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!

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!

Etsy MILESTONE!

I’m so excited to announce that i’ve reached and exceeded 400 sales in my etsy store.

Photo by Anna-Louise on Pexels.com

This is HUGE! Each and every sale I get helps me support myself and continue to reinvest in to getting more items made. I have enamel pins being manufactured right now and the hope is to have them released by the beginning of March.

I also have a lot of new and gently used clothing to list on my depop, poshmark and ebay accounts. I’m really branching out and finding different revenue streams. It also DEFINITELY ensures that I am never bored.

Now that I got a formal OCD diagnosis, it explains why I have routines and clean obsessively. I feel like I understand myself a lot better.

I have been updating my TIKTOK account very frequently, so I hope you follow me over there. I’d love to interact with you. We could be mutuals?

All the best,

Margaux

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 designed these!

My updates have been becoming more and more infrequent and I am sorry for that! I have been so focused on getting these items up in my etsy store and promoting them as much as possible.

I now have black and gold Autistic identity stickers & enamel pins up in my store, and I recently wrote an article about my Neurodiversity Pride collection for The Mighty.

I hope you check out my Etsy shop if you’re interested in purchasing any of these items! Tell your friends 🙂

“…And it’s preying on my mind

…That there’s nothing left in my hands but time
Time don’t really care if I carry on.”

I have a few things on my mind so I figured it would be important to get it all out in the open.

Sometimes people send me an image pertaining to Autism with the best of intentions and yet the imagery is so widespread that the notion of it being offensive fails to cross the mind of the person sharing it. I do my best to write about these things in my blog but not everyone takes the time to read my articles. 

I was sent an image of hands in a handshake position that had one of the hands being disgustingly adorned by a rainbow of interlocking puzzle pieces with words like “awareness” placed over top of the neutral/skin-toned hand. 

Autism Daily Newscast

Immediately, a wave of frustration with a dash of anger washed over me. I thought I had made it very clear how I felt about these words and images used. I had even posted this image a day prior:

I had responded with a numbered list of how generally we (Autistics) don’t like skin to skin contact, that the puzzle piece is offensive and that we do not need awareness. I also linked an article titled “the ableist history of the puzzle piece”. The response I got surprised me. It was not taken well. I had to explain that Autistic people are generally fact based and that my attempt to educate had no malicious intention.

I can not sit idly by and not say anything- that just isn’t in my nature. 

On another note, I am in the process of updating my sales terms on Etsy in as many places as possible.

I am not sure how many people know about print on demand but it is a service that I utilize for the majority of my offerings.

Here’s how it works:

I upload my artwork to their website and I configure it on a number of products. The website creates a very realistic looking digital mock up of said item. I add the price, edit the description and list it on my Etsy store. The item will say “ships out of the United States” or sometimes China, depending on where it is manufactured. 

I would say that 95% of my customers live in the USA. It didn’t occur to me that “ships out of the United States” is not enough information in regards to duty. 

I purchase a lot of things from online American retailers and I also live near the British Columbia / Washington state border. Duty is something I always consider and take in to account. I have even been sent promotional items for review and had duty slapped on.

I will be adding “This item ships out of the USA. I am not responsible for duties, shipping and exchange rate incurred” on each listing. I have nearly gone through two out of five pages of listings so far. My laptop can’t handle it. 

I also need to express that some people have perhaps attempted to reach out to me through various channels and I am not always quick to respond. This is because I am still going through a lot of personal things and I am doing my best to prioritize. However, I am under a significant amount of stress and I am having a very difficult time viewing things accurately because of how clouded my thought process is. Anxiety is not easy to deal with.

I am doing my very best and trying to cope in a way that I am still able to be productive. I just need a bit of room to breathe. 

Accomplishment & Support

I can’t believe it. I actually BROKE 100 SALES! I made it to 110 sales today. This is beyond the scope of anything I could imagine.

www.etsy.com/shop/retrophiliac is my store and here’s 3 new designs!

I also added some fanny packs, a skirt and a tank top to my store! I am so encouraged by the positive words and new people I meet online through my art. I feel lucky to be able to express myself like this.

Too much pressure.

Photo by Caique Silva on Pexels.com

Please don’t mistake me or try to make me

The shadow of anybody else

I ain’t the him or her you think I am

I’m just trying hard to be myself

Oh, society’s goal is to be part of the whole

That may sound good to you, not to me

The Turtles, Let Me Be

All I wanted was the ability to share my art with the world…. and it has turned in to half disaster, half success.

I don’t know how i’m supposed to handle it.

For a bit of a backstory, I posted some of my cat themed art in to some various cat facebook groups. Some were more receptive than others, some banned me for accidentally violating their rules (even though I had made a google docs with the different groups and varying rules), and my facebook exploded. Messages, friends requests, a lot were welcomed with open arms but it was non stop and very anxiety inducing. I already have very, very bad anxiety but this actually made it a lot worse.

I ended up making my own group, Nice Cats for Nice People. We actually welcome those who are Neurodiverse, who want to share their cat-related art and etsy store and try to adhere to less stringent rules.


I then had people writing me, telling me how they thought I was violating (cat facebook group) rules and giving me feedback I didn’t ask for, which made me even more agitated. I can’t tell you how many new people i’ve had to cut ties with. It just hasn’t been healthy for me.

Yesterday, I was in the car, traveling to go to a concert and I cried. I flailed my hands for a short few seconds. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I didn’t want to do anything but go back home, miss the concert and weep in bed. This was after a few people decided to tell me that I was oversharing the negative messages I was receiving on my facebook page and some of the private messages sent to me seemed to have a good intention but had a lot of unwanted, “real” or “brutally honest” advice that I didn’t ask for. I was already on the brink of an emotional collapse and that sent me over the edge.

There have been incredibly positive people and really negative people.

There’s also those who don’t understand:

There’s even people who believe it’s okay to tell me that I clearly have issues after i’ve made it incredibly clear that I suffer from mental illness, which is intertwined with being Autistic.

Being Autistic is not an excuse, It’s a NEUROTYPE! It’s part of who I am and why I behave the way I do. I honestly can’t even believe I have to justify myself to anybody but I have to write this because these things keep happening to me over and over again. I also had to reiterate that my artwork and my Autism are very much hand-in-hand and that I utilize my art to talk about Autism and vice versa. I have HUNDREDS of pieces i’ve art that i’ve painted. I’m not new to this at all. I have been making art my entire life.

There was a time where I really only worked intuitively and for myself, as a way to relax and unwind. When people can’t understand why a pet portrait costs 150.00 USD, I don’t really know what to say without sounding really upset and hurt. It’s a lot to take the personality of someone’s cat and turn that in to my own style. If i’m working intuitively, I don’t think. I don’t need to plan the way something looks, copy features and make it look like someone’s best friend. Getting the features right and the art completely perfect puts so much pressure on me to appease my customer. I’m almost at the point where I have to set my price at something that aligns with my thoughts of “how much would it take for me to drag my ass out of bed and paint something for someone else?” Honestly, I don’t even know what that price would be.

I even made an FAQ because I kept getting asked questions over and over again.

My brain is not only wired differently due to the fact that I am Autistic, but my chronic depression, anxiety and poor coping methods are linked to the fact that I spent 15 years or so being verbally and emotionally abused by my father…EVERY SINGLE DAY. Add that to the childhood bullying and ostracization from my peers at school and you have a brain that suffered from a lot of trauma during it’s most vital developmental years. I also hear that if you’re removed from your mother immediately after birth, which I was, that can also lead to developmental issues. I also am learning disabled. I never graduated, I got my GED instead.

I really want those reading this to understand a few things so i’m linking them below.

I hope this provided insight in to just some of the things I am struggling with. Please be kind.

Amazing Response!

If you’ve been with my blog for a while, you’ve known my intense struggles with trying to get my art out there. It’s been hard, complicated and generally a lengthy process.

So, I decided i’d just take a chance and share my pieces of cat art in some of the facebook cat groups and the response has been positively amazing. Quite overwhelming in fact — and not in a bad way.

I sold 8 pieces of art in the last 3 days. I don’t even think i’m able to comprehend that this actually happened. It blows my mind.

I’m still trucking away at making more pieces of art but it’s takes time. So that’s currently what i’m working on.

If you want to support me, you can check out my etsy at:

http://www.etsy.com/shop/retrophiliac

and

http://www.facebook.com/retrophiliac

Thank you so much!!