Today the Autistic Empire* launches its online store - here you can buy a range of products suited to the autistic customer.
We have struck deals with a dozen companies from across the spectrum (pun intended) to bring you stuff that is either cool, useful, beautiful, or all three. We have taken advantage of the advances in print on demand technology to produce a range of snazzy t-shirts and knick-knacks with positive, life-affirming messages about autism. Take a look and see what you think!
Why should you buy from us?
Well, firstly, we are an autistic-owned, autistic-staffed, autistic-oriented store. By buying from us, you are supporting autistic self-advocacy in its most practical sense, with your money.
Secondly, all profit goes towards giving our autistic employees more hours in which to develop and expand the shop further, meeting your needs and eventually funding the expansion of the Autistic Empire itself. There's no big company sitting behind this screen, just some aspies with a dream of trying to make the lives of our people better.
We aim the autistic customer stuff they want at a price they can afford. We're using the latest developments in commerce to keep our prices at a reasonable level and as we make more money, we can strike more favourable terms with our suppliers and get them (particularly shipping costs) even lower. There's a premium that is unfairly slapped on products labelled as "disability aids", even if the same thing can be found a third cheaper on Amazon. We aim to address that.
Secondly, we want to make people aware of stuff they might like that is cool, stuff that can make life easier or more interesting. In our market research it became apparent that people had no idea things like self-tying shoelaces existed and were keen to know where they could get them. Answer: here!
Thirdly, we want to disrupt the current online market in autistic merchandise which is dominated by people who seem see autistic people as children whose behaviour comprises a "war" to be won, which is disrespectful and harmful to our wellbeing. Autism is not an illness, or a battle to be fought - we are who we are and the problems we face should be treated as problems *we* face and not something our parents can overcome with enough determination and a decorative t-shirt. Take a stand against the "autism mom" movement and help us spread the word that autistic children become autistic adults, and we wear t-shirts too.
Fourthly, we want to provide a platform to autistic artists and producers who have their own products to sell. Our very first collaboration is with Drawliver, who produces thought-provoking cartoons you can now purchase exclusively at the Autistic Empire online store on mugs, posters and tote bags.
We are in touch with a number of other autistic artists and performers and look to launch their collections very soon.
We would also be very interested in supporting other autistic-led organisations and hosting their own promotional product ranges. Save yourself from Cafepress or commissioning a t-shirt design that got lost down the back of that volunteer's computer and come talk to us. Our commission rates are reasonable! If you are interested, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and to discuss details.
* The Autistic Empire is an autistic social organisation that seeks to create autistic-majority spaces and promote autism as a gateway to a civic identity. It seeks to alleviate the stigmatic discourse around how we are "different" from a neurotypical norm and instead looks to create a community that is centred around us and our life experiences. We are looking to launch the full membership site in March 2018.