MANTONE Official was created in 2017 by Emily Skublics, a graphic designer based in Toronto, Canada. Today, Common Mag and MANTONE are joining girl forces and offering you a unique opportunity to score one “Nasty Woman” tote bag! It’s our way of saying THANK YOU for reaching 500 followers on Instagram. Read how MANTONE was created and what’s coming up in the brand’s future (see the end for instructions on how to enter the giveaway).
Emily was always a crafty and creative person, coming up with ideas, leading projects—it’s part of her character. “It wasn’t until I opened Illustrator and felt as though this tool was an extension of my arm,” admitted the entrepreneur, identifying the moment her ideas truly found their outlet to becoming real-life creations of art.
It was the year of Rose Quartz and Serenity colours. Pantone had just come out with their 2016 Colours of the Year and Emily couldn’t help but find the names to be funny, especially the one for the year’s shade of pink. “When I look at it, I think of the stigma that men can’t wear that colour,” she said. “So I thought—why don’t we name colours after the literal things that they remind us of in the real world, the man’s world?”
Emily opened her first shop on Society6, containing designs that were far different from the current MANTONE product line. Selling 40 pieces seemed like a big win until the first “Fragile Masculinity” colour was added. Selling over a swooping 2,000 items since its launch in November 2017, MANTONE was officially on its way to becoming Emily’s main brand.
“I made a list of all the things that I could think of that were feminist issues,” reminisces Emily when asked about the inspiration behind each colour. She then looked at which ones actually had a colour that went with them: “masculinity so fragile the colour pink is an affront, a gender pay gap closing too slowly giving men more green than the rest, a man's blue denim-clad legs spreading wide on the morning commute.”
Not everyone gets it though. “Whenever I have an interaction with someone who really doesn't get it,” sullens Emily, “that’s when I feel like I should probably just shut it down.” While working at a digital marketing company where the majority of the employees were older white men, she really felt what it’s like to be surrounded by people who just didn’t get it.
“They saw the stickers on my laptop and kept asking what they were.” When Emily tried explaining the purpose of the designs, they wrote it off as some whining feminist content. “It was only when I told them how much money it made me, that they suddenly changed their tune and started joking about how they’d be happy to take it over from me and run it themselves.”
This experience proved how important it is to be able to catch what resonates with people to understand its dollar value—something the men of that office did not and could not understand until they were presented with the dollar value.
Today, Emily sells not only on Society6 (which allows her a 10% cut but takes care of all logistics), but also Shopify—an online commerce platform that allows anyone to set up a virtual shop and sell real-life products. While Society6 took care of production, orders, and shipping (as the artist provided the art alone) Emily never felt like she was running a real business.
“I guess I was a business person… on my taxes I sure was, but it’s hard to feel like it’s your business when you don’t do a lot,” she explained. Shopify allows her to maintain more control over the whole process (and as a result receive a bigger cut). “I have to do a lot more work to actually market it, run the website. I see every order and am involved in the process more.”
Having her products sell in both places allows Emily to feel more like an actual entrepreneur while keeping her schedule fairly open in order to continue her schooling and other projects.
When it comes to pieces of advice, Emily has two:
1. “Just start. Even if you think you can’t do it and you think you don’t have enough to go with. No one else will see the things that you don’t think aren’t perfect enough and you can fix them as you go. Once it’s ready to be launched—just launch it and you might not even feel like you need to fix them after that.”
2. “Try and find like-minded people to keep you going. You don’t have to surround yourself with them every single day. I’m a member at Make Lemonade—a Toronto co-working space* for women [*an environment to create, dream and get sh*t done], which was really helpful. Whenever I was thinking of dropping MANTONE, I would go to one of their mixers and began to feel better right after talking to everybody else.”
What’s next for MANTONE? Don’t snooze, Emily already has a couple of new collaboration proposals itching their way in, wanting to add MANTONE to their collection libraries. “I’m looking to see what would be the right partnership. But hopefully, you’ll start to see the product in some physical shops soon, even in the States!” Anyone ask for some suspense? Because we sure got some. And we’re so excited!
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