Making waves and making change

I have been incredibly busy these past couple weeks. I spoke at an online advocacy convention on September 26th, reflecting on my experiences in the education system. I wanted to focus on the fact that I, someone who dropped out in 11th grade and ended up getting my GED, was still able to be successful and thrive. I wanted the parents who were participating to understand that their child’s success in the school system will not necessary determine their success in the future. Not everyone thrives in a regimented system.

Then, on September 30th, I spoke at the BC Legislatures Provincial Budget meeting (at the 02:05 – Two hour and five minute mark) https://twitter.com/BCLegislature/status/1443671164690173960 in regards to being a disabled person and a small business owner. I spoke about being self-employed and the lack of support and was asked by one of our MLAs to submit a letter. I just wrote it and emailed it off.

I’m so passionate about highlighting our voices because we are left out of the narrative. The press releases for September’s British Columbia DisabilIty Employment month didn’t include one quote from disabled small business owners or self employed people. It just included quotes from people who hire us. It’s frustrating to know that there are folks out there who didn’t even know we exist and thus, by default, didn’t choose to include us in this very important conversation.

I wrote two articles as well, one here in regards to inclusive employment and being self employed and one here about disability and entrepreneurship.

I also want to share that i’m almost completely sold out of my Neurodiversity Pride Pins in the regular size. At the time of posting this, I only have 11 left. That means i’ve sold nearly 200. I have more on the way in the upcoming weeks but if they do sell out, I also have the mini, 1 inch version available.

Did you know that I released a new style of pin?

This is my “Flower Power” collection! I also have matching stickers and patches will be arriving October 4th. You can find these items at retrophiliac.etsy.com, alongside many other items I have available. Every time a purchase is made, it further ensures that I am able to live my dreams and hopefully be given the chance to help other people who want to be on the same path of independence that I am on.

I also secured my 10th retailer! I am grateful that I reached this amazing milestone, alongside other milestones to celebrate:

-Over 500 sales this year alone

-Over 1000 sales in total

-Over 200 five star reviews

And, I also celebrated my 33rd birthday and felt more accomplished than ever.

Now, to fight the good fight and continue advocating for disabled small business owners and self employed people. I’m not going to stop, i’m just going to keep pushing forward! Thank you for navigating this journey with me.

-Margaux

What’s new?

I have a mish-mash of updates.

First up: Accessible Employers has been avoiding me for a few weeks now. I do think I found them mentioned in a government budget report article. It seems like they are still being very hesitant to be open about their budget. Which means one thing: They are a FOR-PROFIT BUSINESS. If they were a non-profit, they’d be on the charity database websites and would have to disclose their financial reports.

Secondly: I was a vendor at a market on the weekend and I was so excited to connect with new people and make a few sales.

Photo by Aleywey on instagram

I also was interviewed by Rachel and Hiiro from the Getting Jewcy Podcast. We had so much fun chatting and I was so thankful I got to speak about things that i’ve been talking about on this blog, too.

I also released a few new designs in my shop:

These can be found at www.etsy.com/shop/retrophiliac.

I’m also speaking tomorrow (July 19th) for BCPF’s panel on housing and more information can be found here: https://bcpeoplefirst.com/events

That’s all for now!

More good things!

I have some exciting news to announce.

Not only was I a recipient of a BC Arts Council grant – which means I have the ability to create more awesome things, but my local MLA (Member of the legislative assembly) Rick Glumac spoke about me at the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria.

Here’s the video!

I am so grateful that my hard work was acknowledged and that he spoke up about the puzzle piece, awareness vs acceptance and used my correct pronouns.

I also wanted to announce that not only was I an independent consultant for York Universities Mental Health Literacy for Autism, but I am so pleased to show you that they chose to use my “Love Grows” image on the cover as you can see here.

If you like this design, I actually sell pins, patches and stickers with it in my etsy store!

I’ve also contributed to a few “Nothing with out us” segments on CBC’s “on the coast with Gloria Macarenko”, and i’m incredibly thankful that I have been given this opportunity.

I’ve been keeping myself as busy as possible and I will have many new items that i’ll be releasing soon and I even got my first dose of the covid-19 vaccine. I’ve been working on keeping myself hydrated and my mind in a more positive state. It’s a challenge though and I can’t wait until my family, friends and roommates are fully vaccinated.

I really can’t wait to share more good things with you.

Thank you so much for supporting me and reading.

Achievements!

I have been working hard to reach more milestones and I want to announce that I met my 500 sales goal and I have exceeded it. I have had so many orders go out lately and it’s keeping me exceptionally busy, which I am so grateful for. I am reminded of how I am living a dream i’ve always had, and that’s always been to sell my own merchandise. I try to ensure that I also write hand written notes to each customer.

Look at all these packages I sent out! This wasn’t even all of them.

Another goal that was reached was that the Made by Autistics Community is now well over 3,000 members strong. How incredible is this? I saw a desperate need for a group for Autistic creatives out of frustration I had. Every time I just wanted to SHOWCASE my specific cat-related art, I would head in to cat groups and people would ask me if I was selling or they’d tell me no selling was allowed, when all I wanted to do was showcase my art! That also lead me to creating the Made by Autistics Marketplace to fill that need. Both these groups work well with each other. Sometimes there’s a few bumps in the road, but I do my best.

Recently my artwork was licensed for a very special project so when that’s all finalized, i’m very eager to share. I also have a speaking engagement coming up as well so i’m stoked for that.

I was also featured on the Tri-City News and Vancouver Is Awesome! I would love if you could check out the article (they are the same on both sites) and share with your friends. I also posted about it on the Vancouver sub reddit and it’s created a really interesting discussion.

So, with all that being said: i’ve been very busy, my 6th enamel pin is currently in production, I am going to be creating so many more things and i’m not stopping anytime soon!

P.S. My sister and her bandmate released a brand new song, i’d be so jazzed if you could watch it and follow them on twitter and facebook.

My Enamel Pins

I am so proud to announce my newest pin design “Smiling Sun”, I can’t believe i’m up to five designs so far. This has always been a huge dream of mine and even though I haven’t sold a single sun pin yet, I feel like i’m trying to remain positive and set myself up for future successes.

I am hoping that, once Covid is a thing of a past (will that even happen?) that I will be able to participate in small festivals in Vancouver. I really think that these pins would be a huge hit.

There are many plans for the future, such as cute cat pins that I can create for charitable purposes. I have applied for some grants so fingers crossed I can get some more funding.

It also seems like the interest in my original art has completely dwindled and that the things that are selling well for me are my Neurodiversity Pride collection, my LGBTQ2+ collection, my Childfree enamel pins & my Autism identity enamel pins.

I try to remind myself that even though the interest in my merchandise and offerings has changed, that i’m still able to create whatever I want and bring more acceptance towards the Autistic community.

Here I am, wearing my Smiling Sun pin and I have themed my entire outfit based on the colours of the pins.

If you want to support me, please check out www.etsy.com/shop/retrophiliac and please share it with your friends. I thrive on word of mouth!

Puzzle Pieces & Autism Moms

I have wanted to write about this for a while but I have been putting it off.

I wanted to address the issue with “Autism Moms” or “Autism Parents” and the exploitative tactics that sellers of Puzzle piece merchandise utilize to gain sales.

I reached out to a parent run company on etsy that was selling a sparkly puzzle piece enamel pin in honour of their Autistic child. I tried to educate them and tell them that it is a symbol of hate and eugenics, and instead they felt threatened by me and told me if I continued to contact them, that they’d report me to etsy.

@retr0philiac

Informal video. Read the ableist history of the puzzle piece. Please no pro puzzles! #autism #autistic #autistictok #actuallyautistic #neurodiversity

♬ original sound – Margaux – retrophiliac

There’s over 6,000 listings for the search query of “Puzzle piece Autism”. These are sellers who are EXPLOTING THE IGNORANCE OF FOLKS WHO DO NOT KNOW IT’S A HATE SYMBOL. Chances are, the people selling these items are profiting off this. They probably know how harmful this symbol is and yet they continue to perpetuate it because it’s PROFITABLE.

I’m unsure of how many folks don’t see the problem here. Profiting off these symbols and selling them to unsuspecting individuals is wrong and again, incredibly exploitative.

I’m in a facebook group and a mother had asked about her “Autism Mama” bracelet which was adorned with puzzle pieces, and she was quickly – and swiftly educated.

I ended up having an “Autism Mom” slide in to my private messages and DEMANDING I educate her on the subject. There was more than enough information in the initial thread. She weaponized an Art of Autism article against me about someone who was pro-puzzle piece (but denounced her support in the beginning of the article). I had asked The Art of Autism to amend this article to include pertinent articles and was met with an uncomfortable misunderstanding. At this point, I will no longer associate myself with The Art of Autism.

Make better choices, buy from Autistic people (Made by Autistics Marketplace is a great resource), support the rainbow spectrum infinity symbol and do your research.

A note: If you’re a PARENT of an AUTISTIC CHILD, Do -NOT- co opt their diagnosis as your identity. This is NOT your identity. Don’t talk over Autistic adults. Listen instead. Remember: Your child is going to be an ADULT SOMEDAY. Wouldn’t; you want them to be able to help others and feel empowered?

Also: don’t expect Autistic adults to be a certain way or to provide endless advice. We don’t owe anyone (especially parents) anything.

If you need more information about this, please visit:

Don’t forget, I have a NEURODIVERSITY PRIDE COLLECTION. There ARE alternatives to the puzzle piece.

I’ve got those self-isolation blues!

A new piece of art – “Bright Skies”

As usual – I have been slacking when it comes to writing and updating this blog. That’s a little unbecoming and not up to the high standards I reluctantly uphold for myself.

It’s been hard and my energy has been fluctuating. There are days where I am apt to clean and tidy up my surroundings and then there are days that are spend entirely in bed, sometimes accompanied by cookies.

I’m on a constant rotation of just a few things. Netflix, napping, eating, art and a minute amount of self care. I’m trying to focus more on that because I know how important it is for my mental health.

Some tasks are more difficult than others, including running Made by Autistics Community on facebook – a task that is emotionally draining at the best of times – it puts me right in the forefront of having to maintain some order and good reading comprehension. I’m not great at the comprehension aspect and I find that keeping objects orderly versus people is already something I obsess over. Throw emotions in to the mix and I sink, real fast. I make mistakes, we all do – but there’s one thing we can choose to NOT do – and that’s call people names. I had enough of this in my past (hurled towards me with a cold blast of anger, no less) and I don’t need to be triggered.

I’m thankful I have people I can speak to who have been supportive of me because I can only take so much criticism in one day. I burn out faster than i’d like. It’s been hard not having any physical affection or the inability to see my friends and hang out in close quarters. I realize that we’re trying to do our best as a whole to stop the spread of a really horrible virus and some of the things we can do are:

  1. Wash Your Hands
  2. Maintain Your Distance
  3. Be Nice

Three rules that could make a big difference. Hope you are staying healthy and happy!

PS. I also started a petition to make it mandatory to have ALL cosmetics be tamper-proof sealed. Could you sign it?

Multiple things to discuss!

I created a new video on a couple things that I felt needed to be addressed:

My facebook page, facebook.com/madebyautistics was hacked. My one other admin and two mods have been removed. Facebook is being useless so I had to rebrand entirely and create a new page over at facebook.com/madebyautisticsgroup.

I was featured on CITR’s ALL ACCESS PASS. You can listen to me here: https://www.citr.ca/radio/all-access-pass/episode/20191030/ My Kickstart Disability Arts & Culture speech is at the 34:00 mark and my interview from the PosAbilities Inclusion Art Show is at the 16:15 mark.

These have been added to my shop at http://www.etsy.com/shop/retrophiliac

In addition to the four plaques that have been happened, there’s also all my holiday cards too. These are just a few examples:

Thanks to my Kickstarter backers who made these cards a reality, I was able to pack up all these cards and they will be getting distributed between 3 cat welfare organizations. They will then be able to sell and/or use the cards and keep the profits. I also am thankful that it will be an opportunity for more cat lovers to see my work.

Welllll that was a lot to cover.

Thanks for reading!

Update

My speech on September 28th went particularly well and I wanted to share it with all of you:

My kickstarter ended and right now it’s in the stage of collecting payment. Once I get the cards and fulfill the orders, I will be donating some to various animal welfare organizations to help raise money for them. I will also be listing some on etsy as well! I’m so pleased that the kickstarter was such a success.

I didn’t have the opportunity to protest Autism Speaks Canada, but I am hoping I can be there next year. I always talk about how they continue to silence Autistic voices, so it wasn’t a surprise when I went on twitter today to see that I was blocked.

I was talking about the Inclusion Art Show and that’s happening this Thursday. If you’re local to Vancouver, i’d love to see you there.

I have plenty more I want to write about but it’s late (or early?) and I can’t formulate anything else at this time.

Thanks for reading!

It’s a mood, for sure.

Trying to see through the thick cloud of anxiety and depression is no easy task. It’s a huge, huge burden to bare. The flashbacks have become more repetitive, they feel deeper. Each time I fail, I feel those traumatic events seeping back in and filling those gaps where hope once was. It is a situation full of despair.

I’m so lucky to have these cute, silly beings in my life though. They make it all worth it.

I should be happy or at the very least feeling fine. I think part of the disappointment is due to the fact that I really thought the article on The Mighty would perform better. I thought it would drive people to my website and to my shop, but the views and interactions have been fairly dismal.

The hits on my Etsy shop have totally decreased too. I heard there’s something going on with an algorithm to do with the people that don’t have free shipping or don’t offer it on all their listings. It’s making them less visible. I know for me that when i sell original pieces, shipping is included. It’s everything that’s made by a 3rd party that has shipping separately.

I also should be pleased with myself about having my speech coming up later this week and being approved to be a consultant about issues surrounding mental health and Autism–and yes, I am looking forward to creating change, but i’m also the poster child for those issues. So, I guess in a roundabout kind of way, i’m going to really be able to reflect on my experiences and create change. That’s the silver lining.

I wanted to share some images that my customers have shared with me, which is pictures of their purchases from my etsy shop. This helps keep me going, but sales in the last while have been so dismal. I’m also upset because the way advertising works on etsy is that I paid 4.80 American to get one person to click on one item that they didn’t even buy. So frustrating. I’ve heard better things about facebook ads but i’m just not even sure how to go about it. Seems when I talk about business, there’s people that genuinely want to help and then there’s people who poach on my lack of experience and try to manipulate me to pay them. I guess that’s another business strategy–but it’s one that I don’t want anything to do with.

If I can bring joy to others, even though i’m suffering, well.. I think that’s a way to turn something negative in to something positive.

I tried creating a new plaque that says “cats make life purrfect” but the cats I drew look terrible. The two wood signs I was happy about completing, haven’t really seen much traffic either. I thought they’d be a bigger hit.

My holiday cards are also still up for pre-ordering at a reduced rate. Hoping to have my hands on those the 3rd week of October, ready for shipping.

Greta Thunberg, a climate change activist and fellow Autistic has been taking quite a beating online. It really upsets me that people say such horrible things about her. I think politics are a main driving factor for people to be so hateful in this world. I tweeted about the honesty of Autistic people and how we’re fact based and it definitely goes for her too. Actually, this quote of mine says it all: