Announcing the Genderplayful Marketplace
There aren’t a lot of clothing and fashion resources for genderqueer and transgender folks. Most companies adhere pretty rigidly to the idea that some clothes are for men, some are for women, and never the twain shall meet.
Sarah Dopp is doing something about that! Genderplayful Marketplace is a new website in the works and when it launches, people of any gender and body size will be able to sell and buy clothing in a fun community dedicated to honoring and playing with gender and body diversity.
I was recently fortunate to meet Sarah and asked her to tell us about her project.
Tell us a bit about Genderplayful Marketplace. What inspired you to create it? What do you hope it’ll become?
The Genderplayful Marketplace is a plan for an online vending space in which members will collaboratively solve unique wardrobe problems, particularly as they relate to body size diversity and gender expression. It will be a lot like Etsy in structure — vendors will have their own store fronts and will list the items they’re selling — but the culture, goals, and products will be different. By hosting a wide mix of independent designers, tailors, crafts-folk, retailers, and people just selling things from their closets or local thrift stores, we will encourage a wide range of styles, sizes, prices, and creative clothing solutions. We will also encourage strong community interactions — sharing tips, asking advice, and collaborating to solve unique needs.
I’m doing this for myself . My body is hard to fit, and I only feel comfortable with certain blends of masculinity and femininity in my wardrobe, and that balance is incredibly hard to find. But more than that, I’m doing it for the huge community of gender-variant folks I’ve gotten to know over the last three years as I’ve been organizing Genderfork.com — a volunteer-run community expression blog about diversity in gender identity. A common shared crisis in these circles is that the world of clothing is broken for us. So I spent the last year talking with community members about how we might be able to fix it together, and the Genderplayful Marketplace is what we came up with.
You’re taking an unusual approach to fundraising. How has that been for you? What has the response been?
I based our fundraising on Kickstarter.com’s method: set an all-or-nothing goal, set a deadline, and create a list of perks people will receive based on the amount they give. I told the internet that if we could raise $5,000 in a month, I would make the project happen (and if we didn’t, I’d refund the donations or give them to charity). Community members raised that amount in 2 weeks, and are still going.
Really, a business like this should need a lot more than $5,000 to get off the ground ($50,000 would be more realistic — and really, that amount would make everything go much more smoothly), but I come from 6 years as a DIY-style community organizer and website developer, and I know I can get this started on a shoe-string.
What the fundraiser has also done, which is perhaps even more important than raising our baseline business funding, is prove that this project is needed. We exist, and there are numbers and dollars and faces now to back that up. We are a market, and we see each other, and we are willing to pool resources to take care of each other’s needs. Those truths are now tangible, and that’s huge.
What sorts of products will be sold on the site? Your site says that it’ll be a clothing site, but what about packers, wigs, or other items that transgender and genderqueer people might be looking for?
Are you doing this all yourself? What’s your timeframe for launching the site?
There’s a lot we still need to work out, and I’m saving some of the bigger decisions until after the fundraiser is over. I have the web development and community management skills to get this off the ground, but I’m also experienced enough to know my limits — this is not a one-person project. I’m speaking with several experienced business advisers, one of whom may collaborate with me to help build this into a stable and sustainable long-term business. I also have a “Work With Us” sign-up form circulating for community members who’d like to contribute to the project in any way, and the responses there have been very encouraging. There is a huge community behind this. It’s clear to me that I’m not doing this alone.
We hope to have something up for the public within six months. People who have donated will have access before the public does.
What are you looking for from the communities you’ll serve? How can people get involved?
In the next week (until January 15th), what we need most are donations. The more we raise before we begin, the stronger we’ll be and the more resources we’ll be able to draw from. So for those of you who need this to happen, please spread the word and ask more people to give. It will make a huge difference. I promise you.
Besides donating and spreading the word, there are a few other ways to get involved. Community members should fill out the Tell Us What You Want form, so we have their needs, requests, and interests on record as we make decisions. There are also sign-up forms for people who want to Work With Us and people who want to Sell at the Marketplace, and it’s important that we get people’s info there. The other great thing people can do is submit stories, photos, or videos to our community blog expressing why this marketplace is important to them. These are doing a lot to help other people who need the resources we’re talking about to feel less alone.
Here are a couple of videos, if you’d like to hear more about this amazing project!