RJ: Hi! Can you tell us about yourself and your background?
MW: My name is Martin Wallner, and I’m an Austrian bear based in Vienna. I am originally from a small city in Carinthia – a province of Austria bordering northern Italy.
I’ve been married for three years to my wonderful husband, Kevin, who’s a fine artist from Canada. I’ve been working in the tech industry for years, but I have always been creative and imaginative. I love all kinds of movies, games, comics and other geeky stuff.
This year I decided to found Bear-Tastic, which has become an outlet for me to explore my creative side even more and connect with lots of people from around the world.
RJ: What gave you the idea to start your business?
MW: When I went shopping for new T-shirts, I was having a hard time finding the types of designs that I felt attracted to as a gay bear. There wasn’t enough variety for my taste, and I knew there were likely other guys out there with the same feelings.
So I started making my own designs, from cute and cuddly to naughty and kinky. I also started Bear-Tastic because I wanted to reach out and contribute in some way to the worldwide LGBTQ+ community.
It makes me really happy to see people in the community wearing my T-shirts! The reception I’ve received has been so positive, with lots of guys contacting me to tell me how much they love the designs.
It inspires me to work hard at it and keep going. I’ve struggled with social anxiety at times, and this has really helped me break out of my shell!
RJ: What does your business do?
MW: As a bigger bear I’ve also always had a tough time in stores finding T-shirts that fit. I know that I’m not the only one with this problem and it can get discouraging.
Bear-Tastic is body positive. I offer T-shirts up to 5XL for just this reason – there is no shame in being big and brawny! All guys should have the opportunity to find cute bear T-shirts that fit.
I started getting lots of requests recently for Tank Tops and Hoodies too so I’ve added them to my shops.
RJ: What does the future hold for your business?
MW: Looking to the future – I plan to keep expanding with new designs and products. One product I’m excited about offering soon is all-over print T-shirts.
I am also in the middle of re-designing my website and I’ve got a few new partnerships happening in the gay bear community which I can’t say much more about at the moment. I’m also working on getting my T-Shirts into retail shops.