Geek Girl On The Street Reports: Talking With Ashley Eckstein From Her Universe – And How To Win It!

Kate Kotler writes for Bleeding Cool;

Ladies of Bleeding Cool! How much do we love Her Universe and Ashley Eckstein?

Don’t even try to answer that, because I know it’s impossible to quantify without complex mathematics and, simply, we don’t have the time!

Last week, Her Universe announced that they would be debuting two new merchandise lines at San Diego Comic Con – the much anticipated and requested Doctor Who and Star Trek fashion lines.

I was an extremely lucky geek girl, as I was given the opportunity to chat with Ashley a few days ago about the new lines and some other super-secret, exciting stuff they are announcing from San Diego next week… YOU are extremely lucky in that Ashley and the Her Universe crew has donated two amazing t-shirts (one from the new Doctor Who line, one from the new Star Trek line) to be given away to Bleeding Cool readers!

More on how you can win one of those t-shirts after my chat with Ashley:

  Ashley! Tell me a little bit about how your last year has been? It seems like Her Universe has been on a crazy, awesome ride that has resulted in some big announcements for 2012!

AE: It’s been a crazy year, but a great year. Let’s see – while we were here at Comic Con [last year] all of the girls were begging for Doctor Who [themed clothes]. I didn’t even know how we were going to make that happen – because it was the BBC and they’re in London and I was kind of new to [the world of retail merchandise licensing]. I thought it would be great if I could bring Doctor Who merchandise to the fangirls, but I didn’t know if that was even a possibility. Lo and behold, I left the booth for -not even a half-hour- and, I came back and there was business card from the BBC, saying that they wanted to talk to us about doing Doctor Who merchandise for women! And, I literally could have fainted on the floor right there!

That’s so awesome! That’s the kind of magic that only happens in San Diego, I think!

AE: I think so! We put a lot out there into the universe and that one actually came back to us. And, honestly it was the same with Star Trek, as well, we’d been talking about the possibility of doing a Star Trek line for a while, and it kind of happened at the same time [as the Doctor Who line]. It just so happened that our designs for Star Trek and Doctor Who lines were finalized at the same time that it became possible for us to debut them at San Diego Comic Con [2012].

That’s amazing! So let’s talk a little about the Doctor Who line: What can the rabid Doctor Who fangirl expect from this line?

AE: I haven’t had the chance to explain this yet, you’re the first! We’re starting with the Matt Smith series, we’re starting with the 11th Doctor – so a lot of our designs will be from Series 5, 6 and 7. However, next year, with the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who fans should definitely look for more designs that will involve other Doctors and Companions. Her Universe fans should definitely look for some different styles of fashion tops. Specifically for Doctor Who we found a new manufacturer for our shirts – the shirts are actually made right here in the US, which I’m really excited about – and, we’re doing new styles like box tee’s and go-go tops and v-necks… I don’t know if we’ll be able to get a Doctor Who hoodie out before the holidays, but we’re working on it.

Stateside, Who fans are going to be able to find these in Hot Topic; where can they find them in the UK?

AE: That’s actually something we’re still working out. Hopefully, we’ll have some updates soon, but right now the new line will just be available on our website and from Hot Topic online. Hot Topic will ship to other countries. Hopefully, we’ll be able to announce a UK partner soon.

Tell me about the Star Trek line: Is it classic Trek, or are we looking at something which is more contemporary and inspired by the Star Trek reboot a couple of years ago?

AE: It’s not going to be merchandise from the JJ Abrams movies. Our license is for the classic series and The Next Generation and some of the other series. It’s been an experience kind of similar to [when we were designing] for the Star Wars universe, but Star Trek is even bigger! It’s like “Where do you start?” These [designs] are just the beginning, it’s such a huge franchise that there is just no way we can tackle it all at once. I definitely want to get the fans what they want, but I am asking for feedback – Star Trek fans, if you see me, please come up and tell me what you’re looking for… I want design ideas!

Here’s a question I was asked to ask you: Are you going to have a classic “red shirt” design?

AE: Well, you know what? We’ve already received so many comments about that because we did the Uhura costume top and the “I’ve got a crush on Crusher” shirt in red… Just so everyone knows, there was no hidden meaning behind that at all!

The vendor we were using for the Star Trek t-shirts had more of a limited selection of colors and we didn’t want to print on black, white or gray. But, they had a really pretty red, and I feel like so many girls look really great in red – it’s such a great color for most girl’s skin tones – so that’s why we went with red for [those two designs].

We’ve received so many comments about that! Honestly, we probably will do a classic “red shirt” design, but not right away because we already have two great red shirts in the collection.

Any sneak peeks or secrets or news that you’re going to unveil at San Diego this year?

AE: Yeah! I do have an exclusive for you, Bleeding Cool, the fans don’t even know about this yet: Next week we’re unveiling an adorable R2D2 3D charm our Star Wars charm bracelet. We’re only making 500 of these guys and once they’re gone, they’re gone. Each one comes with a signed certificate with the charm’s number in the series run. The R2D2 is adorable, and he fits perfect on our charm bracelet. Also, because he’s 3D, I think he’ll look really pretty on a necklace chain.

We’re also debuting a new Her Universe branded t-shirt, it’s a really pretty purple shirt with our logo on it, it’s really very flattering. And, we also are debuting Her Universe lanyards. So many fans have approached me about that in the past, they’ve been like “Why don’t you make your own lanyards?” The lanyard is really perfect for girls who want to show their sci fi pride when they go back to school this year.

That all sounds pretty brilliant!

AE: We have a new Star Trek costume hoodie that will come out for the holidays. I can’t reveal too much about that just yet, but we’re definitely working on that. And, for Star Wars, we did an underwear set, but now we’re coming out with a pajama set. A flannel pajama pant with matching top, they’re comfortable! The set features original art by Katie Cook. Her Darth Vader is really super cute, I don’t have anything that I can show yet, but look for that announcement around the holidays.

What else is going on with you? You’re a busy, busy lady – are you still doing voice work [on the Clone Wars]? What’s new and exciting in that realm?

AE: We’re busy working on Star Wars: The Clone Wars, that never stops! I just completed my work for Season 5 and it’s going to be unbelievable! I know we say that every season, but this season really packs a punch, the crew has really outdone themselves – I encourage fans, you do not want to miss this season! Hold on for a wild ride!!

I’m really excited to be teaming up with The Nerdist for Course for the Force – it’s truly an amazing event! Any fans who are going to be in California right before Comic Con, it’s an Olympic style torch relay, instead of passing the torch, we’re passing the lightsaber – all the way from LA down to San Diego. All of the money raised goes to the Make-a-Wish Foundation, it’s in conjunction with The Nerdist and LucasFilm, it’s a really-really special event.

And, at Comic Con, we’re doing a Her Universe panel, inspired by the NBC show “Fashion Star,” did you see it?

I haven’t, but I know of it.

AE: It’s a great show, up-and-coming fashion designers have a chance to show their new collections to the buyers. And, now, since Her Universe has been in all these meetings with different buyers, it’s been a really eye-opening experience on how to bring your stuff into the marketplace.

To me, Comic Con feels like one big fashion show for fangirls. I wanted to give girls the opportunity to show off their unique costume designs to merchandisers. So, we’re kind of doing our own geek girl version of “Fashion Star,” the panel is called “Are You a Geek Girl Trendsetter.”

We’ve got a panel of experts and we’re going to have up to 30 girls who will be able to show their unique looks and receive feedback . Then we’ll pick the top-three looks as the winners, Jamie King from The Clone Wars is going to be on the panel, Tarina Tarantino is going to be on the panel – she does makeup, handbags – she’s my favorite jewelry designer; we have buyers from Hot Topic on the panel; and, Clare Grant and Bonnie Burton. I’m so honored that all these ladies would share their time with us.

One of the reasons I write for Bleeding Cool is because, as a woman, I still feel that many people view comics and sci fi as a male dominated genre. Personally, it’s really important to me to bring a woman’s voice and perspective into the mix of what I feel like is the otherwise very male-skewed world of comics & sci fi journalism. Is there anything you’d like to say to, perhaps, the women who are silently (and sometimes not so silently) along with me on this journey, or, even the men who sometimes still react to my column with “You’re a girl who likes sci fi and comics? What the WHAT is that you say?” Is there any messaging you feel like is super important for Bleeding Cool readers to hear?

AE: I will say, Her Universe has done its research and it’s a hard statistic that close to half of all sci fi fans are women. So I encourage the girls who are out there and reading this – don’t be quiet about it anymore. There are so many fangirls who are vocal about it, who say “I’m a girl and I like sci fi and what of it?”

To those who are quiet: It’s okay, you’re not alone, come join the conversation.

We’re not trying to say that sci fi is just for girls, or for guys, it’s for everyone – it’s universal, it’s for everyone. The biggest thing we’re trying to do is to get women to join the conversation. This is a united effort. I can’t do any of this without the support of the fans. Her Universe is trying to do more than just merchandise, we’re trying to do publishing and other stuff. I’m hearing what all the girls want, and together I want to do it. Some days I hear a request and I don’t know how we’ll make it happen, but I do know that I’m going to try… We have power in numbers, please come join the conversation.

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Win a Her Universe Doctor Who Something Blue v-neck or Star Trek Uhura costume t-shirt!

Here’s the scoop, Bleeding Cool – Ashley & Her Universe have donated one, each, of the t-shirts pictured in this column to be given away to a BC reader. To enter to win one of these t-shirts, simply be the first or second person to correctly answer the following five trivia questions in the comment section of this article.

Winners will be determined by time stamp on the comment and correctness/completeness of answers. The first person to answer these questions correctly will have first pick of their choice of the two t-shirts.

I’ll announce the winners (though it should be obvious who won) via Twitter and in my next column – coming to you live from San Diego!! Good luck!

Are you sitting comfortably? Alright, then, let’s begin:

Question 1: Name the character who Ashley Eckstein voices on the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

Question 2: What is the name of the live-action movie (one might call it a “Star Wars homage,” even) that actress Jaime King appeared in?

Question 3: Actress Clare Grant is part of Team Unicorn. Name the pop song Team Unicorn parodied in a (somewhat controversial) 2009 YouTube video.

Question 4: One of the new Her Universe Doctor Who t-shirts is themed on a specific DW episode. What is the name of that episode?

Question 5: Lt. Nyota Uhura was the inspiration for the Her Universe Uhura costume t-shirt. Who was the actress who portrayed that seminal role in the classic Star Trek series?

Kate Kotler is the author of the Geek Girl on the Street Reports column and the co-host of the Keep Your Pants On podcast for Bleeding Cool. A Chicago based freelance writer, you can read Kate’s personal musings on her website and follow her on Twitter @adorkablegrrl.