Forced to take time off, woman turns TV fandom into fab gear
BY DOUG LUNNEY, WINNIPEG SUN
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One couldn’t blame Brenda Giesbrecht if she let a series of health issues get her down, but instead it brought out her creative side.
Since the St. Jean Baptiste resident launched her home business Stellar Evolution Designs in January 2015, she’s learned sci-fi and horror fans love to flaunt their favourite shows on everything from handbags and pillows to key chains and gothic gotch.
“It’s kind of bizarre, but why not?” Giesbrecht, 34, said of her geeky crafts. “I make custom orders because people have weird requests. I’ve had requests for underwear.”
Giesbrecht will have a booth at the Winnipeg Pop Culture Expo, which goes Saturday and Sunday at the RBC Convention Centre.
A few years ago, Giesbrecht was forced to take time off as an equestrian coach at West Wind Stables in Oak Bluff when she badly broke her foot after falling off a ladder. She learned to knit during her six months of rehabilitation, which resulted in several items that she sold at craft shows.
During her recovery she also suffered blurred vision. She was diagnosed with optic neuritis, an inflammation of the optic nerve most often caused by multiple sclerosis.
Giesbrecht was eventually diagnosed with MS, but wasn’t ready to give up teaching horseback riding.
“I taught while I was still in my cast and I had an eye patch, so over Halloween I was a great pirate,” she said with a chuckle.
Giesbrecht eventually had to give up her equestrian coaching and tried an office job, doing sales and marketing, but again MS struck with bouts of double vision. At home on disability, she continued with her crafting.
“I became an aunt, so I got into quilting, then I started making bags and people started liking the bags,” she said.
Giesbrecht entertained herself with hours of Netflix and became a “super nerd” by watching shows such as Dr. Who, Firefly, Supernatural and Star Trek. She “morphed” her love for those shows with her crafting and produced several geeky and gory handbags, pillows and fabrics.
Stellar Evolution Designs (stellarevolutiondesigns.com) was born and Giesbrecht donates $1 from every item she sells to the MS Society. She displayed her products at the 2015 Comic and Toy Expo to test the waters.
“I was a little nervous, because geeks can be harsh on the fandom sometimes,” she said. “But no, they were super accepting and saying ‘Oh my God. I’ve never seen things like this before.’
“It was amazing.”
Giesbrecht particularly found a market with fans of shows such as Firefly, which weren’t around long enough to produce the kind of items its followers desired.
“I’ve made things they’ve only dreamed of like a plush gun, Vera, one of the guns of the characters,” she said. “I had a request from a customer who was having a baby boy and he was a big fan of the show, so that’s how one of my products came to be.”
She was also a vendor at the recent Horror Con, where she turned heads with products that varied from custom-made diaper bags and horror-themed washcloths to Doctor Who scarves and glow-in-the-dark Alien key chains.
“My husband (Chris Chatelain) started playing around with some 3D printing and it evolved into doing some key chains,” Giesbrecht said. “We launched the Alien head key chains at Horror Con and it went over really well.
“I did a lot of explaining, because people would turn them over and ask ‘Are you sure they weren’t made in China?’ I would tell them no, they were made in my garage.”