With Further Ado #049: A Rose By Any Other Name

I’ve known Rose Del Vecchio, and her co-founder Jenny Cheng ever since they participated in my Fangirls Lead the Way panels. Together they run an innovative company called FanMail.com. A forward-looking Geek-focused company with an entrepreneurial streak a mile wide. The things that strikes you immediately about Rose is that she’s the real deal. As San Diego Comic-Con approaches, it’s important to catch up with Rose, a person on the front lines of both entrepreneurism and geek culture. 

Ed Catto: You have quite a history with comic conventions and are, essentially a second generation professional. Can you tell me a little about that?

Rose Del Vecchio: Sure! My dad, Mark Del Vecchio, has been running his own movie and comic memorabilia website, CineQuest.com, for over fifteen years. He started out on eBay and going to comic-cons, and that meant that I also went along as a kid. My first “job” was working the booth at cons way back in the day! It seemed like a natural fit to keep that entrepreneurial spirit going with FanMail, which he’s still a huge part of.  

EC: Your business is fascinating. What’s your origin story and how do you describe FanMail? 

RD: Back in 2015, I approached Jenny Cheng, a friend from college, about an idea for a nerdy t-shirt subscription. We had noticed that many of the boxes out there in our niche catered to the mainstream, and often didn’t match up with what we, and other geeky women in our friend groups, were watching/becoming obsessed with. That t-shirt idea turned into FanMail, which began as a monthly mystery fandom subscription box. Our mission is to collaborate with at least one other small business run by women/those with marginalized identities when we curate our boxes, and to always be true to the fandoms that we love. Our tagline is “Limited Edition Geek Boxes for Lady Geeks by Lady Geeks!” 

EC: I know that FanMail has evolved, and kudos to you all for your flexibility. How has the business evolved and why?

RD: What began as a monthly subscription has transitioned a couple of times. We no longer do general fandom-themed boxes – now we focus on two main products. The first is our licensed quarterly subscription for the classic television show Charmed – Charmed: Box of Shadows. We work with CBS to create four boxes a year for the Charmed fandom, and we’ve had a blast researching and getting introduced to the Charmed fandom around the world! The second is our line of limited edition boxes, which are typically centered around one fandom, character, or book. We’ve done boxes with authors like Marie Lu, Maggie Stievfater, Ashley Poston, Sam Maggs, and Sarah Kuhn as well as characters and fandoms like Supernatural, Luna Lovegood (from Harry Potter), and more.

EC: FanMail has a focus on women and on gender non-conforming folx.  From the outside looking in, that seems fantastic. How’s it all working out?

RD: We’ve supported over 120 other small businesses over the last four years and created a network that is growing every day – I’d say it’s going pretty well!

EC: Your new venture is available to both subscribers and non-subscribers. What’s the thinking behind that?

RD: What we found was that the subscription cycle wasn’t a good fit for our general fandom themes. We decided that with Charmed: Box of Shadows, people knew what they were getting and were more likely to commit to a subscription if they loved the show. With our limited-edition boxes, we can take pre-orders, which allows us to curate the boxes a little bit more effectively, and allows us to pay the creators for exactly what we need! 

EC: What upcoming product are you most excited for?

RD: I’ve been teasing a Molly Weasley box for ages, and it’s coming together finally, so I’m excited to let that one out into the world! We also have some possible plans for limited edition boxes for the fall (and perhaps another type of subscription, which is about all I can say right now!). 

EC: With your Pop-Up Retailer hat on, you and Jenny have been to so many conventions. Which ones do you like best and why?

RD: My favorites have become the smaller ones (though I will always love San Diego!) – currently, I love hanging out at FlameCon in NYC, and Emerald City Comic Con and GeekGirlCon, both of which are in Seattle. I’m hoping to delve into DragonCon for the first time this year, which I’ve heard is a lot of fun. 

EC: What convention trends or changes are you seeing from your unique vantage point?

RD: The trend I appreciate the most is that many more women, people of color, non-binary, trans, and queer folx are vendors and either at booths or in Artist’s Alley – which means cons are finally beginning to reflect the people who attend more than ever. 

EC: I’m sure we’ll see you at San Diego Comic-Con’s 50th Anniversary this year. Where’s the best place for fans to meet you and see your stuff?

RD: I’ll be at Booth 4539 (CineQuest.com) repping CineQuest, FanMail, and Charmed: Box of Shadows all weekend. We have Charmed exclusives for sale as well as free badge ribbons (a different one each day!) to give out. I’ll also be on two panels:

Thursday, July 18th @ 4:30PM – Higher. Further. Faster. Are we there yet?. Room: 26AB

Friday, July 19th @ 6PM – Building Your Own Themyscira. Room: Grand 10, Marriott Marquis

You can find FanMail on the internet at: myfanmail.com | @fanmailbox | #GotMyFanMail

You can find Charmed: Box of Shadows at: theboxofshadows.com | @theboxofshadows | #IAmACharmedOne

EC: Thanks a million, Rose!