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Drama at the HiP Headquarters

Everyone loves a little drama, especially when it’s not their own. Well, here’s the latest Handsome in Pink drama for you to chew on. Are you ready?… Here it is…


It’s a little embarrassing, but … we were fired.


How could HiP possibly be fired? you might wonder. Who can fire us? We are our own bosses!


That is true, and yet we were fired by our screen printers. That’s right, the people who we pay to screen print all of those beautiful, non-toxic, water-based images on our tees. We will not name names. But we have worked with one and only one screen printing company, based in our own hometown of Oakland, since the very beginning.


If you revisit my blog entitled “the Social Worker Starts A Business,” you will remember that we (er..I) made every mistake in the book in starting up this business. I won’t go back into all of that. But our screen printers certainly did not help matters. I remember at our first Holiday craft fair, my business partner Helena and I were unloading tees to display at our booth. We were so giddy and nervous being our first public event and all… didn’t even have a HiP website yet. But as we unloaded our tees, we saw that a handful of them had what looked to be skid marks on them. We couldn’t imagine how those marks had gotten on our shirts that hadn’t been touched since we picked them up at the screen printers. But I hadn’t gone through each shirt at pick up and had assumed that if the ones on top were good, they were all good. (Never a good assumption.)


Since it had been a couple weeks since we had picked up our shirts from the screen printers, when we called them about the skid marks, they said it had been too long since we had picked them up for them to take responsibility for damage— after all, we could have driven over them with our car!


Now we were already displeased with the screen printers because we felt we had not been properly informed about the pink brightness factor in their “house pink” that we had used on the majority of our first order of tees.  But, speaking of bright pink,  Tickled Bib, anyone? You could be the first customer ever to order one! They are very soft and organic and even have Handsome in Pink printed on the other side of the bib! They will be a collector’s item someday so please buy one while you can! :-)


Organic "Tickled" Bright Pink & Cream BibWe should have stopped our relationship with the screen printers at this point in the game. But for some reason unbeknownst to me, we did not heed to the red flags. And the situation did not improve. As we continued to put in new orders, the shirts were coming back with different subtle and not-so-subtle oopsy daisies from burn holes(!) to smears of ink on the insides of shirts that showed through the shirt, to smears of ink on the outside of the shirt.


This is all leading up to our final encounter with these screen printers. I was heading in to pick up our newest addition to the Handsome in Pink family, the “Forget Princess, Call Me President” tees. There was a new employee at our screen printers who helped me when I arrived. When he asked for my payment, I told him that “I did not want to pay for mess ups, and there were often mess ups. I would need to check the tees before I paid.” That was the entire interaction. It actually felt friendly to me. I did check the tees and they looked great! I was so relieved. I paid the bill and went home.


A couple days later, I received an email saying that due to my comment to their new employee, and our “somewhat rollar coaster-y relationship” (our history of us not wanting to pay for their messups and them wanting us to pay), they did not want to do business with us anymore. I knew this guy was right that it was time for us to switch screen printers, but was my comment to his employee that controversial?  I returned his email verifying what my comment was that he was so insulted by and indeed, with an angrier email, I was told it was about the mess ups comment in front of a new employee.


I called Helena and told her we were fired. She was quiet for a moment. And then asked me, “Do you think they would have had the same reaction if we were men?” I thought she raised a good question. Are men given more elbow room to communicate directly and advocate for themselves and their businesses than women? Did Handsome in Pink experience some good ol’ fashioned sexism? Or are we just too whiny to work with? Who knows?


Finally, to bring you up to speed with things. We are currently about to try a new screenprinter! Oaklandish makes these awesome Oakland, CA tees and they have just started a screenprinting company called Corsair. So we are going for it. Our “Call Me President” tees for older kids should be coming out next week and our fingers are crossed that Oaklandish is our new screen printers! Stay tuned…







The Mixed Messages of My Youth: The Brady Bunch versus Free To Be You and Me


Today was my daughter Ani’s 8th birthday! I let her do many things she wanted to do today just because… One thing she was very excited to do first thing in the morning was watch 3 episodes back-to-back of The Brady Bunch. (Yes we are the proud owners of the first two seasons). I understand the draw. One episode is never quite enough!

When I think back to my own girlhood in the 70’s, many memories come to mind. I don’t know why, but that Easy Bake Oven of mine and those scrumptious frosted mini cakes I could make all by myself  jumps into my head immediately! It was such a shame when my next door neighbor accidentally (?) destroyed my oven when she cooked and melted the orange plastic tool that was used to remove the hot cake pan from the oven. I also have a very clear memory of playing Cops & Robbers with the kids on my street as we tore around chasing each other on our bikes. How I loved my Purple Schwinn with the banana seat, such a smooth ride.  And how can I forget spending hours memorizing the intricate light up codes of my beloved electronic Simon game? What I would give to have one of those again.  The 70’s were a happy time for me.


But I’ll never forget the summer after 3rd grade when I learned the Brady Bunch would not be aired in the afternoon anymore at my prime TV viewing time. I was destroyed! I truly cried my eyes out. How could I possibly last an entire summer without the Bradys? My mom even called the television station KBHK (channel 44) to reason with them about their decision. But KBHK had their reasons and I had to take the summer off from Marcia, Jan, Cindy, Greg, Peter, and Bobby. I watched the Brady Bunch religiously. I knew every episode forward, backward, and sideways. There was no Brady trivia that could slip me up.


I don’t remember exactly how I survived that Brady-less summer, but I’m sure there were many rounds of listening throughout the summer to my beloved record album: Free To Be, You and Me. I just had the whole record memorized word for word from the conversation between the girl and boy babies (“Who’s bald? Your mother or your father? Boys are bald and girls have hair”) to Atalanta the princess who defeated all her suitors (except Young John from the town) and therefore didn’t have to get married and was able to travel and explore the world, to My Cat is a Plumber to Dudley Pippin who tipped over the sandbox at school. I’ll tell you, that Free To Be album struck deep in my soul where it has remained. I have never told anyone this before and now here I go blogging about it but when my kids were a little bit younger (okay, I still do it), I’d sing “It’s All Right to Cry” when they looked like they couldn’t quite get the waterworks going but wanted to. Such good messages on that album.



So I have begun to wonder in my adulthood and particularly in my motherhood about this obvious discrepancy between the values I was picking up from The Brady Bunch and the values I was absorbing from Free To Be You and Me. Truly, this TV show and this record album were polar opposites. Marlo Thomas and her friends created the record album as a direct antedote to shows like The Brady Bunch. And there I was, there we all were, receiving both messages and personally, not noticing.


To this day, I adore both the Bradys and Free to Be. So I have passed them both on to my kids. But sometimes I can’t believe I’m letting my kids be exposed to the Brady Bunch values. This morning, one of the three episodes we viewed was the episode where the three boys have a boys clubhouse, NO GIRLS ALLOWED! The girls are not happy and want to be allowed in the boys’ clubhouse. I can NOT believe the dialogue that ensues when the girls have temporarily taken over the boys’ clubhouse. Greg calls out in utter outrage, “Look Dad! Look what they did! Curtains! And rugs! Girls’ stuff!” Carol interjects, “I think it looks lovely.” Mike retorts, “Honey, it might be lovely for girls but not for a boys’ clubhouse!” Carol pleads with her husband, “I’m sure if the girls had a dollhouse and the boys wanted to play with it, there wouldn’t be a problem.” And here is the shocking reply by Mike Brady on good, wholesome TV viewing of the 70’s, “If my boys wanted to play in anyone’s dollhouse, I’d take them to a psychiatrist!”


OK, I mean, here you have gay Robert Reed starring as Mike Brady, the all- American straight dad making extreme homophobic statements about if his sons were into dollhouses and decorating the clubhouse! I wonder what that must have been like for him! Well, I actually do know, because I read Barry Williams’ book: Growing Up Brady, I was a Teenage Greg. I learned that Robert Reed had a terrible time with the show and was always causing a stink, allegedly because the show wasn’t realistic enough for him. (i.e., the episode where Peter discovers his identical twin). But maybe Robert was really having a hard time because he was so in the closet.


But of course there are good parts about the Bradys or we wouldn’t all be so hooked (I guess I should just speak for myself and my kids). The shows are so peaceful. There’s no crime, no violence, the kids are relatively kind to one another, they are outside playing, and there are always good life lessons being learned. So much more benign than say Disney with their horrible scary villains!


So I think I have found a way to travel the road of moderation. I view the Brady Bunch episodes with my kids (oh twist my arm). Without fail, we have a lively discussion after each episode about things we noticed. My kids know I want them to notice the gender stereotyping examples so they sniff out all examples like hound dogs… and the examples are limitless. Each scene is rich with gender stereotyping. But the show is so rich with fodder for so many other areas to discuss: we also talk about how all friends mentioned in the show are white, and how they all have mommies and daddies. We talk about how the kids never talk about their biological parents who have died. We notice the food choices the Brady kids make and what they are offered by Alice for meals (almost entirely consisting of red meat, milk, wheat products, and sugar). We observe how they spend their free time without any computers and cell phones around.


When my kids listen to their Free to Be you and Me CD, I do not need to debrief them post listening. However, interestingly, it was recently brought to my attention at a Gender Spectrum (check them out at www.genderspectrum.org) talk that there is no room on the record album for gender other than male and female. Girls and Boys “can be anything they want to be” but at the same time, “girls can’t be fathers, and boys can’t be mothers”… oh how they didn’t realize the possibilities back then.


Perhaps it’s time for the next round of progressive cutting-edge Free to Be You and Me album to be recorded, it probably already exists. Or perhaps the time is ripe for a TV show about 6 siblings of various degrees of masculinity and femininity with gay parents, one of whom is transgendered, the other who is any ethnicity other than caucasian, who are organic, gluten-free vegans who make all sorts of positive changes in the world‽ Or somethin’ like that! :)






Ode to Yoda

I know I have done a lot of blogging about my kids, and a little bit of blogging about my husband, but have I yet mentioned our cat, Yoda‽ I believe not. And what a shame: Yoda is more than worthy of a mention. Where to begin?


Yoda is a 2-year-old adventure tabby. She loves climbing trees and fences and being up high where she has a good view of the day’s opportunities. She travels through the neighborhood looking for action. Everyone knows her by name and thinks they are her personal favorite.  I think she and Curious George would get along famously.


Yoda is brave; a true Jedi cat. When dogs pass her by, she does not run away in a panic. She just stands a comfortable distance away and watches them. Loud barking has no ill effect. And unlike most other cats, she has no fear of water.  Each morning, she patiently waits in the bathroom outside of the shower until the water turns off. She then enthusiastically jumps in the shower to lick up the water droplets. She also takes great pleasure in licking up the runoff from garden sprinklers.


Yoda is a cuddler too. She loves to be carried around like a baby. She puts her forearms around my neck and purrs. She only does this on her own terms of course, but it’s very endearing when it happens.


Yoda has a very dry sense of humor, always the poker face, but secretly laughing inside right along with the rest of us (see photo above).


Yoda has, on occasion, spent the night out, and then brought home the friend the next day to meet the family. (My sister-in-law Jenny was very amused by how I explained to the kids “Yoda’s friend might be a boyfriend and might be a girlfriend, but cats, like humans, get to choose.” Jen now calls Yoda our lesbian cat.)


Yoda is also very low drama with seemingly little emotional baggage. Our other cat, Midnight, by comparison, is a wreck. One footstep too close to her and she flees as if a tsunami is coming. She is a fraidy cat to the core. In truth, very few people know there’s another cat living in our home because Midnight, true to her name, is always hiding out far away from the noise… only to surface when the lights are dim. And she is obsessed with food. If for any reason Midnight is missing somewhere in the house, all I need to do is open the kitty food drawer and she is there in a flash.


But getting back to the topic at hand, Yoda. What I really have been struck by is that everyone initially assumes Yoda is a “he”, a tom cat. Yoda’s fearless, adventuresome, no nonsense spirit fools them all into thinking “boy”. Now Midnight does not have that effect; people correctly assume she is a female. Imagine that! Gender stereotyping does not stop at humans!


I’ve just decided to nominate Yoda my Handsome in Pink “Girly Girl” covergirl of 2011. She is tough, smart, ready for adventure, and is truly comfortable in her skin. Plus she loves to fish and climb trees! Congratulations Yoda! Keep being exactly who you are!



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