Celebrating 5 Years of Her Universe, Fangirls, and Fandom

Ashley_Ahsoka_transparent_BGOn June 22, 2015, Her Universe will be celebrating its 5 year anniversary as the leading clothing line for female sci-fi and comic book fans.

Over the years, Her Universe has grown tremendously. What started out as a clothing line and a community for female Star Wars fans grew to feature items from Star Trek, Doctor WhoMarvel, and The Walking Dead. Her Universe has made a name for itself because it is much more than a clothing line, it’s an inclusive community where female fans can connect to one another. Her Universe values diversity and originality in the young women who follow and purchase items from the company, and encourages them to “be their world, dream their world, and flaunt their world.”

In 2010, Ashley Eckstien, the voice of Ahsoka Tano and the founder of Her Universe, reached out to female fans on her newly launched Her Universe website with a post called “Let the Revolution Begin,”

“If you could make the sci-fi world a little more female friendly, what would you change? What would you like to see happen?”

Fans responded immediately with their ideas. They asked for clothes for their preschoolers and toddlers. Now, Her Universe has clothes for all ages. Fans said they’d love to see Star Wars feature more female characters. Ahsoka, Sabine and Hera have taken Rebels by storm, and Rey is just waiting to make her big screen debut in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

On that “Let the Revolution Begin” post, I left a comment, along with about 50 other women. I concluded with:

Her Universe is the start of a revolution, and all the fangirls are ready to help lead the charge!

“So, what’s the plan?” –Ahsoka Tano

Although it’s a comment that seems a bit cheesy to me now, the young women who followed Her Universe from its launch five years ago did lead the charge. They were prepared to do so because they were tired of not having options. Fangirls couldn’t find geeky clothes that suited them. All the Star Wars shirts that were available at the time were men’s shirts—boxy, baggy clothes that never fit a woman’s body quite like they wanted it to.

Fangirls helped to lead the charge because they had a story to tell–stories of being ridiculed for being “geeky,” stories of being tired of wearing baggy clothes, stories of being tired of female heroes being sexualized in movies and on TV.

Everyones story of how they found Her Universe is different, but mine started on May 22, 2010.

It was a Saturday, and one that seemed like an other ordinary Saturday. Except that that morning, I woke up at 4 in the morning. I had a mission: I was going to Star Wars Weekends. When I got up, I brushed my hair, threw a braid atop my head Jaina Solo style, threw on a makeshift modern Jedi outfit (complete with a purple lightsaber) and ran out the door to catch a ride to Hollywood Studios, where I planned to wait in line for a ticket to meet Jeremy Bulloch, Daniel Logan, Dee Bradley Baker, and the voice of the Star Wars character who took the galaxy by storm, Ashley Eckstein.

SWW, 2010

SWW, 2010

I was 14 at the time and going through a difficult transition. I was struggling to fit in with friends (most considered Star Wars too geeky or “just a boy’s thing”), and, like most middle school girls, I was uncomfortable in my own skin.

I had the chance to talk to Ashley for a few minutes, and she asked me if I had heard of Her Universe, her new clothing line for female sci-fi fans. I hadn’t, so she wrote the web address on the back of my SWW autograph for me to look up later.IMG_8009

I remember walking away from meeting Ashley Eckstein for the first time feeling encouraged. The promise of a clothing line just for female fans gave me hope that there were more women out there who were just as interested in Star Wars as I was. After meeting Ashley and hearing her talk about a website where fangirls could discuss their interests and connect with one another, I knew that I was no longer alone.

When the full Her Universe website launched later that summer, I talked with other fans on Ashley’s discussion posts about going back to school with confidence, Clone Wars, and about letting the fangirl revolution begin. After finding Her Universe, I’d taken my first step into a larger world.

Now, five years later, what started as a small group of women interested in buying shirts from Her Universe has grown tremendously. Her Universe has over 47,000 “likes” on Facebook, has expanded to include merchandise from The Walking Dead and Marvel, and the brand continues to grow every day.

As I sit here five years later, I can’t help but feel incredibly humbled and honored to witness just how much Her Universe has grown. Her Universe has provided fangirls more than just an opportunity to not just buy geek-chic merchandise—it has provided fangirls the opportunity to  shine:

Her Universe started  the Year of the Fangirl campaign in 2013 and continues to feature a unique fangirl everyday. The Her Universe photoshoot at Celebration VI welcomed fangirls of all ages and asked them to model their personal Her Universe style, and, most recently, the Her Universe fashion show at Celebration Anaheim gave fangirls the opportunity to show off the latest collection from Her Univierse.

5 Year of Her Universe means more than just accumulating 5 years of amazing clothes and jewelry, it means 5 years of being a part of a community much larger than fangirls ever imagined existed.

Through Her Universe, I’ve connected with some incredibly talented and amazing young women who are truly go-getters.

HU Fangirl Friends at SWW 2014

SWW 2014

564735_493622683998553_1336550094_nI’ve always believed that Star Wars is more than just a fandom–it’s a family. Since I’ve joined the Her Universe community, my belief in that family couldn’t be stronger.

I’ve seen these young women host their own podcasts, create amazing fashion pieces (see Kim, at right!), make remarkable cosplays, start their own businesses, and even get engaged (hint: be sure to watch the end of the video above!).

Women like myself who were once teased for liking Star Wars and sci-fi found an outlet in Her Universe. Through Her Universe and the fangirl community, other fangirls have been able to show off their creations, express their ideas, and get feedback from other fangirls online–an environment where many fangirls now feel a lot safer to openly voice their opinions and express their views on Star Wars and other fandoms.

Courtesy of Johnamarie Macias

Courtesy of Johnamarie Macias of TheWookieeGunner.com

Her Universe has encouraged women not just to “dream it,” but to “be it,” and reminds them to be themselves and to be passionate about what they’re interested in.

 When the “revolution” began, Ashley reached out to HerUniverse.com‘s first visitors:

Her Universe is more than just a merchandise line to me. I came up with the name Her Universe because I wanted it to become a community for female fans, a Universe just for, Her

…Well, we are not going to change the misperception that sci-fi is just for the boys overnight. First of all, we are power in numbers. United we stand, divided we fall. If we all come together, our voice will be so powerful. For what? Better merchandise. This merchandise is just the beginning. I have a LONG list of cool things I would love to make, but we have to prove that girls will buy sci-fi merchandise. If we can prove that, then we will be able to make so much more!

Ashley was right. No, we didn’t change the misperception that “sci-fi is just for boys” overnight. In fact, we still haven’t completely changed that misperception. However, in a mere 5 years, we’ve challenged it.

Her Universe grew through word of mouth and through Ashley and the Her Universe team’s handwork. From day one, Ashley was adamant  that she wanted the items to be quality,  and even helped to bedazzle hats. “I  wouldn’t buy it — I’m not going to sell it,” Ashley said in an interview in 2010.

Fans of Ahsoka, Ashley, and Her Universe were able to pass on the new line by word of mouth when other women asked them where they got their “girly Star Wars shirts”

In 5 years time, fangirls have proved that there is, indeed, strength in numbers. The fangirl community has made people who have doubted the female fans’ place in the sci-fi community recognize that it isn’t just a “boy’s world.” It never has been, and it never will be. They have fought their own individual battles with people who have doubted their place in the sci-fi and comic book community, and proved that Star Wars “isn’t just a boy’s thing.” This has had an impact on the fandom as a whole.

Female fans still have a long ways to go, but if fans continue to ask what Ashley asked from day one, “What would you like to see happen?” and set out to make those things happen, then fangirls can know that they’re doing all that they can to not just dream of a world where women are accepted for their interests in sci-fi and superheroes, but that they’re being the change that they want to see in the sci-fi community.

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to spend time with some of the same young women I connected with through Her Universe five years ago.

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Spending time with these young women was a reminder of just how large of a role Her Universe, Ashley Eckstein, and Ahsoka Tano has played in not only my life, but the lives of thousands of other young women around the world.

On June 22nd, 2015, Her Universe will celebrate its 5th anniversary by giving back to its fans and supporters. The first 300 people to order from HerUniverse.com on June 22 will receive an envelop with an autographed gift card with values from $5 to $500. (Only one lucky fan will get $500!) Ashley Eckstein will also be live streaming from the Her Universe offices where she will host a Q&A and get a sneak peek at upcoming designs. The best part? Her Universe will be re-releasing three of their original and most popular Star Wars designs that were launched years ago.

As Her Universe continues to expand and will continue to grow in the years to come, more and more young women will have the opportunity to grow up with the ability to buy geek-chic clothing that fits their body type and compliments their girly-but-geeky personality—a luxury that five years ago female fans could only wish for.


New Her Universe Collection to Debut at Celebration Anaheim


Ashley Eckstein gave fans a sneak peak of the latest Her Universe collection via Facebook on Thursday. The collection will feature delicate pieces like an airy Cloud City dress, a Battle of Hoth pin up dress, and a Star Wars Heart Bad Guys dress for women who are fans of the characters they love to hate.

The collection also adds more clothing for younger girls, like a Sabine Costume Tunic and the Star Wars Heart Good Guys dress, and also introduces first purse from Her Universe, an Ewok crochet purse that’s just the right size for the next intergalactic outing.


A more colorful piece from this collection is the Salacious Crumb’s tee–a shirt available in both women and girl’s sizes. Stop by Salacious Crumb’s Bake Shop at the Her Universe booth (#934) at Celebration Anaheim to pick up this shirt and also grab a yummy Star Wars-themed cupcake to enjoy!

View the press release featuring all of the designs here to take a look at what’s in store for Her Universe fans!

My Wait for the The Force Awakens Teaser (In GIFs)

Shortly before it was announced that the The Force Awakens trailer would be released online Friday through iTunes Trailers, I had decided that I would make the trek to one of the theaters that would be playing the teaser to watch the new Star Wars footage on the big screen.

When I heard the news that the teaser would be released online the same day, I decided to stick to my original plan to see the trailer in theaters. However, I “altered the deal” and decided that I would see it in theaters for the first time, which meant I wanted to avoid spoilers and wait  several hours just to view the trailer in all of its geeky glory at the theater.

The wait was torture.

Midnight EST A group of Star Wars fans make a Skype chat to stay “#UpAllNightToWatchStarWars.” I join despite the fact that I have to leave at 6 in the morning to catch a flight….because Star Wars.  I figure joining the chat couldn’t hurt since I could talk to other fans as they talk about what they want to see in the teaser.


5:50 a.m. EST I wake up and check my phone to see if the trailer had been posted yet. The night before, it was rumored that it would be online around 3 a.m. EST, so I expected to jump on social media and see screenshots, teaser gossip, and fangirling from both male and female fans….


….instead I wake up to find a swarm of sleep deprived fans still waiting up and clinging to the hope that it’ll be up “within the next 30 minutes” because “a reliable source said so.”giphy

I see a lot of this:



Mostly this:


And also a lot of these:


7 a.m. EST Still no trailer. However, I convinced myself that I had built up the resolve to resist the temptation to watch the teaser if and when it’s posted. Bring it on, internet. tumblr_mrp2p1fXgT1swaftvo1_500

Between 10 and 10:30 EST  The trailer has been posted. I find a Chick-fil-A in the airport to distract myself…I eat too many waffle fries while texting my friends to avoid scrolling through “spoilers” on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.


11:00 a.m. EST I’m in pain. Must. Watch. Star Wars. I remember that I brought this upon myself as I scroll through peoples’ happy Tweets… The internet (left), me (right).


1:00 p.m. EST Social media is really blowing up right now. Facebook is filled with images. I’m getting tagged in Tweets despite the fact that I’d posted I was waiting to see the trailer that night. Friends are texting me about the trailer. I just really want to watch this thing and spazz out in the middle of the airport like any good Star Wars fan would do.

I resist the temptation.


3:00 p.m. EST Now,  I’m in route to the theatre, I go over everything that could possibly appear in the teaser based off of fan speculation, fact, and pure wishful thinking.

tumblr_lw0kwpsDBC1qj0robo1_500 4:05 EST With the Star Wars teaser scheduled to play last, each trailer that played made me more and more anxious to see The Force Awakens footage.


4:15 p.m. EST Cue the footage, the familiar Star Wars score, and the fangirling. No words could can describe the emotion I felt as the trailer played before me. Therefore, no single GIF can express how I felt during the trailer, but these come pretty close:




 – – – – –

Watch the trailer for yourself below!

Is there a GIF floating around the interwebs that best describes your reaction to our first official preview of The Force Awakens?





Demure Dress-up: A Few Words on Modest Cosplay

This article was written and submitted by Lydia Mondy

"Is that really a racy Wookiee costume?"

“Is that really a racy Wookiee costume?”

I’m a ‘live and let live’ sort. When I make the trek to fan conventions or other geek-centric events, I expect to be inundated with the usual ‘flesh-a-thon’ common at any gathering. Don’t confuse this with complaining or ‘shaming’. If someone wants to wear a revealing costume, by all means, more power to them.

I’m only speaking to what I personally prefer to wear. Frankly, I’m in awe of the dedication and creativity many of these costumes display. And the fact is, from teenagers to forty-somethings, women in any city or suburb in America sport clothing just as racy in line at the grocery store. To be honest, I’m no stranger to a high hemline myself. It’s just that,…sometimes I find the near-nudity at family-friendly events to be slightly distasteful. Lessons in human anatomy are still a few year off for these tykes.

I’m only speaking to what I personally prefer to wear. Frankly, I’m in awe of the dedication and creativity many of these scant costumes display. And the fact is, from teenagers to forty-somethings, women in any city or suburb in America sport clothing just as racy in line at the grocery store. To be honest, I’m no stranger to a high hemline myself. It’s just that,…sometimes I find the near-nudity at family-friendly events to be slightly distasteful. Lessons in human anatomy are still a few year off for these tykes.

My feelings on cosplay varies drastically compared to say, Halloween, where I don’t hesitate to lampoon costume choices like, ‘naughty firefighter’ or ‘Sexy Etch-a-Sketch’ (yes, this exists). But enough digital ink has been spilled talking smack on these sorts of goofy get-ups. No need for another naysayer.

I heard an analogy once that if you wear a White Sox jersey to a Cubs game, you would expect to be the recipient of some heckling. It’s just a fact, folks. Similarly, if you waltz in the door wearing nothing but body paint, obviously you should be prepared for…a little extra attention.

On the same note, people frequently attempt to draw a direct cause-and-effect relationship between donning a skimpy outfit and sexual harassment or aggressive behavior. This is ridiculous. If you don’t know how to show respect for other humans or understand personal boundaries, you’ve got a big problem. Much bigger than simply struggling to avoid ogling someone’s trussed-up cleavage.

As far as my own costumes go, I tend to err on the low-key side. I’d rather come dressed as ‘Endor Moon Leia’ than ‘Jabba’s Palace Leia’, y’know? Come to think of it, scratch that – about once a year I find myself dressing up for some sort of Star Wars party – and I always go as Han Solo.

Any character or persona can be turned into a ‘tarted-up’ version. Particularly when it comes to comic book characters, the vast majority were just …drawn that way (depending on the artist, era and storyline, of course). If you’re a fellow member of the modesty train, there are still tons of cool ideas out there. Let’s take a look at a few fully-clothed favorites:



Carmen San Diego

"Where in the World" did she get that awesome jacket?

“Where in the World” did she get that awesome jacket?

Mrs. Frizzle – The Magic School Bus

From the book, ‘Journey to the Concrete Corner’.

From the book, ‘Journey to the Concrete Corner’.

Princess Toadstool


Harley Quinn


Sure, it’s super-tight – but also super-cute.

Endor Leia

Awww. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: little kids should just be Ewoks. In real life.

Awww. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: little kids should just be Ewoks. In real life.


Rockford Peach – A League of Their Own

“We are the members of The All-American Team…”

“We are the members of The All-American Team…”

Starbuck – Battlestar Galactica

The cigar is optional; being a bad-ass is a requirement.

The cigar is optional; being a bad-ass is a requirement.

Powerpuff Girls

Totally adorable. Totally homemade.

Totally adorable. Totally homemade.

Katara – The Last Airbender

katara cosplay 5


When attempting to cosplay modestly, if all else fails, there’s always a variety  of Disney gals or dressing as a traditionally male character. They’re far less likely to be depicted in underpants, as it turns out. Most importantly, cosplay is about having fun and being comfortable (though this means different things to different people).

But enough about me…what are your favorite costumes? Leave a comment below!

This article is an opinion piece and solely represents the views of the contributor.

Featured Fangirl: Dani


While some fangirls write fanfiction to express their love of certain characters, others write song lyrics.

Dani, who goes by starwarspunk on her YouTube channel, enjoys writing songs about characters in the Star Wars universe.

“I was so in awe when I heard the song parody, “The Saga Begins” by Weird Al Yankovic. The way he so effortlessly told the entire story of The Phantom Menace in a catchy, memorable and non-awkward manner was the coolest thing I had ever heard.” She says that she was inspired to write her own Star Wars parodies so that she could sing about Star Wars while listening to the radio.

Every Star Wars fan you meet has their own story explaining a situation that made them a fan—albeit the first time they saw one of the films as a kid or a memorable scene. “I had my first experience with Star Wars in summer of 1999,” says fangirl Dani “Although I really enjoyed A New Hope, the moment Chewbacca and Lando departed on the Millennium Falcon to rescue Han Solo from Jabba’s palace, I knew I was completely hooked. I couldn’t get the ROTJ VHS tape in the VCR fast enough! The dialog, the characters, the music, the story, and essentially everything about the trilogy to me was perfect.”

Dani explains that she was fortunate to catch The Phantom Menace right as it was about to exit the theaters, but felt sad after seeing the film since she knew that she would have to wait three years before seeing the next installment in the saga. “I began checking out EU books from the library, learning how to play the songs from the soundtrack, buying action figures in hopes of re-creating Jabba’s palace, debating with people on Star Wars message boards and that’s when I realized I had taken my first step into a much larger world: the world of being a dedicated Star Wars fan!”

Dani is musically inclined, and says that she is more comfortable expressing herself through her music and song lyrics then by writing,  painting, or cosplaying.  “In 2011, I finally got the courage to publicly post an original Star Wars song called, “What I Used to Be.” My purpose for writing this song was to share the emotions and thoughts I believed [Darth Revan] had although never explicitly stated on the screen or in a book. “

The Revan storyline was one that made an impact on Dani, and it’s one of her favorites. “Since I generally try to keep my characters aligned to light side, this was a complete shock much like Revan would have felt. When writing this specific song, I imagined the horror I (as Revan) felt upon the realization that my identity and memories were from a fictitious life and in fact, I once embraced the evil I was trying to defeat.”

Listen to “What I Used to Be” below:

“In a way, my songs are musical fan fiction, says Dani, “my lyrics tell the story and the melody sets my intended mood. The feedback I have received has been so encouraging and I am so excited to continue writing even more Star Wars songs in the future.

Her song “Give Up,” underlines the Jedi rule of no attachment while highlighting the growing fondness between Obi-Wan and Siri.

“In a way, the Jedi unintentionally encouraged forming attachments by maintaining the tradition of a master and apprentice relationship,” explains Dani. “In addition, the practice of identifying Force sensitives at an early age and removing them from their families also forced the Jedi to become the only family these potential Jedi candidates would ever depend on or know. While it was initially believed that all attachment could lead to the dark side, in the later years this belief is discarded, only proving that it perhaps it is possible for a Jedi to allow themselves to experience love and not turn to the dark side…unless your name is Anakin.”

Listen to “Give Up” below:

“Although Siri and Obi-Wan gave up the hope of a relationship out of respect to the Council, their feelings for each other never truly disappeared,” she explained. “At least, I like to think they never did.”

“Ahsoka’s Song,” is one of her newer songs. The lyrics “Eager to point out my flaws, but your pride will come first before the fall,” seem to point towards the judgmental nature of the Jedi council.

Listen to “Ahsoka’s Song,” below:

Dani  enjoyed watching Ahsoka’s growth throughout the series, and says that she became one of her favorite characters.

1758756“I was very disgusted with the Council’s dismissal towards her despite the loyalty and dedication she demonstrated throughout the entire Clone Wars. When Mace Windu attempted to justify the Council’s decisions by playing it off as if Ahsoka was simply going through a Jedi trial, it was evident that he was too proud to ever admit he had been wrong. In ROTS, Yoda and Mace Windu have a conversation about arrogance among the Jedi, yet they failed to recognize that they themselves also suffer from the flaws they find in others which eventually leads to their downfall. “What knowledge? There’s just ignorance” was a line I included to point out the hypocrisy within the most common form of the Jedi Code where it states, “There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.”

Dani said that when she’s writing songs, she tends to  focus on the emotions that she personally feel towards the situations as if she was the one experiencing them while still being in line with the character’s behavior. “In order to do this, I research the character’s traits in their respective media appearances and also on Wookieepedia. For this particular song, I hope I was able to convey Ahsoka’s sadness with the betrayal she felt from the Council while also being determined and brave enough to begin a new life alone.”

Dani regularly writes new songs and uploads them to her YouTube channel starwarspunk. Be sure to check out her work and follow her channel for more of her “musical fan fiction!”