Today, more than a million people still carry him on their “following” list and every once in awhile, in several hundred timelines, an erstwhile @TheRealNimoy tweet pops up and reminds us of a different, kinder era. And above that tweet, the words “A retweet for my Poppi. #LLAP.”
The person behind the retweet is Dani Schwartz, Leonard’s granddaughter. Dani maintains the @TheRealNimoy account, and she also runs the Twitter account for the online retail business, Shop LLAP, that she and Leonard co-founded. Dani, who refers to him as “Poppi,” is the reason Leonard joined Twitter in the first place.
Leonard Nimoy meets Twitter
Prior to opening Leonard’s Twitter account, Dani had taken a marketing class on the influence of social media. Dani and Leonard then opened the new Twitter account in order to publicize the Secret Selves shop. “Both my grandfather and I were new to Twitter, so we were both learning together. We created @TheRealNimoy in April of 2010. By the second week he was doing 90% of the tweeting.”
At the beginning, @TheRealNimoy was used almost exclusively for promoting the Secret Selves shop, “but [we] changed it when we discovered how many people he knew had a Twitter account and that he could communicate with not only them but also his ‘followers.’”
Leonard found that he loved tweeting and interacting with his fans online.
Leonard put Twitter’s word limit to good use. “About a week or two after he started tweeting, he began ending every tweet with ‘LLAP.’ Many of his followers followed suit and started to add the hashtag. My Poppi would add it as well, if he remembered.”
Dani was surprised at how popular the hashtag “LLAP” had become, and even now it continues to be a ubiquitous presence on Twitter for the Star Trek community - a familiar signal of good will and a loving tribute to Leonard Nimoy and Mr. Spock.
The Merchandise Comes With Something Extra Special
During the early days of the Secret Selves shop, Leonard offered signed 8 X 10 glossy photos of Mr. Spock along with the purchase of a tee shirt. Eventually he would send along signed Spock trading cards. Dani and Leonard also sold Secret Selves shirts which Leonard would sign on the back. Then they began a promotion where they would sell blank white tee shirts, and on the back Leonard would use a marker to trace over his hand doing the Vulcan salute with “LLAP” written underneath. “The tracing of his hand was his idea. We would probably spend 2-4 hours a month working on those shirts.”
“. . . when we saw how many followers he was getting and how big of a thing LLAP was becoming, we decided to close our Etsy shop and open Shop LLAP. Shop LLAP became the shop for all things Spock, and Leonard Nimoy, of course.”
That Half Spock Face
Soon they created the iconic half Spock face, which became synonymous with Shop LLAP. It became the shop’s logo and was also featured on some products.
“The half Spock face was my idea. My grandpa was on board with the concept, so he put me in charge to find someone who could draw it for us. I got in touch with Josh Zingerman who is a comic book artist and an old friend of mine from elementary school. My grandpa and I worked with him to achieve what we were looking for.”