely custom outfits for a while- What's the most unusual thing anybody's every asked you to create? (Not necessarily that you've made) And then, what's the most unusual thing that you've ever followed through and made?

[R] Benny you can go first!

[B] Well, I get requests, fairly frequently that are pretty unclear. And so, I think that what happens is that people get really turned on, and they're looking at all the sites with all the stuff that they potentially want to buy, and they kind of have a fantasy of the thing in their head of the thing that they want to wear. But are not always super adept, especially in that state, to communicate about what it is. So the weirdest requests that I've gotten have all been one of those things where you just raise an eyebrow and say “I have absolutely no idea what you want, but clearly it's in satin.”

[laughter]

[B] That part I got, but other than that, I don't know. And I get a lot of those. But I think that the sort of the most fun requests that I've gotten that I have been able to fulfill have been I have a regular customer who comes back to me on a fairly regular basis to make some new things for him. And I got to work on figuring out an exact diaper shape that will fit his body perfectly, using very specific materials, and working on getting a couple of iterations before we got it right.

[S] I'm sure it's burlap, right? Burlap is the best diaper material. Wait... [laughs]

[B] [laughs] Right! Well, in his case, it's Bird's Eye, which is the traditional diaper fabric. I use flannel more often than that because it comes in a variety of colors and prints. But he likes the more traditional Bird's Eye flannel. It was a matter of getting the sizing exactly perfect because he has the means to do that, and also the desire to wear pretty often, so he wanted them to be made to exactly fit his body. Which at a distance is hard, but it's been really fulfilling because he communicates really well with me about it.

[S] Excellent!

[M] I do have a question, but.. yeah let Rachel go. [R] As for the most oddest... something I came up with, and I'm still trying to figure out how to do it, and that is a removable shark fin for Mako for his sailor top.

[laughter]

[M] I want it so bad! [laughs]

[S] Why does it have to be removable? [laughs]

[M] Because it makes sitting in a chair hard!

[R] Yeah!

[S] Ah, the problems of being a shark.

[R] Yes, so eventually I'll come up with that.

[S] How about of what you have constructed for someone?

[R] I really haven't made that many things for too many people.

[M] Well you made Mommy a whole lot of Twilight clothes.

[R] Oh, well, that's true. I like Twilight, and my Mommy likes Twilight, so probably two of the things that I've really really enjoyed making for her was a scrub-top with Twilight, and then a night-gown, with a picture of Edward on it.

[S] As opposed to panties with a picture of Edward, I suppose.

[laughter]

[R] Yeah.

[M] Ooh, ooh, I know something great that you made! I love this thing, and I get comments on it all the time. It's just a little thing, but it's amazing actually. So I really really love the cartoon Avatar: The Last Airbender, and we went on this trip, with Rachel, to King's Dominion, which is an amusement park here in Virginia, that used to have all this Avatar stuff, they don't anymore, and I really really wanted this particular t-shirt that they only had for kids, that had Ang, (the avatar) riding Oppa, his flying bison on it. And so they had this shirt that was for like, a four year old, and we bought it, and Rachel did this really cool thing where she like chopped up the shirt, and then made it into this integrated patch on a bigger, different-colored shirt. And it doesn't look cobbled together, it looks like it was designed that way, cause the stitching that has the t-shirt front come on the other shirt is like really well done, and I get compliments on it all the time. People beg me to tell them where I got it, so they can go and get one but unfortunately, it's a one of a kind, you can't!

[B] I've done a little bit of that applique work as well, and it takes practice to get good at that, and I'm impressed that you can do that, Rachel, 'cause I'm not totally pleased with the results I'm getting just yet.

[M] I'm constantly telling her that she should do that as a business for people.

[S] I know that one thing that Mommy and I have been looking for for a long time has been a just the right Max from Where the Wild Things Are costume. That would be really cute for us to have.

[B] I had one of those requested right before the movie came out, and then the customer in question found out what it cost and changed his mind. Which I was really bummed out about because I really wanted to do one.

[S] I've no doubt that it's not on the cheap side of things. But, nonetheless-

[B] It wouldn't be too bad done out of regular fleece, but in the film, I mean he wanted a screen-accurate one, and it's Burberry fleece, which is harder to get. I can't go to Joanne Fabrics and buy that. So it was, he wanted it absolutely perfectly screen-accurate or not at all. And it was that that was going to cost a lot.

[M] I'm just curious, regular fleece versus Burberry fleece; what's the cost?

[B] Oh gosh, I'd have to look it up now. But at least 3 times as expensive. Because I have to pay to ship it to me.

[M] Oh, right.

[B] I can't buy it in the store locally, so the shipping costs on fabric are not low. And I can't use the coupons I use over at Joanne's. I never pay full price for fabric.

[M] Right.

[S] So that actually leads into something that a lot of people have a mis-perception about. I know that Brother and I are all the time talking about all the money that we've made from our Amazon affiliate page ($1.23).

[M] He's serious. It really is a Dollar and twenty-three Cents.

[S] That's right. Or how rich we've gotten off of selling pins or Auntie Eva's Boarder. I have to admit that being semi-retired now is pretty nice, but that's not true, either.

[M] We don't have a tropical island, yet.

[S] Indeed. So I'm sure that's coming, but at the current rate, it'll be a millenia or so.

[M] Yeah, I'll be bones and dust by then.

[S] I'm not sure if we're keeping up with inflation, either.

[B] Possibly not. [laughs] I think that people are occasionally under the impression that the adult baby and ageplay community are great places to make a bucket of money; and they're not. Actually people are often under the impression that the Never Grown Up store is my day-job, and it isn't. I worked 55 hours last week at my working for an insurance company day-job. I am slightly profitable, but there's no way I could ever live on it. Not even close. I do it because I really love doing it.

[S] I think that's why most of us are in it.

[B] I enjoy the actual process of production, and I really love helping people have their fantasies fulfilled, and doing things that get people off, and the ability to make a couple bucks doing that is great, but it's not why I'm in the business.

[M] I have an awesome pair of training pants that have a shark pattern on them that I got from Benny. They're wonderful.

[B] I just got some new fabric, because I know your size has changed a bit, I've got some new shark fabric I think you're going to like.

[M] Oooh! That's so exciting!

[S] Is it actually made of Shark? I dunno....

[B] No! [Laughing]

[S] I don't think that'd be very absorbant...

[B] No, it's flannel!

[S] Oh, okay [Laughing]

[M] Shark flannel is good.

[S] So, on that note- this is something that brother and I have had to struggle a bit with too, is that there are a few hoops that you have to jump through when you have a business in order to get that business set up. So, there's am I going to incorporate, am I going to do this on my own, how do I handle my taxes and that kind of thing. I'd love it if you could say a little bit about how you dealt with those kinds of issues.

[B] Well, I've been having to look a lot more at this right now because I'm hoping that this year I will break that barrier where my business becomes a business and not a hobby. The tax law basically says that if you're making below a certain amount; which I think is at $600 right now, at least in my state, you're a hobby. So the rules are pretty loose about that because it's just that small of an amount of money and I have not yet, in the 2 ½ years I've been in business, made close to that. I would like to make more than $600 in a year at some point. And so I am looking at that process. I am a current accounting student so I'm learning a lot more about that in school, and I'd recommend actually taking formal business classes, for people who want to start businesses because there's just a lot to know. So I'm learning how to do all the paperwork and accounting and lots of online research and whatever to get that stuff done. But if you're willing to take on the risk of your own liabilities, being an individual proprietorship is not too bad. And I'm not taking out loans or anything at this point, so I'm not really really worried about incurring a lot of liabilities that could potentially be a problem for me. I put the money I make right back into the business and I manage to get myself a small place to rent where I'm not on a lease or anything, so. I share studio space with 4 other small businesses, bigger than mine, but still small. And that helps a lot with keeping it functional. [S] I imagine another one of the challenges is just trying to fill out those forms in crayon.

[B] [Laughing] Yeah there is that problem. When you do accounting with a big fat magic marker, it takes up a lot more paper.

[M] Right. I see your books are balanced! And, smell like strawberries!

[B] Grapes, grapes of course! Or purple marker.

[M] That's true for me too, I do make royalties on my writing, but certainly not enough that it could be my day job. Not by a long shot. Maybe one day.

[S] And the truth is, with the pins, we haven't even hit the “break-even” point on the initial purchase we made with those, and I don't expect to make back the money we put into it. I don't think we really care.

[B] I totally love the ones I have; I have them on my vest and my toy bag that I take to events.

[M] Yay!

[S] Awesome.

[M] So I suppose we should say “show notes!” about that.

[S] Indeed, I'm sure we have tons of show notes on here, we've got to get the etsy store in the show notes, and maybe some pictures of the outfits would be good to link to.

[M] Actually, not to strategize about the podcast when we're actually on the podcast, but I've been contemplating maybe getting a Tumblr blog for the show for things like this.

[B] Sounds good to me! I love Tumblr, I mostly just use it for porn, though.

[S] [laughing] Well, that is what the internet is for, according to Avenue Q.

[B] So, I think that one of the things about having the ability to be in multiple social networking things like Tumblr and whatever is that they all do different things well; and Tumblr is really great if you want to be putting up images. So, like, images of the stuff that Rachel has done and stuff for my shop or my own clothing would be really good for that. I don't know that there's a ton of people on Tumblr who want to get a whole lot of text information I just skip right over it. So, I'm there for pictures, and Tumblr does pictures really well.

[S] Yeah, I have to admit that I've tried to stay away from us having too darn many social networks, and spreading ourselves too thing across them, or just broadcasting ourselves across a bunch of social networks for no good reason.

[M] Brother is our common sense; and I'm our big mouth, so we'll see.

[S] I'd rather focus on the items we have available to offer; we do have a blog, and it's possible to post pictures there. We have a Twitter account, which is a great place for making informal, frequent updates and then of course, we have the group on Fetlife, which is a great place to have longer-form discussions about the shows.

[M] Which is going really well, by the way. We've got like 149 members now. We're really looking for that 150; I don't know why 150's an important thing to me, but you listening right now, if you're not a member, would you go join? Because it'd make me happy.

[S] [Laughing] Yeah, don't just join because Mako {says so}, I love my brother, but that's not why you should join.

[M] It'd make him happy too. [laughing]

[B] I think there's still a fairly large number of people out there who are not Fetlife members, which baffles me, because Fetlife is hands-down and without any exceptions the best social networking site for people with all sorts of kinks. There just isn't anything better. And I know people who are still really sad about the loss of ABY.com or how slow Rupadded.com runs, when they come over, they go “Oh my god, why haven't I been here all along?”