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Misfits & Money

I’ve always been somewhat of a misfit. Painfully shy as a child, insecure and angry as a teen, never quite finding my place in the world. It always seemed to me that the majority of society just goes along with the status quo, no matter what it may be, swimming in a sea of beige and boring afraid to go against the tide. I think that’s probably true for a lot of people, historically anyone who doesn’t conform to ‘the norm’ has been outcast and discriminated against. We only have to look at the harrowing tale of Sophie Lancaster to see the dangers that standing out can bring. But there are 2 sides to this fated coin – sure if you fit in with everybody else then in many ways your life could be easier, but on the other hand suppressing your true self can do untold damage to your mental health.

I definitely went through a phase where I tried to fit in more. I was in my early twenties, broke, and going nowhere. I thought that dressing in more ordinary clothes, taking out piercings, trying to like the same things as everybody else etc would help me get a better job and progress in a career. If I look the part and act the part then everything will fall into place, right?

Yeah, it doesn’t work like that! I was miserable, and it showed. I had lost all sense of who I was. I ended up having a mental breakdown. Obviously the breakdown had many contributing factors, but pretending to be someone I’m not played a huge part. The result of my breakdown was a decision to stop trying to find my place in the world and instead carve it out myself. I bought the clothes that I actually liked, dyed my hair green, got more piercings and tattoos, rediscovered my favourite music and eventually set up House Of Bats. I had found myself again.

Working for myself has been huge for me. I’ve discovered a confidence I never knew I could have, I have sold my designs all around the world, stocked in some of the biggest alternative retailers on the planet, been in newspapers and internet articles, given talks and workshops – all while staying true to who I am. But it’s not been plain sailing. The world still revolves around money, like it or not. Running a small business is difficult, and our economy is in a bad state so last year I took on a second job working as a care worker. I love that job, but not being my own boss is taking a bit of getting used to! There’s also the issue of, when running your own business, relying on third parties. When I first established House Of Bats I started out on Etsy, so was reliant on them to help me find customers and give me a selling platform. I then added my own website to the mix, and finally started selling on Amazon.

The goal was always to be able to close down my Etsy and Amazon platforms and solely sell on my website and wholesale to retailers. I just had to wait until I was earning enough money…which hasn’t happened. But I still shut down our Amazon store. Why? It all comes back to being a misfit. I signed up with Amazon in order to earn more money, knowing that their ethics do not align with my own, but going along with it anyway. It felt terrible. I’m not here to debate the ethics of Amazon, I don’t claim to know everything about them, but I certainly was not comfortable selling with them, and the obscene wealth that they have generated particularly through the global pandemic just sealed it for me. I don’t need to sell on Amazon to be part of the world, I can carve my own place. House Of Bats can still be found on Etsy, for now. The main problem with Etsy is that for all their talk of being unique and different, everything they promote has a very similar aesthetic. Everything is minimalist, pastel or floral. You might have noticed, but that’s not quite our look! It’s not really a place for the misfits.

So I will continue to work on House Of Bats, striving to stay true to my ethics, doing business my own way. And if you ever feel that there is no place for you in the world, pick up your chisel and make your own space.

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We’re Back! Musings, Moans and Motivation.

Well this has been an interesting few months! In March, in the middle of our huge sale, I left the studio not knowing that it would be the end of July before I returned. The plan was to focus on my side job (as a care worker) for a few weeks until this old pandemic business blew over, with my lovely friend and studio mate Sophie fulfilling your orders. So that’s what we did, except the weeks turned into months and I found myself honestly thinking that this was the end of House Of Bats.

In fact, it very nearly was. This pandemic has cost this small business hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds – wholesale orders stopped completely, sales dropping as we were unable to restock items or even to keep up with our social media posts and advertising. I’ll be honest, there were times I genuinely began drafting a ‘goodbye’ post. I just couldn’t see a way to keep the business going and frankly I had lost a lot of the drive I had. Working up to 70+ hours a week caring for the most vulnerable people, the thought of going back to designing and selling gothic jewellery seemed somewhat facile. This feeling grew, and soon putting on makeup seemed ridiculous, buying myself new clothes seemed pointless, and even having a relaxing bath with a nice bath bomb seemed an inexcusable waste of time. I mean, what was the point? People are suffering and I’m spending an hour soaking in the tub when I could just have a 5 minute shower and go back out there and help some more?

If you are familiar with House Of Bats you may recall our Abandoned Spaces collection, which is a series of glyphs/talismans designed around my experiences with depression. My depression is rooted in a strong sense of self-inadequacy. I am never good enough, never doing enough, everybody else is more worthy of love than me. These destructive thoughts were starting to take over again, but this time fueled by a genuine world crisis. Somewhere in amongst the long hours, the stress and the tears I lost myself for a while. The people I care for started to notice – asking ME if I was ok, if they could help ME! This snapped me right back – how could I care for others without first caring for myself? In the words of Ru Paul, “if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?”. I took those long baths, I bought myself new clothes, I started putting makeup on again, and slowly I was feeling more and more like me. I started longing to be back in my studio, back working on all the new products I had planned pre-lockdown. I realised that without this creative outlet I was a shadow of my former self, and my care work was suffering because of it.

So here I am. Happier and healthier, and ready to move this business forward one little step at a time. This pandemic is far from over, people are still getting sick and dying and my little wobble here is in no way meant to diminish that. My experiences are a world away from the pain and anguish that millions of families are suffering around the world. But maybe you’ve experienced similar feelings in this strange time, and maybe knowing that you’re not alone will help.

Look after yourselves folks, I truly truly mean that.

Oh, and wear a damn mask.

Love,

Anna Bat x

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New Studio!

We’re just a few weeks into 2020 but already so much has changed for us, the biggest thing being that we finally have our own studio! No longer are we working out of our home, now we have our own studio in an old mill building in Leeds and it’s wonderful. Being self-employed is stressful and it honestly takes over your life, you can never truly switch off and relax. This is amplified when you are literally working from your home – I can’t count the number of times I told myself I was finished working for the day, only to keep glancing at my desk from the corner of my eye and 10 minutes later finding myself sat there doing ‘just one more task’.

House Of Bats Studio
Our studio – it’s not glamorous but it is ours!

Moving House Of Bats into the studio has meant that now when I am home I am truly at home – there is no desk there, no supplies…if I decide to do ‘just one more task’ it means hopping in my car and driving 20 minutes and honestly at the end of a hard days work that’s the last thing I want to do! Now you might think that not having everything to hand would make me less productive, but frankly the reverse has happened. The distractions of my sofa, of the household chores to be done, are all gone. Plus, I’m no longer on my own – I share the studio with 2 fellow small businesses. Honestly I am an introvert, but even I was finding myself feeling increasingly lonely working alone at home. Here at the studio myself, Sophie of Silly Loaf and Amy of Red Paper House are able to support each other through the tough times and celebrate the successes of our respective businesses. Though our styles are rather different, we all experience the same struggles and having the support of my friends has encouraged me to forge ahead with my plans for the business at a far faster rate than I would have done on my own.

So far, just a few weeks into being in the studio, I have designed 2 new collections (early stages folks, don’t get too excited yet!), designed and released a range of greetings cards via Thortful and revamped my wholesale catalogue – all while keeping on top of orders, social media, admin etc. Not bad going, if I do say so myself!

Has the new year brought big changes for you?

Let me know in the comments,

Love,

Anna Bat x

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New Year, New Collection!

Happy new year bats! It’s the start of a new decade, and while others are looking to the future we are busy being inspired by the past with the launch of our Memento Mori collection.

The Memento Mori Collection
The Memento Mori Collection – modelled by Zoe Melissa Mae, photography by Black Star Photography

We’ve been working on this collection for the longest time, visiting cemeteries, attending lectures about victorian mourning culture and binge watching the Ask A Mortician series on YouTube (highly recommend you check it out!). The result is a collection we are really proud of, featuring tombstones, skeleton keys, a cemetery silhouette scene, cemetery gates, a memento mori plaque and – FINALLY – skulls!

Yes, after all this time House Of Bats finally has skulls! Honestly, the lack of skull products has been somewhat of a source of shame for us so we are thrilled to finally add such a gothic staple to our catalogue.

As always, we used 100% recycled acrylic, all our products are designed and made here in the UK, everything is vegan friendly and 10% of all profits go to The Sophie Lancaster Foundation. Plus, don’t forget that you can get 25% off your first order (including this latest collection) when you sign up to our mailing list!

Thank you all for all your support in 2019, keep following us on social media because we have so many plans for 2020 and would love to have you along for the ride x

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Introducing The Bathory Collection!

Vampire Teeth Blood Drop Necklace

We’re delighted to present to you our long overdue latest product drop – The Bathory Collection. A range of jewellery designs themed around classic vampiric imagery, inspired by the cult classic vampire flicks of the 80s, 90s and early 2000s.

Vampire Teeth Blood Drop Necklace
Vampire Teeth Blood Drop Necklace, with Blood Drop Earrings

The Bathory Collection is named after Countess Elizabeth Bathory, a Hungarian noblewoman from the 14th and 15th centuries who was reputably a sadistic serial killer who bathed in the blood of her victims to retain her youth. Kind of like a vampiric spa treatment, if you will. She was even nicknamed ‘Countess Dracula’.

The truth about the Countess is likely to be less salacious than the gossip, but the story is compelling all the same. Vampires hold such a special place in folklore around the world, a perpetual legend that speaks to the dark heart of us all.

Cross Blood Drop Necklace
Cross Blood Drop Necklace and matching earrings

We’ve been working on this collection for the longest time, and are thrilled to be able to finally showcase our hard work. We hope you love the pieces as much as we do – let us know what you think!

You can check out the new collection here, or see our entire product range here.

Anna Bat x

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London Edge

This September is London Edge, an iconic trade show for alternative fashion and lifestyle that’s held twice a year – and this time we’re attending!

Click the image to register to visit

We’re really excited to be exhibiting at such a fantastic event, showcasing our product ranges to wholesale buyers and social influencers. We’ve sold to wholesale clients for a number of years, but never actually exhibited at a trade show before so it’s more than a little daunting! We reckon we’re ready for the challenge though, and are really looking forward to meeting others in this industry.

If you’re going to London Edge drop us a message! It would be lovely to have some friendly faces to see while we’re there.

You can find details about the trade show at www.londonedge.com

See you there!

Anna Bat x

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50% Off Everything In Store!

We don’t hold sales all that often, but when we do we go big! There’s currently 50% off absolutely everything, but like all good things it does have to end. The sale will end at midnight on Sunday 30th June (British time) so be sure to grab yourself a bargain before then! Don’t worry if you do miss out, there’s still a 25% discount code to be had when you subscribe to our mailing list, plus free UK shipping when you spend £30.

Meanwhile, we’re busy working on A LOT of new designs, so make sure to follow us on social media for the latest news!

Anna Bat x