Two Hamilton and Toronto-based artists share their excitement for fandom merchandise through stickers, pins and zines

Not all friendships are compatible for a business relationship. Many underestimate the pressure a business can put on a friendship and as a result, witness their lifelong bonds break. However, Bae and Boba co-owners Clover Thursday and Victoria Nguyen demonstrate that with proper communication and trust, a friendship can be the key to a successful business.  

Thursday and Nguyen are freelance artists from Hamilton and Toronto, respectively, who met during their thesis class at the Ontario College of Art and Design. Despite having polar opposite personalities, with Thursday being more extroverted and Nguyen more introverted, they became close friends and launched Bae and Boba together in 2018.

Bae and Boba is an Etsy shop where the duo design and sell zines as well as cute and whimsical characters – from mermaids to boba bear – on stickers and pins. The name Bae and Boba was inspired by Thursday’s love for drawing cute female characters and Nguyen’s love for bubble tea. They created the business to provide more spaces for people who like anime, kawaii culture and alternative culture. Through the business, they want to encourage people’s passion and enthusiasm for fandoms.

“During quarantine and isolation . . . it’s amazing how important it is to have something to look forward to. People are excited to get that really cute sticker or a really cute pin they liked . . . It’s really nice to be able to give that excitement to people,” said Thursday.

“During quarantine and isolation . . . it’s amazing how important it is to have something to look forward to. People are excited to get that really cute sticker or a really cute pin they liked . . . It’s really nice to be able to give that excitement to people,” said Thursday.

The duo says open communication, patience, collaboration and compromise are vital to their business. It was a learning curve to figure out what they each value as artists and how to compromise on artistic differences. They are still learning how to work better together and create harmony between their different drawing styles. While Nguyen is more detail-oriented, Thursday uses more expressive linework. 

During the ideation process, they constantly send each other rough drafts, ideas and feedback. This was especially important while working on the Kickstarter they created to crowdfund for their enamel pins. The Kickstarter launched in August and featured pins representing teas from around the world. In the same month, they also released their first zine together.

“[The Kickstarter project] was kind of a big testament to how we were able to compromise both of our aesthetics and styles and really figure out an even better way to work together,” said Thursday.

“[The Kickstarter project] was kind of a big testament to how we were able to compromise both of our aesthetics and styles and really figure out an even better way to work together,” said Thursday.

Thursday has previously released other zines on Bae and Boba, including Black Skin, White Masks which was published this summer and whose proceeds went toward organizations such as Black Lives Matter, Black Health Alliance and Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion. The illustrations are based on Franz Fanon’s book by the same name in which he discusses his experience with racism and anxiety as a Black man in 1960s France. 

“[Black Skin, White Masks was] a milestone that I hit as an artist using what I can do and using my talents to try and influence some sort of change,” explained Thursday. 

Nguyen shared the same sentiment about using art for social change. 

“We’ve always enjoyed making cute or beautiful things, but seeing the events happening around the world, we just thought we should use our skills to do some good because we all had such a visceral reaction to George Floyd, so it feels wrong to not do something right now,” said Nguyen.

Thursday and Nguyen were both amazed by the excitement and support from customers, friends, family and the artist community. Through the business, they were able to connect with people outside of Canada from the United Sates, France and Australia. 

This is just the beginning for the duo as they continue to use their work to bring excitement to people who stumble across their Etsy page or are looking for art with a meaning behind it.

Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.