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Want to wear your LGBTQIA+ pride on your sleeve? Or maybe on the lapel of your jacket? Designer Yu Sheng Teo has you covered! On this episode of Pink Money, host Teraj (@teraj08) sits down with Yu Sheng to talk about his brand Heckin’ Unicorn (@heckin.unicorn). Heckin’ Unicorn is a Singapore-based, queer-owned brand that makes a variety of stylish pride accessories from socks to pins!
Yu Sheng was inspired to start Heckin’ Unicorn after feeling uninspired by the existing range of pride accessories. “It started out as a side project,” the business owner tells Teraj. “I’d seen a couple of pride pins and pride merchandise designs and to be honest, they all kind of looked like pride flags, just in different shapes. So I started designing pins.”
At first, Heckin’ Unicorn’s pins were subtle. Many depicted cute animals or inanimate objects sporting different LGBTQIA+ colors. “But, of course, over time, the designs started being less and less subtle,” Yu Sheng recalls. “We have had a lot of pronoun pins, and ‘Queer AF’ designs that are not really that subtle anymore.”
Now, Heckin’ Unicorn sells a wide range of pins, socks, and other accessories. But though they are constantly releasing new products, Heckin’ Unicorn’s designs are consistently playful and positive, serving as a celebration of the diversity of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Yu Sheng tells Teraj that he loves coming up with clever puns when designing his pins. “A lot of pin designs are based on puns and inside jokes,” he explains. “One example of a pun, I guess, is the pancake pin. It sports the pansexual pride colors, but to an average person it just looks like a pancake. We have a bi bicycle pin. And, again, it’s a pun on the word bi, and it just has the bi pride colors.”
Other Heckin’ Unicorn designs are geared towards making members of the LGBTQIA+ community feel safe. “This is the ‘They/Them’ pin,” Yu Sheng says, holding up a pin engraved with the words “They/Them.” “The idea for the pronoun pin is quite different than most other pin designs. It has to be obvious. Showing our pronouns is a very easy way to show that it is a safe space, you can tell me your pronouns, and I’m going to respect that.”
In addition to designing stylish accessories, Yu Sheng uses his platform to speak out on issues that affect the LGBTQIA+ community. “Heckin’ Unicorn is actually quite vocal when it comes to queer issues, especially those within Singapore,” the small business owner explains. “We will publish articles that really highlight a specific, tangible way that we are being discriminated against by the state. Behind the article that we publish, behind every statement that we make, it’s like months of research and a lot of thinking that goes behind it, to make sure that we only put out stuff that is accurate, and is correct.”
Yu Sheng tells Teraj that pins and socks are just the beginning for Heckin’ Unicorn. The brand, he explains, has a bright future with many exciting new products in the works. “So we’ve just launched our first earring designs. That’s pretty exciting,” he says. “And earlier this year we also just launched our first backpack design. There will be more designs and products that we’ll be launching across the remainder of the year, so stay tuned for that.”
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