Shrinking Violet Designs was set up by the late Gonul Zeki (pictured) over 25 years ago.
Having photographed extensively for clubs, performers and publications around London Gonul became manager of the London Lesbian and Gay Centre (LLGC) for several years. She then joined the Lenthall Road Workshop in Hackney to teach photography and darkroom techniques.
It was here that she first became interested in screen printing and many of the t-shirts designs that Shrinking Violet sells today were originally created at the workshop. Having worked at the LLGC and with a number of gay organisations, it was only natural that she would start printing t-shirts and merchandise for the many clubs and bars throughout the capital.
As this business became more and more successful she took her own unique brand of irreverent humour out to the towns and cities of the UK becoming a popular and well known face at almost all of UK Prides during the 90’s and 00’s. Initially she arrived in her beloved MG but as the variety of stock got larger she eventually moved onto a white transit (with accompanying white van attitude!). Over the years Gonul also supported many Pride events, particularly new events, by providing volunteer t-shirts and fundraising merchandise, and endless advice.
In 2014 Gonul left London and moved to Brighton where the business continued although the printing methods had by then progressed to digital from screen printing….something that she often fondly reminisced about, although the backache was definitely not missed.
The same year she married Debbie, a friend from LLGC days with whom she had reconnected with a few years previously. They had both left London to start a new life together. Sadly, a diagnosis of cancer that year proved to be terminal. Despite many months of treatment and hospital visits she was still attending Prides as a stall holder throughout 2015. Gonul died in March 2016.
Shrinking Violet holds a special place in the hearts and minds of many Pride organisers and attendees. People come to the stall and leave smiling (or sometimes deeply offended) with the latest rude t-shirt or mug firmly tucked away to remind them of their day. With this in mind and with a deep desire to continue her legacy, Shrinking Violet will continue to trade both from this website and at many Pride events. We thank you for your continued custom and look forward to sharing a little of Gonul’s out, proud and in your face humour at events during the UK Pride season.