Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Things To Come...

2012 has proven to be a banner year for the Wee Ones and me ~ thanks to the amazing support from you!  Four online shops and seven brick 'n mortar stores/galleries have kept me quite busy (hence long time no blog).  To that end I am working on some restructuring for 2012 ~ streamlining my lines to make my turnaround time faster and more efficient; but also looking to grow the business even more (without making myself too crazy...).

I am hoping to sign with a few more brick 'n mortars and plan to introduce new little guys in my regular line. Something new I am looking forward to is featuring some limited editions as well. Limited meaning they will be special ~ unique fabrics and/or designs ~ with only a few offered for sale for a limited time, then the line will be retired.  Furball here is a tease of what's to come.

I'm nearing the end of my holiday orders and looking forward to some fudge-making, cookie-baking, sitting- around-the-Christmas-tree-and-the warm-fire-family-time, toasting our blessings this year and maybe catching a movie or two.

And sleeping in.  Omysweetgoodness sleeping in would be such a treat!  ;-)

Happy holidays to all of you with {hugs} and enormous gratitude...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Sum of the Parts...

that make the whole.

I know when I buy something I don't really think about all the parts that go into making the whole item.  But when I am on the other side - actually making the item - I think seriously about the parts that make up the whole. I scrutinize fabric; in fact, I've been known to get really unreasonably excited if I find just the right fabric for just the right project.  I am sure to keep my inventory of threads up to date; yes I do need four shades of pink and eight shades of blue.

In my particular business - making my Wee Ones, et al - I think the thing that really brings them to life are their eyes.  For my critters who will be adopted by kids over 3 years old, I use plastic safety eyes.  When I attach those eyes... well, that is when the Wee One comes to life.  The eyes are the window to the soul ~ even in a stuffed animal. When those eyes become part of a bear or a dog or any critter I'm working on, suddenly a personality appears.

And that is when I smile.  And that is when I know I've got a winner.

So, all that being said, eyes are a crucial part of my inventory.  And more often than not, I lose track of my inventory "count" and realize that - uh oh - I've only got 4 pairs of 12mm black eyes left!  The person I always turn to is my Etsy friend, Clara of 6060.  She always has what I need and am in dire need of.  Her response to my requests are immediate and her turn-around time is amazing!  Although we are many, many miles apart I usually have what I need in just a couple of days.

There are many times she has saved the day for me ~ especially during crunch times like the holiday season.  So I just wanted to tip my Santa hat to Clara and say thank you for your outstanding customer service!  I don't know what I would do without you!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My Very Own Bug-a-bootie Cuties

Cyberspace can be a wonderful place ~ both for friendships and finding unique items.

A few months ago I got acquainted with a fellow Etsian, Lauren.  Lauren makes the most adorable soft-soled shoes (aka house shoes) for babies, toddlers and adults.  Both being seamstresses we often share the trials and triumphs of sewing machines, fabric, patterns ~ you name it.  (No one appreciates the thrill of finding a fabric you absolutely love other than another fabric-obsessed seamstress!)

As cooler temperatures began to set in recently and I pulled out my raggedy old slippers, I began seeing some really awesome house shoes showing up on Lauren's Facebook Business Page.  So one chilly night while my toes were shivering, I logged onto Lauren's Etsy Shop Bug-a-booties and ordered some house shoes in my favorite color ~ green.

I've known Lauren as a fun and sweet friend; but getting to know Lauren the Business Woman was a real treat, too! Lauren's response to my order was immediate and thorough.  She followed up with questions to insure that my house shoes would be a perfect fit for my feet.  I realized as we went thru sizing process that making shoes for someone sight unseen could be tricky business.  But Lauren is a true pro; she definitely knows her stuff.

My beautiful house shoes arrived this morning and I couldn't be more pleased!  I just love them.  Not only are they adorable and super comfortable, the craftsmanship (or is that craftwomanship?) is outstanding.  Attention was paid to every detail.  And soft is right ~ flannel and velvet with fun, soft leather soles.  I wish Lauren had been around when my boys were little ~ not only are these great for grown-ups, but they are the perfect shoe for little ones!

So now I find myself thinking...  I want to give everyone I know a pair of Bug-a-bootie house shoes for Christmas!  Of course that's not possible, but I would encourage you to take a peek at her shop; I'll bet you'll find some Holiday gifts there yourself!

Thank you, Lauren, for making such a fun, unique and quality product!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Bunnies. They're Not Just for Easter Anymore.

Bunny season is typically in the Spring and near Easter for me.   I've discovered something recently as bunnies - both BIG (about 13") and small like the guys above (about 6") - have been selling on a regular basis.  Go figure.

Then it was brought to my attention by a couple of customers that in some cases these bunnies are acting as "security blankets" -- or "security bunnies" if you will -- for little ones.   In fact some little guys become so attached to their bunny Mom is ordering a "back up" bunny, just in case the original goes missing.  Moms have told me they are just the right size to tuck into a diaper bag or a purse and they won't leave home without them.

I think that is the sweetest compliment I could receive!  You can be sure these and other "security bunnies" will be in stock at all times.

Friday, November 4, 2011


In my Dad's later years (he lived to be 87) one of his favorite pastimes was to watch television with my little niece.  The cartoon they enjoyed the most was Clifford the Big Red Dog.  That always made me chuckle because my Dad's name was Clifton (but he was better known as Clif).

As his health failed, he spent the last three weeks of his life in a beautiful hospice facility.  My Mother and I spent every day with him, with other family members coming and going.  He would drift in and out of sleep and later in and out of consciousness.  Once in awhile he would mutter things softly.  One day when I returned from running an errand my Mom said, "He keeps talking about a big red dog; he sees a big red dog.  I have no idea what he's talking about."  Taken out of context like that we were puzzled..  We thought for awhile; then I had a light bulb moment.

"Mom, he sees Clifford.  Clifford the Big Red Dog!"

He passed away shortly after that and I'm hoping that Clifford the Big Red Dog ~ or some semblance thereof ~ was there to greet him on the other side.

Yesterday I spent the day creating some new Wee Ones with subtle holiday/Christmas themes. Red is a big holiday color, so I noticed it was a recurring theme in the new "holiday collection of critters."  And without even thinking about it, I created a red dog.  Once I realized, omysweetgoodness, I have a red dog ~ it was obvious what his name would be.

Clifton. The Wee Red Dog.

Here's to you, Dad. :)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wee Clones

Meet a special English Sheepdog, Black Cat and Grey Tabby Cat.  Or at least my impressionist versions of the real things.

If you're new to my world, let me give you some background.  I design Wee Ones - little stuffed animals - all kinds of species - all my own designs.  About a year ago I began getting requests to make Wee "Clones" of people's pets (just dogs and cats to this point).  It is always a challenge because I really want to please my customers ~ and designing something as special as a version of their beloved pets ~ well... it's a challenge. :)

The designs (like I said so far just cats and dogs) are in place, but the biggest challenge of a personalized Wee One?  Finding fabric that will replicate the real deal.  That was my dilemma this week and I'm just crossing my fingers and hoping  I did ok.  
They are shipping off tomorrow, so I'll know soon... :)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

He's Baaaaack!

It is the return of Rupert the Thanksgiving Turkey!  He's all refreshed (ok he had a wee face lift...) and ready for the 2011 Thanksgiving season! 

Rupert would like to remind you a bit about himself.  His favorite things ~ he is a vegetarian and (hint) loves to hang out with fellow vegetarians. His favorite foods are mashed potatoes and gravy, blueberry pancakes and chocolate cheesecake. He enjoys long walks, playing Bingo and square dancing.
So this Thanksgiving, eat your vegetables and adopt a turkey as your buddy. :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Why I Love What I Do!

All of my customers are special to me, but once in awhile an order comes thru that stands out.  I just never know where my critters may end up and what their stories will be. And, in the end, that is why I love what I do. A request for Rudy and Toby (the ram and dinosaur pictured here) was one such order.

A few months ago I had a note from Haleigh ~ she was excited to see the addition of Rudy the Ram in my Etsy shop, because one of her two sons carries the nickname of "Ram." As the mother of two boys myself, I remember well ~ if you buy one critter you must by another ~ so Rudy and Toby were on their way to Haleigh's two little boys.

What I didn't know until just recently is that they were surprise gifts for the boys from Mommy and Daddy to let them know that their Daddy was thinking of them.  Because, you see, Daddy is a Sargent in the United States Marines and as a member of the 26th MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit) was deployed to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Libya, Italy, Africa and Greece (with a lot of time spent on a ship in those areas) for almost 9 months.  Scary stuff.

Haleigh provided the image you see here ~ the top and bottom photos are the boys saying (as she so sweetly put it) their "see you laters" and the center photo is Dad returning home safely and embracing his precious little boys.

I was so touched by Haleigh's story ~ honored that she chose Rudy and Toby for such meaningful gifts at such an important time in her children's lives and honored that she shared it with me.  Thank you seems inadequate, but thank you Sgt. Johnson for your service and to Haleigh and the boys, thank you for your sacrifice and your service as well.

I can't say it enough ~ stories like Haleigh's are why I love what I do.  It brings wonderful people like Haleigh and her family into my life.  And I am grateful for that.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


The second gift shop I signed with - can it be almost 18 months ago? - was Modern Mouse in lovely Alameda, California which sits across the Bay from the equally lovely San Francisco.  The owner, Eleen, (lovely herself) and I struck up a cyberspace friendship immediately.  Since then her brick 'n mortar store has grown by leaps and bounds, as has her ever-so-friendly and hard-working staff.  I'm thrilled to be a part of their beautiful shop!

Happiness has been a recurring theme in my life.  It has popped up when I least expect it; I've used the word happy so many times in business and in life it is practically my middle name.  I even have a tattoo with the Chinese symbol for happiness.

So, no surprise that Modern Mouse, Eleen and I would eventually join forces.  Eleen is all about delivering happiness (inspired by Zappos Founder, Tony Hsieh) and that is completely reflected in how she goes about her business and how she goes about her life.  And you know what they say about happiness ~~ it is contagious.  Take a peek at her online shop and you will see what I mean!  Happiness everywhere!

It was such fun to see my Wee Ones featured not once, but twice in Modern Mouse's October newsletter!  Drake-ula is proud to be a part of the Halloween Gift Guide!

And the other Big Deal in October is always (for me, anyway) Breast Cancer Awareness.  Modern Mouse partners with me in this cause and is featuring these BC Buddies in their shop!

And if you're just looking for a Wee One in general, a special selection can be found on Modern Mouse's shopping site.

One of these days I'm going to surprise those kids at Modern Mouse and pop by to say hi!  Thank you Eleen and crew for all you do.   Happiness all around!  

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Booga Booga!

Holidays.  Dreams and nightmares.

Since I've been creating little critters the holidays have proven to be both challenging and delightful.  Some seasonal ideas really hit the mark; some don't quite make the cut and are delegated to the "donation" shelf. Because even if a plushie isn't exactly what I had in mind, it still can bring a smile to a child's face.  I'm big on Toys for Tots!  And however frustrating it is to spend time on a prototype (or two) and realize the idea just isn't going to fly; it is all part of the game.

But then there are the ones that do.  I just know in my gut when an idea is going to work ~ like my friend here ~ Stinky the Dead Cat. Some holidays bring out the more creative side of me than others.  Halloween is one such holiday.  Last year was my first year creating Wee Monsters, et al, and not only was I surprised by how much fun I had bringing them to life ~ I was equally surprised by how popular they were!  And then ~ blow me over with a feather ~ people started requesting them all year long.  (You guys are warped.  But in a good way! *wink*)

So this year I knew to start early with the current designs and take an hour here and there to work on some new ones.  I gave it considerable thought before entering into the Dead Zone ~ not knowing if that would be too sensitive or not.  Then I remembered that Halloween is closely associated with Day of the Dead (November 1 and 2) ~ so why not?

Enter Dead Seymour the Wee Monkey.

There are more dead creatures hanging out in my head.  I just hope I have time to create them all...  Holy cow!  It's October 1st already!

Friday, September 30, 2011

All Pink ~ All Month!

Squeeeee!!  Etsy Peeps!!  Thank you so much!!

As many Etsy sellers and followers do, I receive an email with featured themes on Etsy every day.  They are always so cleverly put together and feature incredible products ~ I am usually tempted to buy at least a couple of things!  So today when I received the October Shopping Guide and scrolled down thru the delicious temptations, I was thrilled to see my knit hat featured!

Breast Cancer Awareness has long been a cause near and dear to me.  Two maternal aunts suffered for years with the disease and the miserable, painful side effects from treatment (they have both since passed).  A few years ago my Mom (who luckily has remained disease-free) volunteered to be part of a clinical study for some experimental drugs ~ hoping to help her sisters.  I've had my own scares (and scars) over the years and I'm one of the lucky ones ~ so far I've dodged the bullet.

So when I started my Etsy shop 2.5 years ago, I knew I wanted to do something to support the cause.  The main focus of my shop are my Wee Ones and Liten Venns - little stuffed animals.  So every September and October a lot of pink pops up in my shop with my BC Buddies.  I also do consignment with seven stores across the country and am so happy that five of them partner with me in this effort every year.

Last year I discovered knitting looms and got slightly addicted.  So, although I have yet to figure out how to fashion a stuffed animal on one, I do enjoy making knit hats.  It's a perfect pastime for those long winter nights by the fire.  I decided to add a few BC Beanies to my shop, with a focus on breast cancer patients who often need something warm for their sweet heads.  (I plan to add more in just a few days.)

10% of the sale of each BC Beanie and BC Buddy goes to Susan G Komen for the Cure.  I look forward to the day when that organization will no longer be needed... because we've found a cure.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Lucky #7

I am so excited to share that my Wee Ones can now be found at the fabulous I Heart Denver store in the Denver Pavilions on the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver!  I made my first delivery yesterday and met store owner, Samuel (he's awesome) and his crew (equally awesome).

The store contains products that are entirely produced by local Denver artists.  Everything from glassware to tee shirts to bags to jewelry and more  (and, of course, stuffed animals.) :)  If you're in the area, stop by and check it out (2nd floor of the Pavilions).  You are sure to walk away with something crafted by a Denver artist.

I call I Heart Denver my lucky #7 ~ the 7th store I am partnering with on consignment.  I guess my Etsy shop would bring that number to 8, but as far as brick 'n mortar shops ~ this is lucky #7.  So you know what that means.  Those Wee Ones are going to fly off the shelf.  :)

Thanks, Samuel and crew ~ I am so happy to be part of your one-of-a-kind 100% Denver store!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friend

I have a mug that reads “Behind every successful woman is herself.”  I love that sentiment.  I believe strongly in home-grown, women-owned businesses ~ or women being successful doing anything they love.  It does take drive, ambition and good old-fashioned hard work to be successful.  

But today it occurred to me that as a one-woman show I really don’t do all that I do without a little help and support.  (Scratch that - a lot of help and support.) I often forget that in essence I’m not totally a one woman show.  This handsome guy does a lot to help me.

We met thru mutual friends in 1991.  Yup, we’ve been together 20 years – married 18.  I knew the first night I met him that I wanted to know him.  He made me laugh. 

He engaged in conversation.  He was clever and smart.  He was so damn cute.   He had an MBA in finance from the University of Denver (which came in handy later when I started my business). 

Fast forward to 2011.  He is a partner in his own IT Consulting business.  He is a Type A workaholic.  (He is quite often up with me on those 3 am work mornings - doing his own work.)  

And yet before he leaves every morning he asks me, “Do you have anything for the Post Office?” -  and at the end of the work day he texts me with “Do you need anything from the grocery store?  Need wine?”  

He does 98% of the grocery shopping and cooks 98% of our meals.  If not for him I would live on chocolate, chardonnay, hummus, carrots, chai lattes, English muffins and peanut butter.  Seriously.   He's not opposed to washing a dish or two. And once in awhile even a wood floor.  He happily walks the dog in the early morning hours when I'm slammed with orders.  He puts gas in my Jeep.  He takes care of all the household finances.  He passes out my business cards like candy to his business associates and clients.

So that "one woman show" thing?  It's a myth.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Hi Kim!

Cookie the Wee Puppy is on her way to our friend Kim @ 9News - the Denver NBC Affiliate.  Breast Cancer Awareness is near and dear to her heart, as it is to mine.  For the past two years Kim has been so generous to share my BC Buddies on her 4 O'clock news broadcast.

We're hoping Cookie makes the cut, too.  :)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Made in America!

A couple of months ago I made a sales call to the fabulous Show of Hands Gallery in the Cherry Creek North neighborhood of Denver.  I love this gallery and really wanted to partner with them.  So I was a little nervous when I opened the door and made my way to the check out counter to begin my pitch.  I brought along Coco the Wee Dog for support.

Coco was a hit ~ particularly when the gallery operators learned that yes, I really do make Coco and his fellow Wee Ones in my little home studio, right here in Colorado.  They explained how hard it was to find quality toys that are actually made in America.  The rest is history ~ many of my Wee Ones are now residing at Show of Hands and sales are thru the roof.  (I say with enormous gratitude!)

But since that day when I learned how unique it was to have a product "Made in America" the thought has stuck with me.  I've become much more aware of how special it is to find something to purchase that is actually "Made in America."

I decided to emphasize that in my marketing ~ in the labels (above) I sew into each little Wee One (and everything I create).  I added it on my business card as well as any print marketing I do (brochures, invoicing, flyers).

So you can imagine the feeling of validation I felt last night when listening to our President address the Nation about jobs and how important it is to see those three words around the world ~ "Made in America."  An excerpt from his speech:

Today you [Congress] passed reform that will speed up the outdated patent process, so that entrepreneurs can turn a new idea into a new business as quickly as possible.  That's the kind of action we need.  Now it's time to clear the way for a series of trade agreements that would make it easier for American companies to sell their products in Panama, Colombia and South Korea -- while also helping the workers whose jobs have been affected by global competition.  If Americans can buy Kias and Hyundais, I want to see folks in South Korea driving Fords and Chevys and Chryslers.  I want to see more products sold around the world stamped with three proud words:
"Made in America."
** President Barack Obama, September 8, 2011

I couldn't agree more.

(Labels printed by the wonderful Priya Creations)

Monday, September 5, 2011

For Your Little Pumpkin ~

Cooler weather this weekend found me back at my favorite fall/winter spot ~ in the family room, feet up, watching movies and pulling out skein after skein of yarn and my knitting looms. It is my favorite cold weather pastime.  And it's fun to step out of the studio once in awhile for a change of scenery!

This little beanie was a spontaneous creation and it made me smile to imagine some cute little pumpkin walking around ~ or even topping off their Halloween costume ~ with this soft and warm pumpkin head!  It is available in my Etsy shop now.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

One of These Things is Not Like the Other.

Four bunnies, two pigs, two mice, two dogs, a cat, a raccoon, an owl, a bear and a mummy walk into a gallery.

It's a long story.

They all will be taking up residency at A Show of Hands in Cherry Creek North (Denver) on Friday!  10% of each pink sale goes to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Rumor is the mummy is being sent ahead as a scout.  She's not talkin'.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

It's Autumn ~ at Least in My Head It Is!

Autumn has always been my favorite season.  I remember a friend once questioning me ~ "Why?  Everything is dying!"

Well, it started in my high school days I think.  My favorite thing about going back to school was buying clothes, of course ~ corduroys, jeans and sweaters (and as I got older - boots!)!  Oh and my special college-rule, medium weight paper spiral notebooks and a new Parker pen.  (I was a bit of a writing nerd.  Oh, wait, still am.)  I was also a football cheerleader and although to this day I don't understand the sport, I loved my uniform and being out there on those brisk fall nights jumping around in front of the stands.

Fast forward to my early 20's when my first son was born in September (of course) and three years later his little brother jumped the gun a little and was born in late August.  What's not to love about that?  Score one more for Autumn.

Fast forward again ~ marrying my second (and final) husband ~ of course, in September.  We will celebrate 18 years married on September 5.

And finally, although I've had a camera nearby since I was 16, I picked one up (ok about seven of them and don't get me started on the lenses...) seriously about six years ago.  Nature became my focus (ha) and honestly - when is nature more photogenic than in Autumn?!

Which brings us to current day.  I still carry a camera on my morning walks (see my previous post) but other than shooting my products, it is the only time I have to shoot anymore. When you're in the retail business ~ as many of us are ~ your holiday season starts in July.  I begin formulating ideas for new designs about then; procrastinate the first two weeks of August and then get really serious about the 15th.  And always feel like I'm behind.

It helps that last year I created many new designs (like Drake-ula up there) so I don't have to create the entire wheel, but the work is still there.  So Autumn has taken on a whole new meaning for me now.  Like ~ get up before the sun ~ I am actually catching some sunrises again ~ and work till I drop.  Once again glasses and plates are piling up in the studio as I eat my meals here.  Extra clothing, shoes, socks ~ and yes, even some p.j.'s start accumulating.  If I work late, I will occasionally (literally) fall into the guest bed on the other side of the "Jack 'n Jill"  bathroom.

It's a mess.  But I tell myself ~ it is Autumn.  And this is what Autumn brings.  All that and a redesigned website ~ I figured you all know my logo and what I do.  I just wanted a cleaner look.  And yes, it will change seasonally.  It's how I roll.  *wink*

I love Autumn.  So do tell ~~ what is your favorite season?  Why?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Take a Breath. It's Important!

When I began feeling a "burn out" coming on a couple of weeks ago, I knew I had to stop and pay attention.  Those of you who are crafting your own business (literally and figuratively) know what I mean.  You get weepy.  You're exhausted.  Your spouse/loved ones can't say or do anything right.  You're tense and the slightest thing will make you want to throw a plate against the wall.

Yup.  You know what I'm talkin' about.  It's time to take a break; maybe even analyze how you got here and what kind of changes need to be made.  In my case, I have a husband who is building his own business at the same time so to think we could have two people experiencing burn out at the same time is not a pretty picture.  I knew it was a situation I needed to grab hold of and handle quickly.

Some family circumstances found me actually taking almost three days off last weekend.  Merely by coincidence we had family in town from California ~ a Saturday lunch and a little field trip to my local gallery.  Sunday my beloved daughter-in-law was presented her Master's Degree and graduated from Colorado School of Traditional Chinese Medicine (complete with after-party, of course!).  Monday was my son's (her husband's) 32nd birthday and we enjoyed a relaxing lunch at funky "Hamburger Mary's" in Denver.  Not that I could do that every weekend, but it proved to be a much needed break!  By last Tuesday I was refreshed, re-energized and ready to return to a full schedule of work.

So, yes, a three day weekend every week is out of the question.  But I did think about what I could do to incorporate some time every day to step away from work, out of the studio and renew.

The answer was right in front of me.  I have walked my dog every day (well, with few exceptions anyway) for the 14 years she has been with us.  Up until the last couple of years (duh - when I started my business) we walked in the 880 acre State Park that borders our neighborhood.  I couldn't remember the last time I did that.

[In an effort to fully disclose - I also had recently taken a break from my daily step onto the scale.  Just to see what would happen.  Two weeks without weighing in was an eye-opener.  Five lbs. of an eye-opener!  That's how crazy fast things can happen when I - literally - take my eye off the scale.  So I am once again indentured to the scale, back to recording every morsel that passes my mouth on SparkPeople and amping up the exercise.]

So the other day I packed water, my camera, the lens of the day (they vary) and my Boo and headed to the park.  It was early ~ about 6:45 am.  Our summer days in Colorado are still running in the high 90's, but early morning is still cool enough to warrant a hoodie.  So just as the sun was breaking the horizon, we headed down the path.

We fell right back into the wonder of nature we had been missing.  I stopped to take the occasional shot - framing it just so.  Boo stopped to smell almost every weed and blade of prairie grass along the way.  Patience is not my strong suit; but she's 14 now (that's 98 in people years) so I showed a little more patience with her.  She seemed to appreciate that.

And I have to admit, I found myself really being in the moment.  Oh, alright, at points I was writing this post in my head; but for the most part there were no thoughts of work, no thoughts of any personal situations ~ I didn't look at my phone once ~ we just enjoyed the beautiful Colorado scenery and a lightly cool breeze coming off the lake.

So, if I may be so bold, don't wait till you feel that burn out just minutes away.  Devise a plan to take time - every day - to step away and just be.  It has made me a better wife, a better pet-mama and a better producer in my own little studio.

Do it.  You deserve it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

And On a Personal Note...

I don't often talk much about my personal life here because this is, after all, my business blog.  I have a personal blog called I Need a Cupcake which, sadly, has been collecting dust and cobwebs for a couple of years now... :(  Well, ok, I made an entry in February of this year, but prior to that it was almost exactly a year since my last entry.

I thought about why I haven't blogged much there in the past couple of years and came to the conclusion that I don't have a personal life.  Or should I say, the boundaries of my business life and my personal life have become so blurred, they are, indeed one.  ~~That and I lost 20 lbs. in the last year and honestly, the last thing I need is a cupcake.  (Although I still crave them!)

That being said, you may see some of my personal life pop up here from time to time.  This is one of those times.  Because this is very special.
Four years ago my son married his girlfriend of eight years ~ a delightful young woman we welcomed into our family with open arms.  Three weeks after their wedding she entered Traditional Chinese Medical School and he hasn't seen her since.  Not literally, of course; but determined to give it her very best, she has spent the bulk of the last four years with her head in a book, her body in a class or in clinic curing people.

Her complete dedication paid off.  Next Sunday she graduates.  Not only did she pass four Medical Boards (one of them optional, but three required) to be licensed, but she absolutely aced every single class and exam in her four years of school - setting records for some of the highest exam scores in the school's history.  This, not surprisingly, has resulted in her being named Valedictorian of her graduating class.

You may have gathered by now that I am extremely proud of her.  Because not only is she beautiful inside and out, she is brilliant and devoted to healing people and making the world a better place.  And I have to give a little shout out to my son, too, for taking over as chief cook (literally) and bottle-washer and supporting her every step of the way.

But what to do for this amazing person on this auspicious occasion - this graduating girl?  I decided she needed a personalized, special edition Chi Chi the Chinese Panda Bear.  He will become part of her life as she says good bye to her professors and colleagues and begins her new life as a full fledged practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine.  That is, of course, after she and her husband return from a much needed 2nd Honeymoon in Kauai!  Time for them to get reacquainted!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

It's That Time of Year Again!

Tomorrow I begin production on my BC Buddies and thus the roll out of my 3rd Annual Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign!  Yay!  I will be featuring favorites from years past (in my Etsy shop now) and creating new fun and whimsical critters as well.

Having a family history of breast cancer (and a couple of scares myself) it is an important issue to me.  I'm one of the lucky ones though so I want to do all I can to give back and support finding a cure.

Adopt any of my BC Buddies between now and the end of October and 10% of each sale will go to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. You can find them in my Etsy Shop and, starting in September, in any of the fabulous stores that carry my Wee Ones, et al and have generously offered to partner with me in my campaign:

I send {{hugs}} and a huge thank you to them for their support!  Plan to be seeing a lot of pink around here in the next couple of months!  I think I'll be seeing it  in my sleep.  *wink*

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Yes. I Do.

The other day I was asked a question that took me aback.

A woman (who shall remain nameless, but she knows her stuff) picked up one of my Wee Ones with great curiosity   She examined it carefully, turning it upside down, sideways, scrutinizing every stitch ~ and then set it down.   She looked at me quizzically and asked, "You really make these?"

"Yes, I do."



"Because it is so professionally done."

I didn't know what to say.  I mean, was she questioning my honesty?  My integrity?  My work?  My character?  So I just smiled and said, "Thank you."  (and I was thinking ~ I think that was a compliment... maybe...)

I took just a minute or two to consider what she had said and realized - she had just paid me the biggest compliment I've had in quite some time!  If she thought my work was good enough to be deemed "professional," well, then I've made the big time.  (At least in my own head)  *wink*

So as kind of proof positive, I took some shots of work in progress today.  Meet the evolution of Francesca.

And yes. I made her.  :)  She - a whole gaggle of her friends - will be residing at A Show of Hands in Cherry Creek North this weekend.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Would You Like to Play a Game?

This morning I realized I was [almost] caught up with orders.  I also realized that I am minutes away from the beginning of my busiest season of the year. And each year before the chaos ensues I always like to take a little time to organize my studio and fabric closet.  I've been told I'm a little OCD about organization, but hey - it comes in handy later when the fur is flying (literally) and I have some vague idea of where to find things.

In organizing my smallest fabric remnants - because I really do use every bit of fabric that I possibly can - it became obvious which solid colors I use most to create my Wee Ones and Liten Venns.

So here's the game:
*Which color do you think I use the most in my work?
*Which color do you think I use the least?

(And lest you think the photo will help you - it won't.  *wink*  These are my larger fabric pieces.)

As I write I have no idea how I will score the game, but I'll figure it out. And if someone gets the answers to both questions right - there's a prize.   :)

Game on kids.  You have until  Monday (August 8) at 5:00 pm MDT to leave your answers in the comment section.  Good luck!  :)

Monday, August 1, 2011

The "Wee Clone" Fever is Contagious in NYC!

The "wee clone" business in New York City is going strong ~ thanks to Stephanie of Stoopher & Boots on the Upper West Side (385 Amsterdam Ave.)!  A few months ago Stephanie asked if I could design a "wee clone" of her constant companion, store mascot and neighborhood rock star (a King Charles Spaniel), Scout.  I was honored to be asked and happy to oblige with my impressionistic version.

Stephanie has been a fabulous promoter for "wee clones" in the Big Apple.  Meet Guy, the golden retriever puppy

And my impressionistic version of Guy and his enormous paws ~ Whoopsy Daisy.  :)

Next up?  Albert.  Who I just want to smoosh ~ he looks like Paddington Bear!  {Stay tuned.}

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Field Trip!

Last week the Denver area experienced a first ~ the opening of a 415,000 sq. ft. IKEA store.  The first in Colorado and actually the first in the Rocky Mountain region (east of Salt Lake City).

What - you may ask - does that have to do with cmh design?  Nothing. :)  But all work and no play makes Cindi grumpy.  So the mister, the son and I took a little field trip to IKEA the other afternoon.  None of us had ever set foot into an IKEA store, so we didn't really know what to expect.

What we found was:
*Roads blocked off and policemen directing traffic - just to get into the parking lots (lots - plural)
*Once inside the store - people wearing "Event Staff" shirts guiding us
*Signs and employees giving tutorials on how to shop @ IKEA
*For every square foot of the 415,00 sq. ft. - just about as many people
*The discovery that this isn't a store - it's a city!

We all found things we liked in the store - I seemed to have a thing for light fixtures and lighting in general that particular day.  The mister was attracted to all the little kitchen and techy gadgets and the son was interested in bookcases, shelving and couches.  But with that many people and all the body heat generated by said amount of people, we were in and out as quickly as could be - vowing to come back in a few weeks when things settle down.

Which seems to run counter intuitive to my recent thoughts of downsizing, paring down, purging, sorting, tossing, donating most of the "stuff" we currently own.  Thoughts of waving goodbye to the suburbs and moving more urban have been pervading my days of quietly sewing and letting my mind wander.  Perhaps it is best for me to keep my distance from the temptations of IKEA ~ and think about how nice it would be to walk a couple of blocks on the weekend and enjoy this, as we did after our field trip:

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Long Live the Dinosaurs!

With the most recent request for a Bronte pillow (this one in purple and grey), I reflected back on the many requests I've had for Bronte in various incarnations.

The original and still most popular is the green on green.  But I love seeing the imaginative ways people envision Bronte - and how they incorporate him into their own special home decor.

Well, that and it warms my heart to know that dinosaurs are still as popular with kiddos as when my guys were little. :)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

La' Tease...

Someone very cute is coming.  *wink*

Monday, July 18, 2011


Seriously.  Hollywood.

That's where these pillows and bunnies are headed.  To join a sweet set of twins.

Who live in Hollywood.  Seriously.  :)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Good Boy. Boys...

Remember ET?  *wink*

I had a request a couple of weeks ago to make a "wee clone" of this cute little pup.  Well, actually seven "wee clones."  As always it is tricky business recreating someone's beloved pet.  It was a bit of a challenge (think two prototypes to get it right), but in the end, definitely worth it.

The real pup has met the rest of his "litter" now and I would say they look pretty comfortable with each other. Happy trails wee ones all.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Booga Booga All Year 'Round!

Last Halloween time was the first time I created Halloween-themed critters.  I had to really think about it ~ and remember that I somehow found inspiration in the long, long, long drive from central Iowa (visiting my Mom and siblings) back to Denver last September.  I guess I just had so much time on my hands (quite unlike me) so while listening to various podcasts, I just pulled out my sketch book and started thinking about things one associates with Halloween.

Before long I was sketching all sorts of monsters and witches and pumpkins.  Once home, I began developing patterns and well ~ the rest is history.  I was astonished how popular Halloween items were!  In fact, Halloween season proved to be a better-selling season for me than Christmas!  My sister - whom I affectionately refer to as "Martha" (you know the one... and has done awesome crafts over the years) predicted that.  She said she always sold more at Halloween time than Christmas.  Go figure.

But what has surprised me even more is that my little monsters, et al, have sold sporadically all year long.  Again - go figure.  Which kind of raises the bar to come up with some new creatures for this Halloween (which is like - tomorrow - you know).  But until then ~

Mum and Susan the Zombie are going to take up residence at A Show of Hands in Cherry Creek North  (Denver) tomorrow ~ along with 26 of their closest friends.    *wink*  Stop by and say hi.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

And then there were 6...

I am so excited to share the news that cmh design has been accepted into the prestigious A Show of Hands Gallery in Cherry Creek North in Denver!

Coco and I visited the gallery today.  We were thrilled to be given an online application and filled that out once we arrived home.  We were told it could take up to a month to hear if we were accepted or not.  Ok, I thought... that will make it all the sweeter if we do get accepted.  Within 30 minutes I received a call from the ever so friendly co-owner of the gallery inviting us to join them.  She said they had been searching for items for children that were American-made and my guys fit the bill.  Yay!

Thought I was thrilled before?  I am over the moon now!  The Wee Ones and a few other items will be in the gallery on Friday.  This brings the number of shops featuring the Wee Ones, et al, to six.  A Show of Hands can be found at 210 Clayton ~ half a block north of the JW Marriott and two blocks north of Cherry Creek Mall.  Cherry Creek North is a delightful area - full of galleries and boutiques and fabulous little shops and restaurants.  It has long been a favorite haunt of the mister and me.  So now to know that my Wee Ones will be a part of that part of town kind of blows me away, ya' know?  I don't know whether to laugh, cry or panic.  ;-)

For tonight ~ I celebrate.  So that noise you just heard?  It is me doing a happy dance whilst popping champagne!  Thank you, A Show of Hands Gallery!  I am super excited.

(And no - I'm not at the Bellagio in Las Vegas as the photo might indicate.  I wish I was!  I shot that a few years ago during a lovely stay...)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Yoshi the Brave

One of my favorite things about what I do is meeting people ~ especially the shop owners I do consignment with.  I have learned that people who own gift shops/boutiques are fun-loving and caring people.  And often they are animal lovers.

Much like Stephanie and Scout in New York City, Janet of Hapa Collective in Seal Beach, California runs her shop daily with the help of her 14 year old poodle, Yoshi.  Yoshi (which means "the best" in Japanese) is no ordinary poodle.  Janet shared his remarkable story with me:

(Photo courtesy of Janet Peters, Hapa Collective)
Yoshi was found running (on three legs) on a highway in Denver.  A motorist stopped to pick him up (all four pounds of him) and took him to a local animal shelter, thinking for sure his owners would come to claim him.  How could they not?  He is adorable.  All by himself in a cell, no one ever came and his days were up.  A shelter employee felt so sorry for Yoshi she took him home and asked Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanaab, Utah to send an email on their adoption site to see if there was someone who could adopt him and give him a forever home.  They estimated Yoshi's age at the time to be between 10-12 years old.

I [Janet]saw the email and convinced my husband to drive halfway (we were living in Utah at the time) to meet with Yoshi and his foster parents.  For me it was love at first site.  A wee one indeed ~ on three good legs running around the park where we met. 

We quickly adopted him and took him home.  The vet indicated that Yoshi's leg had been fractured years ago and never set or taken care of.  That is why he only has the use of three legs.

He has a 17 pound, 14 year old "brother" cat, Murf.  Although the papers said Yoshi gets along well with cats, we found that to be not quite true.  Yoshi chases Murf around the house, is very possesive of us and growls anytime Murf walks by him.  But all Murf has to do to get away is jump up on the first stair on the staircase and sit there licking his paws and sneering at Yoshi.  Yoshi can not negotiate the stairs due to his leg so all he can do is sit and growl.

His favorite hobbies are eating, walking a few blocks then being pushed in his stroller (he gets tired fast), sleeping and hanging out with us.

Yoshi is a wise soul; he often has a faraway look and I wonder what he is thinking, where he has been, what he experienced in his 12 years before we met him.  One can only wonder.
Hearing his amazing story, I decided that if any puppy deserved to have a Wee One made in his likeness, it was Yoshi!  So last week Wee Yoshi met real Yoshi.  I think they have become best friends.
(Photo courtesy of Janet Peters, Hapa Collective)
(Photo courtesy of Janet Peters, Hapa Collective)
I was also struck by the series of coincidental happenings between Yoshi and me. I live in Denver and he was found in Denver. I have a 14 year old dog (Simba) and Yoshi is 14.  I have an 18 year old cat (A-choo) and Yoshi has an older cat in his life.  Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanaab, Utah is an animal rescue organization I have personally supported for a long time.  So in honor of Yoshi, the best dog in Seal Beach, $1.00 from every sale of pet toys in my Etsy shop (more will be added soon!) will go to Best Friends.  Thank you, Yoshi (and Janet) for being such an inspiration!