Boss Up with Bevin Your dream life is at the end of your comfort zone

2018-05-06

How My Year of Ask Project Helped Me Create an Incredible First Workout Video!

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”—African Proverb

Last week I filmed the first workout video for Fat Kid Dance Party Aerobics and these words never hit so close to home. For those of you who have been reading my blog for any part of the last ten years, you know I’m on a healing journey. Healing from origins I can identify and some I cannot. The process of healing, I believe, is awakening to who you really are at your essence.

Somewhere along the line, I absorbed the idea that if I didn’t allow people to help me I could take full credit for my success. This idea showed up most glaringly in the need to control and a paralyzing fear of making the wrong decisions. I also truly hated feedback and couldn’t distinguish between loving concern and criticism.

I asked Music Supervisor Lauren Ross to wear a Bikini Kill shirt to the shoot because they donated the use of “Rebel Girl” to the video!

In the process of creating the video shoot I absolutely had to ask for help. I wanted a product that looked better than what I could film on my own and I felt like my audience deserved a truly kick-ass workout video. There are a lot of slick videos to choose from for people buying into the idea that you must be striving to reduce your weight in order to be worthy. I wanted something that stands up against the razzle dazzle afforded by the billlion dollar diet industry.

The evening after the shoot I reflected that this was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It wasn’t harder than taking the bar in two states, or law school. It was certainly a difficult personal milestone, yet a million times more fun than passing the bar and getting a JD! I’d rather be doing this for sure.

All photos in this post by Jessica Hinkle, the fabulous stylist and indie designer. Check out her Proud Mary Fashion booth at RuPaul’s Drag Con this weekend!

The first big hurdle was, of course, the crowd fund. Asking for the amount of money I needed to create the thing I wanted was daunting. To be honest, I was simultaneously shocked and encouraged when it funded on the very date it ended!

I chose IndieGoGo because I was going to create something no matter how much the crowd fund brought in but I was glad that I got the opportunity to really hit one out of the park. (IGG lets you keep any money you raise, whereas Kickstarter is all or nothing funding.) I knew my crew needed to be diverse because that’s the kind of company I’m building. I believe that there is strength in diverse life experiences and perspectives and I strive to live my values as much as possible.

Marcy, Emily, my cousin Sooz and my Fiance Supreme, Dara.

I put out a call on a Women in Motion Pictures email list a friend tipped me off to (more help!) and I got a flood of responses by women who were interested in making it happen. I had no idea how to sift through them.

I asked for my friend Marcy Guevara-Prete’s help as an Executive Producer at that point because I knew she could help me make these choices and guide me through the process. She’s a TV Producer and celebrity stylist!

Marcy said to watch reels so, while on a visit with my mom in the woods outside Seattle, we tucked in and watched a lot of reels. Including some super boring reels and some that were experimental lesbian art. And some that looked expensive but were made on a small budget—-that was what I was aiming for.

I sent follow-up emails to everyone I was interested in, and asked Emily Aguilar to come meet with me because her response was the best of everyone. (I also had an intuitive hit about her.) She responded to my first email with a spreadsheet of a proposed budget and two possible locations to achieve the look I said I wanted. I loved how organized she was from the jump. Marcy and I met with Emily and I was so glad I had asked for Marcy’s help because she knew the right questions to ask to get a sense about whether Emily was up for the scope of this project. Four workout videos is not a small creation!

I cast the video as diverse as I possibly could, pursuant to my aforementioned values and also, I want people to see representations of themselves! I asked my mom to fly down for my shoot and I’m glad she did. She repped for double knee replacement recovery and older folks. I had queer, straight, cisgender, trans, nonbinary, size diversity and as much other visible diversity as I could get. I want more!

Cast includes my mom, McKay Nield, Manny Moreno, Drew Spencer, Chelsea Algarin, Whitney Brown, Drea Lara and Melba Martinez!

The music for the video was a long slog! My biggest complaint about slick aerobics videos is the terrible music. I wanted to try for really great music because my audience deserves the jams! I happened to sit next to Lauren Ross at a Shabbat dinner and she turned out to do licensing for two of my favorite songs, Hot Topic and Rebel Girl.

Lauren donated her time as Music Supervisor and secured rights to a bunch of other great songs I’m excited for you to jam out to! My friends Rick Sorkin, Austin Bisnow of MAGIC GIANT and friend of a few friends Mary Lambert all donated songs as well. To fill in the gaps I got my friend JD Samson to compose beats for the videos. Here’s the Spotify playlist of all the songs we used for the video! Please go dig deep into those awesome artists who believed in and supported FKDP!

The location was a gorgeous DTLA loft run by a really cool artist named Jonathan who was jazzed about the project. The process of planning and executing a shoot is not unlike running a major event and of course we had last minute snafoos that all worked out in the end.

Two days before the shoot I extended the time rental for the location because I could get a chalk artist to donate her time but she could only come at 8AM not at 10AM when we got the location. What a great choice I made to extend the rental because we needed that extra time and the chalk art looks incredible.

Thank you Kelly Phelan, one of my beloved regulars at Fat Kid Dance Party here in LA!

I arrived at 8 to get hair and make-up done by the incredibly talented Amanda Bourne. One thing I’ve always had a hard time with about getting my make-up done is that I don’t look like “me” and trying to describe what my make-up looks like to Amanda involved referencing Miss Piggy as my gender. It worked, I think it’s my favorite make-up I’ve ever had! I looked great. She also came backing with a wind machine to cool us off between takes and a whole roll of paper towels for blotting.

Never fear, we have some scenes where we’re all sweaty, especially by the end of the 60 minute standing workout video.

Amanda taking a selfie with my assistant Kristen! She’s serving as my LA hype person–her gender is some kind of Glitter Mermaid Unicorn Baby and we have a lot of overlap except she’s straight! It’s really fun to have her as my first assistant and build on her strengths to make FKDP continually more awesome and tour more places!

We started shooting at 10. My intern Asher Tessier was on hand as a PA and I realized pretty quickly we needed more PAs than just one. Thank goodness I had thought to hire my assistant Kristen to be on hand for the day and my beloved Fiance Supreme Dara pitched in as both PA getting lunch and motivational speaker/dancer to raise flagging energy by the end of the day.

The outfits were amazing for the shoot, mostly because Marcy the Executive Producer is also a celebrity stylist and got the hook-up from Torrid. I am so obsessed with the rose print set I wore in our stretching video!!! Thank you Torrid!!!

And thank you Marcy, who thought about bringing earrings which do, as she so aptly said, “Elevate a look.” Wait til you see the parrot earrings matching the chair in the chair workout!

My cast was incredible. It’s not a joke to film 8 hours of working out and by the end of the day my mom’s fitbit had 15,000 steps and I don’t think it picked up on the chair video. I flew my friend Drew down from Portland, OR to be part of it and I was so glad I did because there’s nothing like performing again with someone you performed with 13 years ago to bring out silliness and fun.

My cousin was the camera operator. Sooz is in the camera union and shoots TV shows, having worked her way up from a PA and later shooting commercials. She borrowed lenses from a friend that are used on a prime time TV show and the shots looks incredible. She also brought along a friend, Chris, to help shoot. I was just so overwhelmed and happy that the people who came on set and participated in making the video wildly over delivered because they cared about the project.

Emily’s friend Lauren ran sound and by the end of the day I was wondering how the crew of film and TV even handle the physical toll it takes on their bodies, since she was sitting on the floor for every take running sound.

It was Marcy’s idea to shoot a couple numbers that were “big party scenes” to make it look more like a party! We couldn’t have had this amount of shooting in one day if we had that big of a cast but it was really fun to end the day with a bunch of friends and in a huge formation! It also enabled me to do a “Diva Walk” like they have at the end of Richard Simmons videos.

I always love a Sweatin’ to the Oldies video, especially because he cast fat people. The bummer is at the end during the diva walk down a train of people on either side it says their name and how much weight they’ve lost. This reinforces that fat people are only valuable if they are engaged in weight loss pursuit. I think everyone is valuable exactly as they are, unconditionally.

I’ve got a couple ideas about how I’m turning that on its head and I’m excited for you to be introduced to the cast and crew “Fat Kid Dance Party Style.”

I’ll know next week a likely release date and will update over on the IndieGoGo site first!

Drew, Dara and Asher!

2018 is my Year of Ask (and Receive!) as I’m pushing through my discomfort around asking and receiving. I’m so grateful to anyone out there who had anything to do with making this shoot happen. It was truly one of the best days of my life and certainly the best working day of my life. Thank you for helping me make my dreams come true!

Through May 24th you can still purchase the videos at the discounted pre sale price through Indie GoGo. You will receive the videos before they are available to the general public, and the general public pays a higher price! It pays to be an early adopter.

P.S. There is a viral video about Fat Kid Dance Party that was just released by Brut! Would you be so kind as to watch it, share it, like/love it and comment? It really helps amplify the message that all bodies are worthy of love exactly as they are!

I have four looks, one for each video! I’ll do a post about each look, but here the top is Torrid and the bottoms are SuperFit Hero, both brands donated these clothes to support Fat Kid Dance Party! Both fit true to size and are comfortable and resilient.

2018-04-06

My Uphill Battle to Interrupt Fatphobia with Tee Shirts

A few weeks ago I was at a three day seminar about building up businesses. I won a tee shirt from her merch table and I went to go pick it up. The business guru had about a dozen shirt designs and several styles to choose from. However, when I went to select my shirt there was no choice available for me because there wasn’t even a unisex shirt that came in a size that fit me.

This is not an unusual experience for me, or for many fat folks. It sucks to feel left out of the inventory of 95% of stores. I don’t like this feeling and I totally don’t want this experience for my customers for Fat Kid Dance Party. I’m interrupting fatphobia and it’s an experience where fat people are centered!

PDX tour stop day two!

I started Fat Kid Dance Party by thinking about who was left behind in dance aerobics. I started my tee shirt journey from the same mustard seed. Who is left behind with traditional tee shirts?

In justice circles, the general call is for shirts that go up to size 6X. This is difficult to find but I basically made it my mission to do it. I feel especially hurt by so-called intersectional feminist stores that don’t carry plus sizes, or barely make it to a 2X. I wanted to create a different experience for my customers.

It is really hard to find a size inclusive line of tee shirt blanks. Different size bodies need different fit configurations and a unisex shirt isn’t particularly comfortable for me as a person with boobs. Even a unisex size 2X basically only fits up to a size 24W. It’s not enough. If you’re in justice movements and you want to validate intersectionality, you need to offer a size range that includes fat people.

Me and Jake in Seattle!

“Women’s” cut shirts are almost never truly size inclusive, a 2X in that cut tends to fit someone who is more like a size 14 not a size 24. Plus size bodies require a different fit and most shirt manufacturers are lazy about it. Often people printing shirts for their merch aren’t focused on inclusion and aren’t accommodating actual human diversity. (I would say a full 15% of attendees at that business seminar wouldn’t have been able to fit a single shirt at the merch mall.)

I hunted around last August for my sized to 6X tee shirt blank solution and luckily Rachel Kacenjar was already creating that.

Rachel has been designing and curating plus size clothes for well over a decade. She was on the hunt for a really good plus size tee shirt blank and knew she needed to design one. A bigger neckhole, a better shape. She found a manufacturer whose minimum order was $50,000 and by cobbling together orders (mine was $1,000, I’m sure other folks had more) and doing the labor of fulfilling all of those sub-orders, she managed to get it done.

With Julia who won my MVP for “traveled the longest to get to class” award in Minneapolis!

It was no small feat, Rachel had lengthy back and forth with the manufacturer to get the fit right and we didn’t get our shirts until the beginning of February. However, the shirts are incredible and so worth the wait!!

I worked on tee shirt designs with Genuine Valentine, a tee shirt company that primarily serves non-binary and queer folks and their allies. GV is a print on demand tee shirt service so as orders come in they are printed and fulfilled by a behind-the-scenes third party. That third party only allows you to buy their blanks and they only go up to 4X in unisex.

Minneapolis!

Fat folks have likely experienced a vendor charging more for a 2X or above tee shirt! True, it costs more to produce because of slightly more fabric and I have experienced the customer annoyance of having to pay $3-$10 more than a thin person. Not surprisingly, the slow as molasses manufacturer charged $2 additionally between the 1X shirts and the 5/6X shirts.

Since my primary goal is to interrupt fatphobia for my customers as much as I can, I just calculated what my cost for all the shirts was and divided it by the number of shirts to determine my cost. I also extended the same price to the print on demand shirts so the cost of all shirts is evenly absorbed.

The nice thing about Genuine Valentine as the home for my online print on demand tee shirt sales is that I can easily do kids shirts and non plus size. (It’s referred to as “straight size” isn’t that funny?) I included some wording in the description letting customers know extended plus sizes are available through my website.

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The shirts are made in the USA in ethical factory, screen printed by queers of color, graphic designed by a non-binary person and in every way as diverse as I could make them. The shirt material is really soft and I love mine. Best tee shirt I’ve ever owned, actually. I LOVE that the printing takes up a lot of space on the tee shirt because the best part of having a larger body is more landscape for art! Tattoos! Clothing! More landscape looks great decorated! #moreismore

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Yay tee shirts helping me interrupt fatphobia—YET—having two sources for shirts is so confusing! I’m still working on the customer experience buying them online. Anyone anywhere can buy the print on demand shirts through Genuine Valentine, but how to get the internet the limited edition fat 4 fat designed babe adorned version?

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Since I got the shirts printed by Stuzo clothing I have been selling them in person at Fat Kid Dance Party classes and on my tour! It is validating and exciting to see my shirts out in the wild! I love the shirts so much I bought all the stock that Rachel the designer had left of them and am printing a fresh run.

My dream is to have people go up to people they see in a Fat Kid Dance Party shirt or with an enamel pin, water bottle or whatever and high five for self care! (Jazz hands are the no touch high five if you don’t like high fiving!)

Jenny, Dara (in the non crop top version from Genuine Valentine), Kristen and I didn’t plan to all wear the Self Loving AF crop tops at the same time.

The beautiful Fat Kid Dance Party website is still under construction. Once that’s done I’ll have a merch section. In the meantime I’ve struggled figuring out how to sell my on hand special plus size shirts in a temporary capacity without confusing things too much with the side piece that is the print on demand option. But nevertheless I persist and I’ve heard that if you’re not embarrassed by your first iteration you waited too long to launch.

I really know how to do a Facebook live sale like a QVC show! I’m excited to sell some of my cute fat vintage hoard and all the tee shirts I have on hand! I’ve been going live weekly with the Plus Bus for several months selling plus size clothing and love doing it!

So if you want a tee shirt, tune in live on my Facebook at 6PM PDT on Monday, April 9, 2018! Turn on notifications so you get reminded when I go live every day to talk about loving yourself more!

2018-03-29

Year of Ask: Bra Strap Capital

A little over six weeks ago I was on the phone with Jes Baker. She has been doing some incredible graphic design work for me in exchange for distance Reiki treatments and she had a question we needed to ask my friend Bridget about. Bridget is a strategic coach and has been helping me get a handle on pursuing my goals for Fat Kid Dance Party Aerobics and building my dream company.

Bridget patched the three of us into a conference call and I had an epiphany. Listening to these brilliant women talk about creating a Fat Kid Dance Party style guide I realized that I was no longer just teaching an aerobics class. I was now, for real, running a start-up.

Bridget and I are celebrating a decade of friendship, with deep roots in Femme organizing. Bridget is modeling the Fat Kid Dance Party tee shirt which was months of work and many many logistics to make happen. She’s wearing the specially designed for plus size bodies version of the shirt I have for in person sales before I launch the website. A unisex version of the shirt is available now through Genuine Valentine.

To be honest I still had no idea what a style guide was until earlier this week when Bridget and I were doing a “Power 2.5 Hours” at her dining room table in Minneapolis. She showed me the Fat Kid Dance Party Style Guide developed by her, Jes and Michelle who is designing the website and explained why I might want to send a copy to Jamie, the tee shirt designer who is designing the water bottle.

Moving to LA has been a baptism in new industry language. LA is a company town, I have learned all this film and TV lingo just by hanging out with my friends, many of whom work in showbiz.

It’s not nearly like the Bay Area, but LA also has a start-up culture, which has its own language. Have you ever heard of a Pitch Deck? I hadn’t until December. Basically when you are running a start-up it’s the place where you synthesize your idea. I’ve heard of it in the form of a word doc (that’s just a “deck” if I’m understanding correctly what my friend Farhad explained) and a Pitch Deck is in powerpoint, meant to show investors.

Going on tour means reuniting and hanging with many of my friends in far-off places. Like Drew, who I hadn’t seen since like 2010, who I got to stay with in PDX! Drew is a great chef, if you need an incredible caterer in PDX get in touch with him! Photo by Summer.

I turned another corner in the work of creating Fat Kid Dance Party as a start-up company when I was talking to a friend and advisor of mine. She’s one of Dara’s besties and she’s working on a start-up of her own that is much further along than mine. She has been so kind to offer me advice on building FKDP up since the PopSugar video went viral.

When she offered me money to be an on the ground investor in Fat Kid Dance Party and told me she thought I had a wildly successful company I was floored!

I believe in my heart that FKDP is a wildly successful company. I also work really hard to not need external validation for my worth or to believe in my ideas. However, when someone you respect, admire, and know to be a no bullshit person says to you what you already believe in your heart, it really helps to buoy confidence.

In that conversation she told me at the end of every meeting or phone call I should ask people for help with specific things. Since it’s my Year of Ask, this is a great practice for me and has me getting more strategic.

Another great Portland tour picture by Summer of Fat Girls Hiking.

I had a meeting with a collaborator I’m working with and asked when we parted ways if she knew any social impact investment folks who want to change the world with me. She said she knew someone at a fund that only invests in women, LGBT, and POC founders and if she ran into him she would suggest a connection. Wouldn’t you know she just happened to run into him immediately upon returning to her office?

I had an incredible meeting with this contact and he gave me such valuable insight into what I need to be watching out for in this stage of my growth.

He encouraged me to apply to their fund but to know that it wasn’t a slam dunk. We would get feedback on our pitch deck. He said I should mostly be focusing on “boot strap capital” which I immediately corrected to “bra strap capital” because that’s just more my style. It’s also a nod to Jeanne Bice, the creator of Quacker Factory and the inspiration behind me wanting my own line on QVC. I really think I could sell Fat Kid Dance Party videos on QVC, don’t you?

Bra Strap Capital, as I understand it and kind of am making up, is the idea that I just get scrappy and make things work. It’s a kind of pounding the pavement method that these days usually involves a bit of crowd funding and however you can make money and put it back into the business.

Photo by Summer.

It is important for me to shout out that I have a bunch of investors already since I successfully funded my first workout video series! So if you bought a workout video I consider you an investor! (I’m in production and am very excited—we film April 26 or 27th!!)

To promote more pre-sales of the workout videos I’ve started a tour of Fat Kid Dance Party. Introducing it to new markets and making enough to cover travel and my time, and mostly only going places where I have loved ones to visit or markets that are ready for body positive dance aerobics. Portland was really good to me—I sold out my first class and nearly sold out the bonus class I added. Selling out my first tour date in Portland made me feel like Taylor Swift.

Dara told me to not worry about paying rent right now so I could hire a personal assistant a few hours a week to help me build the business. I’m still conference calling with Bridget and Jes all the time and am about to start having staff meetings.

Bridget, Jes and Dara put together the most gorgeous Pitch Deck to submit for feedback from that investment firm. I’m going to send it to some angel investors for funding another round of PR from my PR firm (which costs about $4,000 for a one month campaign and I’m hoping to hit the tipping point with bra strap capital to pay for more campaigns but until then I need investment to make it happen).

Since Fat Kid Dance Party is a company that creates containers for self care, I have to be hella mindful of my own self care. Start-up culture is the antithesis of self care. These days I’m really “in it” about my work—I am on my phone constantly moving pieces around. My to do lists have to do lists. Having people to delegate to only works if you do the work to tell them what you need them to do!

Last week I started feeling burnt out because of the start-up pace of my life. I’m so proud of myself for recognizing the signs I needed to take a break, focus on my immune system and work less so I could stay resilient to continue the bra strapping at a more sustainable pace. After taking two half days, I feel so much better and excited about working! I have so much gratitude for having a venture I am soooo passionate about. What a gift!

If you want to help me out, here are some great ways:

You can still reserve a copy of the workout videos and meditations through this link!

You can tell folks you know about Fat Kid Dance Party! Commenting on social media and sharing helps a lot! Instagram Facebook Twitter

If I’m touring to a city near you, please buy tickets right away for my tour stops since they help cover costs like air travel up front!

If you’re in LA please come to my classes at The Plus Bus! I keep 100% of ticket sales from those classes and it helps me pay my assistant to help me increase my capacity! If Wednesday nights don’t work for you I’ll also be teaching Saturdays around town when I’m in LA, so keep an eye on the Instagram for announcements.


Sign up for my email list! I am delivering some great self care content! During that 2.5 Power Hour we designed an amazing email flow!

Me and Jes Baker at the first of my tour stops, at the incredible Curves in Bloom in Seattle February 24th. Photo by Beth Olson.

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