Elyas Salame has always enjoyed reading about science.
One day, while perusing through an article discussing the element bismuth, a thought popped into their head: on the periodic table, Bi is for bismuth; in the LGBTQ+ community, ‘Bi’ is for bisexual.
“[I thought] ‘Ooooh, that’s amazing,” jokes Salame, recounting the moment that would soon change their life.
Following this observation, Salame says more associations between the periodic table and LGBTQ+ terminology began to unveil themselves: Nb for niobium is also for non-binary; Ga for gallium is also for gay; Ts for tennessine is also for transgender.
And thus, Salame’s business, called Yas Petit Poulet, was born.
Salame, who is queer and nonbinary themself, designed a series of lapel pins featuring said elements of “queer chemistry,” featuring stripes of colour from varying pride flags. This was followed by the creation of colourful mugs, blankets, t-shirts and prints — many of which are adorned with a combination of science and LGBTQ+ imagery.
On the Yas Petit Poulet website, it reads:
“Gender and sexuality are just as natural as chemical elements. In other words, every gender and sexuality are valid, natural, and thus deserving of pride and joy.”
SETTING UP SHOP, DIGITALLY
Like Salame, many creatives are turning to the world of internet retail, using platforms such as Etsy to promote and sell their work.
This approach has its pros and cons: while e-commerce middlemen like Etsy can facilitate the process, they also take a fair share of the profits, charging five per cent transaction fees and 12 to 15 per cent for advertising.
But businesses can also promote their products on their own, with the help of social media. Salame, for example, plugs Yas Petit Poulet through platforms like Instagram and Tumblr.
“Sometimes a big blog will ‘reblog’ my stuff and this increases the sales so much, so I’m really grateful,” they said.
Another benefit to operating a small business online is that it frequently allows the seller to work from home. This is especially important for Salame, who is disabled and sometimes requires a walker.
“It’s easier for me to not have to travel to a studio or space, especially in winter,” they said.
THE END GOAL
While it might be tempting to expand the business as much as possible, Salame says this isn’t their ultimate goal.
“I just want to be able to keep doing what I’m doing,” they said. “I’m living [well], I’m having fun doing it — I just don’t want it to be [so] big that I don’t enjoy what I’m doing anymore.”
Salame says the business’ goal is to help queer people make the world of science their own.
“I was often mistreated by doctors when I said that I was transgender and non-binary,” says Salame. “I really wanted to use science in a new project that would help folks use science for labelling their pride and being themselves.”