Kawaii Shark Ita Bag and New Enamel Pins May 27, 2019 10:30

From Jess: 

My husband Chris and I have been itching to get into the enamel pin game for years. Before he met me, Chris had an enamel pin produced of Ogo, the main character from his webcomic "Kiskaloo" (around 2009 or 2010?); then, in 2012, we had four different pins made based on some of Chris's cute pin-up drawings. We didn't really know the first thing about pins, though, and we weren't super stoked with the results, so we've never sold any of those.

In 2017, we decided to finally try again with our Chibi Rescue Sirens pins: five adorable, extra-cartoony pins of each Rescue Siren, along with the series emblem.

By late 2018, I wanted to get more involved and level up our pin game. I teamed up with Kellee Riley, one of our wonderful "Rescue Sirens" artists and a great friend, and I learned all about the ins and outs of enamel pin design and production. (If you want amazing mermaid pins, they really don't get better than Kellee's, available in her Etsy shop.) Once I was semi-capable of adapting artwork into pins myself, I was off to the races! I've been cranking out new pin designs ever since, which we'll be debuting this July at San Diego Comic-Con.

First up, though, is this gorgeous 2" Nim pin, which Kellee adapted flawlessly from her own artwork and I had produced: 

Rescue Siren Nim mermaid enamel pin by Kellee Riley

Isn't it stunning? I can't stop staring at it!

The really awesome part: Kellee currently has a limited number of Nim pins for sale in her Etsy shop, so you can buy one RIGHT NOW! Please go throw money at her if you can; I'm so grateful to Kellee for being my "pin pal," and she deserves all the success in the world. (Not only because she's a wonderful person, but also because that means she can keep making pins! Mwahaha! I need my KelleeArt fix.)

In addition to our Nim pin, I'm crossing my fingers that I'll have a Kelby pin finished and in-hand by SDCC, too. I've adapted Kellee's artwork for Kelby and the rest of the Sirens, and I'm currently deciding on the best pin manufacturing home for them that's capable of faithfully producing each design (glitter, screenprinting, and all).

In the meantime, though, I have a sneak peek (read: factory photos) of two sets of pins that any ocean enthusiast or mermaid fan will want, whether that's to fill empty spaces in their pin boards or simply to add a little flair to a jacket lapel or hat (or whatever else you feel comfortable poking holes in, really).

Tiny seashell filler pins
Tiny seashell filler pins

These itty-bitty 0.5" filler pins are inspired by the cute seashells and coral you can find on the beach in one of my favorite video games, "Animal Crossing." I love shell-shaped filler pins and use them all the time in my pin layouts, so I wanted to make my own set (including more than just your traditional scallops). This is the result!

But that's not my biggest pin-related news this month.

Have you heard of ita bags? An ita bag (which can take the form of a purse, a backpack, or a convertible combination of the two) has a main compartment for holding your items (phone, wallet, etc.) as well as a secondary compartment, which features a clear vinyl window. Within this compartment, you can display enamel pins, embroidered patches, pinback buttons, photographs -- whatever your heart desires!

Ita bags have their origins in Japan, and they're quickly gaining popularity across the world. There are a lot of really appealing ita bag designs out there (and I own several!), but the type of bag that I wanted most didn't exist, so... I made it.

Meet the Kawaii Shark ita bag, by Rescue Sirens.

I'm so proud of it! I designed it from scratch, and it's everything I'd hoped for in an ita bag. What you see here is the first sample bag that I received from my manufacturer, with a revised sample waiting to be photographed (I added an interior label and altered the tooth position a tiny -- and I mean tiny -- bit). The front of the bag (the display compartment) is about 12" tall by 10.5" wide at its base, and the shorter main storage compartment behind that is about 4" deep, giving you plenty of room for both your pins and your daily essentials.

How do you display your pins, you ask? While Kawaii Shark comes with a removable pink satin "pillow" to stick your pins to...

Kawaii Shark ita bag by "Rescue Sirens: Mermaids On Duty"
Kawaii Shark ita bag by "Rescue Sirens: Mermaids On Duty"

...I highly suggest using the pillow as a cutting guide and creating your own ita bag inserts using stiff felt. That's what I've been doing, and it works like a charm! I'll probably write a blog post next month demonstrating that and recommending my favorite felt, and showing off some of my favorite pin layouts displayed inside the bag.

Once I nail down overall costs and decide on a retail price, my plan is to open up pre-sales in the "Rescue Sirens" Etsy shop. Pre-sales will be offered at a discount in thanks for being awesome and ordering early, and that will pay for the cost of mass production. Once the bags are produced and shipped here, I'll send them out to people who pre-ordered them, and then I'll sell the rest of them at the standard price. I expect the entire process to take about two months from the time mass production begins, assuming everything goes swimmingly.

Sharks are such a passion of mine, and shark conservation is a big part of "Rescue Sirens," so I thought this would be the perfect bag to display Rescue Siren pins, Kellee Riley's mermaid pins, ocean-related pins, or anything else you can dream up. (I just made a "Jurassic Park" pin layout a couple of nights ago!) I can't wait to share this with all of you, and see what you come up with to display in your ita bag!

If you're not doing so already, please follow us on Instagram for updates, and/or sign up for our mailing list to learn when our ita bag pre-sales go live (and for more information on when our pins are available).

"Rescue Sirens" x Planet Love Life January 23, 2019 08:26

From Jess: 

Happy New Year! I hope your 2019 is off to a mer-velous start. Here at "Rescue Sirens" HQ, we're kicking off this year with a project that I'm really thrilled to announce: a collaboration with our friends Rob and Melody Webster over at Planet Love Life!

What's Planet Love Life all about?

From their website:

"Planet Love Life is making waves to save lives: Ghost nets are the silent killers of the Ocean. Fishing nets & ropes entangle & kill over 100,000 marine animals every year. We have created bracelets from salvaged fishing nets. Each bracelet represents one of the 300+ marine animal species that are affected by fishing gear lost at sea. Buy a bracelet - save a life!"

Both Chris and I have purchased multiple ghost net bracelets from Planet Love Life, to wear ourselves as well as to give as gifts to our fellow ocean lovers (we've even featured them in a past Mer-May giveaway), and now I'm proud to offer our own series of salvaged ghost net bracelets inspired by the lifeguard mermaids of "Rescue Sirens"!

Salvaged ghost net bracelets made by Planet Love Life, inspired by the lifeguard mermaids of "Rescue Sirens"

Crafted with care by Planet Love Life, the bracelets are available in six different colors and varying widths/textures to please the most discerning mermaid or merman:

1. "Rescue Sirens" Red & White (two thin ropes, single knot)
2. Nim Aqua Seafoam (single thick rope)
3. Kelby Coral Pink (single thick, wavy rope)
4. Echo Navy Blue (single thin rope, three knots)
5. Pippa Purple (single thick, wavy rope)
6. Maris Marigold (single thick, wavy rope)

Each bracelet is adjustable using a lobster clasp from about 6"-7.5" and includes a custom etched "Rescue Sirens" charm (photos forthcoming). While a ghost net's durability poses incredible risks to animal life out in the ocean, here on land it means that your bracelet is waterproof, and resistant to corrosion from both fresh and salt water. Talk about turning a negative into a positive!

Not only can you feel good about keeping these pieces of ghost net safely away from sea creatures, but your money is directly helping the plastic pollution problem, too -- 15% of net proceeds from the sale of these bracelets will be donated to Earth's Oceans Foundation, a California-based non-profit organization dedicated to repurposing plastic waste to reduce (and one day eliminate) the presence of plastic in the world's oceans and on its beaches.

I'm so stoked to finally be able to offer these! Even before I discovered Planet Love Life, I wanted to write a future "Rescue Sirens" children's book about the girls collecting beach trash and recycling it into cute jewelry, so this is really a dream come true. Rob and Melody are true kindred spirits, and we're lucky to know them.

Want your own "Rescue Sirens" bracelet? They're available now in our Etsy shop!

With the craziness of the holidays finally behind us, I have a bit of time right now to process and ship orders, so I've also listed our first run of "Rescue Sirens" enamel pins AND -- for the first time online -- all three variations of our double-sided acrylic charms. Yay!

New and upcoming MERchandise September 20, 2018 17:00

From Jess: 

Oh, man, you guys, what a summer it's been! Usually San Diego Comic-Con represents the pinnacle of our summer busy-ness, but 2018 just hasn't quit! Beyond a bit of unexpected traveling (Wyoming is stunning this time of year!), my husband and "Rescue Sirens" co-author Chris has begun filming his first live-action/CG hybrid project, 20th Century Fox's "The Call of the Wild" (based on the classic Jack London novel), and his schedule is all over the place -- which means mine is, too, haha.

That, and I'm still hard at work on my super-secret "Rescue Sirens" project. It's not a book (although I'm working on that, too!), but I can tell you that it does include brand-new artwork from Gabby Zapata, Kellee Riley, and "Rescue Sirens: The Search for the Atavist" illustrator Genevieve Tsai (plus a couple of new artists, who I hope to introduce to you soon). I'm crossing my fingers that I'll be able to show this stuff to you before too long.

In the meantime, I've been slowly adding more merchandise to our online store. Being able to switch gears mentally and work on something completely different, like backpacks or throw pillows, is a great break from my current project, and I'm tickled pink with some of our newest goodies.

Let's see... since my last update about the backpacks, I've added an awesome beach bag, featuring Gabby Zapata's adorable artwork; a new premium throw pillow in the same print; and kids'/youth mermaid scale leggings in the five Rescue Sirens' signature colors (aqua for Nim, coral for Kelby, blue for Echo, purple for Pippa, and gold for Maris).

Gabby Zapata "Rescue Sirens" mermaid beach bag

Gabby Zapata "Rescue Sirens" mermaid throw pillow

Rescue Siren Nim aqua mermaid scale leggings for kids

My plan is to eventually add leggings that mimic each Rescue Siren's tail pattern (not all of our mermaids even have scales, after all!), but, for a start, this classic mermaid scale motif looks great and pairs really well with our kids' T-shirts. The best part is: these leggings are designed to be worn on land or in the water, so they help provide sun protection for little legs while swimming! I'll create adult versions, as well, but I wanted to debut the kids' line first.

As always, if you'd like to share photos of you or your guppies sporting your "Rescue Sirens" gear, we'd love to see it! Tagging your pictures with #rescuesirens on Instagram is the best way to show them to us.

In addition to all things "Rescue Sirens," I've also been running my husband Chris's online store, and I've been using it as a testing ground for a warehousing and fulfillment service. So far, I really like the way it works, and I'm thinking of warehousing some of our "Rescue Sirens" items, too. What does that mean? You'd be able to purchase our books directly from our website (signed copies!), along with vinyl sticker sets and maybe even our enamel pins! This service ships worldwide with affordable pricing, too, which has been a very big priority for us. And, because I won't be mailing stuff out of our home, it frees up more time for me to write and create new "Rescue Sirens" content! Talk about a win-win-win.

Last, but not least, I'm testing high-quality "Rescue Sirens" art prints so you can add a splash of mermaid magic to your walls. Want to know when the prints are available? Remember to sign up for our newsletter! I don't have quite as much time for social media right now as I'd like, so the newsletter allows me to get all the latest announcements directly to you without spamming Facebook or Instagram.

That's a wrap for this post... see you next time!

Backpacks, SDCC, and a newsletter -- oh my! August 6, 2018 10:03

From Jess: 

At San Diego Comic-Con last month, I teased a new product that I've been chomping at the bit to share with you: "Rescue Sirens" backpacks! The backpacks that I brought with us to the convention were samples and not for sale, but now I'm happy with them and have added all five designs to our online store! You can click the image below to check 'em out.

"Rescue Sirens: Mermaids On Duty" backpacks

Just like some of our new vinyl stickers and acrylic charms, these backpacks feature "Rescue Sirens" artwork by Kellee Riley; boasting bright colors, cute poses, and adorable faces, they really stand out in a crowd! If you know a little Rescue Siren-in-training, one of our backpacks makes the perfect back-to-school bookbag.

With a secret pocket on the lower back for your cash/cards and an interior sleeve for a 15" laptop, they're great for grown-ups, too. I used one of our sample backpacks to tote around everything but the kitchen sink at SDCC and was super pleased with how it held up.

Speaking of SDCC, 2018 was another wonderful year! It's so strange to me that Chris and I spend the first six months of each new year thinking about, planning, and making merchandise for SDCC, and then it arrives all of a sudden and it's over before we know it. The end of the convention always leaves me feeling a little out-of-sorts and bewildered -- like, this huge thing has come and gone, so what am I supposed to spend my time stressing out over and panicking about? (Just kidding; I have a million other things to stress over and panic about.)

After SDCC, Chris and I are exhausted and glad for a breather, but we miss our friends and fellow creatives, and, of course, the attendees. We never take enough photos during the show, but here are a few pictures that I shared on Instagram! I posted them as a pair of slideshows, so, you know, click the left and right sides to view them all.

We’ve been home from #SDCC2018 for a week now, and we’re finally starting to catch up on everything! 😅 As always, we had an amazing time, and we love getting the opportunity to see our friends, fellow exhibitors, and wonderful attendees. Here is just a small sampling of happy moments from the show! Post 1 of 2. 1️⃣ “Rescue Sirens” creator @jessicasteelesanders with her husband and co-author, @chrissandersart. 2️⃣ Artist @seangallowayart showing off a #rescuesirens commission that he drew for us. 3️⃣ Our friends and “Rescue Sirens: The Search for the Atavist” collaborators, @delgaduck and @teresamtzjun. 4️⃣ Sneaking away from the convention center for an absolutely marvelous dinner with @coliegreno, @nathangreno, @tanyalehoux, and @jscottcampbell. 5️⃣ @jessicasteelesanders with stunning ladyfriends @tanyalehoux and @coliegreno. 6️⃣ @chrissandersart holding the first of two gorgeous original paintings by @pernilleoerum that we purchased... 7️⃣ ...while @jessicasteelesanders holds the other! Not pictured: the utterly delightful @kikidoodling and her husband, Nik; our dear friend and “Rescue Sirens: The Search for the Atavist” illustrator @genevievetsai; awesome neighbor @terrydodsonart; brilliant and talented @whitneypollett; sweet @caseyrobin; and probably a million other of our beloved “art friends”! We need to remember to take more photos next year!

A post shared by Rescue Sirens:Mermaids On Duty (@rescuesirens) on


We’ve been home from #SDCC2018 for a week now, and we’re finally starting to catch up on everything! 😅 As always, we had an amazing time, and we love getting the opportunity to see our friends, fellow exhibitors, and wonderful attendees. Here is just a small sampling of happy moments from the show, focusing this time on mermaids! Post 2 of 2. 1️⃣ Bryn and Zach, part of the fin-omenal @finfolkproductions team, stopped by to visit! (And when @jessicasteelesanders was wearing her Finfolk leggings, too: perfect timing.) 2️⃣ Over at the truly incredible @cfxmasks booth, @jessicasteelesanders got in touch with her inner sea monster. (We totally bought that mask at the end of the show.) 3️⃣ It’s not SDCC until @mermaidkalynn drops by... 4️⃣ ...and the same goes for @badkidbebe/@themergoth! 🧜🏻‍♀️🖤 5️⃣ Okay, this was real SDCC magic: @jessicasteelesanders and @chrissandersart first noticed this adorable Orange Bird dress (Jessica owns it in navy), and then discovered that it was being worn by none other than @lovelysundae, who recently drew an outstanding Kelby illustration! She was an ab-shell-ute joy to talk to. #rescuesirens #sandiegocomiccon #finfolkproductions

A post shared by Rescue Sirens:Mermaids On Duty (@rescuesirens) on


As usual, we're already talking about what we're going to do for SDCC 2019!

And there's my cue to bring up my last topic for today: the "Rescue Sirens" newsletter, the most reliable way to find out what we're up to. Chris and I love keeping you up-to-date on what we're doing, but we've noticed a big difference in social media reach over the past couple of years; Facebook shows our posts to only a fraction of our followers unless we pay for more views, and Instagram is quickly heading in that direction, too. Lots of people just plain aren't hearing from us. The solution, it seemed to me, was to start an email newsletter and talk directly to you.

How can you join? When you purchase something from our online store, you have the option to subscribe to our mailing list; you can also do so by visiting our signup page. If you missed our introductory email, you can read it now! Future newsletters will include sneak peeks at what we're working on, event information, and maybe even some subscriber-only exclusives. It's also the first place that we'll announce new products (such as the backpacks!). I'll probably use it to share blogs with you, too, so you don't have to remember to check the website every month.

All in all, I expect to send out only a handful of newsletters per month. I hope you find this a fun and useful way to stay in the "Rescue Sirens" loop!

"Rescue Sirens" at SDCC 2018 July 17, 2018 00:00

From Jess: 

That time has come around again! Chris and I are headed down to San Diego for Comic-Con International (affectionately known as SDCC), and, while this year's focus at our booth is on Chris's sketchbook full of personal artwork (his first in five years!), we're also bringing with us some fun new "Rescue Sirens" accessories that I've been dying to share with you all.

First up: stickers! Last year's weather-resistant vinyl stickers were really popular, so 2017's designs are making a reappearance along with eleven more sticker styles to collect! WOW!

Let's take a look at the new ones, shall we?

"Rescue Sirens" mermaid stickers by artists Gabby Zapata and Kellee Riley

Aside from a brief teaser on Instagram, I haven't had an opportunity yet to really talk about our awesome new artwork from two of our favorite artists: Gabby Zapata (top) and Kellee Riley (bottom).

Chris and I love both of their respective art styles for different reasons, and we're already beginning to use these massively appealing illustrations in our online merchandise -- and, of course, these stickers! Want to plaster your world in Gabby's and/or Kellee's drawings of our lifeguard mermaids? Then swim by booth #4616, where we're selling each mermaid sticker for $4.00 apiece. (We also have a clear sticker with the "Rescue Sirens: Mermaids On Duty" logo in black for $3.00.)

And we can't forget our stickers from last year, which are Chris's chibi-style drawings of the Rescue Sirens -- also $4.00, with the round "Rescue Sirens" emblem available for $3.00.

In the past twelve months I've developed a bit of a... problem... with acrylic charms. (I can quit any time I want, I swear!) Maybe you've seen them on Etsy; these charms are typically sold as phone charms, something to hang on your Nintendo 3DS or other handheld console, tiny keychains, or even necklaces. I've amassed quite a collection, and I knew that I wanted to create our own for SDCC this year.

"Rescue Sirens" acrylic charms by Chris Sanders

Ta-da! I turned Chris's chibi drawings into cute little charms, about 1.5" in height with the image visible on both sides, and I attached them to straps that you can loop onto--well, just about whatever you want! But did I stop there? Ohhhh, no.

"Rescue Sirens" acrylic charms by Kellee Riley

Because the charms are double-sided, I really wanted to take advantage of that, so I asked Kellee if she would mind drawing two versions of each Rescue Siren: one in her lifeguard top, and one in her mermaid top. How cool did the charms turn out as a result?!

Chris and I also asked Gabby if she could do the same thing -- but with an added twist.

"Rescue Sirens" acrylic charms drawn by Gabby Zapata

Gabby drew each Rescue Siren in her mermaid form AND in her human form! She did an amazing job coming up with poses that would work for both versions, didn't she? That's harder than it looks, but these all turned out super adorable.

On the human side of the charm, you'll notice that the extra space surrounding the girls' legs where their mermaid tails are on the reverse is a solid block of the color that I've been using to represent each Rescue Siren -- aqua for Nim, coral/pink for Kelby, blue for Echo, purple for Pippa, and yellow for Maris -- with similarly-colored straps to match.

Each double-sided charm costs $10.00, and you can add a color-coordinated necklace for $2.00.

In addition to the stickers and charms, we'll also be bringing a limited number of our first set of enamel pins, which we debuted in 2017.

"Rescue Sirens" enamel pins

We're down to literally a handful of our Nim pins, so please show up early if you'd like to snag one. I did set aside a few Nim pins for Etsy; after SDCC, I'll be selling three more full sets, along with individual pins from our remaining stock, but I don't recommend waiting until then if you don't have to. Last time we opened online orders, they sold quickly! Each pin sells for $12.00.

And, last but never least, we'll have signed copies of our fully-illustrated, water-resistant children's book, "Rescue Sirens and the Great Fish Round-Up," and our novel, "Rescue Sirens: The Search for the Atavist," for $20.00 apiece.

"Rescue Sirens and the Great Fish Round-Up" and "Rescue Sirens: The Search for the Atavist"

There are also some new products that we have in the works that we've yet to add to the website, and we're going to be giving SDCC attendees a first look at those at our booth, with an opportunity to order them online -- right at our booth! -- before anyone else! Stay tuned for more about that as the week goes on.

Speaking of online sales, our intention as always is to make our SDCC merch available in our shop and/or on Etsy after we return (and recover) from San Diego. So, if you can't make it to SDCC, you can still add to your "Rescue Sirens" collection!

Okay, fishes. Let's do this!

SDCC takes place at the San Diego Convention Center from Wednesday, July 18th (Preview Night) through Sunday, July 22nd. "Rescue Sirens" is located at booth #4616 (Chris Sanders Art).