During DomCon a few months ago, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Restrained Grace creator Miss Annie (yes, it was annie interviewing Annie!). Read on to learn more about her creative and beautiful BDSM gear!
anniebear: Alright, Miss Annie, we’re here at DomCon and you’re exhibiting a booth this weekend for Restrained Grace?
anniebear: So that’s your sort of love child brand.
Annie: Yes, so I’ve been making jewelry for about 10 years and doing that professionally for 9. I’ve been wanting to make kink jewelry for a while, so I just started that in about October. It is something I’ve been wanting to do for years, so it’s definitely a passion project.
anniebear: So how long have you been kinky?
Annie: I’ve known that I am kinky for about 5 or 6 years, but I’ve only been in the community for about 10 months.
anniebear: Oh, so you’re fairly new then. What do you think?
Annie: I love it! The more people I meet the more I feel at home.
anniebear: That’s great, so you’ve managed to somehow merge a passion for jewelry making and now putting it together with something you’ve always known about yourself.
anniebear: Do you have any favorite pieces that you feature?
Annie: Let’s see, I mean my harnesses I’m really excited about, and I’ve just launched those on the website. I definitely like doing the one of a kind collars that I can use a lot of different colors and mix materials like some glitter vinyl that you don’t see a lot of, and go more modern and trendy and fun and colorful.
anniebear: Cool, so most of your things are for female, or female identifying?
Annie: Yes, that’s kind of how I started because that’s what I knew. I knew male lead and female submissive relationships, because I was pretty sheltered before I got into the community and now the more I make friends and meet people of different orientations and different lifestyles, it’s easier to want to work with them and design things for all different kinds of couples in different situations.\
anniebear: That sounds awesome! So you’re based down in San Diego?
Annie: I am.
anniebear: Is there a who’s who in San Diego?
Annie: Well, everybody knows Goddess Fae, and I think once I met her is when I kind of started meeting everybody because she knows everybody. She owns House of Black, she puts together this sub-community for people within the community so, I’ve met a lot of people just from knowing her, and I’ve made some of my closest friends in the last few months just from meeting her, so I think she’s probably one of the biggest.
anniebear: Do you identify as mostly submissive?
Annie: Yes, so I’ve always felt I was firmly submissive, and only recently have I started experimenting with switching a little bit, just topping. I’m very servicey, so I’ve started noticing that there is definitely an element of service in topping, especially people I’m close to. So certain people just sort of bring about that. For example I have a friend who is way more submissive than I even am, so it’s easy with her.
Sara: It definitely works out! I’m similar. I totally understand what you mean. It’s great topping and playing with friends. You don’t have to worry about saying the exact perfect thing because I do edit it and rearrange stuff if we get off track, for example and there is no awkwardness in that. So, just looking at your collection, I assume you really like pink.
Annie: I do like pink. I’m getting a lot of people asking for really pale pink, because you get a lot of baby pink.
anniebear: Yeah, and rose gold is really popular right now.
Annie: I’m a stickler about my colors going with the hardware really well. So, I work with a company in Canada that makes all of my strapping just for me.
anniebear: That’s amazing! Wonderful. I didn’t know that existed. (laughs)
Annie: Yeah, I’m really really a stickler about it. It needs to look really good against rose gold.
anniebear: That’s really fun. Have you ever had any ideas that maybe turned out to be misses?
Annie: For sure. I mean at the beginning it was a lot of trial and error because I’m pretty much self taught. I haven’t taken any classes as far as leather working goes. I pretty much just Google things and figure it out. Trial and error. Even the cuffs I’m wearing right now you can see the edges are unfinished because it was one of the first pairs I made. So it’s one of those things I’m like “that doesn’t look so great.” What can I do to improve that?” So, as I’ve grown, even the last few months, I’ve figured out more ways to make the pieces entirely more finished and more sturdy.
anniebear: Cool, so you also have a co-creator, Tara?
Annie: Yeah, Tara is my best friend of 20 years. She’s my business partner and we have a vanilla jewelry line that we’ve had for many years. She herself, is not in the community, she just doesn’t identify with anything kinky.
anniebear: She’s a vanilla!
Annie: I don’t want to call her that. She says, “I’m not THAT vanilla!”
anniebear: I think if you mean it in a derogatory way, then that’s different. She’s non-kinky.
Annie: She’ll joke about it every once in a while, like, “I’m kinkier than you think, I just don’t talk about it like you do.” But yeah she’s all in, super supportive of me and the community and she’s ecstatic to meet all of my friends and learn about the way everyone uses and wears the things that we make so that she can help design, and so she does a lot of the hand stamping and metal smithing for the jewelry side of things.
anniebear: That’s amazing. You kind of got her on board with the whole idea?
Annie: I’ve been talking about it for probably a couple years and we were debating the best way to go about it because our brand is distinctly vanilla and we wouldn’t want to alienate our customers.
anniebear: So you keep them separate.
Annie: Yes, we keep the brands separate. Although I do let people know. I made Restrained Grace a social media account, like hey we also make nerdy stuff over here. I just, at this point, we haven’t advertised Restrained Grace too much.
anniebear: You wouldn’t necessarily want to have it on that website because people get uncomfortable (laughs)
Annie: Yes and you know my personal social media, I’m tied to both brands, and I’m out in every sense, personally. So I’ll mention both brands on my personal social media.
anniebear: that’s amazing! So I imagine your family must be pretty cool or accepting?
Annie: For the most part. My immediate family they know. I’ve always been kind of a black sheep. So my mom was just like, as long as you’re happy. I mean, I definitely had to have a conversation with my mom and explain to her that it’s not all whips and chains.
anniebear: There’s also this (Restrained Grace).
Annie: Yes, there’s also pretty girly things and wonderful communication levels and relationships and there are so many benefits to it.
anniebear: I love that. It’s really really great when that happens because it’s rare, I think that someone should be so completely out in their life and not have too much backlash or anything.
Annie: Right, I was able to actually come out as bisexual, poly, and kinky.
anniebear: All at the same time?
Annie: All at the same time, within a month or two. It’s been wonderful. I think I’ve just managed to surround myself with people who are supportive.
anniebear: You have your network there. Has your website ever received any…I know it’s relatively new, but has it ever received any criticism or backlash from anyone?
Annie: I actually have one random person who anonymously likes to send me…
anniebear: Hate mail?
Annie: Kind of. It’s very obvious, it’s very trolly, it’s very nasty, so I’m just like, I’m not going to give them any power over me.
anniebear: Sounds like they have too much time on their hands.
Annie: Yeah, they have nothing better to do than to worry about how happy I am, so.. (laughs)
anniebear: You’re like my life’s great, so I don’t know what you’re worried about!
Annie: My life is amazing!
anniebear: On a personal note, it sounds like your life has exponentially improved since coming out and getting involved more in the lifestyle.
Annie: Yes, the more involved in the lifestyle I get, the more people I meet, the more I feel like this is where I’m supposed to be. I was previously married and my whole relationship was vanilla and entirely unhappy. Getting to learn more about who I am and why I am what I am, and meet other people who are on the same journey and help them explore and connect with them, it’s incredible. And also sex. (laughs)
anniebear: That doesn’t suck either. (laughs)
Annie: Yeah our lives don’t suck.
anniebear: Have you ever been to any other big conventions like DomCon before?
Annie: This is my first big convention. This is actually my first, besides socials and a couple play parties, this is my actual first big thing.
anniebear: That’s wonderful. What do you think so far?
Annie: I love it. Just the broad variety of people and everyone’s different kinks and how everyone here is just accepting and excited. I’ve even met some totally new people who are just so beyond overwhelmed. They’re just like, “I’m taking business cards and I don’t know what half of this is for but I want to figure it out!” and I say “I’m here to answer questions if you like, and I’m new and I’m here to learn too!”
anniebear: There’s definitely that intimidation factor when you first get into the lifestyle.
Annie: It makes me want to do a blog post about how it’s really not as scary as you think and just talk about my experiences, like coming out into the community and being so timid and thinking it was going to be this big scary thing and instead meeting amazing people who are just all about finding their own happiness and giving pleasure and receiving pleasure, like this wonderful hedonistic group of people who are all just want to hang out and be happy. And it’s an incredible thing and doesn’t happen in the vanilla world very often, I don’t think.
anniebear: I would completely agree. The relationships formed in this lifestyle have been so much more meaningful in a way. So being new to the lifestyle, how did you kind of begin your journey?
Annie: Well, I had obviously read some filthy romance novels and things like that, like got the idea of who I was. I’d spend a lot of time on Tumblr, looking at…
anniebear: Dirty pictures! (laughs)
Annie: (laughs) Yes, dirty pictures! And there’re some bloggers on there that are, you know, male dominant/female submission and that really spoke to me, so I would read about their actual lifestyle. They would post anecdotal stories about their lives and I was like, this is for me. So when I decided to really get going in my business that’s the direction I took it in because that’s all I knew. And I’m the kind of person that I don’t want to bank off of someone else’s lifestyle if I don’t understand it properly. So, it’s not so much that I started it in an effort to be exclusive, or exclusionary, but that I wanted to know what I was doing and make things that were going to serve the purpose they were intended for for people. So the more people I meet the more my horizons are broadened I’m learning how other people would use things so I’m able to make things for Pro Doms, for female doms, male subs, gay men, all my friends are across the board.
anniebear: Did you end up going to an event in San Diego as an introduction into the lifestyle?
Annie: Yes, so I was dating a man who took me to a social, it was a really small social and the first couple times we went, we didn’t really get very social. And then I ended up going to another one alone and I had met a handful of people so I thought worst case scenario, just cling to somebody. And that was what started expanding my world because I wasn’t there with someone who was demanding my attention, I went alone, and made the rounds and made friends and started going to more things that way.
anniebear: Everyone is a lot nicer than you think they would be too, huh? (laughs)
Annie: Yeah, it’s very easy to be intimidated by the idea of what you think it’s going to be like, and be standoffish. And it’s one of the things I was talking about with friends earlier, it’s easy to feel like the community is cliquish because everyone forms such tight bonds to all the things we do together, like everything we do is intimate even if you’re only witnessing someone else do something, you feel like an interesting connection with them afterwards. So an outsider looking in at a social, where all these people know each other, is going to feel very intimidated. But there’re always people on the peripheral who know newbies are there, and want to welcome them to the community.
anniebear: Anything else new on the horizon for you?
Annie: I am working on adding a line of leather slappers, more sex toys, and things like that.
anniebear: How fun!
Annie: I’m also working on custom rope that will match my leather gear. I’m working on adding and expanding my line with other local crafters in San Diego, I’ve created a Fetlife group for local kinky crafters.
anniebear: Calling all crafters! (all laugh)
Annie: Yes! So we can all meet up and get together and work together and learn from each other. I’d like to be able to offer more hand made things that are outside of my wheel house. But the same quality and that work with my product line. I’m adding a whole line of more unisex and masculine designs. I’m really excited to get to work with my male sub friends on that.
anniebear: It’s good to have direct source information.
Annie: Yes because honestly, I make stuff that I would wear, so in not knowing any male submissives or masculine submissives, I feel like it would kind of be a shot in the dark trying to make for them, and I want to make things that are different than what’s already out there. Having resources and people who give me their opinions about a design with me is, it’s huge.
Make sure to check out Miss Annie’s full line of BDSM jewelry and accessories at Restrained Grace!
really beautiful stuff.