B⭐UR⭐SLF

If you don't B⭐UR⭐SLF who will?

2019 Final Schedule & Upcoming Site Updates

Elliott Wilkinson

Hello Everyone!

We hope you’re enjoying your spring, so long as your’s came on time. We have our final schedule for 2019 in the books as well as some updates to share!

First off, we got a make over! If you visit our instagram or twitter you will be seeing a new logo as well as color palette. Our website will be getting an update to coincide with the changes, and once we have a date for when it’ll happen we will let you know!

Second, we are working on a new run of binders. We will be bringing a new skin tone to Awesomecon with us, and are looking through samples so that we will be able to have even more options in the future!

Lastly we have a finalized schedule of 2019 events to share with you:

April 13th, 2019 - Cincinnati Mini Maker’s Faire at Union Terminal in Cincinnati, Ohio

April 26th-28th, 2019 - Awesome Con at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC

June 22nd, 2019 - Cincinnati Pride at Sawyer Point in Cincinnati, Ohio

July 25th-27th, 2019 - Philadelphia Trans Wellness Conference at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

September 20th-22nd, 2019 - Cincinnati Comic Expo at the Duke Energy Center in Cincinnati, Ohio

Upcoming Events for 2019

Elliott Wilkinson

Hi Everyone!  We have some exciting news to share about upcoming events to break up the long drag of winter.  Those of you who have seen our events page may know where we’re going next but if not, here’s what we’re booked for thus far!

In April we will be heading down to Washington DC for AwesomeCon 2019!  I’ve never attended this convention but I’ve always heard such amazing things about it.  In June we will be hanging in Sawyer Point as vendors for the Cincinnati Pride Festival. And in September we will also be in the vendor’s hall for the Cincinnati Comic Expo!  We look forward to getting to meet more of you the same way we got to at Con Alt Delete, and we’re also happy to say that we now have a changing tent for the booth so you’ll be able to try the binder on at all the events we attend!  

We can’t wait to see everyone and hope you’re all having an amazing 2019 so far!

The Road to (and from) Con Alt Delete

Elliott Wilkinson
An early checklist of all the things we needed to accomplish before December 2018 housed on my work bench

An early checklist of all the things we needed to accomplish before December 2018 housed on my work bench

When I first came up with the binder idea it was in fact because I was thinking about cosplay first and foremost.  At the time there was an anime/manga everyone was cosplaying that involved a backless cosplay on a male character and I felt it was unfair that people had to sacrifice a portion of the costume just so they could bind.  And during the next three years my mother and I worked with numerous people to try and attempt to make the “backless” binder a reality. I knew of course that we would be selling the product online rather than in a brick & mortar, but I was also interested in the idea of going around to some conventions to be able to sell them in person and get to know people on the exhibit hall floor as well.  By this point I had already been attending conventions as a regular attendee, and had spent 3 of my 5 RTX trips as an expo guardian (a fancy word for volunteer), so I was confident that even if we didn’t manage to make a single sale I could still manage to have a few good conversations with those who might stop by and visit our booth. With that in mind, we set our sights on attending a convention by the end of 2018, and looked towards trying to secure a booth at Con Alt Delete.

My mom is originally from the south side of Chicago.  My older sister in fact, was also born there before my Mom decided to take a different job opportunity in Cincinnati.  Chicago is like a second home to me, and I’ve spent a lot of time there in my past 24 years of life. It’s a city that really lives and breaths culture and there’s always something new to love every time I get the chance to return to it.  Being able to return and plant the seed that would really start our business would be an amazing opportunity, and it was one I was excited to take.

I stand at a measly 5’4” so it was not hard for our merchandise to tower over me once I finished packing all of it up

I stand at a measly 5’4” so it was not hard for our merchandise to tower over me once I finished packing all of it up

Before then all the conventions I had attended were pretty much confined to the state of Ohio, and the city of Austin Texas.  There’s nothing really wrong with that seeing as I enjoyed all the ones I had attended in the past, but I have always longed for the chance to branch out a bit more into the cosplay communities of other states.  This would mark my first time attending Con Alt Delete, and I have to say that it wasn’t a bad starting point. The con was held out of the Hyatt Regency O’hare in Rosemont, which made for a gorgeous stay, and ended up being a bit more packed than I had originally anticipated.  

We met a lot of amazing people in attendance over the weekend though.  When going into something like this for the first time I think it’s safe to say that one of the biggest fears is that you’ll be completely overlooked.  People were happy to prove us wrong though. It seemed like every individual who stopped to speak with us had a different story to tell and we were more than happy to hear all of them.  We also took the time to connect with other exhibitors who wanted to pass on information they thought would be valuable to help our business not only succeed, but thrive. Everyone we came into contact with was so genuine that it was almost a shame that we only got to spend a weekend with them.  But all good things must eventually come to an end.

My favorite image from the weekend, me with our mannequin (rosemont) who wore my Red Hood helmet for the entirety of Saturday

My favorite image from the weekend, me with our mannequin (rosemont) who wore my Red Hood helmet for the entirety of Saturday

Choosing to go a bit out of our comfort zone to start off the business was a good move.  We got to see a new type of cosplay community, and meet a lot of amazing people that I’m hoping we can cross paths with again next year.   The hotel staff, convention volunteers, and other vendors were all so kind and courteous, and it was such a warm welcome back to a city I grew up loving.  Everything about it made me more excited than I already was for the future of our company, and a future in being able to meet more of you in person across the United States.  

Now that 2018 has come to a close, we’re working on our schedule for 2019 conventions as well as getting our site ready to make online sales.  I hope all of you are as excited for the new year as I am.

Happy New Year!


My Being Boss NOLA 2018 Experience

Elliott Wilkinson

This past September I was lucky to be able to share the experience of traveling down to New Orleans with my mom for a Being Boss seminar.  Being Boss, for those who don’t know, is a podcast my mom listens to on the regular where two women (Emily Thompson and Kathleen Shannon) talk about the trials and tribulations they faced as women creating their own businesses and becoming their own freelance agents.  The podcast tends to draw in creative types, people who have a hunger to serve their community and the ability to change and adapt to how it needs to be done in order to set themselves apart from others. Because our aim with B⭐UR⭐SLF is to be able to serve our community through new products and providing information the people we would be surrounding ourselves with through this seminar seemed like the best to help us learn how we might be able to go about doing that.

For the past few years Emily and Kathleen have been hosting these seminars around the US so that they can share their stories and provide hands on workshops to help people better understand the nuts and bolts of building a business from the ground up.  Our itinerary was packed for Thursday and Friday with a mix of business classes and some more vacation style activities as well. The night before it all kicked off the bosses met up for a mixer hosted out of Brennan’s. It was a nice casual evening that allowed us to better get to know some of the women we’d be spending the next few days with before we got in to the full swing of things.  It was a nice way to start off our work vacation, by meeting new friends and being able to see all the beautiful decor and historic artifacts that Brennan’s had encased around their upstairs area.

The official day one came in the form of brunch, our first masterclass, a pop up shop, and a ghost tour.  We met downstairs on Thursday at 11am to start our day by filling up on a nice breakfast buffet. The first hour was spent sitting around and getting to know other people that we didn’t have the chance to meet the night before as we ate.  After that we had our first masterclass presented by Podia, who taught us about how we can create online courses and how to make them better. They focused a lot on making it known that even if you didn’t consider yourself an expert in something, chances are that someone else would.  This was followed by a pop up shop where some of the bosses took the time to show off the talents they could bring to the table. We sold our first piece of merchandise ever that day. Between that and the last activity of the day there were a few hours of downtime where we separated from the group to seek out dinner for the evening.  We ended up at a dive bar that served surprisingly good fettuccine alfredo and had a nice conversation with our waiter who, after seeing our cat themed phone cases, was more than happy to talk about his own cat who would be coming home from the vet that evening. To top the day off, being boss sponsored a walking tour of the french quarter that discussed the history of the ghosts and vampires they claimed to have call it home over the years.  

DSCN2195.JPG
Amie Henry, owner of I Am Yoga studio in Pittsburgh, PA buys our first T-Shirt

Amie Henry, owner of I Am Yoga studio in Pittsburgh, PA buys our first T-Shirt

The next day started a bit later, leaving us time to venture out for breakfast on our own.  Our walk led us down near the Saint Louis cathedral and the French market where we ended up finding a nice corner place that only judged my mom a bit for ordering scrambled eggs and fried oysters together.  We gathered back in the hotel a few hours later to have a short town hall before starting our next masterclass. This one was presented by freshbooks and focused on how we could become more confident when it came to dealing with our businesses money.  Surprisingly, even with my huge disdain for most things math related, I enjoyed this class more of the two we had. I like the idea of being able to organize things on my own time, and I love the idea of being able to learn new skills that would help us in business.  Following that masterclass Emily and Kathleen held a live recording of their podcast (their 200th episode in fact) where they opened up the floor and allowed people form the seminar to discuss where they had come with their business and how they solved some of the problems they faced along the way.  The whole thing ended later that night with a masquerade themed around woodlands. My mom and I dressed up as bobcat and a steller’s jay respectively, and we spent the last of our hours getting tarot readings, drinking cocktails, and enjoying conversation with those we had surrounded ourselves with the last couple of days.  

photo of #beingbossNOLA2018 masquerade courtesy of trevormarkphoto.com/@trevor_mark on instagram

photo of #beingbossNOLA2018 masquerade courtesy of trevormarkphoto.com/@trevor_mark on instagram

Screenshot_20181125-145240_Instagram.jpg
photo of #beingbossNOLA2018 masquerade courtesy of trevormarkphoto.com/@trevor_mark on instagram

photo of #beingbossNOLA2018 masquerade courtesy of trevormarkphoto.com/@trevor_mark on instagram

The program didn’t offer just technical support as far as building a business went though.  It had a surprising amount to offer in the way of emotional support too. When I originally tuned my ear into a Being Boss episode, it was when my insisted we listen to #48 together.  In that episode a trans man named Jay Pryor is interviewed. He discusses how he felt his relationship in business changed when he made his full transition and people started seeing him for the man he felt he was.  When my mom found out about the seminar that would be happening in New Orleans this year, she knew they’d be welcoming of both of us (though she still sent a message ahead of time to ask, and I think you might be able to guess they’re stance on it seeing as I’m writing this in the first place).  But it was more than just that. Just about everyone we spoke with about our product said they knew someone who could use it and that they were looking forward to being able to tell them about us when the time came. On my last night there I went out with a woman named Shaun who paid for the cover of my first gay bar and asked to hear more about where I hoped to go in life.  There was a sense of community that had been naturally sought out, and I’m thankful to have been there to experience it.

Screenshot_20181125-145344_Instagram.jpg

Before our plane flew out on our last day we took time to ourselves to do the touristy things we had been wanting to do.  In the morning we took a 15 minute walk over to a small cafe for breakfast where I successfully befriended a strangers dog.  After packing up we went to the museum of death upon my insistence (although I paid for my mom’s ticket so hopefully that made up for it).  And after that we took a second walking tour through the French quarter to learn more about its history that also took us through Saint Louis Cemetery no. 1 where Madam Marie Laveau rests.  That wrapped up our day and we headed back to the airport and took our two flights home where we scooped up our cats for overdue hugs and collapsed into our beds so we could sleep in the next day.  


Screenshot_20181125-145328_Instagram.jpg

The magic of New Orleans mixed with a group of people who knew a little bit about what it’s like to be starting from ground level and what it takes to drag yourself up is an irreplaceable feeling.  We were constantly surrounded by people who were going through or had gone through the same things we were experiencing in creating a business. People were genuinely interested in what we had to offer the world and where we would be going with it.  When you’re starting a business, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by all the things you have to do to even scratch the surface of your checklist, but when you hear from other people who have managed to do so there’s nothing more reassuring. I’m thankful for the time we spent in New Orleans, and for all the people we got to meet through Being Boss.  I look forward to hopefully meeting some of them again somewhere down the line, and being able to show the progress we will have all made since the last time we crossed each other’s paths.

How B⭐UR⭐SLF came to be

Elliott Wilkinson

When the idea of B⭐UR⭐SLF first came to mind I was slowly clawing my way out of the worst depressive episode of my life. I was isolating myself, I had no job to take up my time, I had lost all motivation to keep up with hobbies I had spent years investing myself in, and I saw no purpose for myself moving ahead in life.

When I originally came up with the idea of making better binders for a living it was complete bullshit. I didn’t have any feasible plan on how to make it work in the long term, I was just trying to get the people who were worried about me off of mt back by making it look like I had some idea of what to do with myself.

Originally my thought process for making a binder with a breathable and transparent back was that it would be better for cosplaying (somehow momentarily forgetting that I’m a trans man and would in fact like something more comfy for the day to day as well). There was a couple of popular pieces of media at the time that had backless costumes and I thought it would be neat if there was a product that allowed people to bind without taking away from the design of their costume.

The very first prototype was hand sewn in December 2015. It was a Frankenstein’s monster of mesh and a cut up binder from China that I had cobbled together on my basement floor, but at least it was something that I could say I made.

There are jokes that go around the internet from time to time that humans will pack bond with anything - including inanimate objects. I make these jokes a lot, mostly because I suffer tremendously from doing so. Ask anyone I’ve shown a cosplay prop to and they can tell you that. And that’s where I stood with the dinky little garment I had created. It would need a lot of fine tuning from a few different seamstresses we’d end up working with but man did I love it.

Later down the line we would work with a lot of new people to get to where we are. My mom had already taught me about product design by proxy because she had been doing it for 25 years at this point, but since then I’ve learned a lot about patenting, small business development, clothing manufacturing, and more. I’ve been incredibly grateful to all the people who have taken the time to teach me and I’m excited to see how we grow.

I feel a lot of nerves moving towards December, but I also feel excitement. There’s not a lot I ask for for my birthdays anymore, but I can’t think of a better gift (or three year celebration of the first prototype) than finally getting to share what I’ve made with the world. So when that time comes we hope to see some of you at Con Alt Delete 2018 for the release of B⭐UR⭐SLF.