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Clexa Con 2017 Roundup

This is our first blog post about ClexaCon 2017, but it won’t be the last.

ClexaCon was an amazing experience, and so much happened. We can’t possible sum up everything in just one post, so we’re going to do a roundup/play-by-play right now with highlights and moments from the con, and then continue to work on a series of posts that delve more deeply into specific topics.

Thursday night we went to the ClexaCon badge pickup party at the Phoenix, an LGBTQ bar a few miles away from the Strip. The party was a chance to pick up your badge early (as the name implied) and to mitigate long lines on Friday morning, but also to break the ice and give people a chance to meet each other in person before the con.

It was well attended and felt like ClexaCon was taking over the whole bar, in a friendly and chill way. This is a great idea for any con where the attendees have enough in common that they’d all like to hang out at the same place together, in our opinion.

Friday was a big day for us. We had to set up our very first ever vendor booth and arrange our merchandise and our displays, and then soon after we were speaking on our first panel at the con.

It takes a village to do a lot of things, and this expression extends to vendor booths at LGBTQ cons. We were so lucky to have so many good friends who were willing to meet us early to help set up, and we put them to work! With many hands, the booth came together in no time and looked great. We were especially proud of our rack, which we thought displayed our shirts to their best advantage.

Thank you, friends, very sincerely
Rack jokes aside, here’s a glimpse behind the scenes at one of the many decisions we had to make while planning for the con. We knew we would bring a lot of our shirts, and in fact, we ended up bringing all we had. Since we have at least 25 distinct designs, we needed a way to make them easy to see and also to look attractive. Some of the display solutions we considered might have worked well, but most of them were either too heavy to pack or ship, or too expensive.

It was a make-it-work moment. We’re lucky that one of us at Fangirl Shirts is handy and can design and build structures with good confidence. After a moment of inspiration, Rebecca had thought of, designed, and built a display rack made of easily assembled and disassembled PVC that weighed just 13 pounds (5.9kg) and that we can use for years to come. This was one of about seven thousand challenges and decisions we had to make in the months and weeks leading up to ClexaCon.

The con floor opened at noon, and we did some brisk business.

Before we knew it, it was time to go to our panel – Queer Lady Business. Our friends Monica and Chris had agreed to woman the booth while we were speaking. Yet again, thank you to our friends.

How can you create and succeed with a business that markets to LGBTQ geek women in an ethical way? Join women-owned businesses that have women at the core of their business model. Hear how they work to stay afloat and grow without being exploitative or seduced by the almighty dollar. Discuss how can giving back through philanthropy be a central part of a successful business model. Come to learn, and get all up in our queer lady business!

We had proposed this panel to ClexaCon and were psyched that they accepted it. We want to run a successful business ethically and without exploiting our customers, and we figured that other businesses who have queer women as their core customer base probably face the same questions we do.

The panel was awesome and so much fun (if we do say so ourselves). We shared the stage with Christin Baker of tello films and Anita Dolce Vita of dapperq. Our moderator was Andi Marquette from Women & Words. The discussion gave us a lot to think about in terms of supporting each other as queer lady businesses and we’ll be expanding on that in another post.

You can view a periscope of the panel that Bonnie, aka @WynonnaFans recorded. Warning, the f-word figures prominently in parts of the panel (for emphasis, not because of a dispute), so maybe use headphones.

We spent much of the rest of the day at the Fangirl Shirts table both selling merchandise and talking to people that we knew from twitter and were meeting in person for the first time. We also met a lot of new people. Since Earpers and all fans were all welcomed to make the area around our booth a meeting place, we never felt alone. We also managed to do fannish things like getting a couple of autographs.

At 7pm, it was time for a much-anticipated panel, The WayHaught Women of Wynonna Earp. Moderated by Bridget Liszewski of The TV Junkies, the panelists included Emily Andras, showrunner, Dominique Provost-Chalkley, who plays Waverly Earp, and Katherine Barrell, who plays Nicole Haught. The panel was awesome, but don’t take our word for it – here’s the audio recording from Tales of the Black Badge, a Wynonna Earp Fan Podcast.

A big shoutout and thank you to @RealSmarticus for periscoping the panel for us. (Also, loved the selfies you took on our phone!)

After a big first day at con, you must go out and let your hair down. Even if it’s been down all day or if you have short hair. It’s a metaphor, people.

Saturday dawned bright and early and Sally likes to begin her days with a run when possible, especially at a con where most of the time is spent indoors. She was joined by Fangirl Shirts’ very first customer ever, Laura Snodgrass. Laura’s alter ego is DJ Kissyface and she made a ClexaCon mix before the con that you can download and use for your workouts.

The con floor opened at 10am. One of our activities was to attend the Table Talk Lunch with Bridget Liszewski (Sally attended while Rebecca held down the fort). Bridget is the Editor in Chief at The TV Junkies, a website dedicated to talking about television and with special affinity for Canadian television and strong female characters. Fans of Bridget’s work have begun to call themselves “Liszebians” – we’ll keep an eye on this trend for you.

Our next speaking opportunity was Creating a Positive Fandom Family – Wynonna Earp Style. Moderated by Valerie Anne, who recaps Wynonna Earp (and Supergirl and writes many many other things too) for Autostraddle, the panelists included:  Sally and Rebecca from Fangirl Shirts, Bonnie from @WynonnaFans (and here’s the website), Kevin from @WynonnaEarpPod (podcast website), and Bridget from The TV Junkies.

We were surprised, grateful and fangirled a little bit inside, but remained very very cool, calm and collected on the outside when Emily Andras came in to attend the panel. We’ll have more to say in another post about the topics we discussed during the panel, like:

  • the contagious nature of kindness
  • the absolute mission for fans of Wynonna Earp to recruit other fans to watch the show so the ratings go up, and
  • sales tax.

Here’s the audio recording of the panel from Tales of the Black Badge, a Wynonna Earp Podcast. The audio is very good.

Here’s one periscope from WynonnaFans (who was ON the panel, so thanks to Alli and Sylvia who made this happen).

And here’s Emily’s periscope:

Dominique Provost-Chalkley also came in the room toward the end of the panel. To have the showrunner, the production director and one of the actresses from the show attend your fan panel about was surreal in a great way.

Back at the booth, someone stopped by to browse the merchandise. When you’ve followed someone’s work but have only seen their photo next to their byline, meeting them in person is a really cool experience. It was Mo Ryan, chief TV critic at Variety.com. Mo decided to attend ClexaCon to get a sense of what the con was all about, and she published an article afterward.

We’ve been fans of Mo’s work for a while, but two pieces in particular were extra important to us. First, her article about Lexa’s death on The 100 helped us when we felt particularly distressed about the way that character was killed. Her article was also validating – when the chief TV critic at a major industry publication is saying the same things as thousands of hurt fans, it’s reassuring that yes, we’re right to feel upset and even betrayed, and that what happened was not okay.

Second, Mo’s article about the 20 best new shows of 2016 included Wynonna Earp, and that’s one of the most exciting things of all. It’s even on a poster from IDW about Season 2!

We didn’t have tons of times for photo ops, but we made time to get a picture with Emily Andras. We had it all planned out, to wear our Fandras shirts with the Andras herself, but alas, Emily had other plans.

Another panel we attended was The Power of Queer Social Media, which talked about queer fans and social media usage to make their voices heard. That panel was moderated by the fabulous Dana Piccoli, Managing Editor of the Bella Books blog (here’s her blog post about ClexaCon) who is as funny and lively a moderator as you’ll ever meet. The speakers were Chelsea Steiner, Tara Stuart (affiliated with LGBT Fans Deserve Better), Bridget Liszewski, and Emily Andras. Fan power is another topic we’ll explore more deeply in a future blog post.

Then at night it was time for the Lost Girl panel, moderated by Yael Tygiel and featuring Rachel Skarsten, Zoie Palmer and Emily Andras. Our friend Jill, @nedleysoffice, womaned the Fangirl Shirts booth for us during the panel, and we are so grateful.

This was one of the most hilarious panels of the con, for some reason. Everyone was very relaxed and the questions from the audience were particularly amusing. Maybe it’s that the show is over and there isn’t any need to avoid giving away spoilers, or maybe it’s that the tension of who Bo will choose has been resolved. Regardless, for a show we love so much and that sparked the creation of Fangirl Shirts, attending this panel was like a dream.

An additional optional event that Sally attended on Saturday evening was Cocktails for Change, an hour-long cocktail party with many of the guests that benefited the Tegan & Sara Foundation, “Fighting for Economic Justice, Health and Representation for LGBTQ Girls and Women.” It was a lovely, intimate event and a chance to chat with the celebrities in a different setting. ClexaCon did a great job in setting expectations for the event so the guests could feel comfortable and like they would not be swarmed, and the fans who attended did a great job of respecting those boundaries. Giving back to charity is a core value of Fangirl Shirts, and we love that it’s a core value of ClexaCon as well.

Later that evening, Autostraddle hosted a meetup at a nearby bar and grill, so we went there and had an absolute blast. There was Jenga, soft pretzels you could dip in cheese sauce, and more cheese sauce for the fries. We’d like to get a side of cheese sauce with our Jenga, also. (In fact, we did, because when the Jenga finally fell down, the pieces went everywhere.)

Bonnie is in awe of Franzi’s Jenga skills

Sunday morning, three of us headed out for another run, and we called ourselves Team Fangirl. If anyone else would like to join a small group of people at future cons for morning runs, leave a comment! Maybe we’ll make Team Fangirl a thing.

Sunday morning, we were again grateful to our friends Laura, Franzi and Kris who held down the FGS booth fort for us.

With any con, you have to choose what to attend, and at ClexaCon, we wanted to go to literally all the panels and workshops but weren’t able to. We are thrilled that ClexaCon allowed videoing of all the panels, because even if we missed something, we can still see it.

One of the second-last panels of the con was a very important topic – LGBTQ Actresses in TV and Film. Out actors discussed what is like to come out and be out in the industry, and how their coming out has affected their careers. We dare you to watch the Periscope of Ali Liebert telling the story about her process while she was filming Bomb Girls and not cry.

The con rounded out with Podcasting Your Passion, where a group of podcasters shared their insights and advice with the audience. Kevin and Bonnie from Tales of the Black Badge and Kris and Annie from the ASK Genre TV family of podcasts, which includes Fanalysis, Drinks at the Dal, Tatiana Is Everyone, The Quad, the Bomb Girls Beacon and more. Podcasts about TV shows are kind of like a book club – they help listeners better understand and enjoy the shows, and enhance the TV-watching experience.

This tweet from Katie sums up not only fan power, but ClexaCon itself, if you ask us.

One conversation we had with a con attendee at the booth who did epic Holtzman cosplay, @Kranstar, has stuck with us. She walked by and said hello, and we got to talking about how our con experience had been, as it was the last day and we were both feeling somewhat reflective. This isn’t an exact quote, but what Karin said was essentially that it wasn’t until attending ClexaCon and feeling like she so fully belonged somewhere, that she realized that in everyday life she doesn’t always feel that way. (Us too.)

Among the many other things we want to thank ClexaCon for, it’s for giving us all a place where we feel like we belong.

And then, just like that, it was over. We broke down the booth in record time – again, with a lot of help from our friends. We learned a lot from our vending experience that we hope to put to good use in the future at more cons. And we had an absolute blast.

We’ll have further posts about ClexaCon, so stay tuned. As well, there was so much content at the con that we weren’t able to see, so we’ll also do a roundup of periscopes and summaries about the parts of the con we weren’t able to attend.

Mark your calendars for 2018, by the way – we’ve heard that ClexaCon intends to make this an annual event.

We can’t wait.

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