Just if you are queer and / or suffer from mental illness you are not alone. There are hundreds of thousands of people like you struggling as well as succeeding everyday. No matter where you feel you are, you can always help someone else. Be safe, be kind and always be YOU.
One important part of the Pittsburgh MasQUe ProjecT is highlighting safe and affirming places for trans and queer folx to purchase masks. In addition to this Q&A series, we maintain a list on the project homepage. This Q&A was crafted to highlight some unique aspects of the participating businesses and explore related issues, including the manifestation of racial justice in the LGBTQIA+ community and the real struggles of running a small business in this economy.
I discovered The Proper Bunny through Instagram. So I reached out to Oneita and asked her to complete a Q&A for our Pittsburgh MasQUe ProjecT. I love that The Proper Bunny is part of an entire reality with zines, graphic novels, etc. And I really loved Oneita’s shout-out at the end of the Q&A, so much that I moved it to the top – we all need to hear this, especially coming from people who help us live safer lives.
Name: Oneita Parker
Your Business Name: The Proper Bunny
How do you describe your identity? Queer, LGBTQ+, Womxn, Feminist, Lesbian, Cis Female
Tell us about your company. Founder and Designer behind The Proper Bunny, Oneita Parker, started sewing and designing at the age of eight. Throughout high school and beyond Oneita designs and makes her own clothes. College took her to The Big Apple New York City where she graduated from FIT – majoring in Fashion Design and Textiles. She went onto work in the rag trade, first in Hong Kong and then in New York, but Hollywood was calling. She’s designed and made costumes for film and TV for nearly 20 years.
So, Oneita decided to launch The Proper Bunny about 3 years ago so she would have a place to showcase her couture pieces, illustrated characters, and artwork. In 2020, The Proper Bunny focuses exclusively on streetwear, masks, mugs and stickers.
Well, of course it’s terrifying, enraging and beyond unfair to treat marginalized groups as second class citizens or even sub-human. As a member of not only the queer commnity, but as woman of color and a womxn owned business we are EXTREMELY conscious of not only our representaion in the population but also the diabled community and mental health awareness.
How did you decide to create and sell facemasks? I was called to action when the pandemic began in March. I already had beautiful, luxurious fabrics that I curated from around the country in my studio and industrial sewing machines so it was easy for me to jump in. I began making them for neighbors and then the business grew. In June The Proper Bunny really got noticed as a Black-Womxn-Queer owned business and gained a lot of support quickly when we were suddenly featured in Buzzfeed, LA Magazine and the Huff Post.
Please describe your mask style(s) for our readers. What inspired the design? Well, as a designer I am all about durability, functionality and comfort. I make and wear all of my own clothes to those standards too. I just transferred that to my mask design. The cotton masks I make are double-layer with an extra soft lining. Every mask is prewashed before it’s shipped. I have continuously worked to perfect the design over the last months.
The Pittsburgh MasQUe ProjecT was established to connect trans and queer community members with facemask vendors that are respectful & safe. We live in a world where bakeries go to the Supreme Court to deny us wedding cakes and health care providers want to deny care to transgender neighbors. It is not a big leap for those of us who are queer to imagine being refused a chance to buy a mask when that is legal, like in most of Pennsylvania. That’s why I want to highlight your masks. Being safe isn’t just about wearing the mask, it has to be about securing the mask in the first place. Your thoughts? Well, of course it’s terrifying, enraging and beyond unfair to treat marginalized groups as second class citizens or even sub-human. As a member of not only the queer community, but as woman of color and a womxn owned business we are EXTREMELY conscious of not only our representation in the population but also the disabled community and mental health awareness.
It is also important for all of us to support local/queer owned/ally owned small businesses. How have you and the business been navigating these past months of plague, economic uncertainty, and demands for racial justice? Doing the best we can internally and externally we try to pipe up for social justice every chance we get in our social media with calls to action and reposts from those organizations and people on the front lines fighting for the health, safety and equality for LGBTQ+ and BIPOC people. We also never shy away from proclaiming our business as Black-Queer-Womxn owned.
What is a proper bunny? The Proper Bunny’s pronouns are she/her and they/them. The Proper Bunny is the main character of an entire animated series / graphic novel I am creating. One thing she stands for is being butch when her family wouldn’t let her. She is an outsider, an original thinker and an explorer. Along her journey she makes many friends like herself and dodges many enemies too. Her best friends are The Afropandas. All the characters are illustrations / cartoons of mine.
As a brand The Proper Bunny is a Los Angeles based queer owned small business featuring the original characters like The Proper Bunny, The Afropanda, BunnyCat, Amp, Chicken Wing and more. The first characters can be found on Tees, Hoodies, Mugs and sometimes custom versions of the masks. We are rolling out the other characters over the next year. So, people can start collecting now! We will have many limited editions. Currently, we sell The Proper Bunny, The Giant Flea, Cat Bunny and several folx from The Afropanda family.
How long do you plan to offer face masks? We will offer masks until it is no longer necessary.
What else can people buy from you? Streetwear, Mugs, Masks, Vinyl Sticker Packs.
Where can our readers find you online and on social media?
Anything else you’d like readers to know? Just if you are queer and / or suffer from mental illness you are not alone. There are hundreds of thousands of people like you struggling as well as succeeding everyday. No matter where you feel you are, you can always help someone else. Be safe, be kind and always be YOU. – The Proper Bunny
Thank you, Oneita.
The Pittsburgh MasQUe ProjecT connects members of the trans and queer community with face masks to protect them during the coronavirus. This includes identifying safe vendors for purchasing masks as well as offering mask distributions. To sign up as a featured vendor, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Read other posts in this series
Facemask Q&A with Oneita Parker of The Proper Bunny
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