If you're here, you may already know who I am, but just in case... ;)
My name is Tamsyn, I am 28 years old and I am a fashion designer and small business owner with a rare disease called Mast Cell Activation Syndrome.
I am also a huge Buffy, Harry Potter, Bioshock, Gilmore Girls and RuPaul's Drag Race geek.. ya know, just to drop that in there ^_^.
VV is comprised of me and my mum Linda (you may know her by the affectionate term 'Mumma VV' ^_^). I design everything and make sunglasses and jewellery and Mumma VV, like the crochet wizard she is, brings my designs to life in crochet form.
VelvetVolcano first erupted in 2009 (you like my little pun there? ;) ) and I ran it solely up until 2014 when Mumma VV joined the team.
At VelvetVolcano we make...
'Spooky, sweet and sparkly accessories for gals and ghouls 'allergic' to the norm'
Our purpose with VelvetVolcano is to create jewellery, accessories and apparel that help you to stand out from the crowd and never be afraid of being your true self. Our worst nightmare is blending in.. you could say we are 'allergic' to it.... :) and on that note..
Mast Cell Activation Syndrome & Disability
You may never have heard of MCAS and you are totally forgiven. It has been gaining some exposure recently in the media, but it is a rare disease (or at least rarely diagnosed, especially in the UK) that in general is not known much about.
To simplify it, my body essentially attacks things it sees as a 'threat', in a generally healthy person mast cells react in this way towards legitimately threatening substances.. in someone with MCAS it could be absolutely anything and everything. My MCAS is so severe that it has caused me to become housebound and allergic to 'life'. I have 5 foods I can eat 'safely' (though this can change sometimes suddenly) without severe symptoms, I cannot bathe in or drink unfiltered water or breathe unpurified air (unless I wear an industrial respirator).
Me with my respirator mask (that I wear everywhere but my 'safe house') and me without it..
My skin can erupt in hives and rashes from exposure to sunlight. Almost all scents (even ones like the smell of coffee, food cooking etc) can cause me to experience debilitating symptoms including periodic paralysis (a very scary attack where my body becomes completely paralysed, I experience severe pain, dehydration, heart palpitations and tachycardia, migraines, trouble breathing, loss of vision etc) or anaphylaxis - the list of my allergies is extremely long and effects what I do, what I ingest, what I smell, what I wear etc.
It is very tough, exhausting and limiting and makes trying to run a business very difficult. But I am determined! (add a million exclamation points here)
My expenses for my specialist accommodations and keeping me as stable as possible are very high, as you will see in my 'goals' and this in combination with how my disease affects me quite drastically affects VelvetVolcano. Becoming a patron can not only help me health wise, but also help VelvetVolcano become the best it can be and you get lots of goodness in return!
(Here's some great infographics about MCAS from The Mastocytosis Society tmsforacure.org)
Being a small business owner with a chronic illness or disability is TOUGH and I want to help others in a similar position to me. WarriorBiz is an idea I came up with in late 2017 to help showcase and support creative business owners with an illness or disability. With your patronage I can dedicate more time to making WarriorBiz a reality and work on supporting other disabled artists. The first step is a dedicated twitter promotion hour, but I also want to work on a website with interviews, my tips on trying to achieve a health/business/creative expression balance, showcasing Warrior Businesses, WarriorBiz merch and lots more!
My plans for VelvetVolcano and WarriorBiz are many, I am hugely thankful that I never run out of ideas of things to create, but the barrier of MCAS is a huge one that limits what I can do on my own. With Patreon it can keep building, thanks to you!
As a patron, in my supporter-only feed you'll have access to behind the scenes VelvetVolcano & WarriorBiz goodness, a look into what my life is like battling MCAS and running a small business, a look into my sketchbooks and the ability to vote on future VV products and lots more (including tutorials and maybe even some videos of the cutest and most mischievous pup alive - Cali, my Jack Russell and videos of me doing my favourite thing - singing *when my throat allows me and doesn't start to close up :P *)
Much love and sparkles,