Well, first and foremost we're a husband and wife creative team who are huge Joss Whedon/Firefly/Serenity fans (Buffy, Angel and Astonishing X-folk too).
Hearing that our Joss Whedon and 3 of our big damn heros would be there, we went to Wondercon earlier this year, found the Browncoats room and ended up seeing Joss himself (and even got him to sign our Firefly DVDs! Whoohoo!). Shortly afterward, we attended our first Browncoats meeting with the San Francisco Browncoats group.
Before long, talk turned to all the shiny Firefly/Serenity goodies that all the fans make as well as where to get the Serenity comics and other official Serenity goodness. Someone at the table said that it would be cool if there was one online location for that kind of merchandise and before I knew it we were offering up my online gift shop Poplollies.com since we not only had a secure shopping cart already in place, but we already had a relationship with Darkhorse Comics who are producing the Serenity comic books.
We created a new section specially for browncoats, ordered the comics and made them available for preorder (which you can do now, hint hint: http://poplollies.com/browncoats ).
Anyway, Miyu, our amazing SF Browncoats coordinator, said someone should do a T-shirt with "Joss is boss" on it. We searched the cortex for one, but found none. So we chatted up some design ideas and got to work. By the time we were done we had 4 new designs which quicky grew into 8 designs, all of which have found homes in people's wardrobes across the globe.
We're hugely proud of these designs, we wear them proudly and we hope you'll love 'em half as much as we do!
Our fellow browncoats are, if nothing else, passionate; sometimes particular and occasionally downright tetchy. For those of you who need to know what exactly is what, we've decided to answer the following frequently asked questions:
Q: What do the characters say/do they really say "Joss is Boss"?
A: We read that "Joss" loosely translated, means luck. Good luck, bad luck...you make your own: luck. But there is no character we could find or our Chinese speaking/writing friends could give us for "joss". So we went with the character for "luck". Specifically, the kind of luck you create yourself, the kind you place in your own body to heal and become powerful. Similarly, we couldn't find characters for "boss" but we did find characters for "master", or one who is the boss of others. Read by our Chinese friends, this could be read as "Master of Luck" which, if you think about it, is very Joss Whedon. Also, eveything we understand about Chinese writing (and it's not much!) is that it's a all about imagery, context, poetry and nuance. For example the character for "slow" is a large beast of burden on a raft. So we believe that there is no exact translation and that it's not really about exact meanings. In our case, we're taking some artistic license, because we feel our shirts are art (of a sort). We can assure you they don't say "I curse your mother with the fleas of a thousand space monkeys" or anything similarly offensive, if that's your concern!
Adendum: While doing some further research, it turns out that the word that we pronounce as "Joss" not only means luck, but also means idol and it actually means boss. Check it out here: http://www.infoplease.com/dictionary/joss
Q: Is this a for-profit thing or are the proceeds going to charity?
A: In the case of the 'Joss is Boss' T-shirts, there IS a small markup, but we don't actually expect to see a profit.
Here's the sitch: Everyone we showed the designs to, wanted a different design on a different shirt. CafePress offers a free store, but you only get one shirt per design. What if you wanted a Baby Doll T with the "rope" design, but we only offered it with the "bamboo" design? To give everyone what they wanted, we needed to open a Premium store, which costs us money which means we need mark up our shirts or we end up paying for other people to enjoy our designs.
Poplollies.com is a legitimate retailer. We are selling the Serenity comics, the Serenity action figures, the novelization and hoping to carry more fan created Serenity/Firefly stuff and plan to stock as much Serenity merchandise as we can. We're doing this because every Browncoat we know personally has expressed an interest in buying Serenity themed stuff and expressed a frustration that much of it (Official and fan-created) is so hard to find.
Bottom line: We're genuine Firefly (Buffy & Angel) fans AND we're a genuine business and we're trying to use our resources to do something cool. We are donating our time, efforts and money to our local Browncoats chapter which will all go to supporting EqualityNow.org. If you still don't feel good about your fellow fans trying to make a living by selling the same Serenity stuff you'd likely be buying from someone else anyway, then we suggest you visit EqualityNow.org and send them a donation.
Q: Does the 'grant me serenity' design really say "Serenity" in Chinese?
Q: What are 'Fruity oaty bars'?
A: We can't tell you without getting all spoilerish, but let's just say fruity oaty bars play a key role in the film Serenity. You'll want your own Fruity Oaty Bars shirt when you see the film.
Q: What's up with the "Have sex appeal!" Joss is Boss shirt?
A: When we promised the Browncoats organizers that we'd donate 2 Joss is Boss shirts for their charity fund raiser @ Comic-Con, we realized that while our I-Ching coin design is our most popular, all of our designs sell and everyone is a different shape, and wants a different size. So we decided the best thing to do was draw up a sheet that showed all the designs and give away a voucher for 2 free Joss is Boss shirts in ANY ol' design, size and style. So, while designing the voucher and design artwork, I thought it would be fun to kind of Serenity-ize it like the kind of advertisement you might see in the Firefly 'verse, 'cause loving the works of Joss Whedon as much as we do dang well *should* make us sexier! In fact, we're sure that it does. Plus, we fell in love with the design and thought it would make a pretty shirt. In fact, we like to think that if Inara wore t-shirts, she'd wear this one. Hope you like it.
So, what's up with Poplollies.com anyway?
Thanks for asking!
Here's our sitch:
Poplollies - Cards, Gifts and Goodies opened for business the first week of June, 1999 on 4th Street in San Rafael, California.
Our unique brand of quirky humor, warm hearted counter culture vibe and eye for beauty in all things quickly helped us attract a diverse, loyal and fiercely stylish client base. Our commitment to client satisfaction, a constantly changing (yet reliably Poplollies) landscape of wondrous goodies and the support of our community made for 5 wonderful years.
On June 19th, 2004 we closed our brick and mortar shop and re-launched Poplollies.com as our new storefront. We held on as long as we could, but when the whole neighborhood starts to go, well, we found it takes more than a little gift shop with a big heart to keep it going. Our customers are the greatest and while we miss seeing your bright faces every day, I’m personally grateful to all of you who made those five years so memorable and continue to make Poplollies.com such a joy.
The internet is not new to us. We've had an online presence since we opened and while we always intended to offer our gifts and goodies online, our web site was really more of an online extension of the Poplollies humor and way of life. Hopefully, when you visit the current incarnation of Poplollies.com, you still chuckle when you read our snarky little product descriptions and you still find a bit of our vibe when you visit.
Hope to see you soon.