Monday, December 20, 2010

Merry Christmas ~ with Gratitude


I wanted to take a minute to say thank you to those of you who follow my blog ~ and thank you for your patience when I am absent. I appreciate your comments ~ and you! Never one lacking for ideas, I have a few new designs and products I am hoping to develop in 2011; a few causes I look forward to supporting.

But until then I am wishing you and yours a beautiful holiday ~ full of sweet memories and tons of fun!

Catch you in the new year. :)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Keeping Things Current


One cannot stay unplugged for long at this time of year (see previous post).

Something that I have started doing with my Etsy shop lately is updating photos for popular items. I'm sure every shop has a handful of items that are good sellers, thus bought and relisted over and over.

It occurred to me yesterday as I was making my ~ umpteenth ~ Simon Owl (not that I'm complaining!) that he had kind of progressed over the last year and had some upgrades from my original Simon; and yet, I was still using the original photos. It actually got me to thinking that ~ just out of curiosity, plus good marketing ~ I wish I had kept close track of which animals sold the most. Which ones have I relisted time and time again. (Note to self: that is something to start in the new year. I'm sure if I check, Etsy can help me track things like that. I love all the tools provided!)

But I digress (it is early and as I wake up I am thinking out loud). I think Simon Owl was the very first Wee One I designed. So to still be using the original photos for him was outdated ~ and somewhat inaccurate ~ information. Plus he's just cuter now ~ the new and improved Simon! I made sure to digitally document the latest incarnation of Simon and replaced the photos in my Etsy listing.

Just something that occurred to me on this holiday season morning ~ it is important to keep online information accurate and up-to-date. It may even result in more sales! :)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Unplugged.

Like many of you, I spend probably about 90% of my waking hours connected ~ either on my iPhone, my netbook or my studio computer. It has enabled me to take my little critters and my little business to levels I never could have imagined ~ nor could I have accomplished without all the technology available to me.

I have often thought how different my life would have been had all these avenues been around 30 years ago (yes 30 years ago!) when I was a stay at home Mom with two little guys. I did a lot of the same things I'm doing now back then and how I would have loved to been able to work from home and market to the world! But back to present day ~ I am just grateful to have the opportunities I have now.

However (you knew this was coming, right) ~~ however, I sometimes need to unplug. Walk away. Turn it off. Step back 30 years.

At least once I week I try to sit down and snuggle up with a cup of peppermint hot chocolate, my dog, my cat, a stack of magazines and catalogs and a note pad. I find that when I slow the pace down a little, open my mind, tap into some inspiration from unusual places ~ creativity flows in new and fun ways!

It is often a time when my best ideas are developed. My physical being appreciates the relaxation ~ and the dog and the cat are pretty darned happy I spent some time with them, too!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

And The Winner Is...

Freddie helped me draw the winner of the Wee Pillow design contest this morning.

And the winner is... (drum roll)

KETRYN!!! Ketryn suggested a teddy bear design for a wee pillow so that will be the next design!

Thanks everyone for playing! I loved all of your suggestions and am keeping them all in my design file. You just never know when one of your ideas may show up on a Wee Pillow... :)

(Ketryn ~ I'm not sure how to contact you, so I'm hoping you will see this! Can you email me at cindi@cindimh.com by Friday, December 3 and we will work out the details. Thanks!)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Win a Free Gift!


The holidays are upon us! And what's better than a free gift?? How would you like to win a free gift for a special little one in your life? (or even for your BFF?) Yes? Then read on, dear reader! :)

The latest in my line of products for kids are "Wee Pillows." Some little ones like to drag a security blanket everywhere; others prefer to carry a security pillow with them ~ kind of like a stuffed animal. So I have started designing Wee Pillows (8" x 8") with a variety of appliqu├ęd designs. (You can see examples of my Wee Pillows in my Etsy shop.)

My dilemma? I have so many ideas I don't know which one to choose next! So I decided to run a Wee Contest. ;-)

You can leave your suggestion in the comment section of my blog here or log onto my Facebook Page and give me your suggestion as to what you would like to see on a Wee Pillow. The contest ends at midnight, November 30. All entries will be thrown in a Santa hat (literally!) and a winner drawn Wednesday morning, December 1.

The prize? Oh yes, the prize... the winner will receive his/her choice of a Wee One or Wee Pillow from my Etsy shop. :) And I will [do my best to] make the winning design on a Wee Pillow! Now get busy suggesting. :)

(P.S. If you enter the contest, be sure I have a way to get in touch with you -- you could be the winner!)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Wee Contest ~ Just in Time for the Holidays!

My latest obsession is making wee pillows ~ like Louie here ~ (8" x 8") for toddlers. As mentioned in my previous post, some toddlers drag "blankies" around everywhere with them; some hang onto a little pillow for security and comfort.

I am having so much fun creating the designs for the appliqued pillows and actually have so many ideas I don't know which to do next! I've got ideas for lambs, pigs, ponies, cows, zebras, hippos, dogs, cats, cupcakes, ice cream cones, monsters ~~ and on and on. You get the idea.

I would love to hear what you would choose for your little one. Leave me a comment with your choice (one of mine or one of yours) by Wednesday, December 1. If your suggestion is selected you will win your choice of a Wee Pillow or Wee One from my Etsy shop!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pink Elephants and Such...


It is a common site to see a toddler walking along, cuddling his "blankie" ~ tripping over it, dragging it thru the dirt and subsequently refusing to give it up to be washed. (If this sounds like the voice of experience speaking... um... you're right.)

What may not be so common, but I know to be true ~ some little ones like to carry a small pillow around. One that is just their size, to fit in their tiny hands and rub against their little cheeks thus providing a unique form of comfort.

I've had this project in my head for a long time and am just now taking a bit of time out to present a few in my Etsy shop ~ 8" x 8" pillows with appliqued designs ~ small little guys for small little hands.

Unless, of course, you would like to give the pink elephant to your girlfriend who may have had one too many cocktails the other night and swore she saw one walk across the road... *wink*

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Yay! The Holidays are definitely upon us!

Check out my Holiday Shop on Indie Handmade ~ open from today, November 14 thru December 11. New items will be added on a regular basis!

Peppermint hot chocolate all around! :)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

And The BC Awareness Beat Goes On!

I love to gather ideas - ideas and inspiration from people, places, experiences... I am basically a shy person and many years behind a camera lens taught me the power of observation.

The idea I am writing about today was inspired by Stephanie, the owner of Stoopher & Boots in New York City. In late August I asked Stephanie if she would be interested in carrying a few of my little BC Buddies (a variety of pink BC Awareness inspired Wee Ones) ~ with 10% of each sale going to Susan G. Komen for the Cure ~ she enthusiastically said, "Yes! How soon can you send them?"

In the past I had only run my BC Awareness Campaign during the month of October. The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in New York City took place in early September so I extended my campaign to two months. At the end of October I asked Stephanie if she would like to pull the BC Buddies from the shelf until next year. She responded,"I'd like to keep them ~it is always a good time to support such a good cause!"

So thank you, Stephanie! You inspired me to keep the BC Buddies in my Etsy shop year 'round. Because I totally agree ~ it is always a good time to support a good cause! Thinking about it, I realized women (and men!) don't just get breast cancer in September or October. It is estimated that in 2010 about 207,090 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women* ~ and that's just women. That is day after day after day after day...

And proof positive of that ~ I have sold three BC Buddies in the last two days. I am thinking they will make dandy Hanukkah and Christmas pressies...

Yay!

*American Cancer Society

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Bundle Up for Winter!

Where I live we are having an unusually warm November, but winter will be upon us all before we know it. So some of my Liten Venn* characters are prepared with their winter scarves! Gregory the Penguin and Sasha the Polar Bear are happy to model for you.

The Liten Venns are going to be showing up in many varieties this holiday season. They make great stocking stuffers as most are 6 inches tall and 6 inches wide (from wing to wing or paw to paw). Most of them have some small parts so are for children 3 and up; but I'm always happy to substitute those small pieces with baby-safe features! Exchanging plastic eyes and noses for felt eyes and noses make a Liten Venn completely safe for baby.

So pop by my Etsy shop often and wander the aisles. Hot chocolate and sugar cookies on the table in front. *wink*

*Liten Venn is Norwegian for Small Friend ~ an homage to my Norwegian heritage.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Little Holiday Tease...


Ruthie the Reindeer (Rudolph's sister) makes her debut.

She and a several of her holiday peeps will be making their appearance in my Etsy shop, Stoopher & Boots (New York City), Modern Mouse (Alameda, CA) and Caboodle (Denver) soon!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hoot! Hoot!


When I was in high school in the 70's (yes I'm ancient), owls were all the rage.

So to see them come back into fashion is a kick. I don't know why I liked them in 1972 and I don't know why I like them now.

But I do know that Simon and Greyson make me smile. Hope they do you, too. :)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Gooble Gobble!!!




Thanksgiving is exactly 30 days away! Rupert is in my Etsy shop now and looking for a vegetarian household to share some tofurkey and great veggies!
He is looking forward to the holiday ~ as long as he has a chair AT the table and isn't ON the table. :)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Visit to Where it All Happens...

This week I was honored to be paid a studio visit by the awesome crew at Modern Mouse in Alameda, California. They have featured my studio in their "Show Your Studio" segment on the Modern Mouse website.

Ironically I had been planning to do a blog post about that very thing - my studio. I know I am always interested in seeing where creative people do their creating and thought maybe some of my fabulous cyberspace and IRL friends might like to see where the Wee Ones , et al, come to life! :)

So, lucky me, Modern Mouse saved me some time. If you would like to take a tour of my studio ~ and meet my creative assistants ~ pop on over here and I'll see you there! :) Cupcakes and milkshakes all around!

Friday, October 22, 2010

How Time Flies...

With the countdown to Halloween on ~ in my head, it has already happened! ha! That's what happens in retail, I guess. When you have a product to sell, you have to stay ahead of the game, so to speak. On a personal level it takes some of the surprise of out holidays for me; but believe me, I still enjoy them!

So always looking ahead I turn then to my sketches I so roughly drew (believe me, I'm no sketch artist) for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas it got me thinking that maybe my fabulous friends out there in cyberspace might enjoy knowing how my Wee Ones and Liten Venns come to be. I know I love learning how artisans, musicians, artists - any creative person - go about their craft; maybe you do, too.

My process is pretty simple actually. First and probably most important, I find inspiration everywhere - in movies, in cartoons, books, magazines or just people-watching. I often sort thru these inspirations in my head and something solid begins to take form ~ more often than not ~ on my morning walks with my dog.

Then I turn to my cheap little sketch book (it is a kid's drawing pad from Target). Almost all of my holiday sketches - 40+ total - this year were dreamt up and drawn while on a road trip to and from the Midwest (my Mom turned 92 recently). It gave me something to do rather than remind my husband of the speed limit. :) When I'm home, I keep a notepad with me at all times, especially on my bedside table for ideas that come in the night - they are quite often some of my favorites! (Think zombies.)

I then take the sketches and marry them with my basic template of a pattern and tweak the pattern to match the sketch (which becomes easier over time). I head to my fabric remnants first and use every bit of remnant I can to cut the pattern.

And from there the Wee One or Liten Venn is born. And I have to admit, the thing I enjoy most is creating a new character and seeing it come to life for the first time.

I absolutely love what I do. I posted on my Facebook page one day that I am so lucky to do something every day that makes me laugh ~ because almost every time I look at a completed Wee One or Liten Venn ~ I laugh.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Unveiling ~ and the Importance of Branding


Creating my new logo actually turned out to be easier than I had expected. I went in knowing pretty much what I wanted. I knew which image I wanted to use (see previous post) so that was half the battle.

Then it helped that I am blessed to have savvy geeks in my family. One son works for an interactive advertising agency and the other owns his own IT business. They provided techy and artistic advice.

I knew I wanted a simple image, clean lines and something that would be easily recognizable and memorable; and yet, something whimsical that would represent what I do. (I learned the importance of branding when I worked in the cable television biz.)

Something I hadn't considered, however, was creating versions in different colors for different venues (thank you my Mad Men son) ~ or as I have chosen to use them, for different causes or holidays. The images here depict pink - for Breast Cancer Awareness; teal - just because that is my favorite so far and may be the standard image; and purple for "Stop the Bullying."

I'm already envisioning something for Christmas... :)

I find projects like this incredibly fun. But there definitely is a serious side to it as well ~ branding your business is important. And once you find something that works, stick with it. People begin to relate to you ~ they feel comfortable with you and feel like they are your friend.

Once it's working, don't change it. Just ask GAP. *wink*

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Chosen One...

This dog - recently renamed Coco - is an image I have often used to represent cmh design. He was one of my first Wee Ones and there is just something about him that I love. I am sentimental about him, of course, being one of the first; but there is something else... I think it's his eyes.

Many of my first Wee Ones were made with felt eyes to insure that they were baby-safe. (I still offer that option, by the way, in place of plastic safety eyes.) Beyond the safety factor there is just something that is so soulful in his eyes. He looks like he really needs a hug ~ and is ready to give one back. :)

I have made many incarnations of Coco (clones actually) but I am working on a totally new version. I'm designing a new logo (it is time to brand) and Coco is playing an integral part.

Stay tuned. :)

Friday, October 15, 2010

TA DA!!!


Today, just out of curiosity, I thought I would tally up my productivity for the last six weeks. Probably something I should be doing on a regular basis anyway ~ you know from a time management perspective, etc. Anyhoo ~ I've been pretty busy lately and was curious to see how productive I've been.

After calculating spreadsheets and invoices, etc. here's I came up with. In the last 6 weeks I have produced:

Halloween Ghoulies (Wee Ones and Liten Venns): 87
BC Buddies (Wee Ones supporting Susan G. Komen): 30
Assorted Other Items - Etsy and Special Orders (Wee Ones, Liten Venns, Plush Pillows, Zen Baby Bibs, Knit Hats): 43

Grand Total ***Drum roll*** : 160 items

I thought I was busy. ;-) Christmas and Hanukkah? Bring it! :)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Apple. Tree.


They say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Hmmm... apple; tree.

If you've followed my blog you know my affection for my 92 year young Mom ~ and how much I have learned from her. One thing that has become more apparent to me as I age (ahem... not that I'm old or anything) is that I enjoy being productive. Productive almost every waking hour. Omg. I am my Mom. ;-)

So sitting in front of the television at night has always seemed like a waste of time if all I'm doing is looking at the television. I have many hobbies that have kept me busy over the years whilst TV watching; but about a year ago I discovered knitting looms. And oh boy, a faux knitter was born!

I am in awe of people who really knit - you know, with needles and patterns and such. I think the looms are not quite "knitting." But they are fun and fairly easy and produce a consistently nice product! There are ways, too, to make many, more complicated projects using them.

So something I really enjoy in the evenings (particularly those long winter evenings where the sun sets at 4:30 pm!) or on a long car trip ~ is knitting on my knitting looms.

And 'tis the season ~ soon. Time to get ready for those snowy mornings walking the dog or hitting the ski slope and the need to bundle up! I have a few beanies/toques/hats in my Etsy shop with more appearing as the snowflakes begin to fall!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Handmade by Heart



Last night I finished up my work for the day, sat back, put my feet up and sighed. Barely able to keep my eyes open, I reflected on my last few days. For nine days straight my work days have averaged 12-14 hours. And the next week looks to be the same.

Who says working for yourself is easy? *wink* Those of you who do, know it is not. But it is a labor of love.

Mind you, I am not complaining. I love what I do. The freedom to let my wild imagination take me wherever I want to go each day is a gift! I tell everyone being this busy is a good problem to have! I’m tired; but it is a hard-earned, feel-good, happy tired.

In my reflection, I thought about something that has been popping onto my onto my radar lately. I hear comments now and then from people wondering why handmade items are so expensive. They say, “Why pay a higher price for something handmade when you can buy ‘the same thing’ at Wal-Mart for half the price?” Well, that’s certainly a personal choice and in these tough economic times, understandable.

But if that someone who wonders would really like to know why a handmade item is “expensive” ~~ hold my hand and I will walk you thru what it takes to create one of my Whee Ones from inception to putting it in one of my awesome customer’s hands.
I begin with:

1. Sketch an original idea (this requires dreaming one up)
2. Translate the sketch into a pattern
3. Choose fabric
4. Lay the pattern on fabric and cut out the pattern
5. Sew the pattern together to create the Wee One
6. Name the Whee One and write a story about it
7. Photograph the Whee One
8. Edit images to get at least five good ones for posting
9. Post story and images to Etsy
10. Contact my consignment shops (three of them) and see if they would like the Whee One in their shop
11. Design the “hang tag” containing the story of the animal and my contact information
12. Print and cut the “hang tag”
13. Tie the “hang tag” on the Whee One with a coordinating ribbon
14. If shipping to a store, create and print an inventory sheet
15. If shipping directly to a customer, hand-write a thank you note on stationery I have designed and printed; make a fleece stuffed “thank you heart”; add business card and put all in a plastic Ziploc
16. If shipping directly to a customer, wrap Whee One in tissue paper and package in either a padded envelope or box; print a label for envelope/box
17. If shipping to a shop, inventory all and gently wrap in a plastic bag and pack in box; print label
18. Drive to the Post Office or FedEx to ship; secure delivery confirmation/tracking number
19. Send a follow up email to the customer or shop to notify of shipment and provide the tracking number to track package so they know when to expect it
20. Start all over again. :)

That is for one Whee One. I also have lines of Liten Venns (Norwegian for Small Friend), plush pillows, knit hats and baby bibs. When I have time I also have administrative duties – general paperwork, filing, etc.; keeping track of the budget and finances; frequent trips to local fabric store to purchase fabric and supplies; ordering supplies online; stocking supplies in my studio and organizing studio. And then, of course, there is time spent marketing - online promotions as well as snail mail brochures, flyers, business cards ~~ and the occasional craft fairs.

So if a handmade item seems expensive ~ well, chances are it is not. Chances are it is a bargain.

It is one of a kind – no other like it. Made with loving hands and attention to detail. It is a little piece of someone’s heart…

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Booga Booga!!


The Ghoulies are about! Be afraid! Be very afraid!

(Susan the Zombie is available in my Etsy shop now!)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

An Homage to Mom


My Mom had three sisters; two of them were stricken with breast cancer. One passed away a few years ago; the other has suffered with complications and side effects for more than 40 years. The up-side is she survived; the down side is her quality of life hasn't been that great.

When the breast cancer drug Tamoxifen was in clinical trials a few years ago, my Mom felt a responsibility to participate. She volunteered to be a part of the study for a couple of years. So, she's kind of my breast cancer hero, too. She took a chance ~ not knowing what the drug may do. Fortunately she didn't experience any side effects and is still healthy as can be.

Mom turns 92 on Friday. One of the gifts I'm giving her is this super soft (think angora/cashmere) pink hat I knit for her, with a special little note from me. ;-)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

It Doesn't Discriminate.


Proof positive that Breast Cancer is a widespread disease. Lil' Bess here will be on her way to Germany on Monday. Sweet Anna has purchased her to give to a friend suffering with the nasty disease.

Breast Cancer Awareness started early with cmh design this year ~ we expanded our campaign to include both the months of September and October. You can purchase BC Buddies here thru October, with 10% of each purchase going to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Think Pink!

BC Awareness is the name of the game for September and October!

It is that time of year again when seasons change and everything turns... PINK!

September and October bring Breast Cancer Awareness to cmh design! Once again we are donating 10% of the sale of any BC Buddy to Susan G. Koman for the Cure! Check my Etsy shop often because new buddies are added daily! You can also find my BC Buddies at Stoopher & Boots in New York City and [soon] Caboodle in Denver!

And thank you for your support! :)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Booga Booga!

Get ready! Crazy, scary creatures are about!

And more are on the way!! Booga booga!!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Countdown Begins...

I have always worked better with a schedule, a time line and just a bit of pressure.

If you are like me, here's some interesting information for you:
  • There are 66 days until Halloween
  • There are 91 days until Thanksgiving
  • There are 98 days until Hanukkah
  • There are 121 days until Christmas

My intent for the next two days is to seriously clean and organize my studio and storage spaces ~ start with a clean slate before jumping into holiday production. Which means, of course, I will be chatting on Facebook a lot; returning emails from two weeks ago; taking an extra long walk with my dog; cuddling with my cat; going thru my photo archives and phoning my Mom.

You see how the "pressure" part plays into this. :)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Remembering Muffin~~~


Anyone who has ever had a dog or a cat (or a fish or a bird ~ on and on) as a member of your family understands this ~~~

Once in awhile I get a special request to make a clone of someone's pet ~ a little Mini Me if you will. Sometimes it is to commemorate the passing of beloved pet; sometimes it is just a pet that is loved so much the "parents" want more of them.

Whatever the reason, these requests present a big challenge for me; but one that I do my best to honour. I accept such a request with caution and an explanation up front ~ the Mini Me will be an impressionistic version of your pet. It won't look exactly like them. I am a perfectionist (yes I said it) so that is the first obstacle to overcome... Every animal is unique and special, so it is challenging; but I do my best to come close. Working from a photograph I pull out my sketch pad and measuring utensils and go to work.

And so it was with Muffin. Muffin was a much-loved family dog of friend's husband's family (following that?). When Muffin passed, she, of course, left a huge hole in the family. My sweet friend wanted a remembrance and a likeness of Muffin for her husband, so working from a black and white photograph, with a brief description I did my best to honour Muffin from Georgia...

RIP sweet puppy.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Fall Preview ~ BC Comfort Friends Make a Return!


Just as last year this October cmh design will focus on Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It is a cause near and dear to my heart.

This year I am featuring a family of Wee Ones ~ The BC Comfort Friends. A cat, a dog, a bear and a bunny (and probably more!) can be found in my Etsy shop in just a couple of days. If you would like to purchase one ~ or order several, 10% of all sales will go to Susan G. Komen for the Cure!

So this is just a little preview of what is to come in the Fall! Can Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah be far behind??

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Finding Direction

When I opened my Etsy Shop about 18 months ago it was a mixed bag of photography, knit hats, note cards, dog treats and stuffed animals. Initially I thought ~ wow, what an opportunity to showcase all my interests!

Three months in (after a thoughtful hike along the East Bay in San Francisco/Berkeley) I made the decision to narrow down what I offered in my shop. I felt that the wide array of items offered were perhaps working against me ~ that maybe potential customers were confused when they entered my shop. Was I a photographer? A seamstress? A baker? A knitter? I was confused; I can only imagine what visitors thought.

On this early morning walk along the San Francisco Bay, watching the sun rise and reflect off the city skyline I thought about two things: (1) Considering all my interests, which offered me the most satisfaction and the most happiness? and (2) Considering all my interests, which presented the opportunity to actually make some money?

Although photography was, and will always be, a passion, it is an extremely competitive market. I have always had an affinity for stuffed animals, so I decided to focus on that.

So I did. And sales picked up. Within six months I began designing my own stuffed animals and developed a line of one-of-a-kind "Wee Ones." Sales hit an all time high at that point. A few shops across the country began to approach me interested in consignment possibilities.

Wanting to stretch my imagination and creativity a bit (because I have to admit I like creating new things) I recently expanded into applique plush pillows and applique baby bibs. And then I remembered ~ oh yeah, I know how to make knit beanies/hats. It is fun to go from one line to another ~ to mix it up a bit. But this time, I realized I had unconsciously created a new focus.

While at a networking social the other night a few people inevitably asked, "So what do you do?" I instinctively handed them a business card and said, "I make stuff for kids." They knew immediately what I do.

And with that, I realized ~ I have a direction. I have a demographic I can focus on; I have a market I can cater to. I know what shops to contact; I know how to promote my business. Everything makes sense now. :)

Direction. It makes all the difference.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Monday Morning Advice: Leap and Trust.


I remember walking past this skull and crossbones flannel fabric in the store and thinking, "Oh that's cute."

Walk past again; thinking, "But is it too edgy?"

Walk past again; thinking, "But I like it. It's my quirky personality. If I like it, surely someone else will like it, too."

Walk back, pick up the bolt of fabric and think, "Oh, go for it."

So I did. And I'm glad I did because it taught me something ~ to trust my instincts. If I like it I'm going to have fun creating it. And if I like it, chances are someone else will like it as well. It is a philosophy I adopted with my photography a few years ago ~ to be a little daring and different and not worry about what other people think ~ and now I am carrying that philosophy into my new world of creating things for kids. Design things that make me smile and I will bet you a dollar someone else will smile as well.

So my Monday morning advice? Don't hide your personality ~ let it show in your work! Don't worry about pleasing everyone because you never will! Dare to be a little "out there" because there are friends "out there," too! And it's a helluva' lot more fun. :)

I was reminded of this with my friend, Kathleen's recent blog post about photography. If you create things you like that's really all that matters. Because that will reflect in your work; you're happy; you will probably touch or inspire someone ~~ and it is a win-win!

So I had so much fun creating this little bib yesterday. And guess who bought it early this morning?

Kathleen. Point made. :)

Friday, July 30, 2010

Certain Things. Like the Tooth Fairy.


Three things are certain. Death (sorry to tell ya'); taxes (again, my sympathies); and kids will lose their baby teeth.

In Ireland and Great Britain, children used to bury baby teeth. In some Asian countries, children throw their lost tooth off the roof or into the space below the floor (depending on where the tooth was located in the mouth). In Japan, children throw the tooth straight down or straight up in the air (again depending on where the tooth was located in the mouth). *

And in America, of course, children leave their woebegone tooth under their pillows or in a "safer" (for the Tooth Fairy) place such as a Tooth Fairy pillow in hopes they will receive a reward (usually monetary). In my day it was a nickel; I am scared to think what it is today... But that's neither here nor there ~ the need still exists!

So the new addition in my Etsy shop cmh design are Tooth Fairy pillows.
Of course. ;-)

*Source - Wikipedia

Pillows. They're Not Just for Kids Anymore.

When I began designing pillows a few weeks ago, the first designs definitely had a "kid-friendly" feel and that was the direction in which I thought I would go.

Not so fast. ;-) I soon began getting requests from some big kids (aka adults). My sister-in-law from the Great White North wanted a few in Canadian themes ~ thinking snowflakes for the coming winter; my son wanted a dragon for his wife, a student in Chinese Medical School; a friend wanted a sailboat befitting his New England home.

So, although the majority of the designs I come up with will most likely be centered around kids, I'm always open to requests from those big kids, too. Because as my friend Jeff says, "Pillows are just stuffed animals for men." And apparently, women, too. :)

(Check out the possibilities @ cmh design. Just go to "Shop" page to find the links to all my venues! Or got directly to my Etsy shop cmh design.)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Programming Note...

So you may have noticed some changes in my online presence (and eventually my "in life" presence) as I make the transition from "freckles & friends" into the new phase of "cmh design."

I eluded to changes on the horizon here and with the help of my IT guys (translation - husband and son, IT consultants by day; bribed family members by night) we have taken steps to make everything consistent. (I'm big on branding and consistency...) Over the last couple of weeks much designing and coding and all sorts of crazy things ensued.

So now my blog, my Etsy shop, my Facebook business page (I will be begging you and reminding you to join me on that new page because unfortunately I have to start all over!), my labels, my business cards, on and on and on... will all be switched over from "freckles & friends" to "cmh design." Bear with me.

Because my line of handcrafted merchandise is growing, "cmh design" seemed to be a good idea to incorporate a broader base from which to work. I have a new website acting as a central location to link you all to the various spots my products can be purchased - both online and brick 'n mortar. My new site will also serve as a spot to quickly check in and see what's happening behind the scenes and how to keep up with the latest creations and fun tidbits in general.

So now, (drum roll) here it is!!!! cmh design Log on and take a stroll around. And check back often for updates on new projects, new merchandise and new venues! (And maybe a chuckle or two...)

Thank you SO much for your patience as I transition ~ and thanks for making all this growth possible. It is all too. much. fun!! :)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Everything is Ducky. Super Ducky!

My Dad was a man of few words. Very few. So when he did say something I remembered it. There are two comments he made during my adult life that I distinctly remember.

One was:
"You sure know how to make work for yourself."

And:
While visiting one summer he watched from his chair in front of the TV as I ran up and down stairs many times. He said, "Cindi. I get tired just watching you."

Obviously I take after my Mom. ;-)

So deciding to add a line of applique pillows to freckles & friends has created a lot of work for me. But soooooo much fun as well! An incredibly delicious amount of fun! I'm having a blast and just two days in have started receiving special orders. I am planning to specialize in simple, whimsical designs for nurseries and children's rooms. (But I'm not adverse to designing for adults as well!) I am thrilled that all of the beautiful gift shops I partner with have requested supplies. A few pillows will be making their debut at On A Lark's 2nd Sidewalk Fair this Saturday, July 17 from 10am - 2 pm. If you're in the area, stop by and check them out for yourself.

If you're not in the area, stay tuned because they will soon be appearing in Stoopher & Boots in New York City and Modern Mouse in the San Francisco Bay Area (Alameda), as well as in my Etsy shop . :)

Friday, July 9, 2010

I *Heart* Pillows

I have always had a penchant for pillows. Ask my patient husband... the bed is usually full of them; there are a few on the couch (although I've cut back there out of courtesy to guests who have no place to sit); and I have bags of seasonal pillows in the basement. Granted I do rotate them as seasons change; but still... I have a lot of pillows.

I've made a few over the years, but have never really been too attached to them. For months now I've been thinking about mixing up my sewing a bit. I do love my stuffies, but it's fun to create different things.

Today ~ as is my wont ~ I switched out my duvet cover (I'm easily bored) and with it, of course, needed to switch out the throw pillows. Craving color I chose the red duvet cover; then remembered I didn't have much that would coordinate throw pillow-wise.

So I decided to make a pillow. (Eventually three, but this is the first) I adore applique. Simple, clean applique; not that gaudy stuff. The photo above is my first one. I have plans for two smaller ones with simple birds.

(If you were to walk into my house you would see small birds tucked away in many places - as well as many on my deck singing and chowing down. Because in addition to pillows, I love birds, too. I am in awe of them.)

So you ask - what the heck does this have to do with freckles & friends ??? Well, I'm thinking of making appliqued pillows for sweet little babies and their nurseries ~ little kiddles' rooms when they move up to "big boy" and "big girl" beds. Of course I have a ton of ideas for kid-adorable, kid-likable images.
What do you think? Good idea?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Coming Soon...

This may not look like much right now, but big things are happening behind the scene. So big I'm posting this to both my blogs. :)

Fun stuff on the way. I'm not even sure where the road will lead, but I'm jumping in with both feet. Sapphire blue painted toenails and all!

And I'm bringing lots of friends with me ~ including some of you! Stay tuned!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Why I Love What I Do.

With our first Sidewalk Fair behind us (and what fun it was!), I was reminded of another reason I love doing what I do. I got to see a few kids interact with my Wee Ones and the smiles on their little faces, the conversations we had about the foods the Wee Ones like and observing the indecision... do I want a pink dog or a penguin ~~ reminded me that I am fortunate to be creating some childhood memories for little ones.

Arabella, the happy owner of 5 Wee Ones, may just remember the conversation about how I come up with names for them all. Hunter, although only a wee one himself (about a year old) won't remember me, but he may carry his Wee monkey thruout his childhood.

It got me thinking about my first (and favorite) stuffed animal ~ a dog named Floppy. He's around here somewhere... and over 50 years old.

Reading this assured me I'm not the only one with fond memories. And just a bit of sentimentality.

It's why I do what I do. And why I love what I do.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Saturday Sidewalk Fair!

Busy, busy, busy preparing for the Sidewalk Fair with On A Lark in West Wash Park in Denver on Saturday! I've got 34 Wee Ones lined up (literally) and looking for homes! If you're in the area, stop by from 10 am till 2 pm. We'd love to see you. :)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

We're Still Here! :)

I've been quite remiss in updating... my little friends have totally taken over my life. But it's all good.

In addition to Stoopher & Boots in New York City and Modern Mouse in the San Francisco Bay Area (Alameda) carrying my Wee Ones and Flat Baby Travel Pillows, On A Lark right here in my beloved Denver has joined the bunch! I'm thrilled to work with Ivy (the owner) ~ what fun it is to know her and her sweet shop!

My new line of Flat Baby Travel Pillows (featured above) double as a toy and a practical travel aide. A plushie-stuffie, which also serves as a dandy pillow! That little curve where my neck is? Well, that's the perfect nook for a weary neck ~ great to rest a little one’s head in a car seat or on an airplane ride. And a secret? Adults can use them, too!

They are the perfect size to fit in a diaper bag or a back pack. Each one is fairly flat so easily packable. They are all about 10.5 inches tall and skinny, so they don't take up much room at all. They have no removable parts, so they are pretty safe - but parental supervision is always advised when it comes to little ones and toys.

If you aren't in Manhattan, Alameda or Denver, pop into my Etsy shop ~ freckles & friends and see what's new!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Now on Both Coasts. :)


I have been quite remiss in posting lately, but with good reason. Not only did Stoopher & Boots in New York City come calling, but so did Modern Mouse in the San Francisco Bay Area (Alameda)! I am so happy to be doing consignment with them both! So now they've got both coasts covered and I'll hold down the Rocky Mountain Region here

The Wee Ones are the main focus now, but I'm looking forward to some new original designs ~ as soon as I have time to start sketching! :) Stay tuned...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Mimi the Mouse

There's a mouse in the house!!

Mimi is the latest in my Wee Ones collection. Thank goodness Esmeralda is on her way to New York City. I think there might be a bit of scurry if she was around.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Hello New York!!!!

You just never know what The Universe is going to send your way, so more than ever I am keeping my eyes open and practicing saying "yes." There's a lot to be gained and very little to lose by nodding your head and taking a chance.

The timing of my latest nod couldn't have been more perfect. In the last month I (as "freckles") have decided to develop a line of my own original "friends." The Wee Ones are now original concepts and designs ~ and let me tell ya' ~ the ideas never stop. (Especially when my friends start chiming in! ha!) The six developed so far you see here ~ Esmeralda the Cat, Randy Dawg, Honey Bear, Georgette the Monkey, Simon Owl and Pipin the Bunny.

At about the same time these guys were being created, I came to know wonderful Stephanie of Stoopher & Boots. Stephanie is opening a gift shop in New York City on May 1 and has invited a few of my Wee Ones (as well as some photographs but that is a story for another blog *wink*) to join her shop! I'm so excited and extremely grateful for the opportunity!

This week will be a busy one, running final designs and thoughts past Stephanie and getting them all ready to ship off to the Big Apple!

Thinking back a few months to the beginning of the year, I had an undeniable feeling - a very strong feeling - that 2010 was going to be a very, very good year. I'm here to say ~ trust your intuition!!!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Coming Soon...

to an exciting, awesome, crazy cool new shop - a real live brick 'n mortar store...

Simon Owl, E (Esmeralda) and Randy Dawg! Along with a couple of their friends.

That's all I'm sayin'. :) Stay tuned because this is pretty exciting!

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Cool Chicks...


are off for an adventure of a lifetime!

Thank you Preethu ~ I know they will love India!

Preethu has been making my sew in labels from Day #1 and I so appreciate the class she adds to my little guys!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Listen to the Universe. Be an Original.

The Universe has been tapping me on the shoulder a lot lately. Whispering in my ear. Now it has begun to throw bricks at my head (not real ones, the soft foam ones). I do believe it is trying to get my attention.

Because by some miracle - whether it be luck or hard word - my friends and I are beginning to gain more exposure out there in the real world (you know, beyond the four walls of my studio and the pages of Etsy). A couple of my bunnies auditioned for a television commercial in Hollywood a few weeks ago. Now I'm working on a consignment contract for a shop opening on the Upper West side of Manhattan in a few weeks.

The message I am getting is to be original. When my friends venture out into that big wide world, I want them to be truly of my creation ~ not a tweaked version of someone else's. So I have begun to design my own patterns and make my own very original Wee Ones.

I am specializing in Wee Ones for a couple of reasons:
  • Smaller seems more manageable and easier to work with for now. I'll work up to larger guys later. Maybe. Or not.

  • I can make good use of the endless supply of remnant fabric I have ~ thus saving the environment (by not tossing out these small pieces of fabric to end up forever in a landfill); and saving myself some cash (by using every bit of the fabric I buy); and saving my customers money (because if I save money, I can keep my prices reasonable). Win-win!

  • Wee Ones can find a home anywhere ~ from babies who can hold them in their tiny hands to an office worker who can keep one on their desk and make them smile thru a boring day in cubicle-land. (I've been there and I know whereof I speak.)

  • I just think they're cuter! :)

Now that I'm paying atention, I find inspiration at every turn - movies, cartoons, books, magazines, online, catalogs (for some reason I really dig catalogs...). It is so rewarding to sit down with a piece of paper and a pencil and start sketching. I look around my studio for things to help me trace perfect circles and ovals and squares. It is a challenge, but oh when I see it start coming together ~ it's just too much fun.

Simon Owl came to life yesterday. He started as a pencil drawing and 2.5 hours later became what you see pictured here. Be looking for his compadres in all sorts of variations ~ I see dogs and cats and mice and bunnies and all sorts of Wee round ones appearing soon. Keep an eye on the shop and see who's new in town! :)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

One Year Ago Today...


Henry is the second little bear I created and my first sale on Etsy. That was one year ago today - April 10, 2009. I was particularly pleased because he was adopted by a dear and talented friend who has her own shop. He has a lovely home with her. :)

It was the beginning of a journey I never expected to find myself on. As I said in my previous post, I started my shop with an eclectic collection and quickly narrowed it down to what I really loved to do ~ create these little critters.

Thank you to all my customers for their ongoing support and the wonderful reception my whimsical world enjoys daily. My little guys have opened up doors I never even knew existed.

And it just keeps getting better... :)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Looking Back on a Year.


I just happened upon this while opening my photo archives tonight - one year ago today I made my first stuffed plushie/stuffie. Dotty was sent to a dear friend in San Francisco for her daughter (then about 9-10 months old) to "baby test." Fortunately Dotty passed the test and the little one adopted her with hugs (as well as Dotty standing up to a washing and drying!).

When I originally opened my Etsy shop a year ago I tried offering an eclectic mix of things I love to do - photography, knitting, stuffies. Eclectic - yes; but more so, I had begun to feel, confusing. During a trip to Berkeley/San Francisco in June of last year I spent one very early cool morning walking along the East Bay thinking about what direction I should take. I made a decision. I returned home, reorganized my shop and dedicated it to stuffies exclusively.

Over the past year I have been so grateful to see my customer base grow ~ and wow, what a banner month in March! I think I made the right decision. I woke up Easter morning and - with no little ones in my house any longer - told my husband, "Oh! There are children across the country waking up to my bunnies this morning!" The only thing that would make me happier would be seeing their faces. :)

I know I'm having fun and I've been fortunate to receive encouraging feedback; I've made good sales and am more excited than ever about what I am doing. I am now migrating into my own original designs ~ finding that challenging, but oh so fun.

So thank you Joo and Lena for being there at the beginning ~ and to all of my wonderful, beautiful, generous friends and customers on Etsy who have followed. You make me smile every day.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Angels Among Us

Mother's Day is 6 weeks away. I know. I know. Passover is tonight. Easter is next Sunday. But in this retail world we have to look ahead (don't tell anyone I'm designing Christmas items, ok?)

If you follow my blog you know that I'm pretty fond of my Mom. She is kind and generous and smart; humble and hard-working and talented. I credit much of any creative spirit I have to my Mom. It's in the genes. My aunts were very creative; so was Grandma and my sister is practically Martha Stewart.

Over the years my Mom has acquired a collection of angels in various forms - given by many who think of her in that respect. So it was obvious to me that when I created this first angel (and there will be more) her name needed to be Esther - my Mom's name.

So think about the angels you know - or someone who needs an angel. And over the next few weeks my shop and I will help you out! The angels will be about. :)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

New Kids on the Block


The Wee Ones have been multiplying over the weekend! I knew bunnies are expected to do that; just don't know how that cat snuck in...

The countdown is on to Easter - if you don't have your basket full yet, get busy! :) Stop by and pick up a bunny or two. Or five. *wink*

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Easter is A Week and A Day Away!

Easter is only a week and a day away - can you believe it?! So the countdown is on to fill those Easter Baskets! The trio here are on their way to New Mexico to do just that! Peaches, Harvey and Whiskers will be winging their way south on Monday.

I'm featured in a Showcase in the Toy category today and I've got many more lovable critters in my shop - both big and small (or "Wee Ones" as I call them) - in all price ranges! I'll be working in my studio all day, so new ones will be popping into the shop all day long. Be sure to stop by my shop often today to see what's new!

(Did you know Mother's Day is only 6 weeks away?! Stay tuned to my blog and my shop as items for Mom are added! Here is a sneak peek of what is to come! :)

Happy Weekend, everyone!