Once upon a time (in 2018), in a galaxy far, far away (in Houston, TX) ... the cosmos opened and the uber creative, interstellar Doll + Rocket was born. We sat down with our head doll, Sydney Tomei Flores-New, to talk D+R beginnings.
How did Doll + Rocket start?
The idea came to me about a year before when I met Sylvain, the artist I work with to make all this gorgeous merch. I knew I wanted to work with him, but I just wasn’t quite sure what that looked like. It took me about a year to get the ideas together and get the name and everything. Once the business started, it took us another seven months to complete all the drawings, paperwork, source products, printing, photoshoots, etc. Our online store launched at the end of September, and I have never been so excited for something in my whole life.
How did meeting Sylvain inspire all this?
I knew the first time I went to his house and saw his drawings that I wanted to work with him. He’s incredibly talented. When you look at his originals in marker, they are really stunning. Beyond that, I was so taken with his ability to draw women... they were soft and gentle, but strong... they looked like real women. When I saw a drawing I could name a girl who has that body... and no matter what they were doing, I always had the sense that they were the ones in control... like their actions were deliberate. That is such a rare thing. So many times women are drawn in a way that is too harsh or too idealistic. More often, the scenarios are too submissive - a kind of submissive where there is definitely a question of if she wants to be in that situation. As a woman, I felt his drawings were empowering. They just struck a cord with me and I wanted to share them.
Why is it called Doll + Rocket?
As I started thinking about starting a retro comic based fashion brand, the first thing on my mind was where the company would be based. There was never really any question - it would be Houston. It’s where I was born; it’s where I’m based now. It’s also such a positive place for businesses. There is such an amazing, supportive environment - people really come together to help you achieve your goals. And since Houston is Space City, that’s really what inspired me to position the whole thing in outer-space, which ended up being great common ground for both Sylvain and I. After playing with some ideas I landed on Rocket because it went with the space theme, visually I liked it, and it also has a slight sexual nod that was fitting. In my head I could see ______ + Rocket that we could shift to ______ x Rocket when we did collabs with people. I played with a lot of ideas but I ultimately knew there had to be feminine representation. That’s were the "Doll" came in.
Does the Doll have a name?
No. For me it was an homage to the Man with No Name Trilogy. I always saw her in my head as this kind of Jane Fonda as Barbarella character with more mystery like "Blondie."
Can you tell us more about her?
[Laughs] I get a lot of questions about her, so I’ll try and cover it all. We wanted her to have what would traditionally be more of a “men’s” role in a comic. We always had the second comic in mind where you would start to see this. She’s not afraid, and she’s definitely street smart, and yet, she also has this innocence. We wanted her to be so full of love, giving her a fierce sense of loyalty. We always pictured her as someone so kind and charming that people are just drawn to her. As far as looks go, she’s a humanoid-looking alien. We purposely made her ethnically ambiguous so that anyone could look at her and see a piece of themselves. When we delved into coloring, we gave her naturally aqua hair, and a skin tone that looks mixed. Her face took us quite a while to get right. We went back and forth with references, and finally landed on a combination of Zoe Saldana, Margot Robbie, and Kim Kardashian... with a few other randoms thrown in there [laughing].
What inspired you to position your brand the way you have?
I’m a collector, and one of the things I’ve collected for a while is art. I know I've been burned by artists when I buy their originals and they turn around and sell a ton of prints. It feels like all the value of the piece is gone. This was really on my mind when I started Doll + Rocket. I was very stuck on the idea of collectable fashion. I wanted our runs to be small, so our clothing is unique and special. Pretty much everything we do is limited edition, and if it doesn’t say limited edition, it’s only because we want to reserve the right to resurrect the design in the future. Even then though, it will be redesigned so garment and colors won’t be the same.