Saturday, July 6, 2013

by *might

I usually wait until the end of the semester to share this story with my students (lest they think I'm crazy), but it's a true tale & I think, a great lesson in following your heart… and your fever dreams.

So, when I was a Sophomore in college, I caught the flu, just before Fall Break. I was alone in my apartment; my roommates had gone home for the week, and I had a crazy high fever. There was a painting across from my bed-- a little illustration I'd done one night, just as a silly doodle when I was cleaning off the extra paint from my palette. I found myself staring at this painting and being totally overcome by the idea that the quirky cat in the painting just HAD to be made 3-dimensional. I HAD to hug it. I was a fever, delusional mess at this point, BUT what happened next totally re-defined my life & accidentally paved the way for my career.

I'd just taught myself to knit, only a few months before, and had some needles and random skeins of yarn in a bag near my bed. I dug in and got to work. I'd never made anything but a scarf & a single sock before, so I had no real plan or pattern, besides using this illustration as a guide. I knit and knit and knit, eventually pulling a scarf & a sweater apart, to use the extra yarn. When it was done, I un-stuffed a pillow and used that for the fluff. Stitched it up and (as legend has it), fell immediately to sleep. When I woke up, I had the doll in my arms and my fever had broken. I was, of course, totally confused and a little bit weirded out… I mean, this was 1997-- the plush as art/ hand made doll pop culture thing hadn't happened yet-- dolls were for kids, so it was a pretty strange thing.

At first, I didn't tell anyone about it, but as my friends found out about what I was able to make, the response was awesome. People started commissioning them & I realized that there was a niche that needed filling. Unfortunately, I was too self conscious (and also just not prepared enough yet) to take them into a full time gig until well after I'd graduated, and by that point, Ugly Dolls had hit the market & my original idea was suddenly not so original. BUT, it also meant that people were looking for monsters and plush that kids and adults alike could enjoy, so I had a much more accepting audience.

I think what my young fever-y self was tapping into was actually the very idea that ended up being the motto & mission behind my business… Everyone should be able to have fun. Everyone should be able to cuddle with something that makes them feel safe, young, carefree. Being sick and "grown up" was such a bummer-- I just wanted to snuggle up with a stuffed animal, like I did when I was younger-- and why shouldn't I be able to!? My business started as a way to bring my ideas into young lives, in any form I could envision-- plush or print. I keep doing what I do (and coming up with new plush ideas) because I love watching my work bring smiles to people's faces. It's a wonderful challenge to keep thinking of ways to express myself in various mediums.

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