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Gia’s new business is for anime lovers

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Gia Eversley-Brooks with some of the items she is selling in her new online store Weebs on the Rock (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)
Some of the anime related items sold by Weebs on the Rock (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

When Gia Eversley-Brooks had a soft launch for anime product business Weebs on the Rock a month ago, she was unsure how her products would be received.

She imagined months of slogging to build up a loyal customer base for her anime related T-shirts, ramen bowl sets, hoodies and figurines.

Instead, there was an outpouring of interest from other local anime lovers and “Weebs”, non-Japanese who love Japanese culture, anime and manga.

“I have already received good customer reviews, and pre-orders,” the 21-year-old said. “There has been a lot of excitement, which I was not expecting. I was expecting it would be a slow build.”

But it has not been easy. She has opened a business that relies heavily on vendors and creatives from so far away, in the midst of a global supply crisis.

“Because of shipping, a lot of orders are being delayed, especially from vendors on the other side of the world,” she said. “Something might be fast getting from Japan to England, and then sometimes it takes two weeks to get from there to Bermuda. Then it has to be approved by customs. It has been a challenge to have things in stock without them selling out first.”

Nevertheless, things have been going well. She held her official opening yesterday, with a 20 per cent discount on everything in her online store.

She started watching anime, the Japanese style of animation, with her mother, Stephanie Mowatt Eversley, when she was still in diapers.

“I watched anime before I even knew what anime was,” she said.

But back then she did not know many other people who shared her interest.

"I did not know anyone who watched it, or stores in Bermuda that sold anything related to it,“ she said.

She believes it was considered a little nerdy. It was not until she went to college in Canada that she started finding other anime followers.

“It was nice to be able to walk through the mall and say ‘oh my gosh, that person loves anime too’, or to see someone wearing a T-shirt with my favourite character,” she said. “I would geek out about it.”

And when she returned home to Bermuda, she was pleasantly surprised to find that more Bermudians had discovered anime also.

“It is really popular now in Bermuda,” she said. “It has become mainstream.”

She attributes this to celebrities such as Michael Bakari Jordan, Ariana Grande and Megan Thee Stallion coming out of the closet about their love for anime shows and movies such as My Neighbour Totoro, Spirited Away or Black Clover.

She saw opportunity in this rise in interest in anime.

“I have been planning Weebs on the Rock for three months,” she said. “Once 2022 came, I decided I was ready to launch.”

Her mother is particularly happy for her. They still love watching anime together.

“Sometimes she texts me when a show is about to drop,” Ms Eversley-Brooks said.

She works full-time at the Garden Market on Serpentine Road in Pembroke, and runs Weebs on the Rock in her spare time.

Weebs on the Rock is not the first local anime store. Another one, Anijoy, opened a few months ago.

“At least I know there is a market for it,” Ms Eversley-Brooks said.

She is coping with the competition by trying to bring in different items.

“I am also finding my own vendors and creators in Japan,” she said.

She has been able to do that easily because since the pandemic many vendors and creatives have been putting their work online instead of going directly to factories.

“I will be bringing in clothing,” she said. “I will sell things you would use every day like phone cases, backpacks, hoodies and shoes. There will be things like figurines and toys, plushies and blankets. But I really want to focus on things you would wear all the time.”

In terms of her customer demographic, she relates to teenagers and young adults but wants her products to appeal to a wide range of people.

Her dream is to have her own bricks-and-mortar store by next year.

“It will be a risk but success is based on taking risks,” she said. “I am just crossing my fingers for a lot of success in 2022.”

For more information see Weebs on the Rock on Facebook and Instagram, call 519-9406 or e-mail weebsontherock@gmail.com.

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Published February 02, 2022 at 8:00 am (Updated February 03, 2022 at 8:10 am)

Gia’s new business is for anime lovers

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