Today we’d like to introduce you to Brit Nason.
Hi Brit, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I’ve been thinking about this question for a bit now – and it’s actually been a really cool thought experiment because it made me connect some dots from my childhood and early teen years were looking at it now from an adult perspective, it was totally baby-Brit trying to stand out from the crowd in some way, whether it be shopping exclusively in the boy’s clothing section when I was around ten years old, deciding to wear full head to toe animal print outfits the first week of high school despite being so shy and awkward, to trying to find my way around blatant sexism in a patriarchal system before I even knew what any of that was by wearing spandex bicycle shorts under my regular shorts deemed “too short” by the Vice Principal of my elementary school, who would get on the floor with a yardstick and measure the distance between our knee caps to the hem of our shorts, so I would pull down the spandex shorts to pass the test.
Soon after, they made a rule that bike shorts under regular shorts weren’t allowed, and I was so pissed. It’s so funny getting older and realizing how much of your personality was already developed as a kid. I was always trying to just be different in some way because I FELT different, as I’m sure most kids do. I was a total weirdo. I grew up in the middle of the country, outside of school districts, so I was very isolated and spent most of my time alone with my radio and video games or outside with animals. I brought lizards into my classroom and kept them in a fish tank in the back, I played every sport which you’d think would classify me as a jock, but I was a total outcast who was made fun of relentlessly – my best friend Centa and I would actually sneak into classrooms at recess so we didn’t have to be around people and could listen to music and draw or write stories in peace, then go back to her house to hand-sew voodoo dolls in her mom’s craft room and catch pollywogs in jars in her pond.
I’ve always felt like an amalgamation of so many different things that don’t make sense together, but that’s what I’m getting to here with this long-winded answer: being so many things is f****** cool and it DOES make sense. I think everyone is so multifaceted, but we all get pressured to fit into these little boxes (or willingly put ourselves in them) and it’s just total b********. My long-term goal has always been to combine fashion and animal rescue, and while it doesn’t make sense on paper, it makes perfect sense in my head because I know I have all those parts in me, it’s just a matter of getting them to fit together, and then being able to make a living off of it somehow, which is the total buzzkill part, obviously. I know it’s possible though, somehow. I’ll figure it out eventually. This was supposed to be brief, wasn’t it? I’m an over-thinker and went hard on this one, sorry about that. Once you get me to open up my brain, it’s Pandora’s box.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It’s been the most wild, unpaved, unlit back road full of wild animals with a thirst for human blood… okay not THAT bad, I just liked how that sounded, but it’s been really intense, unstable, heartbreaking, financially devastating, a total mindfuck, and not easy by any means. A lot of that has been brought on by my own choices, some of it stems from my upbringing and being very sheltered and kinda just losing my mind when I turned 17 and going directly to fashion school in LA out of high school and not paying much attention to anything besides Jack Daniels and men in bands, some of it has been the relationships or partnerships I’ve been in, some was bad luck, some was good luck, a lot of it is due to dealing with depression/anxiety and lifelong chronic pain. Everyone’s got their ****, you know? At 34 years old, after truly the most incredibly difficult year of my life, my resilience is pretty rock solid. I definitely still have my moments, but I’ve really learned to roll with the punches much easier, bounce back faster, or as I like to phrase it, surf the life waves. My mom has a tattoo around her wrist in Danish that reads “this too shall pass”, and as hard as it’s been to trust in that, it really does pass in some way eventually.
Nothing is permanent. If I could give anyone advice about anything (which I’m not qualified to do, so take this with a grain/handful of salt): If you are starting a business as a creative person, as hard as it is to want to jump right into the fun stuff, make sure you understand (or at least can hire professionals who understand) the legal and financial (taxes) side of things. It’s intoxicating and liberating to start your own creative endeavor and be your own boss, but those other things catch up to you if you don’t take them seriously from the start. Hire a lawyer, write up extremely thorough contracts if you work with other people, get a great accountant, and then go get your hands dirty doing the creative stuff that feeds your soul… cuz if you don’t, your soul will slowly get crushed as all those little things start knocking you down one by one until you’ve hit rock bottom, have to find the will and the way to fix it all, and then start over again. Yes, I speak from experience. Yes, I tend to always learn the hard way. Yes, I’m 34 and feel like I’m 74, but it’s okay. I feel very accepting of it all at this point, and it seems like it’s all playing out in this way for some bigger reason, I’ll understand when I’m actually 74 years old. Or maybe I’ll look back and just laugh at what an idiot I was. Either way is fine, as long as I have some cool memories and accomplishments, which I do. So it’s not all bad.
As you know, we’re big fans of Backbite. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
Well, I feel inclined to give some backstory here because the shop is in a transitional mode because I’m currently in the midst of rebuilding the business after Covid hit while being right in the middle of moving to Belize to work at a wildlife sanctuary (please check out and support @belizezoo on Instagram). I was planning to run Backbite remotely while returning to LA every few months for vintage sourcing and production while living and working in Belize to fulfill a lifelong dream of working with animals and eventually opening a dog sanctuary. Long story short, a lot more than just Covid happened, which actually resulted in me being stuck in limbo for five months in Belize while my rents in LA piled up, resulting in finally getting a repatriation flight back to LA, having to give up my work studio and apartment here, giving up the house I’d just signed a lease for in Belize, giving up the job I’d just been offered at Belize Zoo, taking my beloved cats to a friend’s apartment to stay with her since I now had nowhere to live, selling most of what I owned at a yard sale, putting what was left of my belongings in different friend’s garages, sleeping on an air mattress in my best friend’s workroom for almost six months while attempting to rebuild my life and business (I had my stock in different bags on the floor around my air mattress) and set up an extra little desk they had in her sewing room so I could do computer work and shipping. (For this, I am forever grateful to these friends, who quite literally saved my life and are also immensely talented people in the fashion industry and have a shop in LA called Gimme Danger in Silverlake or on Instagram @gimmedanger.la)
At this point in my career in the fashion industry, I feel like a cockroach who just keeps coming back no matter how many times you try to kill the damn thing. It’s just what I know and what I love and I don’t see myself giving up at it anytime soon, though I actually considered it this past year. Funny thing is, the whole 2020 fiasco ended up making me more passionate and creative than ever, which was the silver lining I did NOT see coming. Once I got my own home this past January, back with my cats and a real bed and a home office for Backbite, I’ve been settling in and feeling really grateful, really motivated, and just so happy for some semblance of stability. The creative aspects of what I do have really saved my sanity, and I’m just enjoying the process of making things more than ever before, it’s really a form of therapy to me.
Back to the question: I specialize in women’s clothing but men buy my clothing sometimes too, which is so rad. I love unisex items that are genderless and hope to do more of that. Most would say Backbite is rock n’ roll, but like I said before, being put into a box isn’t my thing, so I’m still figuring out how to describe my shop or how I’d like it to evolve in the near future. I absolutely love vintage or military-inspired clothing (you can usually find me in army pants and combat boots) 70s/80s punk, 90s post punk, and heavy metal fashion, but then I’m also freakishly obsessed with animals, the environment, jungles, beaches, dirt roads, living out of a backpack… so I like functionality and durability multifunctional outerwear, and I’m sorry, but fanny packs are what’s up. They’re so practical, I love it. Tactical cargo pants are also the best. To top it off, I’ve found myself reconnecting to my feminine side – really enjoying makeup and lingerie and feeling sexy as a woman in her almost mid-thirties and exploring/accepting that side of myself that has been buried for a long time.
So basically, I see the shop going in many directions, catering to many different types of people, but I’m still conceptualizing and working out the logistics of it all.
What am I most proud of… I think that would be my commitment to having clothing made as ethically as I can by not using factory slave labor that literally still goes on in downtown Los Angeles (check out @garmentworkercenter on Instagram) and so many other places. I pay people who make my patterns, do my grading, samples, and production their own set prices, always, and I will never budge on that. I also refuse to rip off other designers or shops or make cheap crap that I know will probably sell well just so I can make a quick buck.
What I want readers to know about the brand is that I am committed to making quality clothing you can’t easily find somewhere else (I’m not reinventing the wheel by any means, but to me the pieces feel special in their own way), in wearable and simple silhouettes – an item of clothing that looks really aesthetically pleasing but is also very wearable and durable. You’ll find lots of animal print, plaid, repurposed military fabric, faux leather and fur, studs, vintage t-shirts, and vintage clothing that looks like it was worn by a person who lived a wild, radical life. I love making clothes out of existing vintage clothing or fabric, one of a kind pieces are my favorite and I hope to do more of that this year.
I have way too many ideas and goals to list off, so what I can say about Backbite is this: it’s a labor of love and ever-evolving. I started on Etsy, I think around 12 or 13 years ago, moved to eBay, and then had several online shops over the years. I started out very DIY and still find myself doing the same things to this day, which business-wise probably isn’t very smart, but it’s the part that fulfills those insatiable creative urges, so you’ll never see Backbite turn into a run of the mill fast fashion shop. I just couldn’t live with myself if that were the case – money comes and goes while morals, creativity, and working with amazing people are things I actually value and bring me true happiness. Of course, I want to make a modest living but I’m still not the greatest at that part – I know there’s a way to do it all, but I’ve yet to figure out that fashion industry rubik’s cube. My brain will get there eventually.
We all have a different way of looking at and defining success. How do you define success?
Oh good, my rant actually led perfectly into the next question! Haha. Success, to me, is being able to live comfortably – meaning being able to live in a modest home with my cats, buy the food I like, getting to have my Jeep, pay my bills, being able to afford to take care of my health, being able to donate money comfortably to organizations I care about, being able to travel, splurging on cat food to give to the strays I recently found living under my house, and one day, hopefully, opening up a non-profit dog sanctuary on a giant piece of land somewhere tropical outside of the USA and creating something collaborative and respectful with the locals… something I was so damn close to doing last year, but I digress. When I think about billionaires and multi-millionaires, my blood boils. It’s just gluttony, greed, and something I will truly never understand. Making money was always drilled into my head as a child and young adult, and I think I’ve sort of rebelled against that.
Making money is definitely important, yes, but defining your inner worth by your financial worth is completely backwards. No one should ever come to me for financial advice – let’s just put it that way. Since I’ve worked for myself for so long, I have a strange concept of money: it comes in and goes out so fast that it feels like such an intangible thing that I either have or don’t, but could change one minute to the next. Just one order could make me do a happy dance and totally change my week – that’s the difference about shopping at small businesses – you’re literally giving your money directly to that person and could be helping them pay a late bill or get groceries they really need, instead of giving your money to some random millionaire CEO who pays his employees abysmal wages. I hope to be able to grow Backbite to a modest size and have a few employees and be able to provide them with a fun job and a comfortable living. That would feel really, really cool.
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: www.shopbackbite.com
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/backbite_
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BackbiteLosAngeles
- Other: www.instgram.com/britdisarming