Elly Prizeman and a shirtstorm!
Elly Prizeman. You may recognise the name. If you don’t, then you may know of the fracas caused by her last year.
Remember what Matt Taylor, scientist and an all-round super dude who landed a rocket on a moving comet a year or so ago? Do you remember the awesome shirt that he was wearing which got so much attention? The one that quickly got labelled as “Shirtstorm” because - according to Wikipedia - “Taylor’s decision to wear the shirt […] shirt depicting scantily-clad cartoon women with firearms […] to a press conference drew criticism from a number of commentators, who saw a reflection of a culture where women are unwelcome in scientific fields”?
Well, Elly is a long-time friend of Matt’s and she was the one that made the shirt.
I’ve known Elly for years. She lives in Chelmsford, is a kick-ass seamstress and rubbish at badminton. She’s also found herself catapulted into the limelight following the shirtstorm debacle.
I sat down with Elly recently over coffee and caught up with her and her life. We’d been talking about meeting up again for ages, but neither of us had found time until last week.
Our chatter covered a variety of subjects, butt inevitably turned to the whole shirtstorm saga. She admitted that it had pretty much flipped her world upside-down, but that she had managed to make the best of the situation, as the increase in publicity had pretty much forced her to concentrate more on seamstressing. She has now quit her job to concentrate on making more garments.
In fact, Elly managed to set up her business in just ten weeks and is now closing in on her first year.
I’m amazed that she needed that kind of kick up the backside to get things moving. Although self-taught, she has a natural gift for the art, even to the point that she decided to take a class last year to ensure that she was carrying out her work as economically as possible. She was, by her own admission, almost the teacher’s pet, and though she took away some tips, she admitted that there wasn’t a great deal there that she hadn’t already known.
I asked how she was coping with fame and she glanced down awkwardly. “I’d hardly call it fame…” she began. She’s wrong, of course. With her bright red hair, tattoos and naturally look of self-confidence, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone that you would fit the bill better.
I thought that my point about fame had been proven a while later when a woman approached our table, offering her apologies to me before turning towards Elly. I was smugly waiting for a comment that would enable me to plaster a smile on my face and an “I told you so!” on the tip of my tongue.
Sadly for me, there was no recognition from the stranger.
“I just had to tell you how beautiful I think you hair is!” she remarked, a sparkle in her eye.
If Elly was embarrassed, she certainly didn’t show it. She smiled, said thank you and engaged in polite conversation.
A second woman appeared “I wasn’t going to say anything, but it’s not the hair that I love, it’s the tattoos!”
This may not be fame, but it’s not far from it.
I coughed slightly, catching the attention of our two visitors before pointedly indicating my hair and looking towards them for their comments.
“Oh! Your hair is lovely too!” stranger number 1 chimed.
“Thank you!” I said, smiling back.
Once we were alone again (or as alone as you can be in a busy coffee shop) I pressed Elly for more information. It seems that she gets recognised every now and then and that people are genuinely quite impressed when they realise that she was the one who made the ShirtStorm shirt.
Suffice to say that Elly’s work is now available to a wider audience. Giving up her day job means that she has more time to devote to making shirts and more. The hard work is really only just beginning, though.
In order to make the next step, Elly has set up a crowdfunding campaign to help her grow her business. As she says on her own website:
After a LOT of consideration I decided to make the leap and invest every penny I had (as well as some financial help from the family!) making my own clothing range, but I could really use some help. I have goals and dreams that go way beyond my current situation, and while it may be a dream, one day I really would love for everyone to be able to have an ‘Elly Prizeman’ in their collection (the clothing, not the girl).
Please take a few moments of your time to visit my campaign page, I’d love you to be part of my dreams and my successes. This is something that simply needs to happen! I get so many compliments on my work but it needs to be bigger, more affordable and more choice! Especially with my high profile clients growing in number too! I just can’t keep up!
Please donate as much as you can, but even more importantly, please spread the word and share, share, SHARE my IndieGoGo page.
Thank you all
You can read more about what she is attempting to achieve, and how she wants to do it by checking the IndieGoGo page. You can also give money and choose perks! (and let’s be honest, if you’re going to buy a shirt at some point in the future, you may as well pledge some money and take advantage of the discounts offered!)
It goes without saying that I think Elly is fantastic at what she does. The fact that she has fans around the world backs that up too.