SDCC 2011: Ashley Eckstein Gives Us “Her Universe”

If I were asked to name a person that embodies the term “delightful,” it would be Ashley Eckstein. As the founder of Her Universe, a female sci-fi clothing and merchandising company, and the voice of the Jedi Padawan Ahsoka Tano in the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars, she’s a person not only that completely loves what she does, but also has a unbridled passion for expanding it — and it just happens that her passion is that geeky sci-fi demographic that we here in the Fridge love so much.

Last month in the Lucasfilm press room at SDCC, we caught up with the lovely Ashley to talk Her Universe, The Clone Wars, and more!

Lastly, if you’ve got (or you are) a wonderfully geeky lady, make sure to check out Her Universe!  They’ve got plenty of Star Wars merchandise, of course, but they’ve also just teamed up with Syfy, so you’ve got even more choice for that beautiful Warehouse agent or Cylon.

Thank you so much for chatting with us, Ashley! We’ll catch you again soon!


Open The Fridge: Hi, Ashley. Thank you for talking with us today. Now, you’re deeply entrenched in geek culture, particularly in Star Wars culture. Of course, not only are you the voice of “Ahsoka Tano” in Cartoon Network’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars, but you’re also founder of a clothing line called ‘Her Universe”?

Ashley Eckstein: Yes, it’s the first merchandise line exclusively for fangirls!

OTF: That’s great! Judging by the attendance here at the con, that is a demographic that definitely needs attention.

AE: Yes, it’s definitely an underserved market. Close to half of all sci-fi fans and half of all Star Wars fans are women, and they weren’t giving us [women] anything to buy!

OTF: What does your merchandising line offer?

AE: Well, I’m actually wearing our Boba Fett tanktop right now and a Star Wars charm bracelet. We’ve got jewelry, T-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, accessories. We’ve got all sorts of things to make girls geek chic from head to toe.

OTF: What exclusives are you offering here at the convention or that you’re debuting for Her Universe?

AE: Well, we just debuted our line with the Syfy channel and their properties. So we have Battlestar Galactica merchandise, and our convention exclusive is this toaster necklace from Battlestar. Definitely an inside necklace for all the BSG fans out there. There’s only 300 of these at San Diego Comic-Con. We’re also debuting our charm bracelet for Star Wars. All of [the charms] are Star Wars symbols, and we have a Naboo charm that is convention exclusive.

We have several products from Syfy shows, like Warehouse 13, and Syfy original movies, like Sharktopus! The winning monster from their monster madness contest! I’m a huge Sharktopus fan, so we have matching his and hers Sharktopus shirts, as well as some new Star Wars products.

OTF: That means, gentlemen, you know exactly what to get your ladies this Valentine’s Day.

AE: Haha! Yes!

OTF: How did you come to start Her Universe?

AE: You know, as always, none of this would be possible without my role as the voice of Ahsoka Tano on Star Wars: The Clone Wars. I started working on The Clone Wars a little over six years ago, and I just wanted more merchandise for female fans. And I found out that I wasn’t alone! Close to half of all sci-fi fans are women, and, you know, I just thought that if I am in contact with the right people that can help make this happen, that someone needed to be the voice for all of the fangirls out there that just wanted equal treatment. Sci-fi is not just for the men, it’s not just for the women – it’s for everyone.

So, I had contact with some of the people from Lucasfilm that could help make this happen, and I figured, “Why not? Let’s give it a shot.” Next thing you know, I founded Her Universe. I started making Star Wars merchandise, and now through the Star Wars merchandising, I met some people at Syfy. They thought it was a great idea because close to half of all viewers on the Syfy channel are women, and so now we’re making merchandise for them.

It all just comes back to Star Wars. None of this would be possible without my role as Ahsoka on The Clone Wars.

OTF: One thing we hear a lot is “the rising demographic” when referring to female audience. Do you feel like it is a “rising” demographic, or do you think that perhaps they’ve always been there, only recently have people been realize it? You know, that it’s not just the geeky guy that like Star Wars and other sci-fi products, but that there are plenty of women out there as well that have been interested in this stuff all along.

AE: You know, I think the female fanbase has always been there. I think, in the past, they’ve just accepted the stereotype that sci-fi is just for boys. You know, kind of kept their mouths shut and went along their merry way. A lot of them didn’t talk about the fact that they were sci-fi fans; they kind of kept it hidden.

But now more and more girls have started to speak up and say, “Wait a minute, I’m tired of hiding my love for sci-fi. I’m a girl, and, yes, I’m a sci-fi fan.” And that gave other girls confidence to say, “Hey, I’m here too, and I like Star Wars!” or “I like sci-fi!” So, I think that, as more girls that speak up about it… That’s why just now people are finding out that close to half of all sci-fi fans are women because, you know, the girls are speaking up. I tell all the girls out there: hey, we can debunk the stereotype if we all speak up and we all come together. It’s united we stand, divided we fall. So, again, to all the girls out there: people are starting to listen, only because people are starting to speak up.

And I will say that, because of shows like Star Wars: The Clone Wars and shows like Warehouse 13 on Syfy that have such strong female characters, it is bringing more women into the genre. So I have to give credit to the networks and production companies that are doing more female-friendly shows.

OTF: I was actually going to ask you about that. Ahsoka is such a strong character on The Clone Wars; she often just goes off on her own and takes the reins. Do you feel that has influenced your own world, in your own life?

AE: Well, Ahsoka is definitely an inspriation to me in real life. Ahsoka is very confident; she takes the bull by the horns and takes control of a situation. She’s never fearful: she goes into every situation very confident, knowing that she can take on whatever comes her way.

But, the thing is, she’s also very prepared. Ahsoka is one smart cookie. She’s done her research; she did well in the Jedi temple. So she’s prepared for the situations that come her way. And that’s the one that I encourage for all fangirls is to know your stuff. School: very important. Do your research. Knowledge is power, and that’s kind of what Ahsoka does. She studies so hard and she trains so hard that, when the situation comes up, she’s prepared. She’s definitely an inspiration to me.

She’s also very positive. She always has a positive attitude. Always tries to do what’s right at all costs. That’s the Jedi way, and she always lives her life by the Jedi way. I definitely have Ahsoka as an inspriation.

OTF: So how can people search your merchandise line and connect with you on Facebook or Twitter?

AE: Go to heruniverse.com to shop our merchandise. All of our social media buttons are on the bottom of our page to connect with us. Also, now we’re on syfystore.com, so definitely check us out!

OTF: Great! We’re definitely planning on checking it out. Thanks, Ashley!


Once again, thanks a million, Ashley!

Written by: Dwight Tejano

Dwight is the founder of Open the Fridge, which he started in 2008 and rebooted in 2010. Due to the nature of early adopting, his bank account is normally empty. He likes to sing in world-renown choruses to forget such things.

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