FOUNDER OF STAY HOME CLUB
Though I can't remember the exact path that led me to Olivia, I know it started with finding her illustrations online. My interest was immediately peaked and grew even more when I learned of her online shop, Stay Home Club. Being the type of creator who is both super talented and aware of her voice, Olivia's work has resulted in an amusing collection of illustrations and lifestyle pieces that will inspire you to look at the glass as full or as empty as you damn well want. Stay Home Club has carved out a corner of the internet that encourages appreciation for good art and design, clever commentary, and a space for people to comfortably explore in absolute solidarity. Can you feel your social anxieties subsiding? We caught up with her at her brand new studio in Montreal to talk more about what brought her to start the club that never actually meets.
Describe what brought you to what you're doing now.
Sure! I went to Concordia University here in Montreal for Fine Arts, but specifically for Fibres and Material Practices, which is sewing, weaving, and dyeing. When I started there, I started making these hand-stitched felt dolls, which I started selling in an Etsy shop and I was all, "I'm so successful! I'm selling three dolls a week!" but the dolls would take me like, six hours to make and I would sell them for $30. It was kind of cool because I would use them for class assignments and then take them home and sell them. From there it became really clear that I loved selling things online, but it was not viable to continue spending six hours at a time making a $30 handmade doll. So I started experimenting with screen printing and just kind of paired it down to objects that were more profitable. Then about three years ago, I was walking home one day and I started thinking about all of the people I knew online who were illustrators and artists and doing well on their own, and I started thinking about how I could use the connections I'd made online to get more eyes on my work, while giving money back to the artists I'd be working with, and that was when Stay Home Club started. Initially, it was a brand of pillow cases that were digitally printed with imagery created by all these people that I had made friends with online. I was licensing their work and at the time, I was giving them 10% and taking on all the costs of printing, etc. It started with five designs, and I made the logo (the illustration of the girl with cats around her), which has now become the brand itself. The pillows sold well, but we had all these issues as pillow case sizing is different all around the world. Eventually, people started asking if they could get the illustrations printed onto t-shirts, so we started making t-shirts and they sold like crazy. From there, I introduced more designs and then Stay Home Club evolved into a t-shirt brand. When it first started, I said it would never be a t-shirt brand because there are too many out there and nobody wants anymore t-shirts...but I was wrong. Everyone loves t-shirts and that is what we are now. We still licence work, and it has kind of transformed from us using other artists to build our customer base, to the opposite. I work with people who I think are awesome, and whose work is not as discovered as I think it should be.
That's awesome! When you talk about Stay Home Club being a club and there being a membership involved - what sort of a role does that play in the customer's
When I first started this there weren't really any brands that I was aware of that were making stuff for recluses and this kind of thing, but now it's everywhere on the internet. Every mainstream t-shirt brand is now doing t-shirts that say "Lazy" or "Let Me Sleep" but when I started there was not much of that, and I think it was certainly a revelation to me and probably to the customers, that there were so many people out there who felt the same way. That was three years ago I was twenty-four, and I was at the age where my friends were going out drinking, and I was not into that. It was a weird reaction to that, to make stuff for people who don't like doing that kind of thing. And I think as customers started realizing that there was this whole group of people on the internet following this brand, they kind of came together over it. Now it's obvious because it's trendy to be this way, but at the time it was a big deal for them to be like "this is a club"! And that's just what we are - a club that never meets, because we all hate going out and meeting new people and it's a nice feeling to know there are like minded people out there.