Finding clothes specifically for queer people can be pretty difficult. So, when I saw Lucy, of the famous lesbian YouTube couple Kaelyn and Lucy, wearing a “started from the closet now we’re queer” shirt, I needed to know where it came from.
Turns out, it came from Bobo Academy, a clothing line made by a lesbian couple from Toronto. Liz and Niki are partners in crime and in business!
I had the opportunity to do an email interview with these lovely ladies. They not only run the clothing line, but they have also teamed up with GLBT supportive people and organizations, and have shirts for many folks on the GLBT spectrum.
I bought the shirt I saw Lucy wearing and it is the one of the best purchases I have ever made. If you’re queer, want to support the GLBT community and small businesses, and want super comfy, clever and unisex clothing, Bobo Academy is the place to go.
How did you two ladies meet and what made you want to start a clothing company together?
Originally, someone stalked someone on Tumblr. However, we met in person randomly at a bar. Drinks were had, slurry conversations were exchanged, we danced and the rest is history.
There was nothing in particular that made us want to start a business together, it just kind of happened over conversation. “That should be on a T-shirt” was said a lot and then finally we decided to stop just saying it and do it.
On your website, you talk about how the name Bobo Academy came to be. What made you decide to ultimately use it as the name for your clothing line?
Bobo is a nickname used for lesbians in our circle of friends. It is an even shorter version for the lesbian slag “lesbo.” Ultimately, we decided on our name because it felt personally to us.
We never wanted Bobo Academy to strictly be about lesbian pride because it’s important to include everyone under the rainbow, no matter how they identify. Bobo Academy is a queerly run, homo-graphic apparel business that celebrates everyone because we all should.
When did you officially launch your clothing line?
We launched Bobo Academy on May 1, 2014. Hurray, we hit a year!
Were you selling shirts before you had your website up? And if so, where were you selling them?
No, the website came first. Shopify and Printful gave us the means to create what we have. We didn’t have the time or space to sell our products any other way.
You ladies run a Canadian based company; do you only ship nationally or internationally as well?
We live in Toronto, however our fulfillment house is actually located in L.A. It is from there that our products are printed and shipped worldwide.
The sizes of the shirts are in unisex, why is that?
All of our shirts are in unisex sizes because f*ck gender sizes.
Do you two come up/design all the sayings and patterns that go on the clothing and bags?
We do all of the designs and patterns we use ourselves. Some of the sayings however are from things that have inspired us.
“Started from the closet now we’re queer” is by far my favorite shirt. How did you come up with the witty saying?
Our “Started from the closet now we’re queer” saying started with wine and some Drake. Liz doesn’t know the correct lyrics to any song and decided to make them up like she always does. The shirt was made shortly after.
Was your “fix society” T-shirt inspired by Leelah Alcron? If so, what does “fix society” resonate with you?
Yes, Leelah Alcron inspired our “fix society” shirt, as well as a few others. We were both devastated the day we heard about her suicide and read her note from her Tumblr. We immediately agreed that we had to get involved and help using our reach and following.
Leelah is a tragic example of how our society does not accept the trans community. Our society has created a cookie cutter example of how people are supposed to act, be and live their own lives.
If one does not fit in, they are immediately shunned and demanded to feel shame for their diversity. Love, gender and sexuality should have no shame. We need to fix society and accept the trans community by celebrating confidence in diversity and uphold a sense of community to everyone.
What was it like when Lucy from Kaelyn and Lucy reached out to you guys because they loved your products?
We were very flattered when Kaelyn and Lucy reached our to us about our clothing, especially since we’ve been fans of theirs since before we even started Bobo Academy. So cool!
Tell us about some of the awesome people you have teamed up with who support your clothes!
Listed below are some of the amazing groups and business that we have teamed up with to support queer business and celebrate pride.
Queer Mafia: An Ottawa-based network of queers who are committed to supporting our community by throwing awesome parties. Hosting these events unite Ottawa’s queer and social justice networks, build community and support local artists and not-for-profit groups. If you ever find yourself in the capital, be sure to hit up one of their parties.
The Ten Oaks Project: A charitable, volunteer-driven organization that engages and connects children and youth from LGBTQ+ identities, families and communities through programs inspired by camp and rooted in social justice.
The TaTa Top: A small but mighty business selling nippled bikini tops. However, the TaTa Top is far more than nipples on a bikini top. As a brand, they work to promote questioning the social norm and support relatable charities while doing it.
Jer’s Vision/The Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity: A centre dedicated to promoting diversity in gender identity, gender expression, and romantic and/or sexual orientation while raising awareness to stop homophobia, transphobia, transmisogyny and all forms of bullying.
Acts of Greatness: A social group that empowers LGBTQ youth by developing projects to promote awareness in our community and inspire LGBTQ youth to be who they were born to be.
AfterEllen: AfterEllen.com is a lesbian/bi pop culture site that offers a fun feminist perspective on film, television, music, books and sports. They cover topics in lesbian/bi lifestyle like sex, dating and coming out while also delivering new and exclusive celebrity interviews, film reviews, TV recaps, original video and more each day.
HER/LA: A modern, mobile, feminist pop-up festival celebrating community and culture.
You guys have so many followers on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook who love your clothing and are sharing their love for it. How does it feel to be making so many people feel pride and love for themselves or others in the GLBT community?
It makes us feel very proud to have created something for our community that inspires pride and self-love to all.
And finally, is there anything you want to add or want people to know about?
We can’t stress how truly important it is to be exactly who you are. Gay Pride isn’t just about being gay. It’s about being proud of yourself and how far you’ve come to celebrate your diversity and your defining happiness.
Upholding a sense of community and celebrating others diversity is just as important. Be proud of who you are but share and celebrate that with others. What better way than wearing your pride on your chest for all to see.
Danelle Granger is an aspiring journalist with a passion for feminist and queer issues.